21 March 2013

...but no one looked out the window: Robe Lady

Robe Lady is up every morning at the same time, walking around with her curtains wide open, clad only in a robe.  She watches TV while flipping her head upside down, blow-drying it with fervor.

Chris was supposed to slam his fist into Kate's door any minute, and she was still standing there in her robe, staring through the mirror.  Sopping hair, completely oblivious to everything around her, clothes becoming damp from the water dripping from her 

A month, a week, a day of zoning out.  It's all pretty much the same.  She heard the door slam against the wall, hearing her brother like you'd hear an elephant trampling the streets of New York.  An elephant wouldn't be able to trample quite as well as Chris does, but it'd certainly put on a good show.

"Kate?"  His voice boomed, too, like God wanted to make sure it would match the galumphing and stomping around.

"Here," Kate said from the bathroom.   She opened the door automatically, and Chris stopped in his tracks.

"What the hell?  Why aren't you dressed?"  He looked at his phone, the light temporarily glowing on his cheekbones in the dimness of Kate's apartment.  "We have to be there in twenty minutes."

Kate felt herself nodding, but she didn't move.

Chris sighed and reached past her to grab the hairdryer sitting in the sink.  He pushed the ON button and pointed it in her face.  "Wake up!  Come on!"

She grabbed the hairdryer back and tried to hit him with it.  Chris easily blocked it, squinting when air blew into his eyes.  Kate pushed him out of the bathroom and yanked the door shut, rattling the things on her counter.   She waited, listening for the moment he went into the kitchen and raided her fridge.  There it was.  A thump and clinking.  He was probably drinking the rest of the orange juice, the jerk.

Kate turned the hairdryer on and flipped her head over, absentmindedly and partially aiming at her hair.  When the front was dry she pulled the rest into a knot at the back of her head.  She was standing on top of her clothes, but she picked them up and pulled on the black pants and black sweater.  They were slightly wrinkled and dotted with spots of water, but it didn't matter.  People didn't care what you looked like at funerals.

Chris banged on the bathroom door.  "Come on!  Time to go!"

She opened the door slowly, but she moved even slower.  "I'm ready."  With the speed of jello solidifying on a kitchen counter, she watched the world move around her with  minute shudders reminiscent of a seizure.  An empty stomach reminded her that breakfast was still missing.

Her brother looked at her with his eyebrows askew.  "Seriously?"

Kate shrugged.  "Let's go."  She put on the first pair of shoes she found: purple Toms.

The walk to the funeral home was long and silent.  Ten blocks felt like ten miles, and by the time they got to the front door, Kate's lungs closed up and she felt like she was breathing through a straw stuck in mud.  "Chris.  I can't.  I can't go."  Her eyes were dry, but her lungs were working so hard to try to breathe that she doubled over, right in the middle of the sidewalk.  Her hands on her knees were supposed to help, it was something she had seen runners do after races; but those stupid athletes never said a word about how putting your hands on your knees doesn't help at all.  It made it harder to breathe and even see. 

"Here," Chris said.  He slid his arm around her waist and guided her to a stone retaining wall.  She sat and held her head between her knees.  As they sat there, she could hear passers-by tut-tutting and sighing.

"Poor thing," said one lady as she passed.  Kate watched the woman's scuffed black tennis shoes disappear into the funeral home and just about threw up.  The bile was there, waiting and ready, but all it did was sit in the back of her throat, maliciously patient.  

Chris sat next to her and put his hand on her back.  The warmth was partially comforting.  After all, he was just as sad as her.  At least, she figured he was, but it wasn't his twin laying in the coffin, hands folded nicely and surrounded by flowers.  That's what Kate had ordered the mortician's slaves to do, anyways.  That's what would be there.  She could already see it.

Her throat betrayed her and she did vomit, only there wasn't any food in her stomach, so there was mostly heaving and acid burning her mouth.  Chris held her and rubbed her back, and Kate realized that she was on her knees with her face in the dirt of the funeral home's front bushes.  It smelled like earth worms and plants and every so slightly of the vomit on the sidewalk.  Her brother's warmth disappeared for a minute or two and then he was back, shoving a paper cone of water into her hands.  Kate sipped, swished, spit. 

A few minutes later he coaxed her into the building, and they turned into the room.  A white coffin loomed, and pale, sad faces stared at her.  But she didn't stay.  Kate took one step backwards, then a second.  And then she was out the door, her footsteps following her in the echoes of the buildings on either side.  She ran, and Chris didn't even call after her.

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