Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Waking Up on a Park Bench

I woke up in a sweaty daze, hands trembling, mouth dry, and lips cracked. I really needed some water. It felt as if I had been stranded in the desert for hours on end, only I didn’t get the benefits of feeling like I was in a mirage, everything was all too real and I still had to find my keys. The birds were chirping in the background as the sun began to form soft warm hues of yellow and orange highlighting the tops of apartment buildings. A sense of dread and exhaustion swelled inside of my chest. My heart hurt, eyes swollen almost shut, the blue veins visible enough to see spread like tree roots underneath my eyes. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what my hair looked like, it probably resembled the top of a raccoons nest. "Do raccoons even make nests?" I thought to myself. I realized that there was a blanket on me, but I have no clue where it came from. I was a mess, a complete, and utter mess. I wondered what my mom would say if she knew that I had lost my keys, wait I knew exactly what she would say, “I told you you're not cut out for the city Olive, the first night here and you lose your keys and your solution was to sleep on what a park bench instead of renting a hotel room? The city's already swallowed you whole and spit you back out, because even it realized it didn’t want you. You might as well just come back home.” Well, okay maybe I’m being a tad dramatic, even though I knew she wasn’t supportive of me leaving all that I had ever known, she would want to help, at least I hope she would...

I sit up on the park bench arms shaking I hear the, “crack, crack, crack,” of my spine. I stand up with a numbing feeling in my legs, I guess they must have fallen asleep. I reach over to fold up the black and white checkered blanket and leave it on top of the bench, and reach into my purse for a pen and paper to write a note thanking whoever put the blanket over me the night before. I rummage through my purse, but I’m only able to find an old crumpled up receipt to T.G.I Friday’s, but that’ll do. I write, THANK YOU” in light blue ink, but the pen is fading out on the back of the receipt, and place it top of the blanket. I put a small rock on the note, so it doesn’t blow away in the wind, and then begin the journey to find my keys, but before I can even begin to set foot off of the sidewalk I'm approached by a short woman with bleach blonde hair, and bright blue eyes who looked to be in her early 20's.

As she got closer I saw the thick clumps of mascara that coated her eyelashes, and the dark brown eyeshadow, which I guess was an attempt at a smokey eye. She began to open her mouth to ask me a question but before she could utter a word, looking at the water bottle in her hand I yelled, “WATER! I need water!” I’m sure she thought I was a mad woman but I really didn’t care. Her face altered from a smiling happy-go-lucky look, to a look of sheer terror as I, this crazy woman she found sleeping on a park bench, reach for the bottle in her hand. Without any warning I snatch the water and chug the entire bottle within 10 seconds. We both stand there awkwardly not saying a word as the entire situation seemed rather uncomfortable. I begin to apologize and thank her for the water, but before I can say a word she asks in a sassy southern belle voice, "Well, now that you've taken my water I think you owe me something in return." I stand there dumbfounded as to what she means, her lips curl into a contorted smile, she tells me she's a writer from Southern Living Magazine and needed an interesting story for her boss, and of course I was the perfect candidate. So I responded apprehensively, "Well, you see, I'm not homeless, I just happened to lose the keys to my apartment last night so that's why I ended up on a bench." Her lips seemed to curl at the corners of her mouth in a twisted look of amusement at my story that I didn’t find funny at all but rather disturbing.