Kristy's Veins

It was a good start, a good new beginning.

At least, she told herself that as she wandered through the empty apartment, the landlord practically stepping on her foot every time she so much as blinked. She sneezed a few times, when opening a kitchen cupboard brought forth a thick cloud of dust, and he jumped back—but a moment later he was inches away again. The dust floated in the sunlight streaming through the window, the only barrier she had between them.

It wasn’t like there was much to look at here, anyhow. Tiny living room/dining room/kitchen. One tiny bedroom with one closet. One bathroom with the toilet within arm’s reach of the stall shower, and a dirt-streaked pedestal sink within arm’s reach of both.

And that was it.

But when you didn’t have much, she reasoned, you didn’t need much space. And she could fit most of her belongings in that cramped, dark closet these days.

She stared out the window, opened to let the humid summer air in, looking down three stories to the patch of browned grass that called itself a courtyard. Three kids—two boys and a girl—played on a rusted swing. The boys took turn pushing the girl, whose giggles could be heard even at this height. One of the boys pushed too hard—was it on purpose, or not? Hard to tell from that angle—and the girl went flying off the swing. After a stunned silence, her cries rose up to the window.

She turned back to the kitchen, facing the hovering landlord. With the money she’d borrowed from her sister, she could just afford first and last months’ rent, and she had a little of her own money for the security deposit and the first month of utilities.

After that—well, there was no “after” these days. There was just this moment, and this one, and this one, ever since she’d lost the business and left him for the last time.

In this moment, she said, “I’ll take it.”

In this moment, she imagined her things, the few belongings she hadn’t pawned or left behind, taking up this space.

And in this moment, this one moment that might begin her future, she decided that yes, this definitely was a new beginning. It was small, yes. But it was good.

He Dreams

Sometimes he thinks he’s a monster. Other times, beautiful but short times, he thinks he’s okay.

He spends a lot of time deep in dreams. It’s the only way to get by, some days.

He dreams of the day when everything’s better, when he doesn’t have to hide so much. He dreams of walking out into the world without fear or fury. He dreams of climbing up the old, rust-spotted water tower, cold steel under his hands as he rises up and up and up, and shouting the truth down to the world.

Like so many other dreams, these will never come true. And he knows that.

But still, he dreams.