the new shelter

The new shelter is run by the Unitarian Church. Two other families stay here, one family to each room. The host lives with us, a childless woman younger than me. We share a bathroom, kitchen, and living room with the other families. Numerous rules are posted on the walls, alongside biblical quotes against sloth and other such sins of the poor.

The shelter is clean, far cleaner than the other shelter. The other shelter was cleaner than the Collective we initially moved to. Contrary to the Collective’s offerings, there are no drugs, no rats, no chores undone, and no false claims of solidarity here. Violence both verbal and physical is strictly forbidden, even when couched as discipline. Homophobia is also forbidden. (They aren’t aware of transphobia yet.)

The walls of our room are clean and white, with a single window curtained in blue. The floor is beige linoleum. There’s a quilted hanging depicting bears and moose, the occasional deer. We have real mattresses that do not crackle. We are permitted to decorate the walls.

Farther from the city and Sound, deer now replace the occasional seal sighting. We hear frogs instead of punk bands. We are allowed to stay here during the day, and keep our things here. When it snows we can enjoy the view from our window, instead of schlep hiking bags across town with ice in our throats.

I can write here, and read here. And apparently shoot amateur videos of myself reading rejected pieces by poor Scottish accent and hand puppet.

This is better, this is good. The first night I woke with no idea whatsoever of where I was, or who I was, or why. So dark that I could have been dead, or new, or alone. Starting over. No plans, no idea of what will change or when. Full. Bereft.

Then I heard the clock tick, watched the moon light the spines of my books. The nightmares returned, old, familiar, everyone dying or dead. Sleeplessness followed.

So I hung circles on the walls, began to write again.

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