Stories

diary of anhedonia – Wrath of Persephone

she doesn’t know who she is. she sits in the blue glow of computer screen and keeps a sleeve of saltine crackers by her bed. most human interactions are regrettable and unfortunate. she remembers an embarrassing moment when she did too many drugs and pulled a knife on a pushy man who wouldn’t leave her alone at a party. it escalated the situation and fucked up the vibe. when she’s nervous she picks at her scalp until it bleeds. she can tell when things are bad because of the dried blood underneath her fingernails. she flosses every day even though she doesn’t plan to be alive for very long.  the dental hygienist told her she needs to stop smoking, or her teeth will fall out. she said she would be dead long before that happened. there was a long silence followed by a nervous laugh. she bundles up in mask and hoodie to walk to the corner store. she buys a pint of whiskey and a bottle of green juice. she prefers the solitude of her studio apartment. the panic gets really bad, so she curls up on the floor of her closet. sometimes she takes phone calls in there when she is afraid people are listening. 

she is almost out of toilet paper and must make the trek to the store. loss prevention follows her at CVS. she knows better than to lift from any stores in Union Square. security is militant. they’ve beat people bloody with nightsticks and shot them with volts of permanently disabling electricity over what probably amounts to $30 worth of shit. the key to shoplifting is to always pay for something. if loss prevention stops her, she can claim she forgot about it during checkout and has the receipt as evidence. she doesn’t make eye contact with people anymore. she’s becoming more of a glitch and less human, less of a girl. she hasn’t had sex in 11 months, the last man paid her $1000 for three hours. she left her body and only remembers the walk home. the elevator in the hotel was unnecessarily complicated.

five a.m. is laundry time. the day before thanksgiving. normally laundry day is thursday. tomorrow they will be closed. it must be done today. she walks a linen sack of dirty laundry two blocks to the laundromat. the sky is dark purple and patchy with early morning fog. she is one of three people there, this is preferable. she loads two washers and starts them. she walks to the corner store for a small coffee with cream and sugar. she pays in cash and leaves. smokes a cigarette while the coffee cools. still dark. she returns to the laundromat and sits down to doomscroll twitter. she puts her phone down and opens up a book. the washers click off and she switches her laundry over. three chapters get read before the dryer buzzes and clicks off. as she folds a man by the row of dryer’s sneezes so loudly she startles, even with her headphones in. he’s unmasked. she hopes he dies of covid for being so reckless and inconsiderate. 

three neatly piled stacks later, she heads back to her apartment. two blocks, uphill. she strips out of her outside clothes and puts on her inside clothes, turns on a dark academia playlist and plays it from her phone speaker. she puts the clothes away methodically. panties and socks. sweatpants and sleep shirts. leggings. and all the things that hang – t-shirts, pants, sweaters and flannels. always in this order. bedding and towels are last. she sits on the edge of her bed and stares at herself in the mirror across the room. she doesn’t recognize her reflection. she is hungry. the refrigerator is empty on purpose. she chooses hunger. this is a privilege. she knows. the pain of starvation is familiar and comforting.

she checks email, responds to email, agonizes over her tone, using different names for different situations mostly remembers which ones for which. on her fire escape, she smokes cigarettes. it’s bright out now. the clarity and brightness of bay area sunshine is disoriented. she takes a covid test. the dishes pile up in the sink but organized so the mess doesn’t distract and agitate. she swallows handfuls of acetaminophen because her back hurts. so do her shoulders. and her neck. the same six songs play on repeat for months. she never walks barefoot in her apartment. she massages aquafor into the patches of dry skin. she hangs artwork she’s created on her walls and hates herself for it. fantasies of death float through her. she doesn’t talk to her family anymore. she loads, unloads, reloads, unloads her 9mm, a smith & wesson with custom rose stippling grip. reminds her of a time when she cared about something, anything. her focus is interrupted when the dog whines. she laces her doc martens. she takes the dog for a walk. when she gets back inside, she wipes each of baby’s paws. she sits on the edge of the bed and opens the cheap, ikea bedside table drawer. she stares into it. she pulls out the bottle. she crushes the good pills and snorts them. she rubs her thumb over the scar in the fingerprint on her index finger. the warmth spreads through her. she misses her dead stepfather. 

the other night she met up with a man from an app. they drank cocktails at the bar and then walked seven blocks to his apartment. she sucked his fingers and let him fuck her with the lights on. she made the last second decision to stay over instead of going home which meant getting dressed at five a.m. in the dark, purposely leaving her fishnets on his bedroom floor. she laced her boots and tried to quietly tiptoe down the stairs light like a ballerina but instead spills herself, still drunk, out onto the sidewalk. she lights a cigarette and smokes while waiting for the cab. clouds of steam from trains below billow upward against pre-dawn dark blue. when the car pulled up with its high beams on, christmas music jingled sweetly from the speakers in the door. she rubbed her temples and tried to breathe through the waves of nausea intensified by the alpine car freshener clipped to the vent. the only time this city sparkles is when the headlights reflect off the shattered glass on the asphalt. it’s easy to miss.

the tremor in her hand returns. the key trembles in her hand while she tries to open her mailbox. she can’t quite do it. the key and mouth of lock are like two same ends of a magnet. she gives up and walks the 31 steps up to her floor, walks down the hallway and stares at the doorknob. she can’t get the key in her apartment door. her nosy neighbor peeks his head out of his apartment into the hallway and watches her quiet frustration escalate. frustration turns to embarrassment. she drops the keys. she drops her bag. she leans her back against the door and slides down. she rests for a minute then tries again. this time, it works. once inside she slams the door behind her and locks the doorknob. she locks the deadbolt. in the kitchen she opens the bottle of whiskey, drinks what is left. everything is warm for a moment. her phone vibrates. her heartbeat is in her temple. her eyes burn and limbs are heavy. she aches for sleep. 

the alarm goes off at 5 a.m. silence. the alarm goes off at 6 a.m. she checks the apps in bed. relocks her phone. the dog is hungry. she fills the bowl with food, changes out the water so it’s fresh. baby eats. they walk through the street in the rain. it’s the quiet before the city wakes up. back inside into the elevator that rattles. manual elevator doors, outside first then inside. up three floors. inside first, then outside. she wipes each of baby’s paws. she grabs her wallet and walks back out the apartment door, outside first then inside elevator doors once more, down three floors, inside then out, two blocks to the bodega to get a large coffee and a pint of whiskey. the man who owns the bodega recognizes her from every thursday for the last year. he is kind and never judges her for drinking in the morning. she thanks him and heads back up the street. now the sky is starting to brighten. it rains. fog obscures the top of the skyscrapers. separates the chaos of city from the cozy, gentle warmth of heaven. she remembers a Sylvia Plath quote, “i need a father, i need a mother, i need some old, wiser being to cry to. i talk to God but the sky is empty.” the sky is empty. she gets back into her apartment. she locks the door behind her. she washes her hands, opens the bottle and drinks until it starts to burn. it will not make her feel better. she knows this. she’s hoping it will make her feel something.