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'You're being impossible.'
'How is it my fault that you make absolutely no sense at all?'
'All I asked you to do was to eat the rest of your pork chops before you left.'
'That's just it! What the hell are pork chops and why are you trying to poison me?'
'A pork chop is a cut of meat cut perpendicularly to the spine of a pig and usually contains a rib or part of a vertebra.'
'Aren't pigs poisonous? Where did you find it?'
Shelly May sat with her back to the door in her five by seven room. She didn't want to leave it because the rest of their apartment smelled like death and asparagus. And she didn't want to think about the asparagus. There were no windows in her room but she had drawn one on the wall across from the door to look at. In the winter she would draw in happiness and in the summer she wished for sorrow. But her window never told the truth.
Shelly May didn't have many things in her room but they were all there nonetheless. A torn, brown blanket was crumpled in one corner and served as her resting place. She had only two outfits. She never wore the one though. It just hung lifelessly from a hook on the ceiling; a reminder of her forgotten future. In her room there was a ball taht entertained her some of the time but mostly she just drew on the walls.
Most days she would draw but it depended on what Harold Raymond wanted to do. Harold Raymond never drew on the walls.
Harold Raymond only wanted to do things on Tuesdays so that left Shelly May plenty of time alone with her pictures. Mostly her scribbling was realistic. Towering bears and elusive pigs, slimy dolphins and ugly mermaids.
Shelly May was like any other adult in Roya and dreamed of the impossible. Sometimes she wanted pigs to be real so bad that she knew they had to exist. Shelly May was different than the other adults in Roya and understood that sometimes fantasy is reality and often times what seems like reality is the fantasy; or something like that. But she never fully understood.
Harold Raymond was the first person, actually, the only person that had ever told Shelly May about the pigs. Harold Raymond was very animated and his wiry brown hair flew about him like a play doll when he spoke of his adventures. His eyes would shrink and his voice would tremble as if he were a priest talking to young sinner as his graceful movements transformed to strained jerks and spasms.
'I saw a pig once,' Harold Raymond testified with his constantly wavering tone.
'Where?' Shelly May whispered in her soft voice, always teetering on whether or not to speak.
'It was high up in a tree in the mountains,' he explained showing Shelly May with his hands as well as his words.
'What color was it?!' she gasped, on the verge of excitement. Her brown eyes bursting with green in anticipation as Harold Raymond paused in recollection.
Shelly May would ask Harold Raymond all sorts of questions every Tuesday to find out as much as she could about the pigs. Harold Raymond would tell her that their snouts were short and their ears where fleshy buttons that sat on top of their heads like slouchy hats. He would tell her how they ate only wild asparagus and would spit it out if they realized they were eating from a farm. Pigs were smart. Much smarter than Shelly May, he would say.
After Harold Raymond told Shelly May about the pigs and how they were poisonous because of the trees they lived in, he saw how much she wanted to meet one. He told her that he would go out and find her a pig.
'You should change your name.' Shelly May suggested.
'So the pigs don't remember you.'
'Yes!' she screamed with pleasure as he understood her point. If he were thinking logically he would have thought of it himself, Shelly May thought.
'How about Raymond Harold?' he pondered out loud.
'They'll never know!' she ran up to him and leaped with so much force she bruised her thin limbs when she hit him. Raymond Harold wrapped his arms around her delicate waist and played with the fringe of her dirty shirt dress.
Raymond Harold left that Wednesday. He told her that he would be back by Tuesday. Shelly May thought of the pigs while he was gone. What did they do? How did they survive in the woods with the bears? Who created them?- she had no idea. She began to think of what she would do all day if she were a pig. If Shelly May were a pig she would most definitely sing and dance all the time. But if pigs didn't have voices, she thought, she would just dance from tree to tree. But that was only if pigs liked dancing.
Days went by and Shelly May became more frantic with each one. Raymond Harold didn't know many pigs and what would happen to him if he met a mean one that didn't want to come home with him to meet her. With every thought she had, Shelly May slowly stopped thinking about mystical pigs and started worrying about Raymond Harold. Would he come back? Would he come back for her?
Dear Raymond Harold,
I'm worried that you will not come back this Tuesday without having found a pig. I don't care if you don't find one you can still come home. Send for me if you find trouble.
On Monday May Shelly changed her name thinking that the pigs could sense her on Raymond Harold and would avoid him because she knew of the pigs. May Shelly spent most of her day in her room because ith rest of the apartment reeked of him and it made her eyes water like onions. So she sat in her room and looked out her window where she could see two little pigs playing in the trees with Raymond Harold. Raymond Harold was waving his bony hand at her and smiling with his thin pink lips. If only her window could tell the truth for one day, she thought.
May Shelly lifted her small unclean hand and felt her own dry scabbed lips into a smile. Then she made a faint wave with her hand as she dropped it and crawled to the corner where her blanket was and slowly rocked her troubled mind to sleep. She had never felt that way. That she had ever needed Raymond Harold. But now that she knew he was gone, her soul felt like it was sitting in a room with no floor.
On Tuesday, May Shelly woke up falling. She looked at her window and decided that it was morning and drew a sun. May Shelly turned to her door and felt the handle turn under her flesh. The smell of sweet potatoes and rice infiltrated her. She closed her eyes to hold in the precipitation the smell caused her but it pierced through her fragile eyelids. Blinded by the sweet smell of Raymond Harold, May Shelly felt and fumbled her way into the room. She ran into a table and groped at its face. She found her bowl and took the stale bread from it. She hadn't eaten since Thursday and her hunger was gnawing her. She ran back to her room and shut the door tight behind her. May Shelly leaned against the door and ravenously devoured the bread crumbles that survived her voyage.
When she had finished eating she picked up her chalk and drew Raymond Harold in her window walking home happily with a pig at his side. May Shelly turned back to the door when she had finished coloring Raymond Harold's eyes, and ears, and nose, and mouth. There was a slip of paper waiting for her.
Dear Shelly May,
There is no need to be worried. I have found a pig and his name is Roger. He says he can not wait to meet you. He is very old and I hope he can survive the journey. He is yellow and he eats a lot. I can not wait to get back.
May Shelly tossed the paper aside since it wasn't addressed to her and she didn't know the man who wrote it. She only cared about Raymond Harold and even though the letter was about pigs it did not interest her at all.
I hope that he will come soon, she thought.
Harold Raymond slowly opened the door to the apartment and quickly closed it tight behind him being very careful not to let anyone else inside. He had abandoned his new name and had changed it back to his old one after he found Roger. Roger told him it was wise of him to change his name but it was ok to change it back now that Roger trusted him. He walked to the kitchen and could see the door to May Shelly's room. He sat his pack down on the table and began to prepare some dinner. Knowing Shelly May, he thought, she probably hasn't eaten all week.
From under the door, May Shelly could smell the asparagus. At first she thought that her mind had gone silly but then she remembered the pigs. They only eat asparagus, she thought. She stood and ran to open her door; her wild, tangled, red hair flying behind her in a fiery frenzy. The moment she opened the door ans saw Raymond Harold the rooms had floors again and her soul stopped falling. Without a word being said or a decision made, May Shelly knew she was Shelly May again and that he was Harold Raymond. She flung herself at the un-expecting victim and wrapped herself around as much of his body as her volume could cover.
'Shelly May? What are you doing?'
'I've missed you.' she said as she breathed in his brown hair and touched the bare skin around his neck with her bare arms. Nice, she thought.
'Don't be silly,' he said, shaking her to the ground beside him with a single effortless movement. 'I haven't been gone that long.'
Shelly May landed hard on no floor. The smell of asparagus made her eyes onion up.
'Have you eaten anything?' he asked, briefly looking down at her and then coming to his own conclusion. He turned back to his station and stared fixed at the cooking muscle in the pan.
'I didn't think so.'
With the little sense that Shelly May had about her she got to her feet.
'What about the pig, Roger?' dull blades cut at her voice and her heart as she spoke. He felt nothing for her the way she felt for him. And she wasn't even sure how she felt. He just didn't feel the same.
'He died on the way here. He was a good pig.' He said turning back to the food.
'What was he like?' she asked, momentarily distracted by his trivial words.
'He was good.'
As if Harold Raymond had given an answer that satisfied her question, she slowly walked the step to the table and sat down. The chair was the only solid thing in her world. To her, everything else around her seemed unreal. Shelly May was as torn as her voice was. She was not sure whether or not he had noticed. She wondered if Harold Raymond had noticed the intensity. The heat he gave her. The heat she wanted to give him.
Harold Raymond sat a plate of food in front of Shelly May and sat down across from her at the table. The fork was cold at her touch as she mindlessly shoveled meat and rice into her tasteless mouth.
Harold Raymond sat and watched her eat, glad, at least, that she was eating, he thought. He wasn't surprised when she stopped eating half way through the meal. He was surprised, however, that when she finished eating she stood up.
'I have to go. I can not stay here.'
'But why?' he asked. Thrown of guard he froze. Not sure if he should stand or sit. Comfort her or scold her.
'Because I can not be with you the way that I wish to be with you.'
'You do not make sense.' he said. Why would she leave, he thought.
He thought that they would live together forever but if the choice she was making seemed reasonable to her then it must have been rational to everyone else. I will just figure it out later, he thought.
Harold Raymond shoved a piece of chalk across the table to her, drawing a half in wide line across the table with its dust.
'At least eat the rest of your pork chops before you go.'
Shelly May lifted the chalk from the table and held it to her nose. It smelled of death. Her sensed cringed a bit but she carefully folded the chalk into her breast pocket.
'What are pork chops?' she asked, pondering Harold Raymond's gesture.
Roger Ray walked down the brilliantly lit hall to his office. Along the way he said hello to his numerous colleagues and the less than desirable nurses. One nurse, in particular, was looking extraordinarily hideous today. He nodded at her and immediately regretted that decision for when she saw him she moved her stubby legs swiftly in his direction.
'Doctor Ray,' he cringed at the sound of her throaty voice, 'there is a new girl in room 127.'
He read her name tag as she handed him a file folder with her wooly hand.
'Thanks, Dorris,' he said a little less gratuitously than he should have as he snatched the file from her.
'Any prior knowledge?' he asked more kindly, trying to make up for his rude behavior earlier.
'Yeah,' she snorted, 'the family said it took them weeks to catch her and her neighbors report that they thought she was living with someone but when they searched the house it was only her.' She chuckled again at the allusion she made toward the girl's mental condition. She started to waddle away.
'Oh, Dorris,' the doctor called after her. She turned, surprise and lust stricken.
'Yes, Dr. Ray?'
'This is a hospital for the ill, not an amusement park. Please try to present yourself accordingly.'
Her face turned pale and embarrassed. She nodded her head once and turned to waddle away.
'Pig.' the doctor muttered under his breath as he unwillingly watched her back jiggle down the hall.
Doctor Roger Ray
Roya Institute for the Mentally Ill
277 Rippling Lane,
Langely, MA 97853-568
Mr and Mrs Arnold,
I am sorry to inform you that your daughter remains delusional. I have tried the medications that we discussed over the past year but her mind is still suffering. I wonder if you could stop by for a visit next week. I think that your presence could help he situation resolve itself. As you mentioned in our last visit you are very busy and I understand, but I fear that your avoidance of Shelly May's situation is worsening the problem. I am sorry and I do not mean to offend, but like you, I have your daughter's best interest in mind.
I hope to see you next week,
Doctor Roger Ray
Sometimes I wish I didn't have to think about Harold Raymond, Shelly May thought as she sat in a room that wasn't hers but wasn't anyone else's and looked at the spot on the wall where her window should have been. But looking out windows never gave her the truth.