There were no doors, only door frames at the women’s shelter. There were only hinges on one door. Cookie slumped in it’s door frame and idly moved the hinge back and forth. No one heard its squeal over the sound of a child crying. There weren’t many children at Diana’s Shelter. Downtown was mostly reserved for hookers and junkies. Families usually went to the newer Ymca by the river. Hookers and Junkies didn’t have kids. In this town they wouldn’t survive infancy. One way or another…
Cookie heard the footsteps of a mother pacing. The child’s crying started coming on in spurts. Cookie then heard the mother make a low shushing sound. When the child was soothed into silence, Cookie could make out a meek voice. The mother was singing “ Wild Horses” by “The Rolling Stones”.
Cookie sighed and turned her back away from the imagery. She closed her eyes and wished she could just rest. It was never the noise that kept her awake. She grew up and lived within chaos. For someone who had anxiety, you’d think her mother would shun chaos at every turn. But her mother seemed to be addicted to her anxiety. Everytime things got beyond control, she seemed to revel in the dishevel. Enjoyed watching someone else attempt to put back the pieces.
Cookie slowly got up and slumped by the chair by the window. The window was covered in chicken wire from the outside. Cookie weaved her fingers through and tried to reach any approaching tree branches. Ofcourse it was impossible. Cookie stood up and leaned over the window. She pretended to light a smoke and she slowly exhaled an imaginary puff of smoke. She started smoking to be near people. To huddle around one bic lighter. Now she smoked to be alone, even in her own head.
She closed her eyes and pictured the orange glow and black ember of a cigarette butt. She muttered the words: “ Wild horses…we will ride them some day.” Cookie was brought back. She flicked her cigarette out the window. She turned towards the faded bark of the bunk beds. The mattresses were plastic but at least they were on a box spring. She spent many years of her childhood sleeping on a mattress on the floor. This was an upgrade certainly.
As usual Cookie didn’t get much sleep before someone nudged her. Cookie flopped on her back and peered up with squinty eyes. It was Laura ,she worked at the shelter. The workers all wore grey golf shirts with a very linear drawing of a bow and arrow. Cookie lifted her eyes away from the shirt before Laura got the wrong impression.
She was a black woman with black woman’s hair. Cookie was ignorant of all else. All she knew was Laura was boss of something. Cookie didn’t want to get kicked out so she slowly sat up.
“What?” She squawked out unintentionally.
Cookie cleared her voice and tried again, “ What do you need from me?”
Laura’s purple lips thinned then pursed. She always wore the shelter’s uniformed golf shirts and purple lipstick. Laura slowly sank to her knees and rested her elbows on the creaking mattress.
“ There’s resume building at 3.”
Cookie rolled her eyes, “ High school drop out seeks employment, experience includes working the corner and occasionally flips burgers.”
“ I didn’t see you for a whole year . You worked a whole year at that burger place. I bet you were good.”
Cookie rolled her eyes, “ It’s all the same…cyclical monotony.”
“ Hunny,” She emphazied the word, “ You’re smart enough to know now nothing’s ever handed to you.”
Cookie nodded and was overcome with…something. She suddenly wanted to reach out and hug Laura. Cling to her and ask her what the hell was the point of this?
Cookie grabbed her matted hair and bunched it together. She sighed as she realeased.
“ I don’t know…I don’t even know what I want anymore.”
Laura pursed her lavender lips again, “ All I know is they won’t let you stay here forever, there going to want to guide you somewhere.”
Cookie copped out and muttered, “ I’m too tired to think.”
Laura’s lips formed a thin disapproving line, “ When you wake up don’t go out, stay in. Walk around and see your present. Really look at where it is and where its headed.”
Cookie did none of those things. She checked her phone as always she checked cragslist. She was hoping to build some sort of client base. Hopefully with just harmless oddballs who liked to be spanked. Cookie really didn’t enjoy being touched. There were exceptions to the rule…but Cookie didn’t know what made these people the exception.
There were no sub advertisements tonight but one dude wanted a girl to clean his house in her underwear. Cookie wondered what the asking price was. She didn’t send a message she just forwarded a picture of herself. It reminded her of a “Roxy Music” album cover but then again it looked like every whore’s picture. Her eyes looked dark and slumberous. The light was generous and expanded her eyelashes into splayed spider legs. Her hair piled on the top of her head and exposing her clavicle and décolleté. She was wear a tube top and jean cut-offs but the camera’s lens gave nothing away. She sent another generic picture just to prove that she wasn’t fat.