Whatever you dream to do, be sure to do it well.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Adolescence 2.0 The Broken Puzzle

Click HERE for previous installment. 

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." 
~ Oscar Wilde


Jean’s feet gripped the floor of the car and her knees bent occasionally as the train rumbled from stop to stop. The rest of the passengers held onto the railings and bars above. The one space available to grab required she perform some unnatural arm bend. Never in the mood to touch four strangers at the same time or look like some strange yoga acrobat, she kept her hands in her black leather jacket’s pockets. Subway experience taught her the delicate art of balancing one’s body while in fast and jerky motion.
A popular hip-hop hit exploded from a commuter’s Beats headphones and someone attempted to cough out a lung, heart, and then some. Hopefully, the germs planned to stay away from here. Aside from that, no one talked.  The silence made Jean more aware of the conversation she planned to strike up with Blue Bird. Everyone would pretend not to listen, but an audience served only to raise her excitement and nervousness—feelings she fed on for power. 
            “Why are you wearing a shirt from an ex? That is, if you don’t mind me asking,” she said.
            Blue Bird chuckled. “You know I asked myself the same question today, and I still have no answer.  I’m Trinity by the way.” She held out a hand, which Jean gladly accepted.
The woman had a firm, confident handshake. Good sign. Her skin felt smooth too, and Jean held on a second longer before the release.
            “Jean.” She gestured at the shirt. “That’s um that old model, right? Twiggy I think her name was…”
            Trinity nodded. “Yeah. My ex and I were big fans of her, and uh she surprised me with this shirt. Valerie’s an artist and teaches art to middle school children.” Blue Bird’s brown eyes softened as if she remembered a good memory.

            Jean didn’t blink. She had suspected from her appearance that Trinity was probably queer. “Valerie sounds like a pretty awesome person.”
            “Yes…she is.”
Whoever this ex was, Blue Bird clearly still had strong feelings for her.
            The train slowed to a halt a third time, and a third time Jean’s heart sank in fear that her new acquaintance would leave. It was her least favorite part of people collecting in the subway. However, she had a method of never wasting an opportunity. 
            “I’m sorry, but this is my stop. It was really nice chatting with you. I can feel you’re a good spirit.”
            “Blue Bird, wait!” Jean bit her tongue and heat rushed to her face. The nickname slipped out of her mouth without consent.
            Thankfully, Trinity only grinned wider. “Blue Bird?”
            Jean eyed the woman’s tattoo.
            “Ah, yes. Keep forgetting I have this thing.”
            “I’m sorry. I hope you don’t mind.”
            Trinity shook her head. “No, it’s okay. Actually I think it’s kinda cute.”
            “Okay, thanks for not being weirded out. Please take this.” Jean gave her business card.  “Maybe we can talk again or catch coffee together or something. Anyway, it was nice talking to you too. Thanks.”
            “Ah, okay. Thanks?” Trinity laughed, made the card disappear in her blazer, and walked out the train to her destination with smooth confidence in each step.
            Jean sighed and hoped Blue Bird would call and not chuck her card in the nearest trashcan. She usually caught people in her aura, but this time Trinity’s strong, positive vibes wrapped around her and made her feel safe and calm, a feeling she wanted to last longer.
By the time she made it to Copley station, her shopping mate called to cancel their meeting.
“Claire, I’m so sorry. I forgot how atrocious the Green Line was.”
“It’s okay. We can meet up next time. See you in the office tomorrow.”
“Yeah. See ya later.” Jean ended the call and sighed. Another lonely Sunday afternoon waited for her. Now, she had to take the Green Line again to return home. She groaned and decided to treat herself to a big fatty donut before the commute back home.

            Jean walked into the elevator of her building and held her breath as usual in a battle against the stench of aged urine and greasy Chinese food that assaulted her nostrils. Stairs were out of the question. She lived on the twelfth floor of a housing project close to Boston Medical Center, and any attempt to climb stairs would require an oxygen tank strapped to her waist. 
            Getting back into shape remained stuck on her list of goals to accomplish this month. And she could not blame it on the lack of money to pay for a gym subscription. YouTube provided tons of exercise videos that she could do in her small living room, but her heart was not into it. Oddly enough, her small frame and adherence to a vegetarian diet were her biggest obstacles to exercise. She liked what she saw in the mirror and praised her ability to fit into size four skinny jeans. She just had to convince herself that exercise was not mainly for weight loss, but for healthy living.  
            Yeah, yeah, Jean thought and rolled her eyes. I’ll do it when I want to. The elevator rang at her floor and she rushed out with a deep exhale. She fumbled through her bag for her keys and cursed when they refused to reveal themselves. She made another of countless, yet unheeded mental notes to put them someplace more accessible. They finally turned up. With a frustrated sigh, she let herself into the tiny one bedroom apartment. When she closed the door behind her, Jean stood for a minute and looked around.
It was a neat but bare space with an easy chair for the living room that she bought at a thrift store; no television because she watched what little shows she enjoyed on her laptop; and a folding table and chair to eat dinner and do her writing and work. Her bedroom was no better. She had a mattress with an iron bedframe that she also snagged from the thrift, and big storage boxes held her clothes and undergarments instead of a dresser. Books lined and were stacked on the floors of her bedroom and living room. Everything else went into the closet, along with the two large suitcases she left home with.

Boston Medical Center
She hung her back on the hook in the wall and went into the kitchen to get a drink. Her fridge showed off four boxes of extra firm tofu, half a gallon of almond milk, three tomatoes, two oranges, and five apples. She had to have her apples. She took a bottle of Perrier sparkling water and lay on the easy chair. Her eyes spotted the calendar she put up on the wall across from the chair and she nearly choked on her water. Two weeks!
“Two weeks!” she said again to no one. Her heart rapped against her chest and she put the bottle down on the floor to massage her temples. Her least favorite curse word tumbled out of her mouth for a good minute before she finally collected herself and stopped.
Her parents were coming in two weeks. Her parents who thought she lived with a nice roommate in a nice, safe neighborhood with a solid publishing job that included great health benefits when in fact she had no roommate, lived in a relatively unpleasant area, and had three jobs, one of them freelance, with no benefits. Thankfully she applied for Massachusetts’s health insurance and was approved for the state’s insurance. 
           The truth of her reality, however, poked her sides with guilt for spewing the well knitted lies to her Mother and Father just so she could convince them to let her leave Hartford and make it on her own. She never told them her real dreams were to become a successful writer, blogger, and eventually a media mogul with her own media company because that proved too outrageous and unrealistic for them. If they came here and saw how she really lived, they would ignite a storm, drag her butt back to their house in Connecticut, and connect with her some of their friends to get her a real job, which meant sitting in an office, being miserable, and devoid of all creativity. In other words, death.
            No, that reality must not come true. She jumped out of her seat and opened her MacBook to check her email, but knew she nothing of value would show up because she already checked it five times on her Android. Her endless queries for roommates on Craigslist turned up with such unreliable characters or rent payments she couldn’t afford that she gave up for a while and let time slip through her fingers like liquid. Exhaustion and frustration sat on each shoulder and she slammed her forehead against the black folding table and moaned.
            For once, she wished someone would collect her.
            Jean's cell phone sung what she considered the most dramatic segment of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Act II: Scene. She checked the I.D., Mr. Firebreather, and sighed. Why the hell was work calling? It’s Sunday! Leave me alone!  
            “Hello, David.”
            “Jean, hi. I was wondering if you could cover the SVAWomen’s Benefit tonight at Cambridge? You know the one. We talked about it on Friday’s meeting. It’s supposed to start at seven. Claire said she couldn’t make it. Sick with a bad cold.”
            Jean blinked repeatedly at her editor’s revelation. “Wait. Claire is sick?” Was this girl for real? 
            “Yes, can you make it tonight? I know it’s last minute, but it’s important we cover this. I’ve already told Claire to send you her interview questions and notes. No one else can do it, Jean.”
            Er, so I was your last choice, which you also already made for me. She sighed. “Yeah, sure. I can cover for her.” Her motivation right now was solely money.
            “Thanks! You’re a doll. See you tomorrow.” Click.  
            She cringed. There he went again with that doll reference. Jean stole a glance at the clock. She had less than three hours to get ready. And the benefit was in Cambridge. How did she manage to spend the whole day in the subway today?
            Thirty minutes before Jean made herself ready to leave, her phone rang again. What now? Did Claire remember she wasn’t sick and changed her mind? Her phone’s screen, however, displayed an unknown number. Always excited to talk to strangers, she slid the bar to talk and hoped it wasn’t another telemarketer.
            “Hello, this is Jean.”  
            “Hey, Jean. It’s Trinity.”
            “Blue Bird! Hey!”
            Trinity laughed. “You sound very excited.”
            “You have no idea,” Jean said and sat down with the widest grin she could muster. 

To be continued...

Adolescence 2.0 © 2013 C.S. Severe All Rights Reserved.

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