WHERE ELEPHANTS GO

"She is fairly sure her name is not Calvin Klein".

Sometimes she cries in the shower. The razor whispers across sensitive skin, from wrist to elbow, from groin to knee. Because the touch is feather light, barely there, blood does not leave her in quick arterial spurts. It does not pool on white bathroom tile. The hotel manager will not find her pale and naked under too harsh lights when he lets himself in with the master key.

She is not entirely sure where she is or how she got there. In the afternoons, she goes out and sits on the curb. There are many cars in the parking lot, but she does not recognise any of them. Perhaps she didn’t drive, after all.

Her credit is still good. Which is fortunate, because if it runs out she has nowhere else to go and no means to do it. She knows this is how she becomes a streetperson. To tempt fate, she orders the most expensive red anyway and holds her breath while the waiter runs the transaction. One of these days he will come back and tell her "Sorry, ma’am" and that will be the end of life as she knows it.

Speed keeps turning up on the bedside table. It must be the maids and she has been meaning to speak to them about it. Is possession not a federal crime anymore? Is she even in the United States right now, abiding by their laws? Would they leave a mint instead if she asked them to?

Because she is not a crazy person yet, she does not inhale what a stranger gives to her. She puts the small vials into the bathroom locker, where they stand untouched in rows upon rows. And although she sees them every time she takes out her toothbrush, she forgets they are there.

Her closet is brimming with black leather, linen and silk. Small labels cue her into the brands. Ferragamo, Gucci, Burberry, Vuitton. The woollen coat says Anna Holtblad, the scarf Philippa K. She thinks either might be her name. Zipping up the boots, she is fairly sure she is not Calvin Klein.

Recall is possible. She might, indeed, be summoned to resume her duties at any time. She secretly relishes the idea of a black limousine screeching to a halt outside with men in dark suits pouring out of it to retrieve her and her belongings. But with every passing day, that scenario seems less likely; she resigns herself to having been replaced or her services deemed redundant.

Once, she saved the world and she thinks that maybe she can go back later and save it again. This is just a stop sign, not the end of the road. This is not where elephants go when they grow old. But it is very similar and she is very tired so the difference is not as significant as it used to be.

FIN