Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

#6

In Prose on June 8, 2012 at 11:30 am

She wore many faces. She practiced them in the mirror. She posed – she dressed the part, whatever the part might be – until her body’s stance felt authentic. She shifted from one leg to another. She placed a finger against her cheek with a fake smile, like Betty Boop. She wasn’t sure which face she liked best, but certainly her angry face – fiercely angry, when really she was happy – was one of her favorites.

She left the mirror, the comfort of her home, the bed strewn with an assortment of outfits and a bathroom counter with combs, brushes, ribbons, her clips of different shapes and colors – and ventured outside, having decided that today she would be Hazel lexington, a stripper by day, a law student at night. The fact that she was actually a middle-aged receptionist at a life insurance company in Chelsea did not faze her – did not influence her new identity. She was on vacation and could use the time however she wanted.

After all, yesterday she had been Sister Mary Margaret of the Divine Face and Hands, and jingled large rosary beads and wore a large wooden ruler in the sash of her long black garb.  She had shouted more fire and brimstone than imaginable at anyone who bought cigarettes at the newsstand on West 4th Street, until she was driven away by the vendor, who threatened her with police. She considered standing her ground, being arrested and lacking ID, going through the system, but she had plans for that evening. Plans to be Glow – a nightwalker along Tenth Avenue – and needed the time to change clothes and put on mascara. So, with regret, she abandoned the newsstand, but not without a final flare of indignation and condemnation.

It was not that her life has been in any way boring; it was more that despite its spicy diversity, she was bored with it. She had a tendency ti wander from one job to another, to cut her hair then let it grow, to gain friends and just as quickly lose them. She found that on most Wednesdays she loved hot dogs, but on Thursdays she hated them. Although soap operas appealed to her one day she detested them another, and instead preferred the operas from the Met. She suffered from restless leg syndrome, GERD, lactose intolerance, photophobia, constipation, and anything else she had gleaned from Dr. Oz.

She vacillated between black tea, green tea and red tea, but in the end usually stayed with some ordinary deli coffee taken light and sweet.

When out and moving at a frenetic pace fueled by caffeine and a generalized anxiety disorder, it was not unusual for her to bump into someone who stopped short in front of her, or for a rushing pedestrian to step on her foot. She waxed angry and indignant, put-upon and in pain, but all the while was secretly happy. There was something about the cumbersome hustle and bustle, the inadvertent piling up of human traffic at the corners and its inevitable crushing of toes, the scrapes and scratches from manicured nails vying for a grip in the subway cars, hat delighted her, that caused inner peals of laughter to rumble her stomach – a stomach not without an inclination toward excessive acid and bleeding ulcers.

She couldn’t determine for sure the source of her delight, but imagined it had something to do with feeling fully alive. Something to do with a long-ago dream of leaving Madison, Wisconsin and its endless logs of cheddar cheese, and coming to New York City starstruck, despite the harangues of her mother that she didn’t have it in her to really leave, and of her father that she wouldn’t last a week.

She had looked to her sister Mary Kate for some weigh-in on the situation – some encouragement or support or belief. She remembered how Mary Kate had rustled up a frown, glared an angry face at her, but had secretly been happy.

Annie Quintano

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