39: Induction

She looks at me firmly in the eyes, a thin, tanned woman with graying hair tucked nervously behind her ears. It’s hard to sleep on a bench in the park. She has set her own course from broad experience and careful consideration of possibilities, but somehow things didn’t come out right. What would, for other folk, be the tantalizing uncertainty of freedom, for her has meant a stark certainty, an entrapment difficult to get used to. Her boyfriend in San Diego, impaired by the dent in his head, couldn’t make his own decisions. She loved him but she knew she couldn’t do him any good. When she left San Diego she wasn’t willing to live on the street, so she spent her money on hotel rooms, which put her there all the sooner. She knows she’s the one to blame, but the main lesson she’s learned is no one cares. Her mother, her sister wouldn’t even listen on the phone.

Small compass