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I suddenly felt very weak. Throwing up was fighting with passing out to see what I would do next. I can’t save the world, I can’t even feed myself. What was this inked up, punker with an Amelia Earhart complex talking about?
“Save the world? You have to be kidding”
Of all the reactions to my incredulity I wasn’t expecting the one I got. A look of disheartened sadness flashed briefly through her eyes and was gone.
“Well whatever, do you still want those ramen noodles?”
Do drowning people want air? The simple stupid needs of the flesh suddenly came pouring into me. Where had I been? What had I been doing? It didn’t matter at that point. I was so hungry it felt like my stomach was trying to eat my lungs.
She started boiling some water, and ripping open the familiar packets of dry noodles. It was less than 10 minutes before a steaming pile of oriental flavor Top Ramen was plunked down in front of me.
“You have to get the Top Ramen brand, not the Maruchan brand. The Maruchan has beef powder in it.” Rain announced at she sat a fork down next to me.
“Fuck that shit.” She added, as an afterthought.
“You’re a vegetarian I take it?”
She responded with a sort of shrug that said “isn’t it obvious?” I couldn’t really be bothered to notice at that point. I almost burned my lips off in an effort to get at the noodles. Never before in my life had food looked so good.
Rain sat down across from me on a stool made from an old apple crate. Slats of old wood painted with the smiling face of some blond boy grinning from ear to ear holding a giant green apple. Now I understood how someone could be that happy about apples.
What I had been doing on that bridge suddenly started to wash over me. Was I really going to kill myself? I raised my head in mid swallow.
“About the bridge, umm… thanks. I am not really sure what I was thinking, but I am glad you saved my life.”
It came out awkwardly through a mouthful of noodles. She looked at me tilting her head to one side as if she was pondering a response and said simply.
“No problem, eat your soup and then we have to do something about that stink coming off you. My old dog got sprayed by a fuckin skunk once, maybe we could cover you with tomato juice?”
It wasn’t a smile, but a slight uplifting of her eyes that said she was trying to lighten the mood a bit.
“How about a shower?” I asked tilting the bowl to slurp the last of the salty broth.
The bathroom was just big enough for a single person, a stand up shower, a small sink and a toilet. I stood for a long time under the warm water, letting it fall over me. Something had changed. I felt…different, like some part of me had been turned down, or turned off. Flashes of memory would strike out at me, making me shiver.
Like a TV left on for too long, the memory of my past life had formed a ghost image in my brain. The data, the streams of words, images, and video echoed in my head. Is this what drug users feel like when they are coming down? I finished washing myself and stepped out of the shower.
Wiping my hand across the mirror I looked at myself for the first time in weeks. Who was this zombie standing in front of me? I looked like shit. Were those my eyes staring back from sunken pits? They had shown us pictures of people like this in history class. People who had survived concentration camps.
I looked down and saw that Rain had left me a clean pair of jeans and my army jacket. The pants were small, but they still hung off of me. I walked into the other room to find her working on a bicycle.
“Yea, thanks for the pants. Rain can I ask you something?”
She stood up, wiping grease on a bandana stuffed in her pocket.
“Why are you being so nice to me?”
For a brief moment her eyes got glassy and I thought she might cry, then in a calm voice she said.
“What, a person can’t be decent anymore? You obviously needed fuckin help, and well… I was there and well…here we are.”
She said it with a finality that made me reluctant to push the matter further. I was thinking about asking her for some more noodles when my head started to feel kind of strange.
The vertigo came fast and hard upending the world and making me feel like someone had violently kicked my legs out from under me. Just before the ground came rushing up to meet my head I had a very clear vision of Rain falling, her skirt flapping in the wind, the goggles from her aviatrix helmet pulled down over her eyes.