November Blue – Part 2
by Phantazein Studio
Continued from Part 1: https://untracings.com/2014/04/20/november-blue-part-1/
She was gone in forty two hours. The contents of her past eight years in Chicago were packed away and put into a storage unit on Addison street, minus all the items that they’d owned in common. She managed to fit everything into a five foot square unit, everything meticulously organized into a delicate, Jenga-like stack which would make it impossible for her to access anything inside without breaking into a twitchy sweat. She was happy with it this way. Even her own clothes carried fragments of his memories, his smell lingering in their seams, his downy hairs clinging to the fibers. She would go shopping for a new wardrobe. She turned the key and tugged at the lock twice before walking away.
Her footsteps ricocheted off the corrugated aluminum walls, producing an intolerable cacophony as she stalked towards the lift. The dark labyrinthal corridors swallowed her slight figure, reappearing at equidistant spots where the halogen lights illuminated it from above in a silent, pulsing rhythm.
The lift creaked its way up and she stepped into its enormous chamber. She thought of the previous times where she’d found herself in this storage building…transitionary periods in her life, the last occasion being between moves from her apartment to theirs. This was just one more move.
Once outside, the daylight dazzled her eyes in a blinding wash of white, expansive and intense. It was the last day of sunlight before the blizzard hit.
The timing was an omen. Her best friend happened to be leaving for vacation for a month in Iran and offered her huge loft in Wicker Park during her absence.
She’d emailed her the morning after her fiancé’s confession, giving a brief chronicle of the past twenty four hours’ events, still unable to carry on a coherent conversation due to the lingering shock. Her friend called her immediately and told her to come by the next day to pick up the keys.
That sanctuary on West Evergreen Avenue was the only saving grace of this period, where she spent the next month holed up with nearly no contact with the outside world. The city was transformed into an onerous snow globe within a matter of days. Nobody was coming in, and nobody was making it out. Sheets of perforated white eclipsed the muddled sky as the city was buried under unprecedented heights of snow.
She still couldn’t think of a way to break the news to her family so she didn’t. She spent Christmas under the sheets, trying to lull herself back into another twenty four hours of sleep, ignoring the persistent ring of her phone and the murmuring laughter seeping through the walls from her neighbor’s unit. On the eve of New Year’s Eve, an old college roommate finally managed to drag her out of her slumber for a few coked out hours where she spat out the whole story to her sympathetic friend and a couple of dealers in their apartment, exorcising her rancor between white lines until dawn. One of the dealers, a brawny Puerto Rican with a kind face whom she’d just met several hours ago sat stupefied upon hearing the end of the story. Damn, girl. That’s some crazy shit. He handed her the silver straw and nudged her on to do another line. She slept it off through New Year’s Eve itself.
Each of the thirty one days spent in that loft was intensely pain ridden in a way she’d never before experienced in her life, and that she hadn’t since recuperated the ability to feel. Her body underwent a gross transformation, the anguish eating away at her insides, layer by layer as her figure whittled away into a depressed, vacant shell. The floor around the bedside was covered in a fine web of hair which she’d been shedding steadily with each day of prolonged starvation, collecting into a dark tufted pile. One day she noticed a bump which had appeared above her groin, popping up from under her skin as she heaved a gutteral sob. She later learned that it was a hernia induced from the muscular strain during her periods of intense crying. She produced sounds she didn’t know she was capable of. Gut wrenching, entire body shaking sobs that caused the oak headboard to rattle against the wall, sending an eerie echo throughout the loft. She disappeared into herself, her pain, until she was no longer able to distinguish the two…one unable to exist without the insistent pull of the other. And so it went on for months.
By summertime she was able to return to work. She started out with small assignments, simple, unexigent tasks that didn’t demand too much concentration or creative investment. She’d subletted a small studio in Lincoln Park, outfitted with a twin bed, a wardrobe, and a simple desk facing the only window from where her mind would graze the landscape of calm domestication several stories below, just beyond the raindrop stained glass.
On the evening of the 4th of July, she sat on her fire escape, listlessly watching the families passing below her. The sky was a cotton candy pink, the last sliver of sunlight casting its benign rays onto her bare shoulders. She cracked open a floral motifed carton of Vogues, a kitschy souvenir she’d picked up from Monaco a year ago and removed one of the slim cigarettes, lighting it with a match. She took a long, languorous drag, the smoke curling up in delicate white tendrils through her fingers and into her damp bangs. Her heart was heavy and she marveled at how it was possible that the sadness could have remained as fresh as it was when the news broke. She took inventory of the past seven months and all that hadn’t happened during that stretch of unreality. All that she hadn’t accomplished. Meetings for writing gigs that she just wasn’t up for attending, let alone appearing functional for in front of clients. The friendships that had dwindled down to nothing after numerous unreturned calls and last minute bailed plans. Her novel that had remained untouched since she moved out of their shared apartment. A pang of regret, slow but unmistakably requisite hit her in the gut. She had to get out of Chicago and everything that smelled of those seven years, of him. She took a final drag on her cigarette before crawling back into the studio through the window and turning on her laptop, its long dormant little light flickering on. Outside, the first pops of fireworks crackled in the molten violet sky.
Click here for Part 3: https://untracings.com/2014/05/06/november-blue-part-3-2/