the girl at night

Continuing from this piece. Since ya’ll asked for it. 🙂

When she and her mother have reached home, she sits down to a dinner that’s been reheated in the microwave. Her mother cooks every night, but the rehearsal isn’t finished until 8:30, so her parents eat together around six without her. When alone at the table, they’re reminded of the early years of their marriage, and the years not far off when she will be living in a dorm or in a cheap apartment and away from them.

Once she’s eaten, and had a cup of coffee to help her stay awake (her father keeps a fresh pot brewed all day and night), she goes up to her room to complete her homework. Usually she takes her hair down first, and brushes it out. She doesn’t want to become bald in the front like so many dancers who keep their hair in tight buns even when they’re not dancing.

Her homework is easy: a bit of a history essay to polish, a few chapters of Oliver Twist to read. Once her books are back in her messenger bag she sits at the word processor that her parents gave her for Christmas, and records the events of her day. She is currently in love with three people: two boys and one girl. All are in her dance class at the studio downtown. She has little interest in anyone at her high school, because she’s known them since she was twelve. The other dancers she works with are either her age or older, and the three that she is especially fond of are in their early twenties.  Most of the words she writes are about her feelings towards them, but she does throw in the occasional teenage philosophical tangents about life, the universe, and everything.

The word processor makes soothing sounds as she types, likes the way her thoughts are now concrete and semi-permanent on paper. She writes for an hour, then brushes her teeth and washes off her makeup before crawling into her twin bed to sleep. There is a small television on her dresser that she turns on; flipping channels until she reaches the one that always shows Little House on the Prairie, Murder She Wrote, and the Waltons. She doesn’t want to hear the news or be rudely awakened by static in the middle of the night.

Her room is dark and smells like nag champa  incense and the cigarettes that she sneaks in her bathroom with the fan on.  Her parents rent the condo that they live in, and the landlord doesn’t allow them to paint the walls. She makes up for the dearth of color by covering the walls in posters and Indian tapestries bought in head shops downtown, and any bald spots in the spaces between have been filled with Polaroids of her friends and family, and with scraps of paper that she’s written bits of poetry on. The nest she’s made is pleasantly messy and warm.

A floor below is the kitchen, and the sound of the dishwasher humming and clanking rises up to meet the soft dialog that’s coming from her television. In the living room, her mother and father are sitting in recliners, talking about their daughter in quiet whispers. She works too hard for someone her age, I think she might be drinking, I think we should tell her she has to back off of the dance classes, four hours a day every day is too much. They are in agreement about many things, and she has never known them to fight much. Her life, though busy, is quiet at the core. She is aware of this, and she is grateful. Sleep comes to her quickly.

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2 thoughts on “the girl at night

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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