Saturday, April 4, 2015

Memory | Apartment 221

"I think memory is the most important asset of human beings. 
It's a kind of fuel; it burns and it warms you...
That's why I want to write a book."
-Haruki Murakami

The penthouse was always warm. I remember that. 
I am standing in front of the upright piano by the penthouse window. I run the back of my index finger gently along the length of the white piano keys so the notes do not play but I can distinctly hear the tick tick tick tick of my fingernail as it moves from key to key. I turn to look outside when thunder cries a warning of approaching rain. In surprise at seeing the sky, I back into the piano which protests with a series of dissonant chords. The sky is a painful magenta that stings my retina like a billion tiny needles. A soft creak comes from the piano bench next to me like someone just sat on it. I look around and, seeing no one, look back outside. A cool breeze curls the hairs on my neck and I turn around again, expecting somebody to be there. I am alone. 
Hello? My voice sounds far away and empty in my ears. I take a step forward and find that the ground is covered in a foot of water. There must be a leak or a plumbing problem that began after I left. I knew Maggie Bitch shouldn't have fired me. Looking around the room I see a flash of blue reflecting in the water that has risen to my hips. The wall is covered in blue graffiti like the kind from the alley. My eyes scan a phrase 
The dark messenger will be forgotten

Memory is an odd thing. So much is forgotten, I think before noticing that the water is up to my neck.

I awake with a splutter, jerking my head out of the sink where I must have fallen asleep, and wiping the chocolate sauce-infused water out of my eyes. Christine is standing, unimpressed, at the entrance to the kitchen, arms folded, hip cocked, and eyebrows up. Her mouth is a straight line, tight and rigid. "Go home Troy."
I open my mouth in panic to protest and soapy water dribbles out over an open box of cupcakes on the counter.
Christine cringes and continues, as if reading my mind, "You're not fired yet, don't worry. It's hard to take night classes and keep up a job, I understand. But Troy, don't expect me to let you off the hook so easy next time. Go home and get some sleep. I expect your full dedication in the future."
I nod and blink a few times.
"Please take those cupcakes with you. It's your mouth or the trashcan." She motions to the box of soapy water covered cupcakes on the counter in front of me.
I pick up the box and hurry home. "...let you off the hook so easily," I correct under my breath once I'm out of hearing range. Does anyone use adverbs anymore?
Once back in the safety of my apartment, I examine the soggy cardboard box. The cupcake in the top right corner is untouched by the soapy water monsoon so I pick it up carefully, scrape off the icing into the trashcan, and bite into the cake part. It could be worse, I guess. 
After three hours of dreamless sleep, I eat a second cupcake with the icing scraped off and brush the crumbs out of my pseudo-beard. I look at my reflection in the microwave window. Pseudo-beards are not a good look for me. 

For the first time in a long time, I shave and shower. The water in the shower is clear, refreshing, and not chocolate-infused. I close my eyes and let it run over my recently shorn face.

I also apply deodorant for the first time in a while. Feeling sufficiently appropriate for the public, I leave Dreamwood Terrace just before ten.
Arriving early, I settle down in my usual chair towards the center of the advanced creative writing class. Next to me, a man close to my age is already here, sketching with a stub of a pencil. I lean away from his elbow in fear of his fast, jerking movements and the potential harm they could do. He is hunched over the paper such that I can't clearly see his face but he looks somewhat familiar. 
What's he doing here? Go to a visual arts class for that shit, man, I think to myself.
A tap on my arm pulls me away from my thoughts. Oh God, the man is Rick, the bartender at O'Harleys. I raise an eyebrow to which he flicks a smile and gestures at his pencil that has fallen under my seat. Handing it to him, I must look confused, because he explains, "Recently I've found a new passion for writing. Like, I've always loved drawing but I want to pursue this too, I think. Hard to believe bar-tending isn't my dream job, huh?" 
"Oh, yeah." I mumble, returning a smile.
"You came in the other day didn't you?" He continues. "Yeah! You showed up like exactly at opening time right?"
"No judgement man. We open at eleven for a reason."
"I suppose you do."
"Anyway, thanks for uh-" he waves the pencil around and gets back to his sketch.
I nod and smile but he is too absorbed in the drawing to notice.
Students begin to trickle in and I pull out my pen. I glance Rick's pencil and roll my eyes.

I like pens more than pencils. They're more permanent. I like to think that I have a more permanent, lasting contribution to the world. 

Class begins. There are smarter people in advanced creative writing than the intro class but some people still make my skin crawl with their utter stupidity. 
Stop pretending you're deep when you're just lonely, I want to say. 
Even so, I stay silent.
Loneliness can be alright. It gives people space to be with their memories.

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