If she were the age you were, when you were her age, then things would have been different. She would speak like an angel. She would walk with a fork in her step, a bow in her chippered limp. But she is not an angel. Jorjian Brown knew this. There were things she had done. People she had done. Men she had done. Girls she had kissed. That night Gladys Murphy. She had kissed her at a cocktail party—or as close to that kind of a party she had ever been invited to. She had noticed her for hours. Speaking softy to other guests. Wondering why no one had met her downtown last night.
“It was awesome. Killer booze-fest.”
Jorjian wondered. Amazed at Gladys’s brashness. Only Jorjian possessed such awareness, or so she had thought. She wondered why the world felt so ashamed that day. But it was only Jorjian that could speak about it, so she continued.
Jorjian counted the hours. She consumed goods and pillaged for more. Beer and junk, beer and junk. She counted candy in her mouth. Melting. She awoke in a trailing pool. Who had cut themselves above her? Why hadn’t anyone noticed and awakened? No. It was her that had vomited. On herself. ON the carpet. On the bed. Down her throat. And her roommate sat on the bunkbed across from her. Another distant drifter taken in by the grace of the Army, the Army of Salvationists, crying because the smell stung her nose and the sight frightened her upstate sensibilities. The roommate would return home to her cocker spaniel that week, forever to be away from Jorjian and all that she consumed.
She was wrong again, she supposed. She shouldn’t have eaten that joint. Jorjian grew sick with time, waiting for a mistake to take hold of her and drown out all worries. Things seemed forever frightened. Things seemed dismal under the shadow of her horrid bunk. Why had it taken so long for a world to be torn apart? Why had things corrected themselves so against her horrendous favor? She softly spoke the words of her counterpart, Jesus himself.
“I know you couldn’t be there. I know you had counted on me too.”
Drifting in and out of the day, things swung by gracefully that Friday. Into Monday. Someone cracked a window, letting in sooty fourteenth-street air. A can of mustard that was chilling on the windowsill’s outer point of no return, almost fell, darted towards the earth’s cold covering. She caught it. Whoever had cracked the window caught it. Jorjian sank under her wool, back till Tuesday eve.
She had to come up for life sometime. Her sweatshirt was ten times too big. A bleach spot stained her appointed air of confidence. Alone in her bunk, she was a sooter, an embankment of all things fractious. She shivered with an empty stomach. Ate a tortilla.
“Great party.” Someone mumbled from the bunk above her.