A Day In The Life Of Billy Jee

July 27, 2008
By Claire Sislo, Eagle River, WI

The AM was always the worst for Billy Jee. The sunlight woke her up, a rude awakening, screaming in her ears and blinding her eyes. She struggled to lift her skinny arm to scratch her crusted eyelids, which were still black from the day before's mascara. She slowly rose from the mattress, and stared in the small mirror on the wall. There was red lip gloss smeared to the cheekbone that looked as if her cheek were cut open. Billy wiped off the gloss, and felt for the tube in her pocket. She held it up to the light. It was called wild cherry, which was exactly the opposite of her feeling at the moment. To her, it looked like pomegranite blood.

Although it was morning, and the sunshine was flooding her room, it still looked dark, like a midnight alleyway. Maybe it was the eyeliner. Maybe it was nothing, but the whole room was shadows. A knock at the door.

Billy fingered through her hair and wiped off her dried mascara. The knocking continued, and Billy was sure that if knocking was a language, these knocks were pissed off. She opened the door quickly, to prevent the growing fury. Outside was Ms. MacGretch, the tenant of the slummy building. She was a grotesquely fat woman, who smelled like cat pee and dollar deodorant. She was the typical rent lady, always in a a dirty green bathrobe, who always had her hair in curlers she would never take out. She had a nasty habit of licking her lips, as if everything she saw was her favorite food. The smacking and slurping of her tongue drove Billy crazy, but she tolerated the sound for another delay on rent payment.

Ms. MacGretch held her hand open, revealing a dirty palm. "Rent Billy, I'm asking for November's rent." She huffed.

November? What month was it? It didn't matter, she didn't have the money. "Sorry MacGretch, next time I swear." Billy paused, contemplating shutting the door in the woman's face. MacGretch had felt Billy's idea and grabbed the door with her dirty, chubby hands.

"Ah Ah," MacGretch tisked, "I need my money Billy Jee, it's Febuary. You owe me."

Billy caught hold of her side of the door. "I owe everybody." She corrected her, slamming the door shut. She could hear MacGretch heave a sigh, and stomp off, hurling insults at the ragged door. It wasn't that she didn't plan on paying MacGretch, rather that she couldn't. Money was scarce these days, most of Billy's earnings were invested in transportation to and from work, and the rest was for scraps of food here and there. Food was on Billy's mind all the time now. When she was hungry, she asked herself if she deserved it. Now was a good time. Dealing with the MacGretch was enough to send a jolt of pain through all her organs..

Billy opened the small cupboard above the rusty oven in the kitchen. Today there were choices. This made her stomach dance around inside her, pushing and pulsing against the other organs. There was a can of olives, curteosy of the neighbors trash, a spoiled apple, and a bag of candy corn. The fridge had nothing but a box of oily fish sticks, which Billy would save for a special occassion. She opted for the candy corn, as it was most like a breakfast cereal.

She picked at the candy, her chipped black nail polish clashing with the vibrant orange and yellow. She felt like a witch on halloween, with her black nail polish and her candy corn. The thought made her smile a little, which wasn't something that happened often.

The little penguin clock on the counter glared at her. It was almost work time, which meant that she had better move quickly. She popped a few more candies in her mouth before heading to her bedroom. Since she worked at an old thrift store downtown, she could wear whatever she wanted to. Billy dug through a pile of clothes until she found a pair of ripped jeans and a plaid shirt, which she pulled on immediatley. She opened the door to the little apartment and locked it carefully. Billy realized that the idea of locking her door was pointless. One kick and the door would certainly come down, and besides that, there was nothing to steal.

Outside the apartment building, the air was fresh and cold. It stung Billy's face like a million tiny bees, and her nose actually began to bleed. She let it run down her face and on to her plaid shirt. It would give the clothing character, she was sure. People stared at her, like they stared at the paper clip tattoo she did herself on her forearm. Someone stopped, right in front of her.

"Excuse me." Billy Jee pardoned herself, begining to walk around the stranger.

"Billy?" The stranger asked.

Billy looked towards the figure. He was a tall man, well dressed in a suit and tie. What was he doing in this part of town? He was a handsome man, a clean man, one that was surely living in the suburbs with a nice car, a master bedroom, a wife that kept his suit filled closet vacuumed everyday. And he knew her name. Billy, poverty stricken Billy. The Billy who wasn't bothered by bums because some of them used to be friends. Billy who's blood was sliding down her face, over her lips, and onto her yellow plaid shirt.

"I'm sorry, I don't think that I know you." Billy told the man. She was embarrassed, so she wiped her nose blood with her sleeve.

"No, Billy, it's me." The man said, a smile tickling the corners of his mouth.

"You're a very helpful, clean person, I'm sure of it. You just aren't listed in my memory bank." Billy told him.

''Billy Jee! Franco, remember?" He said, smiling a white toothed smile.

Of course she remembered. Franco was her boyfriend of nearly two years. But he hadn't been clean cut like this. He lived in a slummy apartment with her and worked at a doughnut shop a block away. Sometimes in the morning, Billy would wake up and he would have a fresh glazed doughnut for her breakfast sitting on the kitchen table. But Franco was supposed to be dead, that's what the Right Left gang had said. They told him that he had been beaten to death for a couple dollar bills in his pocket. She never saw him again.

Now, Billy looked toward her old boyfriend. Franco stood there, that white smile nearly blinding her, with his arms extended. She walked into them, and he held her like a mother who had just found their lost son. The embrace was tight, forcing all the air from Billy's skinny ribs. She felt him nestle his face in her greasy hair, but she wasn't ashamed. This was who he used to be, this was who he used to love.

"I remember." Billy whispered to him, and he pulled his head back to examine her. He smiled and kissed her on the forehead. Franco, in his nice suit, and Billy in her bloody plaid, her ripped jeans.

"I still love you Billy Jee." He said back to her, his voice soft.

"I missed you Franco." Billy told him, wrapping her arms around his waist.

"Missed me?" Franco said slowly, his smile growing wide, "Billy Jee, where have you been?"

"Here. Here, where you used to be. Why didn't you come back?" Billy asked him, almost accusingly.

Franco's eyes blurred with happy tears. "What do you think I am doing, Billy Jee?"

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