I honestly have no clue.
On the seedy side of downtown, away from the sparkling glitter of tourist-attractions and famous restaurants with stolen names, a woman sat in the window booth of a dimly lit café, watching.
Nothing more. Just watching.
Or waiting, perhaps.
She wasn't a hobo, obviously. All the hobos in this area generally congregated at the Woloro Diner a few blocks down. Her clothes were a dead giveaway too: faded faux-leather jacket, hacked and worn jeans, black cowboy boots peeking out beneath the tearing denim hems. Not million-dollar baby looking, but hardly a modest fashion statement. And she didn't sit like a hobo either; whereas most of them sat huddled, legs pressed firmly together, eyes darting around nervously, this woman sat with a regal air. She was young, young enough to have this air written off as imperious cynicism or puerile egotism; but her countenance was much too solemn and her eyes were much too penetrative. Not hobo; artsy, maybe. Dyke? Iffy. . . Trouble? Surely. But not a hobo.
Still, there was something very characteristic about her. Something that said that she didn't have a home. That she never had a home. That she was born lacking one, the same way some people are born without eyes or upper lips or legs.
She'd been sitting in the café for two hours already. She knew she was loitering, and someone probably should have kicked her out by now, or at least asked her if she wanted to actually buy anything—make a good, paying customer out of her, so to speak. If she wasn't infringing upon legal boundaries concerning useless loafing, she was most definitely annoying the hell out of someone (a manager, a waiter, one or all of the six other customers in the café, or anyone else of that general asshole-ish disposition). To the silent observer, it would seem only a matter of time before her face was unplastered from the window and she was hauled up out of her canary-yellow booth, whereupon she would then be wheeled out the door to be dumped onto the rain-soggy street. Only a matter of time. All she had to do was wait.
But no one approached her. They never did.
Maybe it was partly due to her being a regular at that particular dingy café, the Café de Toros. Then again, maybe not. So many maybes . . . maybe they saw her, maybe they didn't . . . maybe they knew she was there, maybe not . . . maybe the booth was really empty and they only saw her when she wanted them to, when she turned her cameleon, caramel-hazel eyes away from the rain-speckled glass to catch someone unawares, make them stop like a deer in the headlights with the sheer force of her gaze—
So many bloody maybes.
Strange, how in this world we seem to have useless things in abundance.
The young woman narrowed her eyes, stretched her jaw under her taught mouth as if to yawn. Her face felt stiff, as though caked with dried oil; the small, strangely-shaped white marking just under her chin itched, and she resisted the bleak temptation to reach up an claw at it. If only it were a tattoo, she could have it removed with lasers and only have to stand the seared skin. It could have been a tattoo, either poorly or expertly made as debated. At times, in certain light, it appeared to be a symbol, intricately woven and full of clandestine meaning. But half the time it was nondescript, an undefinable blemish.
Sometimes, it wasn't even there at all.
As is my way. I am the anonymous of consequence.
She sneered at herself. Such grandiose terms— were they supposed to make her feel important? Give her some sense of purpose, perhaps? Her hazel orbs gave the briefest flick upwards, a fleeting eye-roll. Yes; because if ego wasn't one of mankind's greatest flaws, she must surely make it hers. When all she was doing was sitting in a café, these precious moments in which she could afford to think clearly shouldn't be wasted on modest thoughts.
Then again, modesty was a tool for the ancient and young alike to elevate themselves in a most socially acceptable manner. Apparently, being a martyr was now quite fashionable.
Giving a tiny, nearly inaudible sigh, her attention wandered from the droplets on the window, alighting upon the glow of a sign across the street. A department store sign preened softly at her in neon green. To anyone else, the green lettering would have read "DollarTree". To her, it was a command to crawl out of this little hole-in-the-wall and resume her duty.
And while the few lax hours she had spent here in utter inactivity were a welcome relief, she knew it was inevitable that she obey.
Closing her eyes, the young woman quieted her mind, casting a net of energy out into the room. Five people, she sensed, all sitting at various booths, all as far away from each other as possible. She knew that if she opened her eyes and looked at them, and not just looked, but if she scoured them, she would see the faint outlines of ghosts and shapes and lights around them, like the auras around silhouettes. If she looked at the shadows around their eyes, she would see colors and memories, things they had done, things they were yet destined to do.
If she opened her eyes and looked, she would see more than she ever wanted to see.
Even these people, these tired, half-awake plebeians whose minds were far-fetching ideas or dancing around sleep, whose innocence was found in and make valid by their own weariness— even these people were more than she wished to bear tonight.
She knew better than to complain, though. Complaining was something that never even crossed her mind anymore; like the slave who has never known freedom, she has forgotten if there is anything to complain about . . . or if she has the right to. Maybe it was awful; she could scarcely judge. It was the way things were, they way they had always been.
And yet, it was more than she wanted to bear witness to tonight.
There are only so many unsullied places to drown yourself; all the bays, all the rivers, all the oceans have been claimed by thousands of others, she thought languidly, wrapping her mind unwillingly around the room and its five other occupants. She felt them, as if on her fingers, like coldest ash that could never embed itself into her fingerprint because, like all of Satan's Anonymous, she had none. There are only so many ways to lose yourself and still abide by those condemning, unwritten laws. . . .
There were only so many ways to relieve herself of this. Lately, she was remembering less and less of them. They slipped from her, just as easily as the days.
For example: if she kept this up, she could very well be sitting here into next Thursday.
If not longer.
Opening her eyes, she blinked, fixating again on the glowing liquor store sign across the street. Her pupils widened, then contracted, adjusting to the light; her almond-shaped eyes narrowed ever so slightly as she contemplated her options.
To stay or not to stay . . . to kid yourself or not to kid yourself . . .
. . . . to become nothing, or stay and revel in this sordid putrefaction.
My, my, she was cheery this night.
Rolling her eyes to herself, she shifted. In a moment, she was no longer huddled up and pressed against the window, but standing beside the booth, stubbing out a cigarette she hadn't been smoking in the first place.
Something to mark my presence by, she thought half-cynically, leaving the smoking butt unmarked by her DNA in the tiny dish. Something so that they know I was here.
The chimes above the door never sounded as she walked out the door.