Split Personalities

She smoked because that’s what classy, rich, and powerful women do in motion pictures and fashion magazines. But she was hardly rich and trashy at best.

Every Friday night she wore some black thing and always two sheer thigh highs held in place by gurdel clips that I saw for the first time lying on the floor in her room the weekend after Johnny left.

I always stared at her as she shifted through her bag, looking for a cigarette before walking out into the night. She was probably used to it because she always looked back–a fag nestled between her naturally pink lips–with this basked and unashamed look in her eyes.

One night, she thought to explain herself to me when she saw me sitting on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn on my lap and a box of Audrey Hepburn classic films on the coffee table. I’d just finished Sabrina–the one where Audrey falls in love with the grossly older but significantly more intelligent brother–when she pulled out her box of American Spirits and acknowledged me with dark eyes.

“I hate women who fuss with appearances.”

“And you don’t?” I indicated to her tight everything.

She raised an eyebrow quizzically and then she laughed upon glancing her outfit in the mirror in the foyer, as if she had no idea how her clothes even got there on her body. “No this isn’t what I mean, they come off quickly. I’m talking about handbags.“

I shut off the TV and looked at her with feigned intent.

“You know…” She lit a match and brought it to the end of her cigarette. “Men aren’t like hand bags, even though women want them just as much.” Then she waved away the flame and flicked the blackened thing somewhere across the room. “Coach, Kors, Gucci, Chanel. They spend thousands of dollars on animal skin. And for what?”

Inhale. Exhale.

“Bags don’t bite their bottom lip when your hand grazes over their groin.”


“Bags don’t push you down on a bed and have their way with you.”


“And most importantly… I don’t wear men to impress other women.”

She looked my untouched self squarely in the eyes, as if she were going to tell me a secret, teach me a lesson that Sabrina, or Princess Ann, or Holly Golightly could never tell me because of 1960s censorship.

“Do you think that the first thing a man notices when he’s looking for someone to fuck is their purse?”

She smiled.

“He doesn’t care if you are rich or stylish or even educated. In most instances the only time he will ever interact with you is without any clothes on. And honestly, you can’t shame him when you’re wanting him for the same things too.”

Inhale. Exhale.

“He may have chose me for the simple reason that I am a woman…”

Then she stepped towards me, with the cigarette in between two fingers and that hand on her hip.

“But it will only happen because I choose for it to happen.”

And then we were face to face.

“Judge me all you want. Question my taste in men. But at the end of the day…”

I know she thought about inhaling again, but she did not move at all.

“One of us… is fucking someone they are very sexually attracted to. And the other?”


“…Is riding her hand.”

She smiled once more before she strutted back to the front door.

“So,” I said, and she turned around. “Is that your rationalization for whoring yourself out every weekend?”

I don’t even know how we ever grew up in the same household.



“How are you doing? What is it like up there,” an old woman spoke. She sat in a meadow beside a massive, grey boulder, a young woman and a young man sitting nearby. The day was warm, inviting. The young woman held a thin blue washable marker in her hand. Whatever the old woman said the young woman scrawled across hot rock.

“Sometimes when I’m sleeping, when it’s cold, I reach over and pat the bed beside me,” she continued. “I tell myself I’m just looking for the comforter, but I’m not. The comforter’s already warm and snug around my body. I’m really just looking for you. I’m really just missing you.”

The man watched them from his spot, his bottom firmly placed on a separate white stone–a dot on the imaginary line where dry husky grass met the green from the rest of the field. The young woman stopped midway through this last blue sentence to wipe sweat off her brow, a light breeze running across her back.

N & E. A few blue spaces ago, the young woman covered this indentation in the rock with rain.

“I remembered something about evaporation yesterday.” The old woman continued. “Rain pours from the sky and touches the earth in the beginning of the cycle. And once it’s washed everything away, it rises back up.” She stopped to look up to the sky. “I know how you can hear me again. It must be lonely where you are.”

The old woman looked down from her perch at the top of the rock and smiled at the young woman. At the daughter who visited every weekend. At the daughter she could not remember.

The young man – a friend – watched silently for months as they both deteriorated – the old woman from illness, the young woman from work. From despair. From loneliness. From exhaustion. Yesterday at the hospital in the waiting room, he had held the young woman to his chest as the caregivers told them the old woman had no more than four days to live.

“Would you like to take a break, dear? I can finish the rest.” The old woman rose and reached out a hand to take the blue marker.

“It’s alright I’m absolutely fine, ma’am,” her daughter said, but the tears in her eyes were unconvincing.

“Please, let me. I have only one last thing to say. Go sit with your gentleman friend,” her mother insisted. With a playful pout and sparkle in her eye, she added, “I think he feels a little neglected.”

The daughter said nothing, hiding the sob in her throat behind thinned lips and clenched teeth. She simply nodded and handed off the marker. Her mother smiled again, clasping her forgotten daughter’s soft hand between her own.

They stayed there, crouching over a grey rock covered in blue words, long black hair and short white hair dancing in the breeze. Smooth skin connected with aged hands through layers of gentle grasps around a blue Crayola marker…

A young man and a young woman sat together on a white stone along the borderline between brown grass and green, staring beyond the massive grey rock inches away from their feet. The young woman rested her head on the man’s shoulder as tears rolled silently down her face. Four weeks had gone by since their last visit.

There was a storm the night before her passing, a day earlier than the radio had predicted. The old woman couldn’t speak, the old woman couldn’t open her eyes. But the patter on the hospital window was enough to leave her with a smile in her soul.

Swedish Fish

She didn’t complain. She never complained.

They shared a small apartment above a pizza shop with a real Swedish fish and a beautiful little girl.

The best he could afford was a small heart inked in black over her right ring finger in a dirty basement, $50 for the couples special. When they exchanged vows, three hours later, standing beneath Bethesda, he promised to buy her a dazzling diamond after he conquered the world.

“Princess cut, with a silver band and little sapphire hearts at the base. And on the inside it will have my name and your name and infinity between it,” he said.

She smiled and kissed him, and in her mind she laughed at how specific he was with such a little thing. He wanted to give her a ring because that’s what he was supposed to do and he wanted to conquer the world because that’s what every sensible man ought to want, though their wedding, their child before marriage, and their home were everything they weren’t supposed to be.

In the end he never owned anything outside of their two bedroom walk-up and he could never afford her a diamond of any sort.

But she never lost her wedding ring, and he decided he was no sensible man.

And they lived happily ever after.


(image source)