Thursday May 2: Dear Edna, Why is it that I feel like a paraplegic if I can move?
Edna was about 44. I’d always imagined her as having a sandy shade of hair, the kind that looked like hay, neatly flipped and tucked behind both ears so they were free to listen. She had been a hippy when she was younger, but now she wore a boxy politicians suit that covered her tattoos. Edna mostly ordered Chinese takeout, transferring it to her finest china to fabricate the feeling of a home cooked meal. It’s not that she couldn’t cook, she just didn’t want to. She didn’t want her hands dirty; it just wasn’t her anymore. She was a different woman now, who wore white tights and sat with her legs tightly closed even when she was by herself. But in spite of these tiresome traits, there was a fire in her, one she thought she’d put out a long time ago, but one that was rekindled every time the wind died.
That was Edna, my little brown book, one of the only people worthy of my trust. She could do no wrong. I wasn’t crazy or delusional. I knew that I had constructed her in the crevices of my mind, but I didn’t like to think about it too much. No one wants to believe that their only confidant is one they’ve created.
I’d moved in with Teddy to get away from all those things that made my stomach turn, but instead I’d became more closer to them than I’d ever wanted to. The same drapes, my mothers scrutinizing eye, the same spicy smell that made me sneeze. It was all right there, hovering over me and all my “prettiness.” I was so tired of being pretty. It was a curse, a blunted edge, hanging there blowing whenever the window was cracked and stiff when it was closed. That was the week God let me meet Zia.
We’d run out of dog food, so I walked the block to the bus stop. The bus was one of the things I relied on. Not necessarily for the transportation as much as for the consistency; the promise that even if you missed one, another was always on the way. In a weird way it reminded me of the thing my pastor used to say about how we needed to let go of things to make room for better things. It sounded so right that I just wanted to do it, you know? Like a picture you try to feel connected to just because it’s beautiful. But soon I realized it wouldn’t be enough, that longing, because when I looked down into my hands I saw nothing to let go of.
Her eyes didn’t waver when I caught them staring, and when mine didn’t smile, hers did. It was a crowded 12 o’clock bus, no vacant seats, and the muscles in my thighs and calves were clenched so I wouldn’t fall at every stop. Those smiling almond slants made me grateful for the crowd, but even when I turned away to focus on a forehead in the distance, I could feel them beaming on my temples. She was stunning there was no denying that. Her face was the kind that didn’t require the thick dark waves that bordered it as a kind of accessory. Many other women would have probably relied on those locks for a percentage of their confidence, but something about the way she stood in my peripherals assured me she would be the same woman bald.
When my stop came, she followed. I kept a pace for about a block, but then I let her catch up. It was the kind of surrender that wasn’t supposed to happen with a stranger. Something you do with someone who already posses you. She walked beside me, matching my pace, focused ahead. “You made me smile this morning.” This was not a compliment from an equal, not even from a fellow woman. More like tall dark stranger to timid child. I looked over at the apple boned cheek resting on her face and knew that this was only the beginning of my surrender.