I picture a small apartment, in a hundred-year-old building, with architectural features they wouldn't bother with today. Arches and the like. One bedroom. The walls thick with paint. A smell that can’t be eliminated or replicated. And it got hollower, emptier toward the end. It wasn't just the stuff she sold. Everything, the stuff, was useless, pointless, insignificant. It was, then, just her and those walls. And the bottle.
She wasn’t working. Couldn’t. A friend, a former lover, was paying the rent now. The things she sold paid for the booze and boxes of organic rice. And then there was no point in the rice. All she needed was the bottle and a place to drink it alone.
She would have fits of energy that sent her out into the streets. At first it was invigorating, inspiring, all that life. It quickly became too much. She stumbled. The sights, the sounds, the people swam around her. Scared that she’d have to hide in an alcove, lying on the concrete until it passed, something passed, she’d make her way back to the apartment, those soft walls, her hollow home.
And then she didn’t go out anymore. She didn’t get up anymore. Her body gave up, just as she had.
I picture a sunny summer morning, the wind tossing the boat as it idles. The boat’s passengers, including the rented captain, stand with their legs apart for balance. Her mother cannot pour the ashes. She can barely see through her tears, but at least her sobbing has subsided.
The others are surprisingly sad. They think of how they thought they knew her, but they didn’t. They think about how the rest of the day would feel after starting it this way. They want to think that she is somewhere better, somewhere she can be as beautiful as she was. Somewhere she is rewarded for all of her goodness.
The former lover pours the ashes slowly and the others toss sunflowers that float, dip, and dive, in the water. They hoped that she was on to something better. They wondered why her mother was the only one here to have known her more than five years. Would it be like this for them? Where were the other lovers? Everyone else? Why was she this alone? Would they be this alone? Could they still be as beautiful, as loved as she was. As loving as she was. She was.
I picture the old lover, her proclaimed first love, a half a country away. He doesn't know. He still thinks of her fondly, thinks of her ‘out there’, living her life. He is sure that someday their paths will cross again. He thinks that there connection is strong, though they haven’t spoke in years. Her influence still remains over him. The memories of their volatile years together, vital, formative years, are still strong.
He loves another. His life is good, comfortable, complete. And when he thinks of her, he has no idea what has become of her. He has no idea that a part of him has died.