I’ve been in a rut for a long time. Same old, same old, nothing to do here but survive. Not the best way at looking to live. The human condition is that we’re supposed to do more than survive, be more than animals roaming the earth, searching for the next meal. In the confusion and loss of leaving college, homelessness, having a bastard, and more homelessness, any vision I had of what my adult life could become was overshadowed by the reality of what was, all thought bent on how to see one more day with my skin intact. Life hasn’t been quite so hectic for a while now, and it is time for me to try and move forward instead of treading water all the time. Many of the stories I’ve written are about people who are forced to stop standing still.
Out here beyond the pages, there’s no use waiting for the world to change. Whatever it does, daily life all swirls around the actions we take as individuals. In The Pier, we see past actions closing in and affecting the present. Here is installment the second. Installment the first can be found here.
Waves assail the beach. Dawn brakes in their wake, maroon, orange, and blue–weak colors behind the fog. I am no closer to a decision. I stand up and brush the wet sand off of my legs, using the back of my hands to rub crusts out of the inside corners of my eyes. Sleep came late, after the footfalls of incoming night fishermen quieted into the silence of their hunt, and the pier became a dream world. Sound reduced to the small clapping waves and the low hiss of fishing lines. Their rhythms rocked me to nightmares.
The night I let young lust enter me, the cold sadness of death, the rustling of leaves on concrete outside the garage door. Rough fingers, cool can, condensation on barely formed breasts. The scent of dust and sin and sweat filling my nostrils, the grunts and sick wet squishing filling my ears.
He came nine months later. Things fell apart. I left. My mother loved him.
Dry heaving myself out of memory, I manage to put one foot in front of the other. I feel empty, lost.
My stomach growls. I wonder how I can even be hungry.
The Baby Ruth I stowed in my purse on the way out of the shop is not enough to satisfy my hunger this morning. The Ramada Inn has bagels and cream cheese in addition to the standard danishes and single serving cereals. And I really need some cheese therapy after spending the night under a pier.
Life turns a brilliant blue as I made my way up from the beach. I try to clear the mists of the night from my mind as well. One slip and they can find me. I can’t forget that again. The cool of an east coast morning, even on the beach, refreshes me as I head down the boardwalk. I do not miss the desert heat, a dry thing baking the life out of you from sunup to sundown. I can’t understand how people get heatstroke on the beach here. They don’t know what real sun is.
My destination approaches, red letters on white plastic. I don’t go in the back door, that takes you right by the front desk and some of them know me by now. Tattooing can be a feast or famine sort of business proposition. I get free food where I can, even if I have to take a belligerent clerk or two before I can put together a full meal.
The alley between hotels opens up on my right, and I duck down it. A few steps later and a glass wall looms high above the sidewalk, blinding me if I look up from the ground. Its corner has a seam for me to lean against without putting prints on the glass. It is cool and comforting under my cheek, a line of reality in the first light of morning. My phone rattles against the stiff wall and my thigh.
Technology is a blessing and a curse.