Saturday, March 19, 2016

Alternative View of Love, Grief, and Desire, Katy Comber

The Days
by Katy Comber 

Day 1
Chelsea woke up grinning from last night’s dream of him. Energized and ready to face the world, she sprung out of bed and hopped in the shower. 

Day 374
Chelsea woke up, still shaking from her nightmare. Not another day. The thought of getting out of bed settled on her as if it were sheet of chainmail. Her to-do list consisted of 1) sit up. 2) remove blankets. 3) place feet on floor. The list swirled around for a moment, broke, and halted. Chelsea closed her eyes. 

Day 503
Chelsea woke up with a yearning to be anywhere but here… anywhere but where she would think of him. She took out her suitcase, threw some random things in, picked up her jar of tips--the amount in that jar would chose her next destination. She needed to go. Now.

Day 1
With a bounce in her step, Chelsea flitted around her cozy studio apartment and threw on the outfit she selected so carefully the night before. Today was the day. Ray would find out that she wanted him as more than a friend and confidant. Chelsea needed to look her best.

Day 374
Ray--his deep brown eyes appeared and gazed in her mind the moment Chelsea tried for a dreamless sleep. 

Day 503
Ray wouldn’t haunt her in… Philadelphia, one way ticket: $67, of that Chelsea was certain. 

Day 1 
Chelsea bit into a hot, buttery croissant and nearly hummed to herself with pleasure-- everything tasted amazing, looked amazing, sounded amazing… just amazing, like Ray; he too, was amazing. 

Day 374
Chelsea’s stomach churned at the memory of his eyes, and she was reminded of the last thing she ate--a cup of lime Jello from the nurse with the concerned but friendly eyes. Lime Jello had been her favorite, but now the thought of it...Chelsea lurched toward the bathroom.  

Day 503
The aroma of fresh bagels and percolating coffee wafted over, and Chelsea counted her change--she had enough for a week of small meals and shelter, the closet of a room she inquired about online looked promising for $80. She needed a job as soon as she got off the train.  

Day 1 
The skirt Chelsea selected so carefully 12 hours before rustled softly by her ankles, the breeze swept through her loose curls, and the vibrant leaves seemed to brighten with every step. Autumnal New York was the place to be in love. Chelsea could see herself living here forever. 

Day 376
The bathrobe clung to Chelsea’s body, and she was sure it smelled of body odor and dried remnants of the time she threw up, Was that last night? The night before? and didn’t quite make it. 

Day 503 
The jeans Chelsea had thrown on in her urge to get out the door as quickly as possible flared out and covered her favorite flats; the hem was tattered and wet from the slush of leftover snow, black and polluted. 

Day 1
The office building where Chelsea and Ray worked was a converted old factory in which three companies shared space; Chelsea worked in the open and airy publisher's’ office on the top floor with views of the meatpacking district--Ray worked in the accounting office on the third floor, today the exposed brick walls and large windows looked spectacularly beautiful, and Chelsea felt the incredible blessing of her life, her dream job, her City. 

Day 376
The tiny apartment was dark, Chelsea’s black out curtains had not moved in days, dust settled on the collected NYC chotskies covering the empty spaces in front of the hundreds of books her parents groaned about on Moving Day three years ago--the books, wall-to-wall/floor-to-ceiling shelves, a bed, a small table and a mini fridge--all she needed to be content, and content she was until…the blackness came back and the gatekeeper of memories guarded Chelsea as she closed her eyes and slept. 

Day 503
The train station whirred and hummed with the typical organized chaos of a place that is routine for some and extraordinary for others. After parking herself into a seat with its back against the wall, Chelsea opened her laptop and began to research jobs and rooms for rent online--her sudden disappearance from the publishing office would not result in a job recommendation, she would have to get a waitressing job like the one she had until last night when Ray walked in with a date holding his hand and beaming up at him… Chelsea wouldn’t be able to count on her boss there either. The clattering dishes and her hollow yelp echoed from the darkness that filtered her mind. The gatekeeper did not resist as memories flooded over her and adrenaline shot through her body. A couple of men who had been staring at her moments earlier shifted their eyes away at the transformation of a plain-faced beauty hidden in lumpy clothes and a curtain of tangled black hair to a quaking girl; one man, who continued to stare, empathetically considered the ramifications of drugs. 

Day 1
The coffee cart had a line, and there Ray stood, waiting with two coffees and a white sack clutched between the containers in a flimsy cardboard carrier--he was so generous and kind, he knew how she took her coffee, he had listened to Chelsea over months of lunches and coffee dates. She talked to Ray about her life, her family; and as the two became friends, she disclosed the recent disintegration of her relationship with her high school sweetheart, the man she had intended to marry, the man for whom she had saved herself, a promise the two high school students solemnly made to their youth group leader Sophomore year... Ray knew everything about her and there he stood, waiting, still… Chelsea felt her heart flip. 

Day 376 
Chelsea felt her heart flip... the darkness was receding… Ray.

 Day 503
Chelsea felt her heart flip, hairs on her arm stood on edge at the thought of him. She closed her laptop and swiftly packed it into the backpack by her feet; she began to pace as she waited for her train, her escape, to come to its platform and take her away. 

Day 1
Chelsea grinned up at Ray and reached for her coffee. I want you, she whispered in his ear. His brown eyes widened and danced.

Days 2-364
Ray was the perfect gentleman, he was kind and loving, he listened to Chelsea, he loved Chelsea, he wanted Chelsea… he tried to be patient, Chelsea had made him wait so long, when she was late for their first date, he shouted because he was concerned… when men looked at her, he yelled because he didn’t like her being objectified like that, he was protecting her, when he… it was because he loved her, he loved her, he loved her… he--

Day 365-373
A one year anniversary... Lingerie too sheer… Lipstick too red...Darkness… memories--blocked-- The nurse with the kind eyes… lime Jello spooned into a purple and yellow mouth that cannot open too wide.

Day 503 11:01 am
Chelsea’s edge began to fade away as she paused and looked at the ticket in her shaking hand. Here she was. She was running from her dreams, from the life she built into a LIFE, not just from hurt and pain. Fight or flight wrestled inside her. Seeing Ray last night with that beautiful girl… Chelsea wondered, for the first time, about the girl. Flight. Fight. Flight. Fight. Fight. Fight. Chelsea wondered about the girl. 

Day 503 11:07 am
Chelsea left the station. The crisp New York City air pierced her lungs, and Chelsea breathed as though she had been holding her breath for over a year. 

Day 503 11:01 am 
Hurt and pain enveloped her. 

Day 503 11:02 am 
With one step in front of the other, Chelsea chose to leave the platform. Chelsea chose Fight. Chelsea chose to--

Days 503 11:02 am-present


Chelsea chose to live.  

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