Copyright 2017 MillieAnne Lowe, Oceanside, California
Amy sat at the square kitchen table next to the window. The usual chatter from families all around the central air well had quieted. It was late and they were scared. Looking out into the semi-lit air well Amy counted only three windows open and saw the neighbor across from her shut her window with a snap when she spotted Amy looking her way. A man’s hand pulled the light beige blind down right after. It seems everyone has the sense to be careful except me.
Amy dragged her slippered feet into the living room and sat deep into an easy chair facing the back of her frosted glass apartment door. No shadows of people walking by. She listened. The hallway was quiet. The neighbors were quiet. Even the opera singer who lived downstairs was quiet. She got up to move the ceramic figurines she had purchased for her family and friends back in Kansas. “I wish you all could talk to me,” she said aloud.
Soft words of a sad love song over a radio floated up from the central air well and filled her apartment. Someone is alive out there. Not everyone has been murdered. Amy leaned back in the chair and tears streamed down her face. The music was beautiful but it added the measure that made the sadness she had felt for the last six months overflow.
Yearning for some sort of comfort, Amy recalled the day when the landlady opened the door to show her this apartment. A robust voice in song came from the back of the apartment and she traced it to the kitchen. As she leaned against the window frame, the words moved like a fabric of music wrapping itself around her. “Ooh, his voice makes me feel so good,” she had said to the landlady.
“Oh, that is old Puchinelli. He sings in the Opera House nearby. He practices at home three or four times a day. Will it bother you?”
“Oh, no. I love his voice, and I love this apartment. I want it,” she had said in a hurry. She had spotted another couple being shown other vacant apartments down the hall and didn’t want to lose this one.
Breathing out a long sigh, Amy’s mind came back to the present. She wished that Mr. Puchinelli were downstairs singing in the dark. She could pretend he was her lover wooing her from below her bedroom window. Do many other lonely girls dream like I do?
Then to her figurines, she said aloud, “Too bad you all can’t sing to me tonight. I’m feeling lonely.” Her colorful knick-knacks stood still, speechless, and stone cold.
Amy had purchased the souvenirs for family and friends back home in Kansas, but the ceramic figurines sat on her bookshelves now, waiting for a shipping day.
“Oh, I am such a failure. But I promise, when I make enough extra money, after buying groceries and nylons, of course,” Amy said aloud, “you will all get shipped!”
Wiping the tears from her face with the back of her hand, she continued speaking aloud. “If I had a dog, I’d name him Ranger, and talk to him. Then maybe I won’t be so lonely and have time to feel sorry for myself. God,” Amy stretched her arms up in the air, “help me get out and make some friends.”
Amy got up and walked around the small living room. She spread a few books about on the coffee table. “I know, I’ll make up an imaginary dog and call him Ranger.”
“Ranger, you and I should make use of the local library on Powell Street. I’ll check out magazine instead of buying them. That’ll save me money for shipping charges.”
Feeling a bit of relief, Amy brushed away the remaining wetness on her face and tasted the saltiness of her tears as her fingers brushed across her lips. Gosh, have I been crying since I left Marilyn’s? I am lucky to have her as a friend. I know she was right. I shouldn’t have been down the hall with my apartment door open when there’s a danger out there. How could I have been so stupid? Angry with herself, she slapped her face hard with her hands. I forgot everything my mom had taught me about being cautious in the big city. She slapped her face again. She warned me about good-looking men. They are always watching for the right opportunity to take advantage of girls who are naive like me. Amy started to slap her face again but instead, held her face as she looked into the hall mirror. Welts were forming on both sides of her face. Oh, how could I have been so foolish? I flirted with that good-looking James Stetson. He probably saw right through me. He knew I was desperate for a date. He’s probably been laughing about me with his friends. I’m just a stupid and dumb girl. If my boss saw me flirting like that he could have fired me, and then where would I be?
Her self-criticism stopped as her face flushed hotter. Amy reached for a piece of Kleenex, and blew her nose. “I can’t even hide the embarrassment from myself. My mind always comes back to the stupid things I’ve done. I’m haunted with shame from the inside out.” She sobbed and tears flowed down her face like a waterfall.
“Sleep. That’s what I want right now, Ranger. If I take some of those drug store sleeping pills, I’ll be able to forget my foolishness. Gads, they cling to every memory, you know? Oh, of course you don’t. You’re just my imaginary dog. But you are a cute one. Anyway,” Amy continued to ramble aloud, “I’ll wake up feeling great and have a fresh start on life again. Maybe I’ll sign up for a free tennis lesson over in Golden Gate Park. I bet I’ll find someone to rally with. Ranger, I don’t want to be alone anymore.”
Amy went to the bathroom and opened up the medicine cabinet. She found the pills labeled MAKE YOUR TENSIONS VANISH behind a small bottle of FAME perfume.
“Ranger, two of these pills worked great last time. I’ll take four pills tonight and that should wipe out my misery real good.”
Copyright 2017 MillieAnne Lowe, Oceanside, California