I took my medication today.
The little blue lozenge went down easily. I don’t think it helps; I don’t feel better, just dull and blah, but my friends tell me it helps the way I act, and I have to admit I’ve not chucked my life and run off since I’ve been taking it, so it’s probably helping. That, and sobriety. And painting. I finish the canvas I was working on yesterday, the landscape with the yellow flowers and shining sun and cascades of butterflies. It makes me happy. I set it next to the rest of this month’s canvases. I need to call the Art Bar about displaying them. Today I don’t feel like painting. The weather has given us a reprieve; grey snow is forming weird shapes as it melts and the gutters are full of slush. I hear a sparrow out on the fire escape and I remember it’s Saturday. Since I got my SSI disability I lose track.
I eat my breakfast of a boiled egg and two cups of black coffee (no sugar) and call Siobhan again. She doesn’t answer. Her voicemail is full. I’ve been calling her for a week now. She stopped posting on Facebook about a month ago. Her last Tweet was in November; it’s now February. I’m starting to worry. Siobhan’s been slow to respond to texts, and screens her calls, since her mom Trudy died two—no three—years ago, but she’s not usually out of touch this long.
I call Linda Hölmgren. Her dank voice tells me she just woke up. Probably with someone she met last night. Or more than one person …
“Hello, your Majesty,” I chirp. “has the staff not brought your breakfast in bed yet?”
“Very funny, Tallulah. What’s up?”
“Have you heard from Siobhan lately? I can’t get in touch with her.”
A sigh and a long silence, with rustling and whispering in the background. “Can I call you back?”
Doesn’t want to get involved in my drama. Annoying, but what can I say, no? “Sure, Linda. Talk to you later. Bye.”
I toss on jeans, salt-encrusted mid-heel boots, and a cotton cable sweater under my corduroy jacket with the faux-lamb collar, grab my gym bag, and head out the door. My knees are a little stiff going down the stairs—thirty-two and feeling middle-aged already—and I step out into a sunny Brooklyn morning. The weather is nice only by contrast with the blizzards which have besieged us the past six weeks. A stiff breeze makes 40 degrees feel a little colder, and I turn up the jacket collar around my neck.
Three blocks away, I enter Ashleigh’s six-story walkup and press the buzzer in the tiny entryway. Ashleigh’s voice comes over the intercom and she buzzes me in. I run up three flights (up stairs is no problem) and she is waiting at the door, dressed as usual in a plunging v-neck which displays the barbell piercing between her café-au-lait FF-cup breasts. Her big smile lifts my heart, as it has since we met at the beach one summer and ended up in Indiana in a cornfield, watching our rental car burn while the guys we’d picked up drove off in a pickup truck with all our money and electronics. Good times! I don’t know how I’d have survived Caleb’s death without her. But that was later. And years ago now.
“Hey, chica!” she steps aside to let me in. Empty shot glasses line the kitchen counter by an empty Schnapps bottle. “You look sad.”
“Not sad, really. Worried. You know Siobhan?”
“The big blonde bridesmaid in your wedding photos? Acres of pink satin?” Ashleigh always gets right to the point.
“Yeah, that’s her.”
“I never met her, remember?” Ashleigh shrugs on her hot-pink fuzzbomb of a coat and grabs her glitter-silver Hello Kitty gym bag and we leave.
“I forget. It’s like I have two completely separate groups of friends. When Caleb …” I pause, take a breath.
“I guess they all couldn’t deal with it.” We walk on in silence until we reached the gym. As we turn into the storefront, our eyes meet and we both start giggling. “That was a hell of a lot of pink satin, wasn’t it?”