“Strung Together” by L. K. Thayer

Photo by VC Ferry

Photo by VC Ferry

she comes into the candle shop
a coupla times a week
she’s nice, young, clean
kind of hippy-ish sort of
jeans, t-shirt, trying to sell beads
that she’s strung together.
always sweet, a little
‘out there’ but harmless
always spreads the sample
scented body butter on her hands
to smell good, to feel good.

she came in today, rubbed
the body butter on her hands,
she was wearing a wool hat
baggy clothes
I told her she looked
like a “gangsta chick” just trying
to make conversation.
she looked in slow motion, and
said, “is that what you see?”
she walked trance like around the
shop, and sat down in front of me.

I said, “what are you on?” she
shrugged. I asked, “are you ok?”
she said, “pressure” smiled and
kept staring.

Just then I realized, about 3 months ago
a girl had walked in, dazed, sweat dripping down her forehead,
asking for a cup of water, she was drenched,
asked if she could use the bathroom. she was
dressed in a cute, conservative bright green
polka dot sun dress with pink trim, pink sunglasses,
matching pink sandals and handbag, clean hair, nice
girl, she collapsed in my arms. I was scared, I struggled
with her dead weight to the floor. she lay face
down, she had come undone like a string of pearls in a pool of sweat covering the hard wood.

I was stunned, alone at work with a body at my feet about to call 911, she came too, said she was embarrassed and sorry, I ended up walking her next door to get something to eat at the cafe. I never saw her again.

I asked her, “are you the girl who fainted on the floor?” already knowing it was her, not having recognized her all these weeks later,
she smiled and said, “probably.”

I told her I needed to move my car.

L. K. Thayer

All Rights Reserved

© 2009


  1. calliopespen · November 15, 2009

    I feel like I’m being strangled, that’s how powerful this is. Now tears.

    • lkthayer · November 15, 2009

      It was very frightening when it happened, the fainting, then I thought it odd that
      she didn’t come back and say something, then realizing I’d been seeing
      the same girl for weeks without knowing…and she never said anything,
      like it never happened…and was so high today, like on ecstacy or mushrooms,
      I don’t know…she’s seems very schizophrenic and highly dangerous to herself.
      Very disturbing.

      • calliopespen · November 15, 2009

        I know how frightening that can be to witness. I’m not sure what’s worse–seeing somebody collapse in front of you, or watching them slowly kill themselves. It’s horrible.

  2. lkthayer · November 15, 2009

    Quite right…I’m so good at recognizing people, not names but very sensitive to beings…what is frightening is I’ve seen about three different personas and personalities from her, that I didn’t know…is bewitching.

    • calliopespen · November 15, 2009

      I am the same way–names escape me, people don’t.

      And then there’s the question of mental illness vs. drug addiction, or both…so sad to watch it happen and to be powerless to do anything about it.

  3. Kalliope Amorphous · November 15, 2009

    Amazing….thank you for sharing this.

  4. Jaymie · November 17, 2009

    “she had come undone like a string of pearls in a pool of sweat covering the hard wood”

    Sometimes I wonder if with mental illness and addiction they are just wearing their fears on the outside. Like maybe we’re all capable of the same visible shortcomings and it is a more delicate balance than we understand. Perhaps there is no them.

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