A Strong Foundation

Posted on: November 26, 2013

“That’s one heckuva fall,” Dale said, looking up towards the sky.

“Sure is,” answered Ernie, emptying the contents of his shovel into the refuse bin. “You know that building ain’t even legal?”

“What’chu talkin about?”

“It’s bigger than any building in this area’s s’posed to be.”

“Why’s that?”

“I don’t know? Sumpin’ about the foundation bein’ too weak.”

“Then how’d they get to build it?”

“I don’t know the reason, but I betchu anything there’s a dollar sign attached to it.”

“Well, looks sturdy enough to me.”

“They always do, until they don’t.”

Dale turned on the hose and washed the remaining cloth fibers and DNA down the storm drain.


Shelly woke to a text from her sponsor.

I covered for you, AGAIN. You HAVE to be at the next meeting or you’re going back to rehab. They sounded serious this time.

Shelly scoffed and tossed her phone across the room.

“What the FUCK?”

She propped herself up on her elbows to find a man she didn’t recognize writhing in pain on the antique area rug she bought at a Sotheby’s auction. She just laughed and fell back into her Egyptian cotton sheets.

Shelly pulled her comforter over her head to drown out the album that had playing been on repeat since the party moved to her place. It was her album, and it was the reason nameless faces were sleeping off various substances in every square foot of her penthouse apartment.

Despite her inability to play a musical instrument or carry a tune, Shelly had successfully released a 12-track party oeuvre that conquered iTunes in less than 24 hours. Some would say it was a dream come true, but Shelly could never tell the difference between reality and her dreams.

Since the day she was surgically removed from her mother’s womb, Shelly was given everything but adversity. She was born in the hospital wing of her parents’ Southampton home and wrapped in the finest hypoallergenic blanket an offshore bank account could afford.

Shelly recreated the scene as she bundled herself in a silk throw blanket and headed to the bathroom. Years of private ballet lessons served her well as she tiptoed through the minefield of half-naked bodies, empty bottles and drug paraphernalia.

She bounded into the bathroom, closed the soundproof door and cherished the escape from her own auto-tuned voice. As she turned toward the sink the delicate fabric slid off her left shoulder, exposing half of her body.

Shelly paused and studied her reflection in the mirror. She let the rest of the blanket fall to the white-marble floor and scanned her skin for imperfections. There was no sign of the lower-back tattoo her father had lasered off the same day she got it. There were no scars from the breast augmentation or nose readjustment she received on her 18th birthday. The only blemish on her velvety skin was the beauty mark above the left side of her lip.

“God DAMN,” interrupted a man who had been admiring Shelly from the bathtub.

“Rude,” she responded, calmly reaching for the blanket.

“Like I haven’t seen it before.”

“I was too fucked up to even remember that night.”

“Aren’t you always?”

Shelly flipped him off and left before he could say another word, soon realizing she traded one obnoxious voice for another. She covered her ears and shook her head back and forth until the sloshing fluids in her skull drowned out the monotonous beat of track 8, “I’m Not Sorry I Party.”

Through her blurred vision she spotted a joint nestled behind the ear of a passed out partygoer by her feet. Hands on her ears, she gracefully retrieved the rolled paper with the toes of her right foot. She remained balanced on one leg like a stork as she bent over and brought the joint to her mouth without ever letting the music slip through her fingers.

Shelly maintained her grace as she searched each room for a lighter, eventually spotting a golden Zippo standing on a shelf next to the porch door. She jeté’d between the unoccupied patches of carpet until she came within arms length of the lighter.

After she snatched the gold case during a pause between songs, the lighter’s absence brought the other items into focus. Specifically, the photo album chronicling her greatest childhood achievements. She grabbed it and fled to the porch, where she sat on a lounge chair, lit the joint and proceeded down memory lane.

She opened the book to find her eight-year-old self staring up from the back of her purebred-horse, Sebastian. That year she and Sebastian won first place at the Youth Dressage Festival, although, most of the credit belonged to Sebastian and his team of world-class trainers.

She took another drag and flipped to another random page, this one containing a picture of her and her prom date in front of a private helicopter. Shortly after their departure, Shelly was caught straddling said date on the headmaster’s desk. The hormonal teens got a lecture and the teacher who turned them in lost his job.

Shelly continued alternating between tokes and page turns, each image reminding her of her immunity to hardship. Once she ran out of pictures, she noticed a billboard promoting her latest fragrance, Dangers––which she had yet to smell. She stood and walked towards the banister on the balls of her feet, staring at her massive portrait until she felt the subtle chill of polished metal permeating through the silk.

She lifted her right foot and rested it on the bottom rail. She repeated the motion with her left; then again with her right; then her left; then right; then left, until her entire weight was balancing on her arches.

She took a deep breath, leaned forward and began her descent. She looked for the net or fireman or superhero that would save her from harm, but all she saw was pavement.

She was confused. She was afraid. And for a split second, she was alive.

Written by: Mark Killian
Photograph by: Emily Blincoe

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