66 :: first new night ::
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She's never had an apartment of her own before. She lived with her mom, then moved into the Art Institute dorm. Then Johnny. When things fell apart she moved in with Toy and Mark. It was kind of an emergency situation.
She is in a room. The room contains her bed, her little desk. A small pile of boxes containing books and kitchen utensils. A sloppy pile of magazines bound with jute twine (on top: a cut-up copy of Wallpaper). Some white kitchen liner garbage bags bulging with clothes. A phone adorned with stickers. There is as of yet no phone service, and she does not know what her new phone number will be. Nothing else has been arranged either; the room is a jumble; everything at cross-angles to everything else. She sits on the bed, leans backwards, plants her bare feet on the undecorated wall, stares at her toenails. Blue flakes. It's quiet in here: that's the thing that surprises her the most.
She had moved her things with some help from Gary, a new guy she works with at the record store; he offered to help out with his van when she mentioned her move. In the other room: three milkcrates containing miscellaneous small objects, CDs, cosmetics. A cheap lamp, permanently off-kilter: she never quite got it to thread right when she assembled it. A portfolio stuffed with completed and half-completed art projects. A portable CD player / alarm clock / dual tape deck. These things are not what she is. She does not much care about any of them.
She thinks of Jane, a woman she never really knew, on her way now to Mexico. Pictures her on a bus, head against the window, her curly hair tied up in a bandanna. Looking out through the glass, at arid lands. Denise turns her head, looks out the window: sees gray shingles. She suddenly understands why people choose to take on pets. Imagines a cat in her lap, all the difference that would make.
She doesn't think she'll see Toy and Mark again.
They had been angry when she told them that she'd made arrangements for a new apartment. It meant that they needed to move, too. Toy had refused to help her move her things out. (She remembers this: being in her room, taping up boxes, and hearing Toy in the common room, saying to Mark: Don't give that bitch any help. She's stuck us with a whole fuckload of shit to do. Let her deal with her own shit. He was in the other room but speaking loudly enough that he could only have wanted her to hear.) Mark helped her anyway. (He must have known that she'd heard what Toy said: he wore a somewhat pained and embarrassed look as the entire time he helped her carry stuff out.)
Toy had stood there at the door as she left for the last time. He did not say 'goodbye,' he just watched her go with his face fixed into a look of absolute neutrality. What's with him? Gary had asked her as they were driving off. Nothing, Denise had said. He's just a jerk.
This is what she thinks of Toy:
She remembers the one time they slept together. After he had come and pulled out he lay there next to her, looking at her. His face lit faintly by the glow of Chicago falling in through her skylight. Wide-eyed, like a surprised child. No, she tells herself now, not like a child he had been drunk to the point of near incoherence, he had cheated on his girlfriend, and he had not seduced her into being the audience for his unskilled and stupid fuck, he had pressured her into it. It was a matter of force. Practically raped her. Child? No way. But her memory of the way he had looked at her in that early morning hour, with a surprise like awe in his expression, reminds her that he too has the hum of the human within him. That is the moment when the contradictory forces in him became clear. That is what will make it possible for her to miss him.
She will hold him in that moment into the future. She thinks if he knew that it would anger him. And this pleases her in some quiet and perverse fashion.
She opens her mouth, just to speak, just to make a sound in this empty new place. La, she says, quietly. Then louder: Laaaaa! She is a voice in a room.
No one can hear her. No one has a number to reach her. This place is hers. She is alone lonely even but this suddenly makes her glad.
Further Reading ::
Information Prose : A Manifesto In 47 Points ::
A manifesto, outlining some of the aesthetic goals behind Imaginary Year, can now be read here.