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1. Abandonment

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I was sitting on the suitcase – one of those old fashioned hard cases. It was on its side, vertical, so I could sit straighter. I had the guitar case next to me, sitting on the ground. I couldn’t remember if I was coming or going. I couldn’t think if I’d gotten off a bus or I was waiting for one. I think I was waiting. I felt like I was always waiting for something. For this life to end. For the next to begin. One way or another, I was always waiting. I looked up and down the street, the usual business. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing but me. And even I wasn’t all that extraordinary. I simply was. A girl sitting on a suitcase with a guitar. Nothing more. Just a girl sitting alone at night, waiting on nothing, smoking just for the smell of it. I wanted to destroy something. So I started with myself. I’ve been working my way up ever since. Or maybe it was down the whole time. Then again, either which way, it’s somewhere.

The bus came, the last one. I’m always waiting for the last stop. Always waiting. And always for the end. Always for the final show. I couldn’t remember how long I’d been waiting, I simply…was. This’ the middle of nothing, the beginning of nowhere, the end of anything. Pick it and it is. I am. That’s life. That’s how I’m going into this. The bus comes and I board. I’m alone. Naturally. But it doesn’t matter because I’m here in this. In the now. And fuck everyone else. I’m better off alone. It’s more…secure. I saw myself off. I watched myself leave. I saw my own shadow get smaller against the horizon. And I smiled to myself as I waved myself goodbye. In my mind it made sense. Feel free to turn your back anytime the scene bothers you.

I was a girl with a suitcase and a guitar. I had my life in my head, on my back, wherever it needed to be. And I’d hack it out there. I wasn’t sure how. I had enough cash for a bit. No security. Nothing sure. No contacts. Nothing. I was just here. I had stood on the brink of oblivion for the chance at a gasp of fresh air. And when I tired of waiting, I stepped over for the thrill of the fall. The thrill, the shock, everything. I had walked to the ends of the earth and when I found nothing there, I just pressed on. There’s nothing else to be done. Sitting down and crying won’t make it stop. Don’t lose time to tears. Just soldier on. There’s nothing else to be done. Pack up your life, leave with a smile, and make the best of the little left in the ashes.

The ride was for hours. Like I said, last stop. Last bus, last stop, last life. It’s all relevant in this seemingly…irrelevant way. I just don’t understand it, but I don’t think I’m meant to, so I don’t pretend to try. I just get up and move when things bother me. When the movie’s bad, when the building burns down, when someone dies. Pick up, move, start over. There’s only so many times to start over, so many places to go. No. That’s a lie. With the world at your feet, there’s always somewhere to go. In terms of income, that’s the trick. Money really does make the world go round. But hey, swing it right, set it up, it’s not that big a deal. There’s all kinds of ways to make money in this world. Tons. Some of them are more accepted than most. But hey, there’s a lot of things more accepted than most in this world. I bet you there’s more people that accept a religion than don’t. Check the numbers. I don’t think the atheists are going to take over anytime soon. Then again, I could be wrong. Don’t quote me. I don’t know. I seldom do.

The driver doesn’t say anything either. I don’t care. I can hear music in my head from the last show, the last place I can remember sound. I can hear whatever I chose to, not the continuous loop that most people find themselves stuck in, dancing around absentmindedly to one stupid song. No. I can rewind, fast forward, select track. I can do as I wish. After all, it’s my mind. I should be able to. I’ll admit, it did take years of experience. A lot of careful training. It’s not easy to cage something that has absolutely no desire to be caged. Just like you can’t save the damned. I’m not damned, exactly. I’m just…in limbo.

 

I don’t sleep on the bus. I don’t believe in it all that much really. Sleep. I mean, you only get so much time to live, why waste it sleeping? Sure, sleep’s necessary and all, but I only crash when I really have to. Otherwise, I’m awake. A large majority of the time. Or at least catatonic. There’s various states of rest or waking. I was in between right now, allowing my mind to wander like the road the bus stayed on. My mind went beyond the asphalt, beyond the greenery, the trees and bushes. Between the lonely streets and quiet houses. Wandering idly, trying to find something to grasp onto. There was nothing. I was headed nowhere fast, but at least I was headed somewhere. No matter how I got there, it was somewhere.

And hours later, various thoughts and ideas and theories later, all forgotten the moment I stepped out of the bus, I was here. In a new time, a new place. A new city. My new home. This would be the latest in the series. The new and improved model. No. Change that. New. Never improved. As hard as I try and as much looking as I do, there is no improvement to this life. There is no other. Only this.

I was on a crowded street. It was early morning and the streets were already crowded here. Something told me they would always be this way. There was no calm period. No time for rest. I looked up and down from where I stood. Which way should I go? Where should I try my luck? I could go anywhere from here. And that was the basis of the appeal of starting over. There was literally anywhere to go. I looked around once more and picked a direction to wander in. My method was simple. I would wander until nightfall. Wherever I was by then was where I’d be. I’d stay there, I’d work there, and I’d make ends meet. Everything was a clean slate. Every minute was another chance to turn it all around. I carried the two cases squarely as I walked among the crowds, trying not to bump into anybody.

I found myself outside a bar. The atmosphere was inviting, the crowd had shifted in its context. I ducked inside, finding a table kept in the back, away from everyone else. I put my stuff down carefully, trying to clear my head. I felt tired, but it was just exhaustion setting in. I’d need to crash at some point. I’d collapse otherwise. I brushed the hair out of my face, ordered a drink when the waitress came over. The place wasn’t exactly dark, but it had a kind of atmosphere that was almost cozy. It set my mind at ease, sitting here, waiting. I was genuinely tired. The girl came back with my drink in record time, she crept through the place stealthily, scaring me when she reemerged. She set it down on a napkin, giving me a kind look. I smiled back at her, nodding my thanks. She moved off to another table.

Just another face in the crowd. Just another nameless identity. Nothing more than a friendly smile. I sat quietly thinking, trying to consider where I could crash. I would stay in the bar until it closed. It was nice in here – warm. Outside the world was shown in shades of gray, the people included. It was also raining out. I was soaked when I came in.

The place was called the Drowning Raven.

And I had come to drown.

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