by Heidi Heimler
I loved you from the moment we met. Front and center you stood, in a store where people like me, with last year’s shoes and maxed out credits cards, entered only from the back, mop and bucket in hand. Your gilded edge caught the afternoon sun, splashed it back upon me. Your spit-shined glass reflected an image I would cherish long after that first, fortuitous meeting.
I worked long hours, until I made you mine. I lugged you home, past the whores on 7th Ave, into the sorry squalor I called home. You leaned like a decorated soldier against the cracked wall and showered me with compliments. “You’re alive,” you said, “filled with possibility.”
When I moved into Robert’s Park Avenue flat, I took only you. Even amongst his exquisite possessions, you were the diamond in the crown. The two of you lavished me with praise. I basked.
Then a lump, a surgeon’s scalpel, chemo; a world turned upside down. I tiptoed past you, eyes downcast. My curls filled the tub. My tears stained every pillowcase we owned. Robert’s touch grew cold, delivered sparingly, as if through latex, just like the doctor’s.
I turned to you, beseeching. “Am I still beautiful?”
You showed me everything: albumin-colored skin lying like an ill-fitting tablecloth over a butchered chest, a wasteland of blue-red scars, useless train tracks going nowhere. Above, empty eyes hanging like worn awnings over a frozen frown. Ugly.
I wish you’d been kinder. I needed someone to lie to me.