NEW Story: Drip
Tzipora is doing well now. She has looked into her heart and made peace with who she is. She has discovered she is a girl who likes free jazz, and milky coffee, and cotton shirts, and trains — to the surprise of no-one who knows her. She knows what things she values in a friend, and what deserves to become family. She knows what clothes she likes and how to do her hair. A year ago, she was a shivering little girl, but today she has become a glowing young woman.
A glowing pleasure though she may be, her nerves are still shot and her past is still with her. Tzipora is a habitual creature, prone to obsessions and addiction, and she’d suffered many vices by the time she met Baron. For a while it had been sleeping pills with the other girls in the Women’s House, chasing the mind-bending effects of a methaqualone high and sleep deprivation. It was about that time she picked up cigarettes, which helped with the tics she was cultivating in her violent poverty.
She never quite kicked them. Like the tics, they stuck around. For a girl whose joy filled mountains and lows loomed cliffs, a cigarette now and then took some of that edge off. Ayn never liked her habit. Baron never asked her about it — he knew, she thought. He knew what it was like to feel the walls closing in.
It made for some awkward encounters, not least of which was a moment of panic the first time Cobian stayed over. Zelda has always suffered very bad dreams most nights, and her fear of waking her friend led her out onto the frigid balcony in the early hours of the morning. Six drags in, the lights turned on and the door slid open. An awkward minute of fumbling followed, pushing Zelda into territory she was uncomfortable sharing with anyone but Baron.
“So it helps?” Cobian asked, mulling over the idea with her legs to her chest. Tzipora was fidgeting miserably in the cold.
“Where do you get them? The cigarettes?” She asked, as though Tzipora would mistake the question.
“And what happens if you stop?”
“I don’t know,” Zelda sniffed. “You don’t have to make it a big deal, anyway. I don’t like this. I don’t like doing it, but what helps, helps.”
“Can I try? I’ve never tried.”
A moment later Tzipora laid a hand gently across the girl’s mouth to quiet the vicious coughing and hacking for fear it would wake Baron.
“Shh. It’s okay, I know it’s not good,” she soothed. Even as a genuine teen-ager Tzipora had been maternal.
“It’s terrible,” Cobian gasped.
“I know. But it helps. Let’s go inside, I’ll get you some water.”
Although Tzipora would always operate according to the charter of her various obsessions, she was always slightly self-conscious about the cigarettes. Even sixty years later she only smoked alone. It was unbecoming of a satisfied person, she supposed, let alone a woman in the body of a girl. Still, for all her quirks and all her ticks, to most people her little vices were the most normal thing about her. She was a figure of contradictions, and her weaknesses were just as precious to her loved ones as her tremendous strength and bigness of heart.