Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Sarah

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2015 at 1:38 pm

rose

At first I thought she was a ballerina—coming at me through the woods—shadowed by a night that was just beginning.  But as my eyes became familiar with night, I saw that she was but a girl in a skirt—not a dancer—and standing perfectly still with no intention to walk.

It was not unusual for me to, at first anyway, misinterpret what I saw.  A shadow becomes an ominous rat racing in the corner of my room to flatten out under the kitchen cabinet and escape.  A threatening shout from a man across the street stopped for a light, I believe to be cursing me when, as it turned out, he was beckoning a co-worker whom he had promised to meet for lunch.

Ralphy says it is paranoia on my part.  Probably due to stress.  He admonishes me to take up yoga; to stop in the afternoon for green tea.  I remind him I’m from Sussex, England and that I drink black tea and that green tea is insipid and more accurately described as a vegetable.  I remind him we call it a ‘cuppa’ and that I hardly wait till afternoon but drink all day long.  I am so wrapped up in the details of tea that both he and I manage to forget about the yoga.  Perhaps I’ll consider it another time.  Now I mainly run 5 miles a day.

But because of what Ralphy calls my paranoia, I run more quickly and with that distinct and particular flavor that I am running away.

It is clear to me, however, that these shadowy, lurking elements in my life are real and not imagined and that in some remote way that I can’t put my finger on—I am in danger.

It started a couple of months ago.  I was dropping off my wool coat at the cleaners—the only thing I take to the cleaners and taking it now only so I could give it away and buy a washable coat.  Dry cleaning is so costly and no doubt those chemicals poison the earth. Certainly it hanging in my closet fresh from the cleaners would exude that chemical brew all over my room.  Rachel Feathers had given me that coat when it went out of style and she knew I didn’t care a hoot about style, but now that I think about it, she had planned all along that I would have the coat cleaned and let the dry cleaning chemicals fumigate my home, fill my lungs, poison out the last grey matter in my brain.  My heart would stop then.

They all would have won then, wouldn’t they?

I can’t allow that so that is why I am so watchful.

Having explained all this over and over again to herself across the mirror on the old-fashioned pink and beige vanity in the corner of her room—a furnished room she had rented eight months ago, Sarah felt clear yet again to hold her own against the vast array of forces that pressed in on her.  Clarity would solve little, she often thought despondently.  She weighed her options.  There were none.

Sarah was on the diminutive end of a spectrum on which women range from the most desired shape which is agreed upon by 79% of males…to the other end of the spectrum reserved for those not at all appealing; a hopeless mass of flesh that was better off never having been born. She wasn’t sure where diminutive fit on the spectrum and didn’t particularly care although it was a tantalizing thought that she might be being observed and assessed not to be marked for death but rather to win a place on the appeal-scale as it is applied to the sexes.  Not particularly threatening.

Let me start again.  Sarah isn’t even a friend of mine.  I read about her in the alumna news page from the now defunct Marymount College and the blurb on her may all have been a hoax.  Now that the college was defunct—although absorbed by Fordham—many people are making up students for the alumna news who had never even really existed.  Sarah may have been one of them.  I don’t know.

My own sister is named Sarah.  She has red hair too.  She is besieged by admirers and detractors alike—not because she is a star but because she is so gregarious and outgoing that inevitably hoards of people wind up congregating about her.  One of those, Rafi Alexander Martin, is dead.  Was killed. Strangled then shot. Or was it shot then strangled? I forget. And did he really ever exist?  I’m not sure.  But his killing did.  Yes, his killing still existed even in his absence.  Even if he never was.

But I do remember Rafi coming to our home once.  He was only seven.  Already he had dark brooding eyes.  His face was brown in a South Asian sort of way, but also because a low-hanging cloud floating about his rugged, angular face—even at that age rugged—filtered his appearance through a haze that allowed no light.

Rafi came over that night to see Sarah and work on homework—arithmetic I think it was—and to color.  He liked purple and ultramarine.  He liked the cool, darker hues.  He brought rice pudding with him. But a funny kind. With long strands—vermicelli I think he said.  I think he called it Kheer. It smelled of roses.  He smelled of roses and I remember thinking; I wonder what would happen to a boy growing up smelling of roses.  But now to find out the wondering was useless because after all he didn’t grow up, did he if they are all correct about him up and dying; strangled and gunshot? Smell of roses now gone to metallic gun powder odor. Then decay. Putrid.

I wonder about death.  What it is to die.  What it feels like in those very last moments and if you see Jesus or Mohammed or Krishna or Abraham or all four of them ‘coming to take you away (ha ha hee hee)’ like the old song goes.  What if they had come to Rafi’s wake (did he even have one?) and brought roses and laid them on his linen wrapped body to give him back the smell of roses. Once again. Maybe we could all go visit his grave (where is it?) on the Day of the Dead and sit there eating sugar skulls and Kheer.

I think that’s the only way we’d get to see Sarah again because surely she would come dragging a rag doll in one hand, forgetting just for a while if she was a child or had grown up.  Grown up terribly wrong and distorted and broken.

She now a broken sort of person filled with fears and horrors and a deep brooding despondency.  A broken person with flaming red hair that practically stood on end when she experienced fear, or when she ran, or when she tried to sort out just what is real and what isn’t.

And then, when she bent to give Rafi a kiss—he disappeared leaving behind a dusty powder rising in the air and the scent of roses.

-Annie Quintano

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