Have you ever been so emotionally spent and mentally burnt out that you take an 11pm walk alone without a bra in thin clothes only meant for bedtime looking in the clear windows of a mattress store like it’s a candy shop?
A man who wears a headband with a headlight on it rides his bike through town and somehow you’ve run into him three times. He hasn’t gotten very far.
The town is mostly dead by 9pm and you think back to a relatively better time in the not so distant past and wonder in vain what happened and why. You must look absolutely unstable to anyone who drives past and you know this should scare you- but mostly you’ve given up on caring, so you continue to walk.
You can’t possibly realize what a big deal this is, to walk outside at night- at any time really, just another cross us woman must bear- but especially at night. Alone, very exposed, vulnerable in the worst way, and nothing but your car keys and a broken pepper spray on you. The worn fabric shoes you’re wearing would only work in advantage of anyone who should approach you with malice.
When did it get this bad?
The muted sound of a live band radiates clearer and you see that the one restaurant on the block that’s still open has a late night dance hall out back. You slowly walk to the back windows and peek into the window hoping to see life, youth, something to remind you the world is not as dead as you feel. Instead, you see a small group of inebriated middle-aged burnouts dancing to bad dance hall music in a dark room. Something you’d see on public access television fundraiser perhaps. Repulsed, you resume walking, but could it be? They’re happier than you are right now. Even worse.
You pack up your emotions, your disposition, whatever’s left of your sanity- everything you truly own and soon figure out – well shit – there’s nowhere to put any of it. You no longer have any more energy to put forth or try to organize anything. You collectively fall into a heap. Suddenly stuck in a dark place you have never been before, and you’re all alone. Life dimmed. Pause. Settled into limbo.
Sporadically you regain a grain of energy to speak to yourself, try to convince yourself at least; maybe just enough to lean on a willing shoulder. The same song plays over again, the same song “you think you’ve got it bad? Kid, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Your plate is full but so is mine, you’ve always been able to take on more than your share and you prosper girl, take this off my shoulder, I need rest, you can handle it, take it!” This doesn’t really help does it? Your legs falter like never before and glass shatters. The long-promised empathy turns out nonexistent. Your faith shatters; every pillar that once helped you stand steady cracks.
When you can no longer conjure up a beautiful metaphor for whatever you’re feeling – you know the night is fucked. You begin to realize that much, much more than just your night is fucked.
Because you might just steal something, and you might just run away.
If it weren’t for a simple old lady,
And a simple dog with the saddest eyes.
Simply, not so simple at all.
Rebecca Korab is an alumnus of Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Film & Video, with a concentration of Screenwriting. Her favorite genres of writing are creative nonfiction, short stories, and short plays. Her dream is to move to California, where the air is warm, the landscape is majestic, and the sunsets are unbeatable.