Friday 5 January 2024

Royal sessions [10.8.1998]

Someone had broken the lightbulb in the hallway. Someone had been breaking into the mailboxes. Someone kept unscrewing the front door knob. Danger in the air but she didn’t mind. The landlord kept having to change the locks and the landlord’s helper slipping shiny new keys under the tenants doors. She would rather live here than in the wealthy part of town where people were often smug and pretentious and could be so entitled. She had to have another talk with the postal worker and caught him just as he was leaving. Someone’s been breaking in again. Let me show you. She keyed her slot and pulled it open and then gripped the metal with her hand and pulled and the upper metal rim that ran along the tops of all the mailboxes pulled out slightly from the wall. See? Anyone can access anyone else’s mail! Can you get this fixed? He had already lost valuable seconds on his route. Miss, I just deliver the mail. He pushed the row of boxes back into the wall. Please don’t mess with that. Yes! But who do I talk to? If I have a credit or bank card coming, it’s likely to be stolen. The man shrugged. He started to wonder if she was a thief. People were strange like that and would show you something just so they wouldn’t be fingered for a crime. You all have got to talk to one another. Find out what’s going on. Someone probably just lost their mail key, so they’re opening from the top to get into their own mailbox, not yours. But sir, she protested, the box is broken! He shook his head. You all need to communicate. Knock on doors. With that he walked out the front door and on to the adjacent apartment building. But it’s a federal offense! She yelled after him. She put her hands in her hair and sighed. She was worried less about the neighbors and more about shoddy careless government officials. The people here were kind and demure and often just trying to get by. Grounded in reality. She could hang her messed up head of hair out the window on a Sunday morning and scream at god and nobody would care.

In the drug store on the corner a two liter slipped from her hands. An older woman was pulling sugar from the shelves and the bottle was rolling toward her soft shoes. A nagging back ache prevented her from helping physically but she had kind words to speak which in her youth would have remained kind thoughts. Be sure to open that over the sink when you get home, dear … but if you put it back and get another, well, I didn’t see anything! She tried to wink but due to a faulty eyelid she blinked.

She smiled and picked up the bottle at the older woman’s feet. What, and let someone else buy it and get blasted by soda? That had happened to her before. She took it home herself and loosened the cap a little over the sink to let the pressure out. Then poured herself a glass over ice and lit a candle for company. Her face could breathe. She was tired of people and sick of being on television. Her life was a nightmare of giant human-operated cameras staring her down. She only had tonight and she would make every second count. Tomorrow it would start all over again. She would shower, make tea, dress, lock up, wait for the bus, take an elevator up the high rise, greet everyone, small talk, get made up, compose herself, become all business, sit up straight in her seat, deal with any and all last minute adjustments of lighting getting situated, check the clock, the teleprompter, look into the lights. This life was not the one she had imagined for herself but it paid the bills. At the end of every day she went home alone and, despite everyone and their mother prying into her love life or wondering why in her late twenties she wasn’t yet married with kids, it was her choice and this was how she liked it.   

by  #katyamills

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