Welcome to New York
by Shane Jones
She said to him, "It's up to you if she gets better."
These were the words she said immediately after taking him into an empty examination room, and they moved from her mouth flat and dry as ironed wheat, delivered in such convincing fashion that he believed lying would be ok because what he wanted more than anything was for her to get better. These last two words were harsh and ugly, the implication being that she was damaged, that there were bloodied things here which needed stitching. It was all very true.
The girl's mother left. He would eventually have to leave the room too, walk to her bedside and lie so she would get better. But by himself for a few minutes he saw the nakedness, the skeletal frame of the night before in all its complicated one act plays. He remembered her eyes expanding into green pools, her mouth whispering "Believe me." He saw her fingers twisting her own hair. He saw himself running away. He saw the ambulance driving in front of him, red and white lights blinking in the moonlit snow that fell and defined the winter charm of New York.
He had come here two months ago as a freshman at NYU who had immediately and foolishly placed all hope in the palms of a girl who his friends called Snow White. There was a small resemblance, the oil black hair, the smooth pale skin, the girlish widening of her lips when she laughed, no, giggled. But the nickname really stuck because she always hung out in townhouse 112 – which conveniently enough housed seven guys. It was an appropriate name, and at night she'd look at him and say, "Fuck me Dopey." It was moments like this that his heart did a little tiptoed half spin then bowed.
She didn't know, lying in that hospital bed, what everyone who lived in the townhouse was saying. She didn't know that he had talked to him and listened to his whimpering apology that summarized the general consensus that she had simply drank too much and mistakes were made. It was alcohol leading bodies by a threaded apple on a stick and everyone, everyone was very sorry.
The only one that wasn't sorry was the girl in the hospital bed. He sat in a chair next to her and her friends and family left the room in quiet somber fashion, most of them shooting a quick glance at him which said: You know what needs to be done.
Think about this: The first time you're away from your small town home, the first girl you date, and she says your friend raped her and you don't believe it so she tries to kill herself. Heavy stuff.
"I believe you," he said. "I really do."
This was a lie with purpose, for her to get better, because if he didn't say this than she'd believe that no one believed her and the consequences could be grave. He didn't want that. Her mother didn't want that and that's why she asked him to do this. So he told her a dozen times, whispered in her ear over and over again how much he believed her and how they would call the cops, press charges, he would not get away with this.
He traced circles around her pale knuckles. "It's fine," he said. "It will all get better."
"He did it, you know," she said.
"Yes," he said. "I believe you, I believe you, I believe you."
He told her how he should have never doubted her, never ran from the room like that. It was his fault and things would get better, things would be better with the stitching of time.
He told her that everyone believed her. He said these words, blowtorched the truth with lies, sealed them in hot wax on her lips, just kept talking, telling her what the future held, saying these things the way fairy tales are told to young girls, how good defeats evil, how tomorrow we wake fresh and white into the dewy fields of morning.
About the author:
Shane Jones is currently living in Albany New York. He has two chapbooks of poetry being published in 2005: "Water and Light" from Boneworld Press, and "Hello, Zombie" from Feel Free Press.