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A Thing of Beauty
Broken glass mirrored my emotions in dark hues, in elusive shades of garnet, dark blue, amber and green. Shards of bottles that held vile spirits like alcohol and wine were the remnants of shattered dreams. Yet I felt that I could perhaps shape the shadows into a creation of art that captured the light.
My fingers played among the glass, dripping blood onto the filth of the junkyard.
Everything was dangerously silent, which wasn't surprising. Who would want to sort through ravaged parts of junk? Through aluminum cans that stank of stale beer, copper pulled from musty air conditioners, tires that were unthreaded, and glass that glittered deviously?
I felt it was my job. My responsibility.
People could find new, unblemished products, and use them if they wished.
When it was worn down and wasted, all you had to do was throw it away.
Trash it like it never mattered.
I sighed, and focused on the picture. The bigger picture, you could call it.
I let my mind wander as I worked, and eventually broke into the crescendo of a sad song. Preferably "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak.
Dark clouds skittered across the sky frantically, as if they were afraid that Portland would notice if they cried too hard. In Oregon, the sky had a way of weeping often. I had a theory, conjured up in the midst of this dirty junkyard, that the clouds mirrored what people were feeling. Perhaps the gods of the unknown above sensed the sadness, the longing, and the terrifying grief that I felt. That I imagined every soul felt in the crowded streets of the city.
That she felt.
People in California or Florida must be brilliantly happy people for the sun to sing all the time. I caught the reflection of myself in a puddle, and I grimaced.
I looked terrible.
Haggard circles had crept beneath my dark irises, and lines that could have mimicked misery tore across my alabaster skin. My black hair seemed like it would remain forever plastered against my skull. It rained too often for me to care about it.
I dashed my hand against the confounded water, and grinned when I found the ripples ate away at that miserable creature. When the water became still, what I wanted most manifested in the magical mirror.
I wrenched my entire body in a swift turn that must have looked nearly inhuman.
Let me burn in the deepest circle of Hades if I have ever lied about the concept of how much she means to me.
She sat in her usual way atop a broken down car in the junkyard. Her usual way was to curl her small body into a fetal position, her pale arms gripping her knees together, her heart-shaped face resting there. She had changed her hair again. Purple streaks screamed across black hair. Last time I had seen her, the streaks were an electric green.
I held my tongue. She would speak in that soft voice when she was ready.
She lifted eyes that contradicted the murky overcast. The irises were the shade of what the sky should look like: a mesmerizing blue.
It was our courteous way of a greeting.
I abandoned the dirt and blood, and slid into a casual position beside her.
"How are you feeling?" The question was a vital one. An important one. I asked it everytime she came to see me.
As if on cue, she tugged the long sleeves of her jacket down. I hardened. I wanted to find that vulgar man, and strangle him till his last breath became a plea of mercy. That would be the moment I would crush him beneath the hate pulsing through me.
"He hurt you again?" I tried to control the roaring contempt in my voice.
"Jude, stop it. It doesn't matter. He just got drunk again, that's all." She wouldn't look at me.
It doesn't matter. Did this heavenly, hellish creature understand at all what she meant to me?
"I don't give a da-," I started. I swallowed the bile that rose in my throat. "Alice. You don't have to put up with it. Why won't you leave?" It was a useless question. She sighed, and I knew she wanted me to pretend nothing had ever happened. That bruises didn't coat that white skin like macabre decorations or intricate tattoos. Hardheaded, beautiful girl.
"Alice," I wheedled and patted the rusty hood of the car, "this car is broken. Its owner didn't care about it. Didn't look after it. And after that car couldn't take it anymore, he just threw it out. But you know what, Al? This car's got a great engine. Just needs someone to look after it. It could run again," I said gently.
Tears pricked the corners of her eyes, and I pretended to look up at the sky for raindrops. She sniffed vehemently, and straightened her posture. Resolution began forming in her eyes. But it wasn't the sort of resolution I had been hoping for.
"Jude, don't waste your time on me. I'm not worth it."
I suppose she wanted to keep it simple, cliche. I wasn't having that.
She stood, and I copied the movement immediately.
She walked speedily away. As if escaping. From me? Why would she ever walk away from me? It should be that vile monster that dared to call himself a flesh and blood man that she should walk away from. I pursued her in a spirit of panic.
I caught her, and even as I swung her to face me, I was careful to be gentle with her. "Alice, I'll be the one to decide that."
She was already crying, and the sky seemed like it could contain itself no longer. It wept in a serious of broken sobs, and moaned with the wind.
I let her go then.
A chain link fence separated us, and I didn't know if she would come back. I wouldn't breathe until she did.
I turned toward my project with the vigor of a mad man, and surveyed what I had attempted to accomplish. A sculpture made out of broken glass.
A thing of beauty created from broken junk.
It wasn't finished, and I didn't know if it ever would be, but I had hope. I had hope.
I lifted my face to the sky and cried with the rain.