Quelquefois

“I taste like cigarettes and cheap wine,” she told him. Like maybe, if she wanted him violently enough, he would appear. Pulled. She’s coy and flirtatious (he’s already hers). She says the things she meant to say in person.

But between the hours of three and four in the morning, she cries for herself. Secret self-pity. She doesn’t mean to. She hates herself for it. She hates, too, when people says she’s confident.

They don’t know that they’re lying to her.

The District Line pt. 2

Disclaimer: This story is very much a work in progress. I am still creating the characters, and in doing so, I decided to start from their beginning. I love writing first encounter stories, there’s something so beautiful and easy about that initial spark.

11:14 p.m.

I’m a friendly guy. Not exactly in the golden-retriever kind of way, but in the help-the-elderly-woman-next-door-carry-in-her-groceries kind of way. I’m the kind of guy who’ll approach the lonely and uncomfortable at a party and small talk my way into their hearts. I love small talk, flirting and non-controversial political topics. Faye was the type of girl, who, at a party, would tell wild, unbelievable stories. With long, I swear to God, cascading blonde hair, she captured entire living rooms. She had the ease and slight messiness of your childhood babysitter but had the looks, fittingly, to kill. Comparable to a Disney princess; long legs, tiny waist, big, golden-hazel eyes rimmed by long lashes. But she had the kind of face that isn’t boring beautiful. You could say she was pretty, but you’d eat your words once you realized that was too simple. Undeniably beautiful, multi-faceted, absurdly charismatic. All synonymous with her name.

It was uncharacteristically hot in London that night, one of the five days in July that actually feel like summer. Faye was wearing an oversized, camp counselor looking, tie-dyed t-shirt and tiny leopard print shorts that looked like they were probably meant to be worn as underwear. I was in jeans and regretting it, the humid air making my clothing clingy. I had been brought to this particular party by a girl who worked at the cafe where I brought my laptop on Sundays. She was nice, albeit bland, with a tiny frame and giant boobs. This what’s-her-name had been gone for almost an hour, pulled in by a group of equally generic girls, leaving me to stand near a wall in a room full of strangers, and listen. Faye was standing in a circle of people, hearing the host, a small guy with a fake tan and a thick stereotype of a Texan accent, talk about his horses on the ranch back home. When a thirty-something started talking about her run in with the police after trying to sneak backstage at the Coldplay concert, Faye caught my attention from across the room and rolled her eyes slightly at me. I gave her a half smile and pushed off my wall, edging my way into her circle of people trying to one up each other with stories about their benign lives. I can’t remember what Faye’s story was about that night. She told a lot of stories, details changing but always getting the same reaction. Faye talked with her hands, her facial expressions and vocal undulations eliciting gasps and laughter. Awe and praise were her prizes this particular night.

She had gone to that first party with the host’s best mate, but she had left with me. She saw me grabbing my unnecessary coat, fed up with the waitress, and asked, “Which way you headed?”

“District line.”

“Sweet, I’ll come with,” she oozed confidence, then backtracked ever so slightly. “If that’s alright.”

It surprised me. I was used to being approached by girls at the end of a night, sure. But never girls like her. There are no other girls like her.

 

Paint By Numbers

Some creative liberties were taken in writing this piece. For the most part, however, these snapshots are memories from seven years of friendship and represent my friend in the truest way. I read somewhere that after seven years of friendship, it is extremely unlikely to ever stop being friends.

  1. a tiny bicycle

She rode in loopy circles around the gymnasium, her knees pulled awkwardly close to her chest. The vehicle was meant for children with mild disabilities, but everyone in fourth grade knew it was the best toy the school gym had to offer. And this girl, this ten-year-old brat with pink-streaked hair, had the audacity to stay seated and dizzy long after her ten minutes were up. She was rude, and in that moment you decided you didn’t like her.

  1. prohibition

They both knew more about speak easys and bathtub gin than anyone their age should have. After the assignments was turned in, you found your paper tacked under her name, the round, loopy letters mistaken for someone else’s.

  1. goodbye for now!

The bus pulled up, and she turned to you in her denim shorts, her summer sticky hair pulled high into a ponytail. She was so strong, standing there without a tear in her eye. She touched the charm hanging around her neck. It’s only four months, she said, so confident, Christmas is just around the corner. You smiled in the August heat and hugged her tightly. Later that night, when you got into bed, your windows thrown wide open with flies banging against the screen, you found a note. It was written on a gum wrapper, tucked surreptitiously under your pillow. I love you more than words can say. The writing was still round and loopy, four years later. That is when you cried. Sometimes you wonder, how you went from seeing her as a spoiled, offensive girl with vocabulary like a sailor, to seeing her as the bravest person you’d ever met. It’s a strange feeling, that kick in the heart realization of love.

  1. hold up

The border agent wouldn’t let her through. Behind the closed doors, past last minute duty free and baggage claim, you leaned against the thick metal bar. You checked your watch and sighed in exasperation, nervousness fluttering around your hands. When your phone rings, it’s her, voice laced with fatigue and desperation. I’m an unaccompanied minor, they’re holding me in a tiny pen because they think I’m running away from home, a tired joke. You talked her through some details, gave her your mother’s number. A slightly irrational paranoia closed around your heart, a worry that they’ll make her get on the next plane back to Seattle. Everyone else from the flight left with their loved ones, reunited in that Love Actually way that Heathrow’s terminals create. But then she’s there, drooping slightly from her day(s) of travel, in sandals and socks and looking so much like home.

Let’s Be Bad

Let’s Be Bad

When I was young, I loved to play the villain. I was Maleficent, Cat Woman, Cruella de Vil. I gave Snow White the poison apple, and in a Star Wars/Mary Poppins crossover, I was a light saber wielding nanny. In those games I got to be conniving and cruel. I often died dramatically. Now I’m older. I’m not supposed to play dress up anymore, but sometimes I’ll slap on purple lipstick, wear angry-sounding shoes and a disapproving glare because I want to be bad. I want to burn my textbooks and smoke cigarettes. I want to be able to lose control, and take pleasure in doing so.

I was a nice child, for the most part, as long as you weren’t my mother. And truly, I don’t think I’ve changed much. I have always found confrontation uncomfortable and I try to avoid it at all costs. In my day to day life, I’m cordial to my teachers, helpful to my peers and honest with my parents. I smile at babies in the park. I do my homework and play flute in a classical orchestra. But I still love the bad girls in books and movies, although I now find it too tiring to pretend. I know I can’t change, and I’m slowly becoming content with that fact. But I still become infatuated with these types of characters, living vicariously through their scripted lives. I think I love these women because they are so wholly who I am not.

 

Between the ages of twelve and fourteen, it was characters like;

Margo Roth Spiegelman from Paper Towns and Alaska from Looking for Alaska

Lucy from 13

Amber from Hairspray

I think the fact that three of these characters come from John Green and a Jason Robert Brown musical are very telling about the type of person I really am.

Then when I was a bit older, from probably fourteen to sixteen (and still persisting today, if I’m honest), I fell in love with movies from the 1980s, and these characters became my inspiration;

Heather Chandler and Veronica Sawyer from Heathers

Marla Singer from Fight Club 

Even more subtly, girls like;

Claire from The Breakfast Club, because she was complicated and looked cute while giving the middle finger.

Sloane from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 

More recently, my inspiration comes from the women I read about in books. Different now, a range of characters who are evil or badass for a host of different reasons because my taste has matured ever so slightly;

Amy Elliot Dunne from Gone Girl

Bonnie Parker from Bonnie and Clyde

Moira from The Handmaid’s Tale

Flannery Culp and Natasha Hyatt from The Basic Eight