She Wears Gowns Belonging to Ghosts

Posted on April 25, 2010

Who Art Thou?

Who Art Thou?

It is nearly 4a.m. in Osaka.

The perfumes of cigarette smoke and pungent espresso intermingle and form callous clouds of dense grey air which shadow and shroud her face. Strangers chatter idly in indiscernible languages. An alabaster bird swoops down from the sky, skimming the crown of her head. This is now an emergency, she decides as she snuffs out her cigarette.

She sits for a spell before requesting water from the waiter. She waits. The waiter returns and places a small cup of water before her. In addition to water the cup contains a dead fruit fly and a crust of bread. She stares at it hard.

The waiter reappears unprompted and removes the menagerie, replacing it with a vase of fresh water and an empty cup. She smiles at him wanly, an overture which he does not see because he has already walked away.

She pours herself some water.

It is 3p.m. in New York.

Her cigarette continues to burn in the ashtray and she stares transfixed as the smoke twirls and dances before her and then trails stealthily out of the café and into the night. She drips a bit of her beverage on top of its remains; extinguishing it.

There has been an earthquake in Haiti so large that the Richter scale cannot measure it. There are no resources. Millions are feared dead. Many buried alive (!).

She purposefully catches her breath in her throat in attempt to simulate the feeling of being buried alive.

Of asphyxiating while still fully cognizant.

This is nothing like that, she is sure, but the idea intrigues and arouses her senses…

Women and children sob in the streets designating themselves appropriate spectacles for ravenous news cameras looking to spread their dis-ease. Their most private sorrow will be broadcast across the globe in 30-second clips brought to the faceless masses by Botox-ed anchor-people who will shake their heads in mock-empathy before cutting to a commercial for McDonalds or Paxil.

This is now an emergency, she thinks again.

She is innocent by reason of necessity. Innocent by reason of artistry. Innocent by reason of vagrancy.

She lights another cigarette. Images of a house-fire in the suburbs replace the tormented Hatians on the television.

She allows her eyes to gently close and imagines the heat of the flames lapping at her heels. They engulf her feet. She rolls a stray match between her thumb and forefinger and catches a faint whisp of sulfur. She wonders how fast she’d need to roll it before she burst into flame. She wonders if she might will herself into amalgamation with the hellfire. What would be left after this cataclysmic conflagration of sin and sinner and its brazen incineration of evil? Nothing.

They’d not even be able to separate her ribs from spleen in that sort of mess.

They might never know that she’d been here at all.

Dreamy music made by psychotic men taunts the air around her and she remains unaffected. She sips her cigarette. As she exhales, she follows her smoke and wanders out into the night. She nods at the waiter who is smoking in the alley while chasing the alabaster bird with a fork.

Bird deserves to forked, she thinks.

She is assuming this is the same bird which nearly decapitated her earlier.

It is just after 9pm in Paris and she feels the tug of it.

She is suddenly aware that she is urgently burning, urgently yearning, and feverishly seeking the darkness.

She is looking for trouble, excitement, deviation.

The emergency is now forgotten.

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