By A.P. Joye
January 3rd, 2001
“Name?” The lady raised her eyebrows.
“There you are.” She announced from behind her desk; the icons on the monitor reflected in her eyes. After signing Lilith in, the lady assured her that it’d only be a moment. Lilith nodded rather than to fill the quiet, sterile halls with unnecessary noise. She sat in a plush chair nearby, clinging to the windbreaker that was draped over her arm. Suddenly, she noticed her jacket vibrating and removed her Nokia which read, “MOM.” She stuffed the phone back into its purple pocket and velcroed the pocket shut.
“Ms. Jones?” A nurse asked to an empty room a few minutes later. Lilith raised her hand.
“Right this way, miss.” She led Lilith to an empty room and gestured to the bed.
“The doctor will be in, in a minute,” she concluded. Lilith situated herself on the stiff bed, covered with a paper-lining, and waited for the doctor to enter. There was a knock on the door and Lilith admitted a middle-aged woman who was smiling and carrying a clipboard.
“Morning, Ms. Jones.” The doctor made brief eye-contact with Lilith over her glasses before frowning slightly at her file.
“I see that this is your second visit, correct?” The doctor peered at Lilith above her glasses before studying her file once again.
“And you want to have the procedure done today?” Lilith nodded politely. The doctor returned her nod, furrowing her eyebrows.
“You know our protocol, yes?” The doctor spoke slowly, every word tearing at Lilith. The doctor continued, “you need someone to accompany you once the procedure is done.”
“I can take care of myself,” Lilith stated resolutely.
“You’re not the first woman to have come here and said that.”
May 7th, 2005
Destiny’s Child blared in the background as Lilith pounded two vodka shots. She cringed and exhaled, pretending that it was better quality.
“Hey,” some guy yelled at her over the music. “What’s up?” He slid onto the barstool next to hers and reeked of alcohol even from a few feet away.
“Nothing,” she screamed back. After considering it for a moment, she shrugged and added, “it’s my birthday.”
“What?!” He exclaimed, almost falling from his excitement. Frowning, he slurred, “why are you sitting all alone on your birthday?” She laughed and mumbled, “if only I knew.”
“What’d you say?” The guy contorted his face in confusion and wafted an intense smell of tequila over to her.
“Nothing. I just like drinking alone, don’t you?”
At this point, Lilith realized that he was too drunk for his own good and slid down from her seat at the bar.
“I’m gonna head home. It was nice meeting you, whatever-your-name-is.” She waved at him and began weaving through the sea of limbs and sweaty bodies to the exit. Upon entering the street, Lilith took a deep breath and inhaled all of the toxic city fumes. She wandered through the city, slightly aware that walking around at midnight was not the best idea. But, she was also too drunk to care. Getting bored, Lilith pulled out her phone and started dialing a number.
“212-555-6218 is not available right now. Please leave a message after the tone,” her Nokia responded. Lilith heard the beep.
“Hey, Mom. It’s your failure of a daughter. Guess what? It’s my twenty-first fucking birthday. You wanna know what the fuck I’m doing right now? Getting drunk alone and walking around the dangerous streets of Manhattan at midnight,” Lilith’s voice started to break. She didn’t want her mom to notice, so she wrapped up the message and said, “anyways, I hope you have a good night’s sleep before you go to church tomorrow like a good, little Catholic.” Beep. She kept walking, not paying attention to what street she was on.
“VICKY’S DINER,” read the blue neon sign that nearly blinded Lilith. Inside, an elderly man sat in the far corner and read a newspaper intently. On the other side of the room, a group of guys her age was laughing hysterically. Suddenly, a dark-haired man behind the counter asked, “want anything?” He had a thick, New Jersey accent paired with worn-out eyes. Lilith opened her mouth, figuring that she should eat something but unsure of what to choose.
“She’ll take a… turkey dinner?” One of the guys, who was laughing hysterically a moment ago, yelled across the room. He squinted at the menu before finishing his sentence and raised his eyebrows at Lilith for permission.
“Sure, sounds great,” Lilith agreed. The New Jersey man trudged to the kitchen. Waiting for her food, Lilith slumped into the nearest chair.
“You gonna come join us?” She lazily looked over her shoulder at the group of guys. The one who had ordered for her pointed at an empty seat at their table. Lilith didn’t budge.
“C’mon. I ordered for you. We’re basically married, now.” Ordinarily, she wasn’t sure if that type of comment would have amused her, but she was sitting in a diner alone on her twenty-first birthday and only half-drunk. She left her chair and stared directly at the person of was speaking as she said, “trust me, if we were married, we’d probably be divorced by now.” Everyone around him either groaned or burst into laughter; he smirked and bit his lip.
“My name is Randall.” He stuck out his hand and she grabbed it, studying it.
“You’re not wearing your wedding ring anymore?!” She clapped a hand over her mouth, then waited for the laughter to die down and said, “my name’s Lilith.”
September 13th, 2018
“Let’s go sit next to your mother,” Randall suggested. Their daughter ran over to her squealing grandmother, beating her parents to the pew.
“Morning,” her mother said through a joyful grin. Lilith returned the greeting half-heartedly. Everyone sat down around them, awaiting the pastor’s entrance. Eventually, a man dressed in black robes and a white-collar entered the pulpit. He crossed himself, signaling mass to do the same.
“The Lord be with you,” the priest said, scanning the audience.
“And with your spirit,” the audience responded robotically. After a few hymns and a prayer, the priest began his normal spiel. Lilith looked at Randall, to her right, who gazed at the priest euphorically, clearly soaking in every word. To her left was the same image: her mother smiled lovingly at the priest, while her daughter searched for words that she could understand. Lilith turned back to the pulpit, praying that she’d derive something from today’s sermon.
“‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’ Jeremiah 1:5. All life is sacred and belongs to God. No one man or woman should have control over who lives or who dies,” he proclaimed. All of the sudden, Lilith gripped the edge of her seat, stiffening against its wooden frame. Randall, who was entranced by the sermon, glanced at her and mouthed, “you okay?” She nodded carelessly, shifting her focus from the explosive sermon to the little girl who gave her life meaning. Before she could stop it, a tear fell down her face and more followed. Ashamed, Lilith jumped out of her seat and sprinted to a vacant couch outside of the chapel.
“What’s wrong?” Randall tumbled through the chapel doors right after her.
“When I was 16, this guy and I, we were irresponsible and… ” She trailed off, choking on tears. His face went blank. She met his eyes: she couldn’t say it. He backed away for a moment, searching for an answer. When he turned back to her, she knew what he saw.
“It’s fine. You were young and made a mistake,” he reasoned, reaching for her hand.
“A mistake? I didn’t make a mistake.” She stared at him, wide-eyed, rejecting his hand.
January 3rd, 2019
“I want a divorce,” Lilith said, stabbing a piece of broccoli on her plate. Randall looked up from his plate, then resumed eating his mashed potatoes.
“Your mother will be disappointed,” he commented.
“Wouldn’t be the first time. Won’t be the last.”