19

19

A Chapter by CharlyeMonroe
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“Could you win that for me?”

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“Could you win that for me?” A face pressed against the glass of one of those claw drop machines in the corner of the activities room. It was week whatever in this hyperbaric temple. Your nights were spent with the rest of skeleton patientry. Four sessions of physical therapy daily, you skipped some of the group therapy sessions but made it to most meals and the evening were common ground for fuckery. The crew totaled maybe seventeen minus the shut ins, four or so rotating out in cycles of wellness, you were the oldest here in order of disaster days. Large flat panel televisions with video game consoles attached held a crowd, you stuck to the prize games, the coinage necessary to play removed for free reign, your collection of stuffed animals now huge. You were relegated to picking past piles of toys in the machine until you found a gem. ”That one right there, the goldfish. I like its eyes, it looks smiley.” You’d seen this girl before you weren’t exactly on speaking terms though and definitely in no place to make demands on your pick up skills. She was one of three here approaching your stay in length. It was some kind of cancer that held her in the company of the Saint. Her hair cropped, moon face, she maintained her bangs through the therapy, she was in full remission. “My name’s Clare.” She stepped back from the glass window. She had a broad smile. Blonde with a dimple in her chin and baby blue eyes, her nose still a little bent from her pressing it against the glass, small freckles dotted the bridge of her nose and spilled over to her cheeks.

“Barty,” You lifted a sheep from the machine with your remote operated arm, it was automatic, you held it to the drop zone and released it into the hole. She was quick into the prize door, snatching out the toy with gusto.

“This one too.” Clare

“Just that one is fine. I like that goldfish.”

“It’s got a fancy tail,” Clare. You started the game up again. “Yeah, I saw it sticking out from the edge of a pile of these little suckers.” You handed over the controls. “You want it so bad.” “You’re a mean best friend.” Clare
“What?” You didn’t know you were that invested.
“I saw you on the internet,” her smile didn’t flinch.

“And?” You were a little wary, but what harm could it do.

“I want to banter. I see you in the pool, you’re getting better, I’m gonna be here a while, I want to banter.” Clare

“Well, work your wit on me. The time’s running out on your turn.” You pointed at the machine. She grabbed the joystick and maneuvered it over the dropzone.

“How did you get so good?” She wiggled it back and forth making speedy adjustments.

“I’m a natural, I was a water baby.” “I meant at the game.” Clare

“I’m a witch, part goblin, it’s all about depth perception. The glass throws it off but then it’s all about your trigger finger, can’t second guess it, you’re not gonna catch that fish though.” She dropped the claw on top of the prize. Miss.

“What would you say the problem with mine is?” Clare

“Are you flirting with me?” You smiled at the little girl.

“No, just curious.” Clare, you could tell a lie when you heard it.

“You’re noncommittal,” you walked away from the machine, a small pile of toys in your arms, she dogged after you, you looked over your shoulder letting bobbing bangs catch up to you. She was a pretty girl, fresh for having the life in her grow till it almost consumed her.

“What if I was flirting with you?” Clare “You were.”

“Like I said, if I were flirting with you, oh f**k it,” she stopped. You were at the exit from the activities room and didn’t want to drop your toys.

“Could you get this for me, and stop being so sensitive, I apologize, I’m not used to this. How old are you Clare?” She opened the door to the outer cloister, warm yellow light, the soft carpet in this open area, a giant playpen, pillows, blankets, and oversized chairs, book cases set into the walls for intimacy.

“I’m 17.” You sat down on the floor and leaned against a large plush lounge chair. She took a seat across from you, your winnings mixing between your feet. You moved effortlessly, the weight on your chest gone, skin taught again, your body firm. “ I had a massive brain tumor, the headaches didn’t start till I was 13 but it had been growing for a while. I went through chemotherapy and it didn’t shrink. A massive drug regimen and it didn’t do it. I had two surgeries, they went in here,” she pointed to a large scar on the side of her head and to another at the base of her neck. “I think it threw me off a bit. I started having these nightmares, then it started all over again.” You listened, she was enjoying your company, you caught her losing herself in the fable. Your hand taking her foot, you cracked and massaged the bones. She purred. “I used to sing before all of this, a cappella, jazz, I did the nightclub thing for a year. I wanted to be famous; I mean, what else would I do with all this talent. It is a gift, not a weapon, not a tool that’s how I see it. I’ve never wanted to give something so bad and then one day my voice was gone. The second round left me mute. Chemo again when it didn’t work the first time. More poison in my system. Doctor’s orders. I had long blonde hair but it all fell out. It’s grown back but I think I’m going to stick with this cut. I like it. I must be boring the hell out of you Barty.”

“It’s alright,” you smiled. It wasn’t terrible and you wouldn’t see her again outside of this place most likely, even if she achieved the fame she desired, you wouldn’t seek her out, it was human. You’d lost so much curiosity in these creature comforts. “My sister put me in a coma that’s how I ended up in here, I’m kind of using you as a surrogate, don’t take offense, not for the sister that beat me up either, the other one.”

“Oh my god, when I saw you, you reminded me of Dixie Lox, I didn’t want to say anything I thought you would have thought, felt betrayed or something.”

“F**k no, I love Dixie Lox, I’m nothing like her though, but I mean you’ve got to meet her in person to discern something like that. Go transference.”

“Just take it as finding common ground. You’re pretty cool, I don’t mind you seeing me as baby sister.” Clare

“Ha, word, you’d be surprised if you saw her.” “It’s funny that’s just the way life is isn’t it?” Clare “Yeah I’ve got nothing to say about that.” “Hahaha, You’re stupid.” Clare

“Barty wake up.” You didn’t rustle. “Barty get up,” She shook herself against you, your arms wrapped around Clare’s upper body, your head tucked into the scar on the back of her neck. “Barty, I have to pee.” You bit onto her earlobe. “Ow.”

“I didn’t even bite you hard.” You gave it a little lick. She giggled and squirmed away from you. “What’s wrong Clare?” you wiped the sleep from your eyes. You remembered how you managed to end up in such a position, the alien girl’s large eyes looking dreamily on you.

“Nothing. Want to watch the sunrise?” She scooched back close to you, her hand on your thigh, she snuggled a blanket around herself. You looked around the library, couches with people reclined, books locked close to their faces, they sat in twos and threes, some reading to each other, board games between a pair, small groups talking over steaming cups. You collapsed face first, your head falling into her lap, she smelled like an infant, her hands rubbing your back. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” you sighed rolled over in her lap. “I had a dream I was a baby rabbit. F**k I don’t want to go to therapy today.” You pouted, Clare scratched your head. “Thurlis is going to kick my a*s, we’ve got circuits early.”

“Why don’t you just not go?” Clare smiled.
“I can’t just not go, he’s my confidence booster.”

“What does that have to do with anything? You seem pretty damn confident.”

“No it’s not that,” you took a second to think about it and she was right, why didn’t you just not go? “Want to go check out this sunrise?” You stood up and offered your hand helping her to her feet. Hand in hand you walked with your girlfriend towards the stairs, she leaned her head against your shoulder, you parried her past you and up the stairs first. There weren’t very many levels above ground on the hospital, the majority of its structure extending below the waving earth. You climbed three flights and reached the rooftop, Clare holding open the door for you to cross into the world of sky. There was a thin fog on the city, the building on a promontory sitting very pleasant with a panoramic view of downtown. You sat backs against an air conditioner, the air still and quiet. Occasionally you heard the honk of a horn and tires rolling along unseen streets. Clare nuzzled her head under your armpit, you pulled her close to you arm over her shoulder. It was cold, your body hair on pins, you were used to the crisp air, thin pajamas the uniforms for the patientry, you wore a double pair of pants and thermal top under your shirt.

“What are you going to do after this Barty?”

“I’ve got unfinished business in Bernal.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do after this, keep singing of course, but I don’t know where I’m going to go.” She sniffed a bit, little tears started to dampen your side. “I don’t know, I’ve just been thinking about it more and more these days. I don’t exactly have a place, singers are thousands, I’m not going to be famous, but this is the only thing I can do.”

“Why do you want to be famous? It seems pretty annoying to me. It’s something you have to be cut out for. Sure when we’re young we have more patience for it. That kind of attention is what ignorance, naivety, f**k, gullibility deems necessary to build up whatever dreams help us sleep or keep us awake or what have you. I mean, do you want to be a pupil at the center of some vision you ultimately have no control over? You do what you do, but what you see, what you process, can you process, can you do it fast enough? There are plenty of those better than you, but they’re nothing like you.”

“I’ve never had that kind of money.” “Then f**k fame, you’ll be taken care of.” “What as a lounge singer?”

“You’re asking me like I can tell you the future.” You mussed her hair giving her a little kiss on the great scar arching over her dome. “I’ll take care of you”

“I’m a bit of a romantic, I have to tell you.” “I know, I can feel it.”
“What if I never see you again?”

“I’ll be in touch, don’t fret young one. Just keep swimming, Goldie.” The sun approaching full in the sky, its location a bright white ball behind the veil clouds, you leaned your head on top of Clare’s, the tuft at the front of her head padding your chin.

“What are you going to do in Bernal? Maybe I could come visit?” She gave you a small kiss on the neck.

“I’m going to make myself famous.”

“I think I would like to be a baby koala if I could be.” “What?”

“It doesn’t seem too dangerous.”

“Being a baby koala?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re right I guess.”

“Can we go back inside?”

“Yeah.”

“Can you carry me?”

“Yeah.” She wrapped her legs around your back and laid her head on your shoulder. You took her back down the stairs to the ground floor. “I’m gonna go see what Thurlis is doing. What are you going to do?” You sat your baby down on her feet. She was tired; you could see it on her face. She yawned, little sleep in her eyes, she waved you goodbye.

“I’m gonna take a nap, I’ll keep your toys safe.” She walked heavy legged over to your heap, dropping down on top of the stuffed animal pals and curling up in a mound of blankets and pillows

You were already 30 minutes late for your first session, your serious face plastered on as you made your way down to the second basement to meet your maker. The gym glowed from the distance; you could hear the music pumping from the speakers on
the other side of the door. Being yelled at didn’t suit you, the sound almost deafening as you opened the gym door onto spin class. Thurlis moved on without you to a small set of bodies hunched over on stationary bikes pumping away in front of a projection screen. You moseyed into a corner and watched thighs working, your therapist at the head of the pack, his back to you while laying out the pace for the flankers. It was cold enough, frost on the unused machines; if you breathed hard you could see your breath. The peddlers steaming, racing up a hillside, music matching the groove. They didn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. You moved to the water cooler to fill up. You should have gotten in your morning workout. You moved to the front of the class. Thurlis slowing to a stop while you sipped your water.

“You know you’ve been discharged right?” He signaled for the rest of the riders to continue. “I thought that’s why you didn’t come this morning. I put in the paperwork yesterday.” He dismounted, wiped the sweat from his neck and brow. He took the cup of water from your hand and finished it off. “No body told you?”

“No body tells me anything, especially when it concerns me. It’s been real Thurlis.”

“It really has been. I’ve had a pretty good time I’ve gotta say. We’ve got a rapport going, and to think I was trying to drown you when we first started.”

“Ha, yeah good times.” “You’re not sore, are you?”

“Nah I’m kind of ambivalent as to what to make of this whole place, I mean your formula was contrived, etcetera, etcetera, but you were funny at least.”

“Confidence booster.” “Yeah, you can stop that.”

“Barty, you just don’t know.”

“Nah, I know.”

“You’re a hydra after all.”

“More brains that I f*****g know what to do with.”

“How does it feel?”

“To be done?”

“Your body, I could care less about that, I may need a recommendation some time.”

“Haha, you’re alright.”

“No s**t, I wrote the program.”

“F**k you Thurlis.”

“I took a few heads with me.”

“You took s**t.”

“Hahaha.”

“Go back to your spin class.”

“Nice pajamas by the way.” You gave him the finger walking out of the weight room, no mess. The pool was empty as you passed by, clean salt‐water smell and warm air coming through a crack in the door. You went in, your reflection calling you to take a dip. You stripped. It was like bath water. You moved in silence under the water, eyes open your hair swarming around your head. you held your breath and sank. You landed on the bottom, 20 or so feet down and stood looking up through the drink. The air easy in your chest. You lingered, your frame concerned with keeping your feet on the ground. You were inverted it seemed, letting go and drifting skyward. You breached the surface catching a breath. On your back you floated on the head layer, soft kicks propelling you along. You looked down over your chest, there was a slight cave in the middle, your breasts sitting pert, soft slopes falling off the sides, you blew the water droplets from your crests watching them slide down the surface and join their kin in the sea around you. A splash alerted you, arching backwards you dove underwater. You saw foam and bubbles swirling but nothing in the water, you were too far. Your legs and arms beating the water you swam full tilt towards your prey, a white cloud coming into focus, you stopped. She sat there, her head above water bobbing up and down treading in doggy paddle fashion. She had soft curves, her body ghostly white against the clear blue and tiles. You sat underwater, circling at a distance tracking her turns, popping up across from Clare.

“I don’t swim very well,” Her arms spread out while she made her way towards you, her bangs hung down over her forehead and eyes. “I can dive, but that’s about it.” She spit out water filling her mouth. You took her by the arm.

“Let’s see how deep you can go. Keep calm now.”


© 2013 CharlyeMonroe


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Added on January 16, 2013
Last Updated on January 16, 2013


Author

CharlyeMonroe
CharlyeMonroe

San Francisco, CA



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Writer/Artist/M**********r I'm from America, all of it. Monotheist, believer in the one true G-D Every poem is a love poem. more..

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