Posted on February 12, 2013


“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”

-Mother Teresa

Loraine wandered the wet city streets, head low, eyes devoid of any emotion save for caution, as they darted back and forth, watching for the legs and squishing shoes of passersby. One pair of feet stopped to her front and to the side. The black dress shoes turned in her direction, and she heard a concerned voice say, “Excuse me, would you like my umbrella?” Loraine shivered and, without meeting the stranger’s eyes, shook her head and continued on. In the corner of her eye, she could see the dress shoes turn and see her off. Another shiver racked her body, but she didn’t care. A memory flashed before her eyes. It was warm and filled with intense emotion. Her hair was being stroked as she giggled, an extraordinary sense of happiness filled her being. The memory faded, and she realized she was stroking her damp hair. She quickly brought her hands down to her side, hoping no one had really taken notice. Her body shook in another spasm as her drenched clothing froze her from the outside in. A dull pain formed in the soles of her feet, and she closed her eyes tight, wishing the pain to go away. Though it only grew worse. Suddenly it felt she had been stabbed in her stomach. The pain rose up her chest and her throat tightened. She bit her lower lip, fighting back the powerful urge. After a moment, she lost her battle. Her lips parted, releasing the short, uncontrolled gasps she had been afraid of all along. She dropped to her knees, and fell to her side, curled in a ball, her tears mixed with the rain. Black spots formed in her blurred vision. When she blinked, the black spots became shoes; dozens of pairs of shoes. She heard voices, but none of them made sense. All she wanted was to be left alone.

Omar felt a mix of emotions that made no sense. That woman, beautiful, yet in obvious pain, had made an incredible impression on him. But what about her had done so? The fact that she had no umbrella, raincoat, jacket, or even a sweater on? That was part of it, for it certainly was strange. Who would walk around in a rainstorm like this in just jeans and a t-shirt? He had the feeling, however, that it was intentional, not a lack of common sense. His thoughts had him so preoccupied that he had not registered the sidewalk suddenly clearing of people, and the wailing of sirens. He looked up in time to see the ambulance; its three-and-a-half ton mass plowing through the giant puddle of water by the curb, creating a miniature tidal wave and completely drenching him. A few of the people around him laughed. He shook his head like a wet dog. Angry at himself and those who had laughed at him, he began to walk briskly. He was reminded of a time in middle school when a group of bullies had dumped the janitor’s bucket filled with dirty, soapy water on him unexpectedly and laughed at him. What a lonely time that had been. Then again…what had changed since? He went on to high school with no friends. At most, he had made only one friend during those four years, and only just kissed a girl, while everyone else had gone well beyond just kissing. He didn’t worry about it, however. College, he was told, would bring redemption. He would become accepted, make friends, and find love. None of the above happened. His only friend from high school found a nice girl, and they married. Omar then turned to dating sites to cure his loneliness. Nine months he had a membership, and only one date came about. She had stood up and left when he told her he was still a virgin.

“At twenty-seven?” She spat, throwing the white cloth napkin on the table as she stood. “You asked,” he mumbled as she stormed off. Later that night he had gotten drunk off vodka and solicited a hooker. As he stumbled out of the hotel room, still plastered from the alcohol, he had said, “I hope you’re happy.” The hooker, having overheard him, said, “What?”

He shook his head. “Talking to someone else. I mean,” he corrected himself. “About someone else,” and he shut the door.

Basking in the painful memories, Omar looked across the street and absentmindedly acknowledged the bus stop he needed to go to. Without fully realizing what he was doing, he began to cross the street without looking. A car horn blared, and tires slid on wet asphalt, and there was a sickening thud as flesh and bone made contact with with hard plastic.

Nicole cupped her hand over her mouth and stifled a scream. The man had walked out in front the car, carelessly or intentionally, she couldn’t tell. Either way, his body had flown a couple feet before landing on the asphalt, his head coming down hard with a crack and a splatter of blood. She closed her eyes and looked away, fighting the urge to vomit. It was a lost cause. She rushed past people who were whipping out their cell phones and dialing 9-1-1 to a trash can, and let her lunch burst from her mouth in a sickening torrent. When her stomach had nothing left to expel, she slumped onto the ground, pointedly looking away from the street. Oddly enough, there was a feeling she couldn’t shake. The man had seemed familiar. Then it dawned on her. He had been a client of hers not too long ago. That was the one thing she didn’t like about having a photographic memory and being a prostitute at the same time. She would always remember the face. And with the face came the memory of the evening she had with him. Though this time it wasn’t an awful memory of a creepy, nasty guy who wanted weird favors. That man had made her feel young and carefree again. He had been drunk, and was still a virgin. It had reminded her of her high school days, and the fun times she had had with her high school sweetheart. They had met freshmen year and were instantly inseparable. By the beginning of sophomore year, she had decided he was Mr. Right, and they took each other’s virginity. From then on she felt an undying love for him, and thought he had felt the same, until senior year. That year he had grown tired of her. He wanted “more action,” as he had said so selfishly.

The breakup left her devastated. She couldn’t imagine life without him, and she especially couldn’t imagine giving herself up to any other guy. But then she did. It was with a friend of hers. He had been supporting her all along. He was her rock. She appreciated him more than she could ever express in words. And one day when he came over to comfort her, it had happened. They were alone in her house, and she was tired of feeling sad and angry all the time, and felt unfathomably pathetic with her simple thank yous and hugs that never seemed to express how truly grateful she was to have him as a friend. It started with a kiss, and ended with her elation. She felt freed. Sadly, though, the feeling was so great she wanted sex more and more often, until it finally grew into an unhealthy addiction. She couldn’t explain it exactly. But she enjoyed the feeling of being desired by so many. It made her feel powerful and dominant. She also felt she had showed up her ex, and that’s what felt best of all. Her parents disapproved of her behavior and kicked her out, forcing her to make a living off of what made she loved most. At first it wasn’t so bad. But eventually the desire she felt emanating from her clients failed to fill a growing gap in her heart. She wanted to be loved again, not just desired. And that man laying dead on the street had brought back the loving memories she so desperately needed. In that moment, she decided that she wanted to join him. She walked over to his corpse just as the ambulance and two police cars pulled up. She laid down and cuddled with his body as the last bits of warmth escaped.

Emanuel, in all his years as a paramedic, had never seen something so strange. A woman had laid down with the corpse of a man who had just been hit by a car. What relationship did she have with him? No one knew. She mumbled incoherently when the police asked her questions. One of the officers put her in the back of his patrol car and took her to the police station. Emanuel would have liked to hear more about that strange woman, but he doubt he would ever know more. As he and his partner began to lift the body into the black body bag, a powerful emotion surged through him. He grabbed his stomach, dropping his end of the body, and collapsed to his knees. It was loneliness, of all feelings; something he hadn’t felt in a long time. Since he became a paramedic, he hadn’t thought about how pathetic his life was. He had no friends, no lover. He worked all the time; and if he wasn’t working, he was sleeping. There was no time to ponder anything else. It kept him sane. Now, suddenly, the past decade of loneliness came baring down him like a boulder. He began to sob uncontrollably, and his partner’s words were garbled gibberish in between gasps. He felt a sharp sting on his upper right arm, and next thing he knew, he was sitting in the passenger’s seat of the ambulance, the world going dark all around him.

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