I walked with fellow writer/artist Allison along the downtown streets, some of which are salted with people who are displaced from society, and have created societies of their own in the tide pools of shadow and cement. My gaze slides past them, seeing them but not too deeply; I don’t want to cause trouble, and I don’t want to invite conversation.
We were talking shop. I have a limited audience for people who will listen to my flights of fancy, and Allison is one of the lovely souls that will let me fly. As we walked, I noticed a blonde girl in a red tank top, pacing along the side of a building and aggressively taunting a man who stood outside of her orbit. I started assessing the situation, and almost missed the second blonde, crouched low, sitting on her feet, knees out, smoking.
As we passed the first blonde, the crouching blonde started talking.
“Hell no, fuck no.” She muttered, drawing on her cigarette. She had sores on her nose and cheeks that I first took for freckles. Her eyes were glassy and stared out into the void. “I’d rather die.”
In that moment, a small piece of her climbed inside my head, and stared outwards.
I assume that she was on something, probably meth from the thinness of her body and the poor condition of her skin. The fact that she spoke to no one suggested it too. I could almost feel the ragged hole where her aura should be, trying to draw something in.
As a writer, I’m a magpie. I take poignant moments and internalize them, try to synthesize meaning out of it, and then send it back out to the world. I can’t get another person to feel anything if I don’t feel it first.
And let’s face it; no matter how we love our heroes, we cannot say they have easy lives.
I try to soak up the good things as much as I can. But the world is full of horrible people, and if we pretend like they don’t exist, it gives them permission to continue being horrible.
Indeed, at this point, the meth-addicted blonde isn’t a horrible person, she’s just trapped in a prison no one can save her from.
I don’t like being a writer for this reason. If I see something, I know about it, and if I know about it, I care.
And I can’t just care. I have to pass it along.
That’s what it means to be a writer.