It is so very faded now, the red suggested in the folds. The sides are fallen, not only weathered, not even worthy of recycling. If a cigarette was left casually, even that would be gone and no one would remember how the barn had once been raised. We needed it for the lower pasture. There were things growing, cows giving birth, eggs in the coop. That was happiness. The boards came out of the truck, long and rough, shirt tied around his waist, sweating. The nails going in with steady rythym breaking through the birdsong, scaring them away. Hammering and cutting. The smell of cut wood strong then. Working simply, with a lunch break and long pulls of lemonade. Nothing is left of that. He can feel the anger simmering, the sorrow a scar in every attempted thought. The radio comes through in static gulps, the number of losses tallied. So why do the announcers sound nearly happy? Another flag to fold and place on top of the bookcase. Looking down when the gloved hands were proferred with murmers of expected sympathy. He lets himself hate, for a full three minutes, the sun coming down on his face hard before pulling his sunglasses back into place and driving away.
I wonder how long I can sit here. It’s busy now. I like watching people and hearing their bits of conversation. I like hearing their worries and excitement. Most of them seem too worried and angry. I think they like feeling that way, but maybe not. It just gets to be a habit you know. Lots of things do before you’re even aware of it. Then it can be too late. Changing things gets harder. And they’re all bored. They talk clipped, fast, with their shoulders hunched up, keeping up handles and bags close by their bodies. Trying to hold everything. It must hurt. I remember feeling tight like that. Relax, look relaxed. Look at the paper and my coffee. I get it simple, all black and whatever is the cheapest in large, extra large. I don’t leave the change in the clear box. I hurt by the end of the day too but I didn’t always know it. But then you could have a cocktail. Something with a toothpick, or a pink umbrella sticking out of it. Or maybe sex if you didn’t mind with who too much. Hooking up or blacking out. Or you could go to the gym and sweat. Going round and round like a gerbil on a wheel, or is it a hamster? I don’t remember. I kept the membership as long as I could, even after losing the apartment. Like that made all the difference. But everything has be done fast, efficient, scheduled in. I’m different now. I still have habits I wish I could change, but they aren’t the same habits. I miss that, and the boredom. With other people feeling the same. The total boredom of this one chore, getting the paper, reading the headlines. Ordering coffee, exact requirements of blackness, sweetness, levels of fat. There’s a separate language for it. They’re really good at it. They hardly look at anyone while they do these things. No one really reads the papers through all the way. Most of them, they don’t even touch the papers. Instead, they sit with their phones close to their faces or iPads or laptops. They stick things in their ears, bluetooth, headphones, little cords that attach to little boxes. They smell of their busy lives. Chanel, Calvin Klein, and many others that I can’t remember the names of. I wonder why I can’t remember. The monograms are everywhere. I should remember more of the names. Sometimes I have to work at it to remember, but if I can’t right away I make it up. This week I like the name I gave to the cop. Maybe I will keep it awhile. I do remember how my mom would use my longest name to call me in for summertime dinners. I remember how she would brush my hair in long strokes before going to school. My hair needs a good trim. Is this how the mind begins to slip? I was never a collector of monograms though sometimes I bought them because it helped me fit in. The quality was supposed to be better. It wasn’t always true. I will read the papers. Reading makes you a better person. And someone always has it worse off than you, the media will remind you of just how bad things could be. I will start from the front page and work all the way back to the ads. I like the smell of the newsprint. I don’t have a beginning to some of the stories but it’s okay. It’s like being plopped down in a middle of something important. You have to have an opinion about it, because it is important. Monkey minds. They get you worked up, on purpose you know. Like I am supposed to feel bad all the time. I’m not bad. I’m still a good person. Basically good, really. Afterwards, I will have to wash my hands again. They’re clean now. I got the soap under the nails this time. No one knocked on the door, so my hands are completely clean. I don’t smell but I wish I could wash my hair. I feel itchy. I miss my mom. I miss the gym. They had shampoo and clean towels. They had free lotion. I’m gonna have to leave soon. It’s better if you leave before they ask. Then you can come back later. The guy next to me is loud but that’s okay. He’s taking up space that otherwise might be where I’d be noticed. It feels good to sit here. But I don’t feel that comfortable. The chair is sticky. There are a lot of chairs in here all cramped together. Most of them are still filled. I don’t have to go yet. I am not one of them. Was I ever? It was a long time ago. Okay maybe not so long ago. But it feels long ago. I look like it was a long time ago. I couldn’t look in the mirror directly. I don’t look like I remember. There’s white in my hair now, and it is greasy and thin looking. But it isn’t messy. I have it tied back. I have combed it, there aren’t any tangles. But I do wish I could wash it. I wonder how fast I can manage that. I would need some shampoo. I tried once with soap. The kind that comes out of the dispenser. That just made it look worse though. It felt horrible for days. Then it rained. That was a good day. It rained but it wasn’t too cold. It felt okay down my neck and on my face. My body feels odd. Like a stick figure made of wires. Like a kindergarten drawing. I feel itchy, but I dare not scratch. I can feel someone looking at me. I won’t look up. I will study my coffee cup. I haven’t drank much of it yet. It will be cold soon. I like the taste either way. My hands look like someone else’s hands. I don’t remember how they got so rough looking. I don’t have anything left in the tiny lotion bottle. I like the gloves I found. They were sitting forgotten, maybe in this shop. I wonder if the person they belong to missed them at all. They’re mine now. Finders-Keepers. I wouldn’t give them back. I would say they were always mine. They were never theirs. They’re really perfect. No rips or pulls. They don’t deserve them back. I sat next to them for a long time before I put them in my sack. I pull them back on now to sip my coffee as if it is still really hot. I don’t always have morning coffee but sometimes I have just enough for an evening coffee. It doesn’t matter about the caffeine anymore. I don’t sleep much at night. I have to wait til the city gets really quiet and that usually isn’t until much later. Then it’s really beautiful. The quiet. It goes on and on, and you can feel the sound of your heartbeat. Until people start waking up. I don’t know how much longer I can sit here. I have too much stuff with me. I tried to find a safe place for it, but you never know. I’ve tried to squish the important stuff down tight in my pack. The man has left that was sitting next to me. He left the bottom of his bagel. He only ate the top half with the cream cheese. I slide the plate closer to my own cup. People waste things. It’s fun because you can afford to. I do it fast. I’ve made everything as small as I can. I lost my parka that way, but now I have a slicker. For now, that will be okay. Someone had stuffed it into the goodwill bin but not so far that I couldn’t pull it out. Its navy. It’s good to be such a dark color. The dirt hardly shows. The left pocket is completely gone, shredded. I wonder what had been in there that left it so completely shredded. What did it take to destroy it so fully? I am like that now. Shredded I mean. Like this pocket, that once could hold things. I can’t hold anything much anymore.