Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Flamingo Dream

Sometimes she wants to tell people that she’s a psychic because that’s what it feels like. The colors they choose generally reflect their personalities, their moods. Red is a classic bold color, so just from a glance at their wardrobe can she tell whether they are classy or just trying to seem that way. She’s a big fan of the neons because they always have the most fascinating conversations. Black scares her, but luckily, they aren’t the types who would come to a shop anyway.

Today, it is a royal blue. The cool, calm, and collected hue. The woman sets her fingers on the table and immediately begins speaking. She has a gig tonight. At the jazz bar in the hotel downtown. Her manager got it for her. This is her first big gig. She thinks she was able to get it because her album sales are phenomenal, even in this digital economy. The local post calls her voice “a puree of Corinne Bailey Rae and Regina Spektor.” It feels so great to be appreciated.

As she paints, she gets lost in the azure. The faint pink is the color of shrimp, but with a graceful stroke, it is devoured by the sea of dark blue. No trace to be seen. One coat is the color of a tweeting blue jay, but with another, it becomes the color of the beautiful night sky. The night sky under which she used to look upon the passersby, stamping the sand off their feet. They laugh, they hold hands, but is this because they hear her, or because they don’t? The clasps glisten at the moon. Her melody mingles with the sounds of the crashing waves. One of them stops and looks. She looks but doesn’t stop. A dollar bill plops onto the plush, creating a shelter from the salty air for the old quarters. It feels so great to be appreciated.

The woman doesn’t need conversation. She just needs approval, so occasional nods and smiles are enough. But maybe she doesn’t even have to be there. Maybe she can just sit there and the woman will still be talking. Maybe she can just get up and leave and everything will still be the same. And then maybe she can return to the sea and be a part of the music.

Suddenly, instead of the sounds of the ebbs and the tides, she hears the roars of the others. No money. No living. No job. She’s always wanted to prove them wrong, but everyone stopped supporting her when she couldn’t support herself any longer.

Eight o’clock. She cleans her station and picks up her purse. The door rings as she steps out, as if signaling a cheery good bye. Happy you’re gone. Happy to be gone. The tides are calling her, and she lets them take her closer and closer, until she reaches a new sign. An unfamiliar sign.

Walking in is like being smothered by a huge wave of chatter and laughter. This place of uncouth noise and people couldn’t possibly have been what was calling her away. They laugh, they hold hands. She finds an area away from them and takes a seat. One vodka cocktail please.

The man sets a napkin down and gently places the drink on top. He adds a plastic garnish, a flamingo, on a stick. How kitschy. But she peers at the pink gaudy piece of plastic, and the creature it has taken the form of. A flamingo isn’t always pink. It just eats so much shrimp that it turns pink. But it can’t become white again. Doesn’t it miss being white? Do you think it dreams of what it’d be like to be white again?

He picks up the stick and frowns at it. He looks at both sides and plops it right back into the glass. Even if it does, it’s so beautiful when pink. If it was white, it wouldn’t look like a flamingo anymore. Maybe it’s just meant to be pink.

She sips the drink, looking outside at the sea. When she finishes, she leaves a tip and takes the flamingo.

Supine, she reflects on the days on the shore. How she waited all day for crowds to enjoy her music. How she worried when each day only ended in nine dollars. How she painted her nails to keep her from biting. How her pick kept her cuticles intact. How her little form of luxury caught his eye. How he stopped and looked and dropped the dollar and asked her to come along.

Ten o’clock. The sunlight dances on the chimes as they ring, gracing her entrance. Good morning, he greets her, with the same warmth of that summer night he brought her here, sheltered her, and helped her back to her feet, and back to her hands.

Today, it is a neon yellow. The bright, cheery, and powerful hue. She can’t help but smile at the fantastical tales. She laughs and asks for more, sitting in her stylish orange swivel, against a wall of rainbow. The glint from the door chimes reflects the glass full of nail files on her table, and protruding out of it in her line of sight is a flamingo, strutting eternally in a bright pink and grateful for where it is and what it has become.

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