--YOU ALWAYS KNEW HOW TO REMIND ME THAT WHAT WAS MINE WAS NEVER REALLY MINE
…I wrote this the other day:
What Anna C. Knows
A twenty-something girl—let’s call her Anna C.—sits on someone else’s stoop in a city you might admire or detest, in a place where the rich and marginalized are separated by gray space and invisible electric fences that function as placebos.
Beneath a woolen skirt, Anna C. wears striped legwarmers that come up to her knees. A black leather jacket, maybe a man’s jacket three sizes too big, is slung across her shoulders like a poncho. None of this is really important save for the handgun in her right coat pocket.
People pass by, well-dressed rich people who smell like gardens or nutmeg, who don’t notice her. Down the street, our Anna C. hears cat calls from construction workers, cabs blaring. She wonders if her father is in one and if he might soon be dropped off by the curb in front of her.
The last time she’d seen him was the night Anna C. ran away. There was a new girlfriend who looked like all the other girlfriends who weren’t her mother. Prior to the night in question, Anna C. was cautioned to be polite for once and so Anna C. tried, but then the girlfriend was alone with Anna C., being sweet at first, and Anna C.—still naïve back then--thought maybe this was one really was different. But then the girlfriend started taking Anna C’s. father’s side, saying, “Your dad doesn’t deserve the shit he’s been put through,” when all at once Anna C’s arm lashed out as if it was a flying eel or someone else’s limb. Subsequently there was scream and a mark on skin, the pulling of hair and raked flesh, until Anna C.’s. dad pulled the two young women apart, tossing Ann C. across the room as if she were newspaper.
Afterward, Anna C. lived in other people’s apartments rent-free, only nothing is really “free”, right? Anna C. let Lonnie and Derek do what they needed to do. She pictured clouds as they did it, obscure floating puzzles which she focused on until they became maimed rhinos or elephants, loping giraffes whose necks were too short, cherubs with broken wings.
Anna C. got the gun from a bouncer named Alonzo who had a swastika tattooed on his back. She’d stolen it the night before coming here to her father’s stoop, filching the weapon after Alonzo had almost strangled her during rough sex, on an evening when it was impossible to conjure any kind of clouds whatsoever.
And so now as a taxi pulls up you might be thinking this all about retribution for Anna C., or that she simply has Daddy issues. However, if you asked her, Anna C. would tell you she’s unsure, that this is just something she has to do, and that maybe afterward--locked away with plenty of time to think—the haze will lift inside her head and at last she’ll be able to make sense of the world, and her reason for being in it.