She awoke from uneasy dreams with a dull ache in her shoulder blades. I’ll be an angel soon, she said, stretching and kicking the man next to her. He didn’t wake up, and he wasn’t ever going to be a permanent fixture in her life, so what did it matter? Her shoulder blades hurt, and that mattered. She had to admit, and she liked to admit, that she loved these transient men, the way they looked at her, the way they touched her, as though their smoky eyes could convince her they were worth keeping. It’s not you, it’s me, she liked to say, and she meant it. Clara didn’t necessarily have an idea about who she was or who she wanted to be; rather, she defined herself by determining the parameters of what she was not, and from there she had begun to carve out her own distinct outline. Sometimes she wanted to tell people her age – I’m twenty one! – so that they had the opportunity to become duly impressed with her wit and intelligence and vivacity. Her shoulders ached. In the bathroom mirror she watched herself brush her teeth, and then she removed her top and pulled and pushed at the skin just at the top of her shoulder blades, immediately to the left and right of her neck. She could feel something there, perhaps tense muscles, perhaps not. She had had these pains for some time, and increasingly her dreams had been taken up with great grinding gear, of ceilings which gradually lowered to the ground, of interminable lectures given by faceless robots speaking to innumerable crowds, and laughing faces which never seemed capable of ceasing to laugh, even as tears coursed down their cheeks. It’s nothing. I’m fine. I want angel wings but what if it is cancer? I can’t die yet. People will miss me. I’ll miss them. But what if it is wings? She harbours, not very deep down, the hope that she is special in some unique way. Wings would very much be one way, and cancer, she supposes, at twenty-one, would be another.
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The above piece of writing comprises part of my fragments project, some of which are available on this website. I intend to add new fragments piecemeal, not in any particular order, and as the occasion take me.