She wakes up in a bed, not her own, in a rented apartment, surrounded by someone else’s sheets and covers. There might be a story in that bedding, the blanket that was in the closet that held other bodies before it swaddled her own sleeping, vulnerable, one. Maybe there is, but the only story that matters now is hers.
Breath in and out, eyes adjusting to sunlight, forsaking warmth for movement, she gets up, extends limbs to floor and balances her soul somewhere in the middle. The nourishment she takes from the bounty of this earth is parcelled per dollar. The apartment she rents is a sanctuary for as long as the fates and her budget allow.
Leaving her room, remembering keys, cellphone, wallet, and the identification that means more than her own testimony of who she is and where she’s from. A static picture, taken somewhere else on another day is the only proof of her belonging to the here and now. There is always a mission – stability – not a guarantee, just a momentary reprieve so she can focus her energies.
The legs that carry her, the heart pumping her blood, the air received and transformed by her lungs into something usable, something necessary. That is all there is when she’s out there looking for a way to connect to a society that doles out necessities, that capitalizes on thirst, that monetizes comfort.
She gets to her job. A system learned, devised to keep track of time, money gained or lost, numbers that mean infinitely more to those – those who couldn’t be burdened with the banalities of inputting them, translating them, putting them in arbitrary order – than to her. She fights sleep, the temptation to be outside, the desire to spend her time rationalizing her own minutes and hours, her own profits and losses.
Four hours down, 4 more to go as she steps out again, this time for 60 minutes. The hour and the amount of time decided by someone else who must have gotten hungry and satisfied his need from exactly 1pm – 2pm everyday. She eats the almuerzo, the $2.50 respite of juice, soup, rice and meat. She makes conversation with others who, also aware of the limits of time, are all in this small restaurant together, distance already calculated, rate of receival and ingestion already known. 10 minutes left to hurriedly walk back, to be bored again by someone else’s problems.
The day ends at 6pm. Picking up the bags of potatoes and mote, avocados and onions, $1 each to take them home. We need to eat, she thinks, as she chooses the smaller bag, the 50 cent one, today – tomorrow is another day, another decision, another opportunity. The other shoppers making similar mental trades, deciding that tonight’s meat is probably not worth tomorrow’s eggs.
Back home she prepares, peels, washes and cooks. She eats what she has made when it is ready, the first self-realizing decision she makes today, the only one that satisfies her. She chooses what to watch from a pre-selected array of movies and shows that deign to make it to her corner of the world.
Sleep, in the covers bought with somone else in mind, but momentarily hers, and peacefully she counts out the time she has left to make decisions that may just change her life.
She survived another day.