Mornings are all about Lucia. Warm and hopeful. The sun gently peaks through the blinds leaving soft shadows on her face. I hold Lucia in my arms and bury my face in her hair. Calm. The day could lead us anywhere. I feel comfort with her. It’s safe. Lucia is safe.
The alarm clock sounds. Shock. Distress. Lucia rolls over and hides her face under the pillow. I try to convince myself it’s mistaken, hit the snooze, and cherish a few more moments with Lucia. It cries out again and I see that I’m already running late before the day has begun.
But Lucia is beside me peaceful, quiet, and warm. I kiss her eye lids and wish for Sunday. Lucia owns my Sundays.
It’s Monday. Work. I don’t look forward to work anymore. I make my way to the bathroom and go through my shower, shave, toothbrush, and coffee pot routine.
All the while, Lucia sits with sleepy eyes waiting. I kneel down and kiss her nose. She smiles. I take her hand in mine and pull her to her feet.
I lead her to the door were we both slip on our shoes. I help her put on her coat and nudge her out the door. Going to work means leaving Lucia; dragging her out of bed, taking her home, and leaving her there.
She holds my hand and leans on my for support as we make out way to my car. She’s groggy. Her steps are heavy and sluggish. Lucia would sleep until two in the afternoon if I let her.
She is silent as I drive her home. Lucia stares blankly into the distance. Her eyelids are heavy and droop until they close. She’s fallen asleep.
I pull over in front of Lucia’s apartment, lean over, unbuckle her seatbelt, and kiss her cheek. She opens her eyes and throws her arms around me. I don’t want to leave her. She is a gift. She opens the door and steps out. There she is, my gift, standing on the cracked sidewalk blowing a kiss into the wind as I drive away.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve become quite familiar with this stretch of highway. I watch the landscape change from farmland to suburbs and finally urban wasteland. Hard traveling, it’s the reward at the end of the miles that pulls me through; home and open arms. I’m easily lost, in the city shuffle. I was an hour late the last time we met. Lucia knows the ropes; I need more direction. I’m dependent on the kindness of strangers.
I came to town to see her. I don’t have any other place to go or stay. I am here for her; I’m not sure she understands that. She came to see me, the week before last. We went to Denny’s with our old friends and cuddled up to each other in the backseat on the way home. She laid her head in my lap. I ran my fingers through her curls. Soft and familiar. How did I ever let things change?
But things had changed. Here I am at her front door. Lucia stands in front of me with tears in her eyes. I can see that she’s about to tell me goodnight and break my heart. I kiss her forehead and hold her upright before she has a chance to turn me away. I can feel her collapsing. I let myself in and sit her down on the couch.
I remember the night that we got together. It was our senior year of high school and her parents were out of town. Twentieth anniversary I think. Lucia held my hand and pulled me out her bedroom window. She sat on the edge of her roof. She said that was how she liked to live her life, “with at least one foot over.” She told me that she liked to sit on the edge and dream about jumping off into the tree branches just a few feet away. She could almost touch them. I hung on her every word.
Her breath hung in the air. It was cold. Lucia crawled over to me and into my lap. I wrapped my arms around her. She shivered. I asked her if she wanted a blanket. She said no. I love the fall. Cuddling weather.
Moments later, she pulled me back inside and into her bed. Lucia slept on a twin bed that was piled high with pillows and blankets. She told me that she liked closeness and comfort. The night was soft and close.
I watched her finish her plate of fries. We talked about everything. Looking at the past few months of Lucia’s life was like looking at mine in a fun house mirror; only slightly distorted.
I can’t remember the day I met Lucia. It seems like we have been friends forever. It’s almost like our souls have known each other for ages. I have a connection to her. It’s unspoken.
Lucia is my youth. She is old times and tradition. She is coney island, coffee, fried food, and cigarettes. My stomach remembers the feeling.
Years ago, Lucia and I used to smoke cigarettes and eat plate after plate of deep fried food: french fries, cheese sticks, breaded mushrooms, jalapeno poppers, and breaded zucchini; anything could be breaded, fried, covered in salt and dipped in ranch dressing. We would eat until we were sick and talk until the sun came up.
I loved talking to Lucia. I miss knowing that I know all of her secrets.
I remember when her hair only reached her chin and her wrists were covered in silver bracelets. She was tough; or she pretended to be. Oh, but her smile and her laugh gave her away. She was happy.
She’s different now. I hate seeing her like this.
She is silent; depressed. I wish she would tell me what she needs, because she talks of suicide...