At the beginning I hired her to do some jobs for me. Sweep leaves from the yard; water the garden. Cook a special meal on a special occasion for my friend and myself.
I thought, this is a good way to slip her some money, in time for her to make rent, without pushing her into a position of dependence.
I remember how hard she worked. And the frantic look on her face.
I understand now what she felt. Panic, that these odd jobs wouldn't be enough. Desperation, not to go back to the streets, just a few days away. Despair, that no matter how hard she struggled there was no hope. Remorse, because she believed herself guilty for being ill.
I see her face now, as I write this. Sober. Healthy. The fact that she has hair is the telling symbol: when she drank she would shave it off, to make herself as ugly on the outside as she believed herself to be on the inside.
Still struggling. To make the money in time for her dream to come true.
Still fearful. That we'll have some terrible argument and I'll throw her out. Deposit her on the sidewalk in front of a Shell station in Garberville, the way a former lover did. That her epic struggle for recovery can still yet fail.
Is she safe, now?