A Short Story
A Short Story
It was her birthday. She wanted to talk. A lot. I like to listen, but had planned on reading a book. I ordered a Guinness.
She told me she was lucky to make it. She was now 60. She didn’t say the number out-loud, instead she faced me and asked me to count her fingers.
For the next half hour I listened to her story. She had lived in foster care, had been abused, physically and mentally, found herself at 18 with a vicious tongue and lost herself completely in her twenties.
She had attempting suicide multiple times. The last attempt landed her in a coma and in the hospital. During the explanation of her life she bounced from age-to-age and from addiction to health. By her mid-thirties she had once again found herself and had stopped drinking. She also stopped using drugs.
She found both again and lived another round of almost not living. She was homeless for a time. She vomited feces while she was dying. She woke up on a Monday, put her make-up on, and lived.
I didn’t bother trying to read my book. I wanted her to finish her story. This happens to me often when I sit at the bar. I don’t mind. When I don’t want to talk, I stand in the corner, alone, with a book and a beer.
She is very kind. Full of love for life and happy to have not died during her attempts to end hers. She told me this while pouring her new beer into an empty pint glass. Her eyes widened as she started a new chapter of her story.
Slowly, I entered small facts about myself into the conversation. “You lived in Turners Falls, MA?!” she replied? “No, I went to High School in that town. And Turners was a border town to my home town.” “No wonder you had anger! There’s nothing there!”
That wasn’t the reason I had anger. I love that town.
She knew the drug houses, the homeless issue, the violence, the left over edge one has after spending any length of time in that region. And here we sat, in a pub located in Maine.
She asked if I was familiar with Greenfield. “Yes. Greenfield is where I was in one-too-many fights and also where I spent time in jail.”
She told me she lived in the woman’s home in Greenfield and that’s where she got clean. It took over a year, but they were amazing to her and saved her life.
I told her I wrote a short story that had much to do with the small town mindset of that area. And there we sat, enjoying our lives in the now, talking about the past. About the very town where I’ve lost friends due to addiction and violence. The very town where I found love for the first time and where I learned driving alone late at night, with the windows down and radio off, was a form of freedom that I was only just beginning to understand.