“Everyone said I should never go but I couldn’t resist.”
Characters: mentions of Mo/Jo, Joanne, Benny
Disclaimer: All belongs to the fantastic Jonathan Larson :)
Summary: "Everyone said I should never come back ... but I couldn't resist."
It had been ten years; ten long years that had slowly chipped away at her determined, never quitting nature until all that was left was the worn, struggling lawyer from Attica who was stood outside the old loft on Avenue B.
“I haven’t come back to New York since then.”
The chill Halloween wind whipped up the litter that lay scattered on the sidewalk but she did not notice. Only when a crumpled crisp packet hit the toe of her smart black boot did she look down.
She knew that she looked out of place; she was still proud enough to keep herself neat and in the suit and with her long coat wrapped tightly around her bony frame, as if warding off something, she gave the impression of a businesswoman. She didn’t belong in Alphabet City but she had ... once.
“I always wondered though.”
From what she could see from the ground, the empty loft windows looked just that – empty.
But if she closed her eyes and opened them again, just for a moment, the most fleeting of moments, she could see.
There was Mark, glued to his camera like usual, stood on the fire escape with that damn beloved scarf around his neck. He was filming Angel and Collins who were sat on the steps, warm in each other’s arms. Roger was hung over the rails, chatting animatedly to Mimi who was perched her own steps. And ... there, in front of the frosted windows was she. Another woman, with dark locks and sparkling eyes, snuck up behind her younger self and threw her arms around her waist from behind.
Then she blinked, and the vision was gone.
“I was so naive. God, I can see that now.”
A police car passing by at the end of the street broke her reverie and she gasped as the thought of another night wriggled its way to the front of her head.
The wall next to the entrance to the loft teased her as she looked at it and suddenly, she lunged with a half strangled, mad woman’s cry, clawing desperately at the layers of posters and advertisements glued on top of one another. Eventually, when her fingernails were bleeding and the wall was almost bare, she stopped.
“It said ‘Maureen Johnson vs. Benny the Bulldog. Tonight at 9:30.’”
A bitter laugh escaped her chapped lips as she traced the familiar face looking up at her, with arms spread wide and a mischievous look. That ‘tonight’ seemed so long ago. Yet the poster was still there; it had been stuck to the wall by her own hands and torn down by them, years later.
Abruptly, she dropped the poster and watched it float away on the wind.
“Can you take me to her?”
The man sat opposite her nodded silently.
Together they travelled through Lower East Side, without exchanging another word. They came to a halt before a pair of wrought iron gates and she looked in through them.
“So she never left then.”
It wasn’t a question but he answered anyway.
Together they pushed the gates open and entered.
“She’s over there.”
He pointed in the direction of the newcomers, a good few hundred metres away and she had to blink away the gathering gloom to see them properly.
Her voice wobbled. He noticed it but nevertheless moved reluctantly through the maze of stones, walking briskly, focussed on his ending point. He had to take care not to trip on anything as the sky grew darker so he didn’t realise that she was having to force her legs to follow until she gave up the fight and stopped suddenly.
“They were right. I shouldn’t have come back.”
Her words were clipped and her face looked strained. He couldn’t think of anything to say.
Without a further word, she spun sharply, almost thankfully, on her heel and exited the graveyard at a pace that was nearly a run.
He watched her go.
The white marble stone set away from the others slightly watched too. There were no flowers adorning it as there were the rest of them. It was alone.
“And it said ‘Maureen Johnson. 31st May 1974 – 29th September 2009. I’m over the moon now.’”