“You know, I really resent that term”

“What would you rather be called?” I squint, unprepared for such a response.

“I don’t know, maybe call me Cindy? That is my name after all.”

“You have a name then?”

Cindy rolls her eyes and I look back at my list of questions.

“Well,” I regroup, “Mental Ill-err, the tv show I work for was hoping you might be able to contribute to the growing body of knowledge surrounding … people like you.”

Cindy nods with thin lips.

I glance down at my list of questions and read the first.

“What the hell is your problem?”

Cindy blinks at me. “My problem?” She widens her eyes.

“Yes, and as a follow-up, why can’t you leave Laura the hell alone?”

She sucks in a furious breath. “My problem?” She repeats, louder.

I shrug. “You are a curse, a demon, a devil. You torment her every waking moment, even sleeping ones. Why do you do this? Again I ask, why can’t you leave her alone?”

Cindy stands and fumbles at the microphone I’d attached to her lapel.

“Wait, what?” I ask her as she attempts to flee. “What did I say?” I frown.

“My problem is that assholes like you are always poking me with needles and sticking me under a microscope. Goodbye.” She flings the microphone to the ground and I cringe, wanting to tell her how expensive it was but I bite my tongue.

“Wait, wait,” I call after her and glance over at the camera woman. She shrugs.

She bursts through the double doors leading to the hallway and I hurry after.

“Wait, Cindy,” I call after her but she is around the corner as I follow through the doors.

As I round that same corner the door to the building is just clicking closed and I throw it open a few moments later.

Cindy stands with her back to the wall, a cigarette in one shaking hand. Her other hand fumbles at a lighter.

I reach for it and she lets me take it and help.

“Wouldn’t have taken you for a smoker,” I mutter as the flame sparks to life and she takes a hasty breath of smoke.

She doesn’t reply but I see red in her eyes.

“Can we just try this again? I really want to get to know you, the real you. I really want to understand.”

“I don’t believe you.” She says. “You don’t want to understand. You want to label and cut me into a thousand thousand pieces.”

“So show me better, what question should I ask?” I reach for her hand and she tears it out of my fingers.

“Ask me what my hopes are, about my ambitions, my loves. Ask me to go to a movie or to read your latest poem. Ask me what I chose, what I could have done differently and if I would choose to, were I even able. Ask me about my daughter, my beautiful child and what I wouldn’t do for her.”

I not along with her, frowning down on the list of questions I’d brought from the studio. I see the lens of a camera poking through the utility door and I feel like it’s my chance.

I read the third question on my list.

“Why can’t you just die? Why can’t you just go to hell and die and stop hurting Laura all the time?”

Cindy gapes up at me. She throws the cigarette into my face and I dodge it with a grin. Cindy flees with the clip-clop of designer high heels and I shrug back at the camera.

“I guess she didn’t want to talk,” I say.

“You could go after her.” The camerawoman suggests.

I shrug, “Nah, pretty sure she didn’t have anything interesting to say anyway.”

By Aaron Zimmerman

Photo Credit: Flickr / Andrew Wragg