this is the way heaven must look at night
The city sky bleeds stars.
She's sitting on the corner of the boulevard, hands clasped, legs crossed. She'd like to think she's a mystery, someone who holds secrets in the depths of their eyes, one of those people.
But she's not.
But she whispers things, sometimes, when nobody can hear her. She whispers things she's never told anyone, like how she burnt down that house when she was sixteen. Really though. It was a mistake. She only meant to set the shed on fire. It's not her fault it spread so quickly.
Anyway. Fire is sort of beautiful in that destructive, dangerous way.
So this girl, this tragic, confused little girl is sitting there all alone. In some ways, she hopes someone finds her, asks her what's wrong, why she's sitting out here all alone.
And she'll answer, I got thrown out the house. They threw me out. My family hates me.
Compulsive lying never helped but it made her feel good about herself. The real reason she's sitting out here is because it feels more like home than home does.
When she's all alone like this, all she can think of is the distance between Vegas and New York and the cancer that's slowly destroying her. It's a long way down until you hit rock bottom but the ladder is slipping. When the time comes, you have to be prepared to rebuild yourself.
Abandonment doesn't benefit many people but when you depend on someone so badly you must learn to live apart.
So, against all this, one day, she decides she'll catch a flight from O'Hare to JFK. She tells people it was a spur of the moment thing. She doesn't tell them she's been planning for months.
In the plane, she watches the flight attendants demonstrate emergency procedures. In an emergency, she doesn't think she'll be the first one pulling on the oxygen mask. In an emergency, she'd watch the sky fall around them until the moment of impact and the adrenaline rush is just to die for.
The cancer spreads to her liver.
In the airport, she walks out with only a crumpled piece of paper with an address on it.
Walking through New York with the wind in her hair and the Vegas skyline in her veins isn't as different as she thought it would be. From city to city, they are all the same. The only things different are the faces and the store fronts. Even the sidewalk feels the same.
It's colder here. The wind is stronger and when she first got there, it was raining.
The cancer spreads to her lungs.
And after three days spent in a cheap motel, still all she has is that almost wrecked piece of paper. She asks the sleazy receptionist where the street is and he gives her directions while staring at her breasts.
On the bus, she sits next to an old woman who asks where she's going.
To find my ex-lover, she says. We were parted under painful circumstances which left me traumatised for life.
She climbs the stairs to his apartment and knocks on the door. A middle-aged woman answers.
I'm looking for Seth Kingston.
He was evicted three months ago. With a new address on a new piece of paper in hand, she seeks him out once more.
The cancer spreads to her stomach.
This time on the bus, she sits next to a nine year old girl and her mother. The girl asks where she is going.
I'm going to see my fiancé, she says. He proposed to me by writing a message on my foggy mirror after a shower.
She climbs the stairs to another apartment and knocks three times. The door clicks open.
"Do I know you?" he asks slowly. Seth with his messy blonde hair and grey eyes and his charming smile that knocked girls' breath away.
She says, Seth. Seth, it's me. Don't you recognise me, Seth?
The cancer spreads to her brain.
"You dyed your hair back," he says with a forced chuckle. "I left you."
She nods. Audrey.
"I left you to start over."
She chews on her lip, Audrey does.
"I didn't want you to come back."
Everything in Vegas is just one big massive production. It's all staged and theatrical and wrapped up and she doesn't even know what goes on there with the strippers and the prostitutes and the showgirls. What happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas. If she could, she would gamble her life away, rolling dice and chancing numbers and jackpots and bonus prizes.
Too late, she says. Too late. Because I did, Seth.
If you once lost love, could you find it again? Or is it gone forever yet lurking out of sight down the back of the couch, never quite in reach of your fingers.
Liars burn in Hell and Audrey, she has a window table all to herself.
"I didn't know what to believe," Seth says, "because all you ever did was make things up to feel better about your life. We were never getting married or eloping or running away to LA or becoming the leads in a musical."
But we could have been. We could have been the lovers that inspired cheap-budget indie movies and diminishing artists.
And Seth, he shakes his head and shuts the door on her, saying, "I never asked for your love but you seemed eager to give me it anyway."
This time, Audrey vanishes in the wind and in the brightness of Vegas lights, she dwells quietly and she finds that sitting outside still feels like home and she is still that kid who pretends to be far more tragic than she really is. Instead of finding her lover, she tells people he died. Murdered right in front of her. They never caught the killer but Audrey, the lost soul that she is, she tells them all that she blames herself.
The cancer is everywhere, it's in her eyes ears mouth heart lungs liver brain – everywhere. And the cancer is lies built up since forever and they've consumed her entire body. Nobody knows who Audrey really is. Especially not her. She's just lies in the human form and as she takes a drag on her cigarette, the smoke she breathes out is the false truths that makes up her life.
She pretends her eyes are black holes in the middle of her face. She says to some people, "Tragedy is in our blood and you have to deal with that."
And they'll say, "You poor, brave soul."
And she'll smile and brush it off with a glimmer and she'll tell them, "Tragedy just happens and it's how we deal with it that matters."