I’m making my rounds at the local thrift stores. I get into my car and drive, in search of that one thing. I don’t know what it is, but the magnetic lure of finding it pulls me towards each store, with their pealing tinted windows and musty aisles. I open the door and scan each building, constructing my plan. I grab a cart and head to the book section, digging for titles to add to my bookshelves. Always searching, always digging, always so terribly terribly alone. I walk up and down the aisles, my eye trained to find treasures for my home. An old coffee carafe, a brass lipstick holder, a porcelain ashtray that someone picked up during their travels to someplace I am not. Up one aisle, down another, tossing things in my cart, unable to pass up a deal on any vintage item. It had a history, a past, and someone loved it at some point, yet here it sits, in a thrift store, next stop, trash can. Unless I rescue it.
I take my wares to the counter and pay. I make eye contact with the cashier but she doesn’t save me. She never reaches out or asks me why I’m so sad.
“Please. Please pray for me,” I silently beg. ”I’m dying…”
“Have a good day,” she tells me.
“You, too,” I say, holding back tears.
I take my bags out to my car and sit in the front seat, air conditioning blowing, treasures discarded in the back seat. I take deep breaths. I beg the sadness to leave, but it weighs my body down. My limbs are lead, my eyes droop, too weak to hold themselves up. I had hoped to be rescued, but now I’m back in my car, again. Headed home.
When I get home, I put my bag with all of the other unopened bags. My dining room corner is a graveyard for memories… other people’s memories. I turn on the tv. I flip through channels. I move some books around on my book shelf. I look in the kitchen for something to eat. I go to the bathroom. I stare in the mirror and don’t recognize the person looking back at me. She never smiles. I used to.
I go into my closet and look through my dresses until I find my favorite vintage summer frock. I put it on, pull my hair back into a french knot. I place my sandals on my feet, touch up my toenail polish. I swipe the blood-red lipstick across my lips and add a line of black across the top of each lash. I darken the mole above my left eye. I stand in front of my closet mirror and the person looking back at me has a charmed life. She is beautiful. She is perfect. Nothing bad ever happened in her world. I am now ready to go.
I leave the house and head to the coffee shop in The Circle. I stand in line at the counter, surrounded by people who all know each other, engaged in rapid conversations, roaring with high pitched laughter. I am in a vacuum, surrounded by noise, my head soaked in total silence.
Inside I scream, “Please! Help me! I’m drowning. Don’t you see how badly I’m hurting? Can’t you please, please help me?”
No one responds.
It’s my turn at the counter. I order my usual, the girl compliments my broach. For a moment, my heart smiles. She knows who I am. She remembers my order. She likes my broach. I must be alive. People must see me.
I take my coffee and sit by the window at my favorite table. I look out at the patio, at the cars circling the fountain. I pray that someone will ask to join me. That I will catch someone’s eye. But no one comes. I pull out my journal, and my favorite pen, and I begin to write.