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TWO STORIES

ONE

This was when I knew I had to take Lizzie to the hospital. Her eyes were stuck in a daze that was only made worse with waves of excessive drinking. She stopped being fun and became a burden. There are parts of me that want to slap my conscience for even thinking that word. “Burden.” What an asshole thing to say.

I met Lizzie at a crazy party at the lake. She was sitting by the fire, poking the flames with a gnarled piece of wood. The blazes burned the shadows around her face so the darkness framed her cheeks in a frenzied, yet delicate way. I grabbed two drinks and walked over to her. She didn’t even notice me until I offered her a drink. She smiled and the shadows stopped moving.

Her eyes didn’t hang like they are in this moment, this one that’s frozen in this Polaroid. They still had life in them and coherent thoughts and a spark. I was so scared to take her to the hospital. Sometimes I can still hear her screaming at me. When it’s just quiet enough and I haven’t thought about it in a while. Her incoherent shouting is trapped in my dreams and fills me with guilt.

After I took her, no one said anything. No one asked where she was. Instead, a heavy silence surrounded the idea of Lizzie and hung around like an old ghost.

I hope I did the right thing.

Story by Rachel Nielsen

TWO

This was a long time ago.  Before I left the Florida backwater where I was born.  Before I had a baby.  Look at me, a baby myself.  What a mess. And then that screaming, wide-eyed baby Ralph when I was 16 years old. I called him after the boy I thought was his father.  That’s not what I told anyone at the time, but to this day I believe the kid’s father was Ralph Debaux. Handsome Ralph.  The starter for my high school’s rival football team.  Good old Ralph.

It doesn’t do me any good to think about those days, that place.  I’m where I belong now. I built my life in Miami from nothing.  Waitress, bar maid, hostess.  No matter where I was I watched and I listened to women who came here from up north.  The way they spoke, how they walked, how they dressed.  Emulating.  I emulated them.  I slept with their husbands. I got presents, nice clothes and jewelry.  I did that until I didn’t have to do it anymore.  I knew I was smart.  All I had to do was look the part.  I’ll never forget how nervous I was when I interviewed for the front desk job at the Fontainebleau.  My print cotton shift with a pastel cardigan buttoned at the top, compliments of an affair with an engineer down from New York for a conference.  Ballet slippers.  Nails short and clean.  I could have stepped out of a Lilli Pulitzer catalogue.  Not that I knew who she was.  

Oh how I loved to work and it was noticed.  Soon enough I was front desk supervisor, then front office manager.  I put myself on a path and I didn’t let anything distract me.  Not anything. Now here I am, General Manager of the Fontainebleau.  I have a corner office with a spectacular view of Miami Beach, The shoreline, the yachts, the lights from clubs and hotels.   

Look at this picture.  This was a very long time ago.  I don’t even know this girl.

Story by T. Giordano

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