You. It is all about you. Your stuff, your life, your thoughts and feelings. The spotlight is on you. It is always on you. I stay on the sidelines. I just watch how other people look at you, respond to you.
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No. I am sorry. I am so very sorry. I can’t. I can’t let you. The Thing is there. The horrible thing is in the room next door. It will see you and hear you. You make noise when you run around. It’s natural. You are a cat. You need freedom. There is none here. No freedom for you, no freedom for me.
Yawn. I want to go. Tune out. I want to tune out. I want to choose another channel, a channel without pain and worry and despair. The weather here, with all the harsh wind blowing, is like my situation. I will close my eyes. Maybe that will help. I doubt it will do much. But maybe for a tiny bit I do not have to think about anything. I do not want to think. Thinking about the situation makes me want to vomit.
No, little one, my little one. Please, I beg of you. I ask you nicely because I love you. Do not. Just do not go there. Don’t dare run to the doors of the other rooms. Walk around for 2 minutes, no more than 2, and come right back to our room. Someone can see you in the living room and they’ll tell the fat man. The fat man will manipulate his words to make it look like he is the decent one and that you and I disrespect his free house. He’s very good at that, at saying things in such a way that make him seem respectable. Please, my little cat, forgive me. I am so sorry. I want you to be free. I want me to be free. This is not the place for that.
You are disgusting. The entire situation is disgusting. We are standing a few feet away from each and you are harassing me. You say that my cat has scratched a piece of furniture. If you care about that piece of furniture so much, buy something and spray on it so that no cat will go near it. There are 4 cats in the house, cats that you don’t take care of. You tell me that I must be homeless to rent a room in your illegal rooming g house. You know nothing about me. You and your undocumented stepfather (the one who has harassed me in the past) have done me enough harm. According to you, I am a bad person because I care about animals and about things that you don’t care about. No, you lie. My cat has never pooped on that piece of furniture. You are threatening too evict me when you are running a business that you shouldn’t be running. I have proof that I pay to live in this apt. You are beyond belief and you think you can get away with meanness and ugly behavior.
Someone (it was difficult to tell the gender) was stretched out on the seat. The person had been covered with a blanket. A woman took a seat near him or her, almost on the edge. She shook her head. That something like this should be happening here in New York, she thought. A voice came from under the covers. What are you looking at? It was a woman’s voice, sharp and clear. I am sorry the other subway passenger wanted to say. I am sorry. I feel for you. I know what your life must be like.
The short, thin man stood up. He opened his mouth. “My Lord, please help! It hurts!” His knees shook; he sat down on the concrete seat. He held on to his head with both hands. From out of nowhere, a young man approached him. The man looked up and reached into his pocket. “I’ll bring the ATM card and give you a dollar,” he told him.
B-U-G-S. It is bugs. I am living with bugs. They are on the bed, on the sheets and they attack my arm, my leg, even my hair. She spelled out the word. The woman at the other end could not understand her at first. Take your time, she told her. This is stressful. It is very stressful. She had been stressed many times in the last few years. Her mind and soul told her that she had had enough. She had enough of being impoverished, enough of putting up with this and that and the other thing and the next other thing. She did not know until when this would last. What was it? What was wrong that she had tried so hard and nothing had worked? Nothing had worked to improve her life. Now the bugs were in the way. They were another obstacle.
Her hands were stretched out. They were wrinkled and worn as if they had worked hard for many years. The face was even more wrinkled than the hands. The woman’s eyes had tears running down the cheeks. Please, someone! Please! I am hungry, so hungry! Won’t you please help me with a meal?
The tension. The feeling is inside me. It is just beneath the surface. I try. I try not to show it. Remaining calm is best, someone said a long time ago. I don’t want to explode. I don’t want this to explode me, as if I were a bomb. The coldness of the streets stops me. That’s the only thing holding me in a place, in a situation that has turned abusive. Too abusive for my taste. Too abusive to shrug off and pretend it does not exist.