I’m still the same Ravenna you knew.  I still live here at the Asphodel Meadows apartments, right next to the commuter station.

     From my ninth-floor apartment I can hear the station announcements.  The synthetic voice generator announces, “If you need to talk we are here to listen.  Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-(800)-784-2433.”

     It has been months and it still hurts.  Why did I re-read your good-bye letter?  I had it hidden, buried it away.

     I had not thought about you for a couple of days.  For months I’ve thought about you every day.  Then, for a few days I hadn’t, and I was feeling peace.  Suddenly, my realization that I hadn’t thought about you frightened me.  It was like awakening falling.  I was letting go!

     I had to see your words.  I found your letter again.  The pain revived in me the me I used to know.

     Why am I still on social media?  I have always been a loner.  Alone online with imaginary friends.

     Everything else in my life has been peripheral vision since I met you.  The middle of my existence is now a torn void.  I orbit a black hole.

     I still must believe that loving you says something about me.  I should smile.

     So, I look down out of my apartment window.  On the brick wall across in the alley, sprayed in a multicolored 3-D effect, are the words “DONKEY WORSHIP” next to the crucified human figure with a donkey head.

     My life was aligning around you.  My life is misaligned without my hope of you anymore.

     How do I realign my life?

     The act of writing is the only thing in my life where I get what I want.  A happy ending.

     Hell.  I need to get out of here.  Outside.  Outside this mausoleum.  My apartment smells like me.  I need city air.  Grab my bag.

     My story characters are my real friends. I know, I know what you are thinking: Coo-coo!  Coo-coo!  I too hear the cuckoo clock.  Coo-coo!  Coo-coo!

     Shuffle down the hall to the stairwell, nine floors deep.

     The only thing that I ever knew for sure is that I love you. The same way that I would know that I was hit by a train.

     My neighbors here by the stairwell are David and Rachel.  They are virtuous, guiltless, damned, and living in poverty.

     I was so convinced of my own personal divine providence that to awaken from such a dream was bitter.  I spat out God.

     On the eighth floor live the “working girls”, Cleo, Tristiana, and Paris.  They tell me, “something good will have to happen”.  However, every solution is the next problem.

     On the seventh floor live the loud party doper dealers.  They have a big Pit-bull inside to guard their door.  Sometimes they chain that Pitt-bull in the hallway when a police car parks below.

     I miss knowing your thoughts.  My thoughts are always guarded but you are my warden.  I have no one to whom I can turn in my prison cell.

     On the sixth floor lives old Rolla, the fortune teller.  She is nearly blind and makes you think that she is simpleminded.  She is cruelly observant and unpredictability giddy.  Yet from all over the building we come to her for advice.

     If only I had never met you.  I fill my dark vacuum with memories of you.  Memories of you abide in me.  And usually at times like these the memories of you talk to me.

     On the fifth floor the neighbors are always fighting.  The police have come frequently.  One time, I heard it said that a four-year-old had been shot in the face while another neighbor was threatening the child’s mother.

     When I reread your letter, I found for myself that feelings never die.  That letter locks the tomb where my feelings have been buried alive.

     On the fourth floor lives a militant atheist.  When he sees me he always asks me if I’ve seen God.  I say I’m not sure.  My mind is a flaming tomb.

     I believe in God, but we don’t get along.

     On the third floor there used to live a strange quiet man called Mister Purdy.  He had the most beautiful long haired female Afghan hound.  He and that dog were inseparable.  Mister Purdy killed his dog and committed suicide when people rumored how inseparable they really were.

     There had been a cold rain the day before.  Last night I made a little fire on the roof under the stars.  I burned your letter.  A billion billion fiery cosmic cataclysms led to us meeting.  I want to be grateful for that, not bitter.

     You are still a flame in my mind.  Since our time together I am stumbling with my head on backwards.  I have bumped into other guys and hurt them

     On the second-floor lives Lelia.  She has five children by five different fathers.  Those men all abandoned her, alone and pregnant.

     Yes, I crippled myself loving you.  No, I’m sorry, that is not true.  There is no one like you.  That’s all.  I was lucky to know you.

     Here on the ground floor works the building manager.  You have to bribe him, so he doesn’t harass you all the time and raise your rent.

     I realize that I have been hurting other guys so that they would feel as badly as I do.  It was cowardice.  I have become a zombie, eating the hearts of other guys.

     I am emotionally drained over you. But when I realized that I hadn’t thought about you for a few days, I felt sorrowful that you weren’t filling my mind.  I should have been relieved, but I do not want to get over you.  How sad is that?  Pretty sad.  Yes.  Sadness that is pretty.

     My love for you is the only thing I’ve known with certainty my entire life

     I remember as a child sitting alone late at night in the big cushioned chair watching the bright Christmas tree.  I remember the cozy happiness.  I need a daddy God to comfort me.  “Be brave, my little girl”.

     Where does this all end?

     It starts here.

     I face the graffiti on the brick wall across in the alleyway.  DONKEY WORSHIP.  The tagger’s hand writes and moves on.

     Follow me on down that alley.

     I take a can of spray paint from my bag.  My atomized love stains you onto the brick wall.  I embroider the brick wall with you.  I stroke your arms and legs from my memory.  You are stubborn like a donkey.  That’s why I give you a donkey’s head.  I am just a stick figure behind you now, right?  But I hold you like I’m your shadow.  You know that I am your cross to bear but you are a stubborn fool.

     Oh, why have you deserted me?







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