Now I can’t finish my cigarette, but as annoying as my newfound habit is—especially on uppers—, you smirk when I say it tastes like stale garlic hummus. “I think it’s cute you listen,” you tell me, “People rarely do.”
July 4, 2014 | Summer 2014
“I’m so glad I met you. You’re the smartest, most beautiful, girl I’ve ever met. I love you so, so much.” You watch me sprinkle the rest of a crystalline powder from a small baggie into my Diet Coke. I chug the concoction down, cough, and remark at how bad it tastes. You smoke a blunt and Snapchat Kevin your best French inhale. “When I’m famous you’re the only thing I’ll write about.” I pace around my studio apartment; it’s smaller than you would have expected. I’m listening to a vapid Weeknd song. You hate pop music because it’s “all about how love’s either a drug or the worst thing that can happen to a person.” There’s a lump at the edge of my living room couch. Using your denim jacket to cushion your face, you lay your head on top of it. Your cheeks feel fat. “If you wore contacts you’d look like Charli XCX.”
You stare at your phone’s lock-screen. It’s free of notifications; you hope one pops up against your Morrissey screensaver. You feel a tension behind your eyes, like you’re about to cry; but you don’t feel sad, you don’t feel anything really. “I’m glad you’re happy,” you say, hoping to comfort me. I’m racing a shaky finger across my arm, smudging sweat pellets. I stare at the droplets as if they’re Rorschach tests. As I come out of my body, yours feels alien too—foreign to a situation that should seem familiar. You think: he doesn’t love me.
Kevin hasn’t answered your text. It says he read it an hour ago. You asked him why guys don’t like curly-haired girls, followed by every variation of the kissing emoji. I toss my phone—unlocked—on the couch next to you. You don’t think I expect you to look at it, but start to wonder if I did it intentionally. I’m messing around on my computer, trying to accommodate my iTunes to the intensifying high. You think about how secretive I’ve always been about my texts, constantly adjusting my iPhone’s backlight as people—namely you—came and went. You can clearly read one of my conversations. The contact’s listed as Bianca. She’s asking for my sign. A white text bubble reads: “2 Aries could be dangerous and exciting,” bookended by a blushing emoji. It’s followed by: “I LOVE ur writing. U manage to convey like the un-conveyable. Do u think u could write a story about me??? Ok cool.” A blue bubble finishes sending: “I dun write bout girls.”
You told me to read Rimbaud months ago. Shoved under my Elizabeth Wurtzel and self-help books, there’s a copy of Illuminations on the shelf. Staring at my ceiling you wonder if I’ve started it. You told Kevin to read Kierkegaard a few weeks ago too. He kissed you. You felt the force with which he pushed you on top of your nightstand and moved down your neck. You loved it. You wish I would touch you. You get up to hug me. I don’t wrap my hands around you. “I like having you here,” I tell you. You wait for me to embrace you, but I don’t. Your phone vibrates. You let go of me to check your texts: unread message from Kevin. “Girls is girls,” he writes; you smile.
I put on “Kiss Me Thru the Phone.” You wonder why that’s still on my iTunes. “I can’t right now so baby kiss me through the phone,” I sing along. You notice my voice has inflection tonight—like I mean what I’m saying, not just mouthing off in an apathetic stupor. You remember the molly; I can’t be trusted. You tell me molly’s dangerous and I should be careful—as if to establish that this is all temporary. You don’t want to get used to this version of me. I tell you I’ll feel this way forever. You smile, trying not to burden me with reality. You look around my apartment and see it’s nothing like home: there are no glimpses into my past, not even a family portrait in sight. You remember me briefly mentioning a rough childhood—something about my dad—, but I never made it clear. I’m swaying, finally at peace. Out of all the cliché’s I’ve become accustomed to, I’ve finally found a heaven tailored just for you. You look through your phone and read our texts, noticing how gratuitously I send the prayer emoji.
“Didn’t you say heaven’s overrated?” I struggle to light one of the loose cigarettes I’ve pulled from under my couch. You pull it out of my mouth, put it in yours, suck on it as it ignites—careful not to inhale any of its poison—and hand it back to me. Smoking isn’t particularly attractive to you. I don’t look like James Dean; I look girly, holding my long, blond hair back and blowing smoke out of my apartment window. You notice me unconsciously swinging to “Summertime Sadness,” the next track on iTunes shuffle. I turn to you, “If you dyed your hair you’d look like a Jewish Lana Del Rey.”
Ignoring that last comment you ask, “Do you remember everything I say?” I smile, then laugh; you can tell it’s hyperbolized. I never laugh. In fact, I never dance. You brought me over to your place once and all I did was point out how empty it was. You told me you love dancing around the clear space. I just said something like, Fuck that. Now I can’t finish my cigarette, but as annoying as my newfound habit is—especially on uppers—, you smirk when I say it tastes like stale garlic hummus. “I think it’s cute you listen,” you tell me, “People rarely do.”
You’ve been asking to be alone at my place for months. I share a studio apartment with my mom and hide drugs in any compartment I can find. She’s away this weekend or whatever; I don’t explain these things to you. It’s spring break and you’re tempted to drive back home to Connecticut. “When you going back to your mansion?” You tell me it’s a country-home. “Bougie as fuck. Once we’re married you’ll be supporting me.” You’re not sure whether I’m kidding, nor do you have the heart to point out how I’d just talked about being a famous writer. On my computer desk you notice a copy of the Antheon—the literary-arts publication at my school. You think about how, if I were famous, my first published story would always be about you. You think about how I don’t touch you.
Kevin caught your eye at a hardcore show upstate. Lots of awful local bands performed; he still moshed though. You remember how the band-pins he wore jangled set-after-set until he tossed his denim vest into the pit. He was full of energy as the crowd trampled on it. After the show you saw him hanging around backstage. He chatted with a few of the night’s performers—mostly art school students with plugs and bad tattoos. They passed around a joint; he didn’t take a pull. You noticed the black X’s scrawled on his hands. You walked up to the group hoping for some free smoke. Kevin asked you about the show. You told him you love live music. He said he had a couple gigs promoting unsigned bands. You told him you’re learning to play the guitar—mostly shoegaze. He said he collects them as a hobby. You felt a little sick—might’ve had too much to drink. He asked if you needed a ride. You shook your head. He said he lived in Poughkeepsie and you could crash at his place. You got in his car. It was clean save for a condom on the dash that he quickly flicked away. You asked if he believed in love. “Waste of time, just leads to pain and confusion.” He started the engine. You asked if he could just take you to the train station. He said you were interesting.
“Want this amp?” I rummage through my closet and pull out a dusty black amplifier. You notice a baggie of coke taped to the back of it. You’re not if sure if that’s part of the deal. You met me at Dunkin Donuts after answering a Craigslist ad. I was giving away a free guitar. You watched as I came in, lugging the bright orange instrument over my shoulder. You asked why we couldn’t have met at my place. “You know that’s how girls like you get murdered, right?” You bought me a coffee. I asked if you hated yourself, explaining that I had a sixth sense. You said you weren’t sure—sometimes—but mostly just lonely and looking for that “at home” feeling. My openness made you uncomfortable, but you embraced it—thinking it might’ve been the change you were looking for. You asked why I was giving the guitar away. “I’ll probably be dead soon.” You mentioned Rimbaud; I’m an English major. You read me a poem you wrote on your phone. “Poems confuse me.” I texted you a three-paragraph analysis of it later that night. “Whatever, have it.” I push the amplifier towards the couch you’re lying on.
You look at me. My pupils are still dilated. I’m chewing on a plastic bottle cap. “You think, maybe, we should like get together?” I’m swaying in front of you—amplifier at my feet—, but get distracted by a notification. I laugh and tell you to check it out, tossing you my phone. You read the text; it’s from a Carolyn and says, “I want you to smell like pine trees.” You’re not sure what to make of it and hand back my phone. I continue pacing around my apartment. You check to see if anyone’s texted you. A message from Kevin: “I’m in the city, wanna chill,” no emojis.
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