My fingers lingering on the smooth metal handle of Prudence’s door, I glance down abstractly noting my untied bootlace through eyes blurred by her sincere interest in me.
Treading carefully down the hall, I find myself accepting the warmth of her concern with a partial smile; thinking, she’s kind, though mistaken. I’m certain, Ms. Nobles shouldn’t worry about me, though she probably feels she warrants her vested interest. That one night in particular only senility would erase, if then, I think, though I’m convinced that Prudence isn’t inclined in that direction.
Anyway, that night finding Seneca, our last conversation—between he and I—left me incoherent, a limp and emotional mess outside this building, I recall after closing my apartment door. It caused both doorman and lobby attendant to attribute my loose footing to a drunken stupor.
I appreciated her personal interest and their kindness, she afterwards ensuring that I wanted for nothing in the way of emotional support. She and her friends would drop off flowers and cards and ring my phone showing me the value of good neighbors.
The only thing is: I am grateful; but I’ve haven’t actually invited her into my life and my personal business. I am an adult; so am I not qualified in making some serious decisions? . . . Haven’t I been doing that all along?
And anyway I had only one drink, I recollect, making certain that the running water for my bubble bath doesn’t scald. Stripping, I let my body slide down the back of the porcelain tub, totally, hoping to submerge some of the sketchy constantly resurfacing memories. But I can’t. His words, “What kind of sick chick are you? Is this a game? A game for you too?” He paused, his eyes suddenly sorrowful as he ended with, “You were the one good thing that came out of that time period; the only thing I didn’t regret. I had high hopes for you, Diamond, but I guess genetics; both your mother’s and grandmother’s are just too strong.”
In my mind those words translated, “Garbage begets garbage.” The insinuation singes even now. “Garbage. Trash.” The terms tore at me; tear at me. A whip slashing my pride, its tip nicking my heart. Many years of doctoring the hurt from abandonment, building my self-esteem, then one moment ripped away my self-respect. Nothing touched the self-hatred I felt that night.
I fled. I remember banging my knee against the corner on the office door, seeing bright flashing lights, when the close pounding heaviness from a man’s pursuit absolved all thought of pain.
My breath burning my throat, I stumbled through the tables, the nearing exit my aim, not knowing which man gained in quick chase.
Then, I felt strong fingers gripping my shoulder, screaming, Seneca! before his deep, “Diamond, stop--,” was cut short; his hand sliding off my skin. Free, I reached the street, a taxicab lingering due to that night’s session. I yanked open the door, begging the driver to speed off, turning to see Seneca and the young man in battle.
The water turned lukewarm as the bubbles disintegrate.
What time is it? I wonder; feeling nauseated.
The bathroom clock reads: Nine thirty?
No wonder I feel sick—refusing to attribute any of my discomfort to the recent memory. I am starving. I haven’t eaten all day.
Climbing out, I don a robe headed for the kitchen, slowing down to tour the apartment. I had missed my wingchair at the end of the hall. And low and behold, my philodendron survived; she flourished beautifully—Oh.
I had forgotten that I asked a housekeeper to take care of the plant, until I saw it. And the place smelled great; all in direct conflict with Mom’s place—even though that house is still special to me. It seems an eternity since I’ve been inside these walls. Dragging my hand along the windowsills of the tall arched windows I loved, I gazed out onto Manhattan, stroking the silk drapes, which add elegance to my eclectic style, until I reached my French doors leading onto the patio.
I retrieved my celebration bottle of champagne from when Nanette offered me my first big account, figuring, I might as well open it now, since I’ve lost the account. Before clearing the glass, I make myself a BLT sandwich, which I eat while sipping the reminder champagne before the living room’s fireplace.
I’m home in my beautiful home, I think, since it’s been a taxing day.
I see the blinking answer machine, but don’t want to be disturbed right now. Everyone’s heard my message; though I’d better make a new one stating: I’m back.
But I block out work, which reminds me of Nanette’s anger. Instead I sit reliving a couple of emotions I’d experienced today—the foreign, though exhilarating ones involving Sky. After thoughts about Cowen and reminders about Seneca, Sky’s attentiveness built me up.
After a while I feel that I can deal with Nanette. I decide; I won’t give up that easy. I’ll just march into her apartment tomorrow with a whole slew of ideas.
“The luggage!” I’ve got to call the airport.
Before calling I listen to my messages. The first voice, sounds like Mom? An animated Mom using the word, “accident?”
An accident? I replay the message.
“Diamond, honey. I’ve been in an accident. Can you please come straight home?”
Home? I can’t believe this; Mom I am home. I just got here.
This was the first time in a while that I felt partially myself; I’m not wanted there; and she wants me to come rushing back?
The message was recorded at two o’clock and I haven’t received another from her. Plus, it didn’t sound as if she’d called from the hospital, so she must be all right.
I sit awhile regretting the fact that I hadn’t told her I wasn’t coming back. Now it seems sort of a mean trick to pull.
But I don’t want to go back, I whine, childish. With Mom and her wish that I were dead and Vie’s and Jackie’s antics there was nothing for me there. It took them to help me realize that I love my life here.
And what about Sky tomorrow? . . . And shopping for Nanette’s redemption?
I feel bad for Mom, but for myself too. To turn right around and go back? . . . Is she serious? . . . Why does she think I would want to? . . . And what happened? . . . How did Mom have an accident? suddenly remembering that I had gotten the car towed.
Instead of savoring the rest of the evening, I give the airlines a call to get set up for the earliest possible flight tomorrow. I’m going to have to put on plans for Nanette and Sky on hold for a minute.
I grab a wine glass filling it with a couple of cubes of ice and more champagne not caring if this is the way it’s done. Then I light a set of candles, placing them on the small bistro table on the patio, though the wind keeps blowing them out despite the hurricane glass. So I turn on the gas fireplace instead, settling on the sofa between the set of French doors in the living room.
I watched the many lights of Manhattan through the glass doors, planning on enjoying my own bed—at least tonight--without sags or needing to become a contortionist. Matter-of-fact, I’m planning on enjoying this whole evening.
Funny. The only consolation to going back was Emanon. An inspirational cat.
I’ve got to think up a suitable name for her.