This is One Last Cry Out
“This is one last cry out,
for little old me.”
said the old woman buckling her shoe.
“For goodness sake, I can’t even say hello to a spider anymore.
They all scatter when my knobby knees approach,
they all laugh.”
When we saw a dead snake in the beginning of the year, I thought maybe it could be good luck. If the snakes are dying outside, maybe the snakes in people are dying as well! But when spring came, the snake lived on, and I realized the fault in my dream.
I think of how Cinderella must have felt, all those days on her hands and knees, cleaning the floor of a home filled with false family. I have a friend who has gotten a job laying floors. I don’t know if he’ll ever get a glass slipper. His horse and carriage is a bike cart he uses to transport drunk people to and from the bar on 92nd street. His evil step-mother? His father’s girlfriend, who has moved in and taken over the place; her shampoo in the shower, her voice in the air. His fairy-godmother? His sister. She is studying to be a mortician; a book entitled “Embalming” lies on her bed.
We are running through Brigette’s small apartment. A summer night, the McDonalds' speaker around the corner is blaring: “Can I take your order?” Our bathing suits are on, stretchy and fading, faintly smelling of chlorine and beach. We are excited about going night swimming. The hum from the pool filter is audible through the screened open windows, the reflection from the water dances on the ceiling. We are running through her mother’s room, we are almost at the deck. Our feet kicking the wind, our hair ties falling out…
Suddenly, all our flurry halts.
There is a person with a mask in the corner of the darkened room. We scream.
Years later my friend RJ will be locked in his basement sending me letters. He can barely spell and the envelopes are always stuffed with paper. He tells me he must sneak out of his basement window at night to send them at the mailbox on the corner.
Years after that, I will be sneaking into basement windows. Thrilled to feel the top of the window sill scratching my stomach, happy to come crashing onto the bed beneath me. Kissing boys and playing with their dogs. Drinking water from their faucets, coloring in their books.
My dad continuously finds liquor bottles on top of my sister’s dresser. She's not an alcoholic, she’s just too lazy to throw them away. So they collect dust up there, while she watches T.V., while she does crunches. My father finds them every time, whether he’s cleaning the vents, or turning on the lava lamp. My sister and I are never home when this occurs. He runs shouting down to my mother, he blames it on her. “That’ll explain her ridiculous behavior!” He thinks to himself.
Adil better stop fucking with me. He tells me he’s going to kiss me while we race through Brooklyn in his car, me thinking about his job and the shirt he is wearing. He is my friend, muslim and beautiful, fantastic at tricking people into giving him money. This is the complicated feat in being friends with boys.
“It’s not funny… I’ve been through enough”, I say as I buckle my shoe.
“Sorry Jules.” He says. “I hate it when you’re mad at me.”
That window is opened again, and outside there is a yellow glow that reminds me of the light that seems to have filled a different world. We used to jump off the roof of your garage into the pool. Now you are merely a tile layer, a maker of floors; with a girlfriend who likes cats. I thought by now I would have come to terms with not being beautiful, and you would’ve too. But we are farther away from the sun. I remember waiting in the apartment hallway while you went to see your friend “Nut”. We had to bring our bikes up in the elevator, they backed us into the walls and pressed against our bellies. I stood in that creepy hallway for while, and I am back there again now. Your dad looks at me like he knows what we have done. You make floors everyday at work. “My whole family is in flooring”, you say. This makes me sad, my little Cinderella. Not too long ago you were making stained glass windows.
Travis, who I worked with at Dunkin Donuts, who’s girl was pregnant, who’s mind seemed made-up; told me that “no matter what you do in life, you have to do it the best, even if you’re just making lattes at Dunkin Donuts.” He said this, looked me in the eye, topped his drink off with the perfect amount of whip cream, smiled, and handed it to the customer.