She lost him. She stopped as soon as she could to catch her breath. The platform was empty, save for one man, standing by himself wearing a low, soft felt hat with a curled brim and the crown creased lengthwise. He looked at her. Cheater. Quickly, she darted her eyes toward the staircase. She half expected him to come up, but he didn’t.
Instead he played chess and she was alone at last. Cherry slid down onto the cold, non-foliated metamorphic rock commonly used for sculpture and as a building material. Her hand searched for a mushy, ham and cheese sandwich. Eat? The odd man turned and walked toward her using a device consisting of a circular canopy of cloth on a folding metal frame supported by a metal rod. It was his first. She didn’t understand the significance of the red and white peppermint patty stripes though. A big chunk of sandwich wedged in her throat.
There is no resting place in Paradise, Chona. Just the constant chase of Dreams and Toys. Whatever then. I don’t need the job anyway. They need themselves and that will never change. I reached into the fridge, the bright neon light glaring in my face. What’s it going to be tonight? 3% milk bought one week ago, or taro cream buns from yesterday? Her black, acid wash cut-offs were riding up her legs, a product of skipping two workouts over the weekend he supposed. Cherry didn’t want any of it. She slammed the fridge door for Each Other and climbed onto the kitchen island marble.
Boom, boom, boom.
Silence filled the entire apartment.
Dang it, he’s here.
She didn’t even have time to prepare.
Some empty containers of Nanö fell onto the floor. Cherry didn’t wait. Nothing. Then, suddenly again –
She didn’t have time to leave.
Outside the window, the landscape was lavender purple.
The air inside her apartment was as cold as stone.
Cherry remembered the Toys in her closet. There was probably enough in there to pay him off. Jared didn’t take cheap toys as a barter. He was looking for some form of permanent reimbursement. She wanted to try to run away. Running to her room, she pulled her closet doors open and found him. A retro blue Ty bear stuffie, sewn together with black thread. His beady eyes were made of wind-blown agate, a mystical find these days in Chon.
Wasn’t it ridiculous to think gems held power these days? Jared was specifically looking to enhance his perception and analytical abilities. The agate eyes on Cherry’s Toy could heal the anger inside and create a sense of security and blankets, much needed bling required at Life Space.
“Cherry!!!” Jared started, “Open the frigging door! NOW!” She grabbed Blueberry, stuffing it into her shirt, which had a hidden metric built-in. The bear quickly disappeared and she yanked the entranceway agape.
“Where is it?!?” Jared stumbled inside, her apartment was already in shreds. Cherry had old jars of Dream everywhere. But they were empty too. Users. “How fast can you put together a cheat sheet?” Jared stopped and looked at Cherry. They both began to laugh hysterically. She blinked her eyes. One by one, the jars started to break up into small parts, a result of impact and decay. She checked out the window. The purple haze was gone and replaced with a mauve checkerboard.
In the next moment memory, everything sat still and Jared was suddenly a statue, his eyes staring blankly at Cherry’s gaze. It was only going to last another 30 minutes, she thought. She moved taking a short time – the journey was going to be fast and furious. She ran back to her window and stuck her head outside. It was wet and sticky and humid. Further out she could see the retro blue Ty melding into life. Tiny pink flecks, stars, were also starting to become actual fact.
That was on her right brain. Her left was angry, used and taken for granted. She didn’t know how to fix him. It was probably going to be impossible. So why not just skip living and buy some cigarettes?