The Radical Notion You Are Ridiculous

Date: 5/25/2019

By Fitful

I was living at the airport. I didn't really mean for it to happen. I just ran out of money one day and ended up there. I had a strong urge not to leave. I didn't want to move on, didn't want to get on a new flight. I felt rooted. They had a cafeteria which served a lot of food and people. I walked in one day and the shift was changing. I'd been in a conversation with one of the employees, an Asian dude who was a friend of mine, and wanted to continue it, so someone perked up and suggested he take the shift off. "Go and have fun," the client suggested to him. "Anyone here can do your job for fifteen minutes." Those around him agreed, nodding with mouths full and quiet. "Even she can," he said waving at me with a big relaxed arm. My friend thought about it and decided he would and ran off. I was left standing there feeling self conscious and a bit hungry. Someone had left a crusty piece of uneaten half a slice of pizza on their tray. It was the guy who made the suggestion. I ate on it trying to go unnoticed, feeling very self conscious, but the guy once he noticed nodded enthusiastically. "Hell yeah," he said. "Eat whatever you want." Around him his all munching fellows genuinely agreed, mouths full, nodding enthusiastically with smiles full of food. I was so hungry I decided to. So I ended up staying. I sat in with some people on the bench down aways and some tall muscle sporting guy came over from the back, tried hitting on me a little. I was shy and didn't correct him on the fact I was gay but turned him down just the same. He left good natured. Days passed and I was still there, munching client leftovers which were so plenty it felt like I was at a buffet. I was always full, satisfied, maybe for the first time. A girl, a client who was there every day, came and offered me a big tub of chicken fried. It was clear she was trying to be nice. I had to turn her down. It felt awful as I had no money food or a home and I probably needed to eat it, but I was vegan. I told her so feeling more self conscious. 'Maybe I should have said so when I first arrived,' I thought. 'Then it wouldn't be a surprise. Then they wouldn't hate me and think I'm weird and ungrateful.' She took back her chicken sadly. But came back the next day or a few days later and tried again. This time it was tempora mostly onion but I found some chicken in it again. I sighed but freaked out a bit because I had been eating on it. She was upset because she tried and I ate the onion bits. They were good. Someone suggested I just work there, since I was there so often anyway so I did. The owner of the cafeteria was a woman with very long straight black hair in a high pony, always perfectly coiffed, who also took care of women who needed a bed at the airport, less like a hotel but more like a shelter. They didn't have to pay. When the cafeteria closed up the area was many dorms, it transformed into white dorms which where spotless and white beds, and we all slept there. She and I became close. We began to sleep in the same bed, platoniclly, but it was an emotionly budding romance. I often got caught up in this thing which happened which was like being awake in a living dream. I'd be standing and I'd fall into it. The world around me would grow dark and I'd be in a car driving break neck speed in the jungle at night. The car would be driving not me. Figures, faces, people wandering, would pop up, like ghosts or apparitions and disappear again. They would say something dispairingly, a word or a phrase they might repeat over and over. It was always some personal torment. It was like I was awake hearing their dreams, them in their dreams, crying out their worst pain. I didn't want to leave the airport. I was fed there, all I could eat. I always had food, not much money but food. I now had a job. And coworkers, and they didn't really know my situation. At night I helped the owner of the cafeteria turn it into beds and we slept. The bed we shared was a white metal bed with a thick normal sized mattress and black satin sheets. We had a cat, a black fat long haired one, which also slept with us. The woman, she was like some anime tortured lesbian character. Kinda far away and broody, coming across stuck up until you get to know her and realize all she's doing is existing in her own excruciating pain. The kind with long dark hair. Yeah that kind. We began to sleep together so consistently I felt scared. I felt insecure because I began to trust it and began acting a bit too people pleasing, too accommodating to her. The kind which is born not from altruism but from nervousness. It didn't help we were kinda a secret and it felt like the relationship I had with Laura a bit. I didn't dwell consciously, or so I tried to tell myself, but one day as I was the last to help her turn down the cafeteria into beds and dorms and cover the open areas with sheets like doors I was talking a bit anxiously, a bit too fast. I mentioned us, and our romantic relationship a bit to loudly near those open dorm doors, inviting her to something, and then flushed with embarrassment/fear when I realized it had been too close and grew quiet. Then I ignored I had made a mistake because she didn't reprimand me. I wondered internally, hopefully if maybe she was ready for us not to be a secret, which is why she hadn't scolded me for my slip. We were having a good time, it was a pleasant conversation if a bit forced on my part, and maybe on hers. But really she forced everything so that's not surprising. She kept that ethereal air, like she was off in her own plane of misery all the time even as she existed among us mortals. It made her responses slow but seemed deliberate and composed so no one called her on it. It was like that when we went to bed. The black cat meowed at me as I approached the bed in greeting maybe. But this time the bunk bed was made differently. The top half sported a single bed instead of a double. She got into the lower half, climbing under the black satin sheet, and asked me to sleep alone. I was taken aback, felt abruptly rejected, like all my fears had been realized. Like it was the end of the world and a breakup. But she pressed my left hand to her the left side of her chest and when I asked "why" brokenly and said with gentle irrefutable conviction that I needed it. But to keep me in mind, she then added every word ringing true, for next time, for the next night, and for those after, because she wanted to spend the rest of her life with me. It was so serious and gentle and heartfelt I believed her. We sat there just like that for a moment, somehow on the top bunk now, which makes more sense I suppose since she wanted to sleep alone. Her skin was very fair I noted and a back part of my mind compared it to Laura so different from her dark skin, but then I let the comparison go. I asked her something, a few words about her pain. She visibly broke and shook her head, like it was too much to talk about. I pressed a moment further, then in my desperate desire to give her free well and not be imposing or rude I tripped verbally over my apologetic back tracking. I didn't want her to feel she had to talk to me. I ended up making a mess of it, tripping over back track after backtrack. I began to sound ridiculous, like I was apologizing for apologies. I had to force myself to stop. It was quiet. Suddenly she laughed and leaning back shook her head at me, shaking it at me like she suddenly found me and the conversation and even her pain ridiculous, shaking it like she had found a release along with the amusment. I paused to take that in. Then even I realized how silly I was being. I laughed too, a short sharp bark which used all my breathe and echoed across the cafeteria. Ha-hah! It was the kind of laugh my grandma used to make. She was a loud confident woman from Texas, born in Sweden, Christian and republican. A forceful woman, like a bull. When she encountered people she was in charge of every conversation, usually with her interest in them and easy ability to strike up a conversation. And to laugh, easily, often at herself, and never maliciously. I was always envious of that laugh, of her ability to laugh like that, so uninhibited. This time I laughed like her. It moved through my whole body, using all of it to concentrate the air, and came out my throat so hard I felt it even after I woke up. In the quiet wake of it we soaked in the amusement and relief, her with her head thrown back and me mine down shaking back and forth in amusement on a relaxed neck. The fear was gone. We didn't say anything. I woke up, feeling the relief of laughter and the ha-hah in my throat for a while. I don't think I actually made any real noise because I had to climb out of sleep, but I felt that laugh for a long time after I woke up.