Take a Bow

There are people that occasionally have hard times. Others that have them sometimes or half the time. And then unlucky souls have them always. It’s all a coin flip, she’s come to learn. Because considering how much she’s lost, Katherine thinks that if karma actually exists it’d be paying her dividends by now.

“What do you want from me?” Katherine whispers using all the effort that a scream would require, but so many years of senseless anguish have tied themselves around her vocal cords. People get tired of hearing someone complain, apparently, even if the grief comes from a real place. No matter how many fucking memes they repost on facebook swearing their inbox is open no matter who you are and no matter what time it is, it’s all a lie. People care about suicide victims only after they’ve succeeded, but they’ll sell you the gun to do it with the day before. Katherine knows that but doesn’t want to. Because she doesn’t know how to assimilate herself to that kind of shut-your-mouth-but-smile-real-nice society. She used to, when smiling superficially and pretending to care was a whole lot easier.

Katherine’s hands are bleeding from a mixture of water and dish soap. It’s not supposed to touch skin but the plastic gloves slow her down, plus her hands being okay didn’t matter as much anymore. And then the voice starts whispering again, shooting cold fear down her spine because she’d thought they were gone. She can smell that posh ass Dolce & Gabbana perfume she’d buy at the expense of her credit card debt that didn’t quite mask the smell of vodka, but when she turns around all she sees is the small vacated kitchen. Even in death she won’t leave her the hell alone.

“You should have been a fucking doctor.”

It’s laughable, the idea of her as a doctor. People would end up dead if she attempted it. But Tiffany wouldn’t have cared so long as she could benefit from it. She’d never been pretty enough, never smart enough, never rich enough, never talented enough, never enough. Sure, she’s the one that’s still opening her eyes every morning, but that feels like losing so much of the time that she can’t count that as an advantage.

Logically, Tiffany wasn’t a prize either. Tiffany wasn’t particularly smart, she’d graduated from high school only because her teachers had decided to pass her just to get rid of her. And she hadn’t been rich either. Her only way of making money was her occasional modeling jobs that would pay off her extraordinary credit card bills so she could start using them again. Sure, the sex had been fantastic when she came back from shoots hopped up on coke and god knows what else, but with the memories of all the torment she had put Katherine through the rest of the time she found it a bit amazing she’d been able to keep getting wet for her. For how instinctive survival was supposed to be, she’d had no defense for Tiffany; she’d crawled right in like a parasite and buried herself under her skin so she could still feed off of her misery even after dying.

So why the fuck did it still hurt? Because she’d died instead of just leaving?

The ghost whisper still invades her mind, pulling the memory out of the depths of it, where Katherine had tried to keep it locked in so that she could start functioning again, even if it was at a lower level than before. Because in the first few days (that spanned into weeks and months) the grief had kept her restrained to her bed. Wrestling with the feelings of hate and love and anger and guilt and desperation and and and…too many feelings and only one person to feel them all. No wonder she was fucking insane. The voices had come just as she thought she was functional again, because of-course they had. Sometimes Katherine thinks Tiffany had died just to spite her.

“Why did you even come?” Tiffany asked.

She looked small and frail in a hospital bed but still filled up a whole room. Katherine felt so tired, the post show endorphins had crashed down when she’d had to pick up that call. “I’m still your emergency contact,” Katherine muttered. “So they called me.”

“But why did you come?”

“God, I don’t know, Tiff, to see if you were actually dead? Is that what you want me to say?” Katherine said, so absolutely done with her. Break ups were supposed to be final. She couldn’t even remember agreeing to Tiffany listing her as her emergency contact, but her sister lived in Georgia so it made some sort of sense. It’d take her a while to get to New York and Katherine hadn’t liked the idea of Tiffany waking up to an empty room.

“No, it wasn’t,” Tiffany said her voice quiet. She was a master at guilt trips. “How was the concert?”

It’d been great, they’d gotten a standing ovation, but Tiffany’s reaction was always the same regardless of whether it’d been good or bad.“It was fine.”

“You know, you never tried to stop me,” Tiffany said, her eyes sharp on Katherine’s face so she wouldn’t miss her reaction to her words. “Even when things were good. You just focused on your violin.”

“Somebody had to pay the bills.”

“Still. You could have tried.”

“So you overdosing is my fault? I didn’t shove the needle into your arm.”

“I didn’t say that,” Tiffany said. “But you never tried to stop me. Why?”

“Because you’re an addict,” Katherine said in a tired voice.

“So?”

“So I already came away from every conversation with you feeling like shit, I didn’t want the added pressure off trying to get you off of drugs. Like it was even my fucking responsibility to keep you sober,” Katherine said pulling at the ends of her hair in frustration. “I’m not a fucking doctor.”

Tiffany surveyed her with cold, almost emotionless, eyes. “You know you’re not a victim, Kathy, right?”

“No? Is that reserved for you too?”

“I’ve never pretended to be anything other than what I am. Whatever’s wrong with me, though, it’s wrong with you too.”

“Yeah, weird nothing was wrong with me before I met you then.”

Tiffany shook her head. “Why did you come?”

Katherine ignored the question this time, because it wasn’t anymore genuine the third time around. “Is that what you want then? For me to ask you to stop doing coke?”

“I don’t know. I want you to care enough to say something.”

“Find someone else to care.”

“Yeah, maybe I’ll find a fucking doctor.”

It hadn’t been the last conversation Katherine had ever had with Tiffany before she’d collapsed in the middle of her first runway show. The same night that she’d played her last concert as first chair for the first time in her life. But it still haunted her now. It wasn’t her fault, Katherine knew that logically, especially after repeating it to herself a million times. However, the voice disagrees, because, of-course, Tiffany always disagrees with her.

“You should have been a fucking doctor.”

Katherine goes back to washing dishes. She’d ignored Tiffany in life, so she could do it in death.

“Yeah, maybe,” she whispers hours later.

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