Zest Lit Issue 2, October 2013 - Page 81

She knew it. Of course, she did. But the years went by and here she was: a collector of items that she couldn't bear to part with. Empty spaces drove her insane. Her things filled in the blanks of her life, the holes in her heart; and so, each morning she'd inspect the rooms in her tiny apartment and take mental inventory. Each week, Nina watched the piles get higher and it became harder and harder to keep the narrow aisles clear so she could maneuver through the apartment. Friends had long abandoned her, except those nice, respectful male visitors - married or solidly attached - who sought her advice about the women in their lives who were much too complex for them to figure out. For instance, there was Sam, a young man starting to lose his hair, who wanted to know why his wife had been so agreeable in the beginning of their marriage but had turned into such a shrew ten years later. Bert, an older man with a worn leathery face, who had suggested to his wife that going to a barbershop for a cut and color would be a lot cheaper than a beauty salon.

‘Why'd she go off her rocker?’ He'd asked Nina. ‘I was just trying to be helpful.’

And Nina explained about women's insecurities, about needing things outside of themselves to feel good. She realized she was describing herself.

She made sense of it all for these confused men and they left with a new determination to change and make things right. Nina would stand at the window, nose against the glass, and watch them go until they were back in their cars and out of sight. She imagined herself with them, strolling arm-in-arm down Michigan Avenue, laughing at