This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

A portly man sits in a gilded chair atop a dais. His hands are folded over his long red tie which cascades down his belly like a bloody waterfall. One hand lifts to cover a yawn, then descends below its partner to scratch a deep red, neglected rash on the underside of his belly, the part that hides the zipper of his navy blue suit pants. He makes a mental note to to ask his assistant to make an appointment with his doctor only to toss it away to make room for the delicious cut of beef and the pungent cigar his favorite lobbyist had given him. He longed to be free of this drudgery and enjoy them with him. And his family, of course.

He clears his throat and looks around and straightens his back. A thumping, beating sound, the type of sound you feel more than hear, vibrates through his ribcage. He coughs on the loosened tar. A draft tickles his fine hairs and sends a chill down his spine. He leans to his side and asks his aide to close the window. The sound deadens as a quieter, almost timid one finds its way back to his ear.

A hunched and sweaty man read breathlessly from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle to the chamber of bored and aggravated senators as the glassy stare of the portly man bore into him. Between every word the chants from outside would rattle the windows, rattle his chest. The horrible sound of glass shattering. The image of his daughter’s mangled body on the hospital bed, only 26. He trips over the next word and his legs are about to give. He reads on even though his daughters matted hair and the tubes from her mouth bleed into every silent space.

The windows continue to rattle. His mind wanders out of the chamber, past his daughter’s dreary hospital room, through the rattling old windows to the mass of protesters outside beating their voices against the capital building’s walls like would-be trumpets at Jericho. He was with them, no, more than that he was them. He stood there holding a heavy poster-board in one hand and his daughter in the other, he chanted with them for the powers that be to do the right thing.

So long ago.

Long before he became a senator. Before the complications and attacks on his integrity. Before the piles of gifts, ignored, and the expensive dinners, politely enjoyed. Before the car crash, before the promised check. Before he stood up from his seat, book in hand, to stand up for the wrong thing. Before long it became too much.

“Alright, alright,” the portly man booms from his dais, waving his hand dismissively in the way a father would dismiss a child from an arduous punishment. The hunched and defeated father slumps into his chair mid-sentence as the other continues. “That’s enough, senator, that’s enough. We’ll table this issue for another time. And really, I never expected this from you who seemed to like the idea of ‘free’ healthcare.”

“It isn’t free if the taxpayers have alre-“

“Now, I said that’s enough.” He repeats in the same fatherly tone. “You made your point quite clear that you didn’t want the vote to go through today, and I think we’d all like to go home to our families.”

“Of course.”

As they descend the steps of the capital building to the deafening singular voice of the protestors chanting “do your job” the portly man adjusts his suit and lifts his head high. He wraps his heavy arm around the slouched shoulders of the tired and worried father slipping a check into his coat pocket and whispering, “you did the right thing.”

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A Houseplant is Dying, Tell it Why it Needs to Live. (prompt #2, of 642 things to write about.)

Earlier today I noticed my ficus, Fifi, was still droopy, so I watered her. It was all I could do. It must have been about a week since she began to wilt. I’ve done everything I could think of. I moved her to a spot with more light but that only made her shed more. I began watering her twice a day, up from once. I even bought some really nice plant food and poured the whole bag into her pot. I am at a total loss for what to do as I sit next to her stroking her few remaining leaves, blowing carbon dioxide I made from my lungs onto her leaves in breathy “I love you”s and “please, don’t leave me”s.

Tricia and I bought Fifi on a whim from a booth at the local farmers market on sunny Sunday when we first leased this apartment. I thought it was a silly purchase but it made her happy. “It’ll bring the place some life, Nate.” She told me as she handed me the pot to carry to the car. “You’ll see, we’ll take care of it together. It’ll be like having a kid that doesn’t shit all over itself. We’ll call her Fifi.”

“Her? How do you know it’s not a boy?” I asked as I adjusted the pot in my hands so as not to drop it and a large chunk of soil tipped out down the front of my white t-shirt. I laughed and so did she.

I guess to her it was more than a plant it was a symbol of our love, our life together. Over the next few years we kept the plant in the same spot, a few feet from the small window in our shared bedroom. She would water it everyday before she went to work, caress it’s leaves and whisper something before turning to me caressing my hair, whispering, “I love you,” and kissing me goodbye.

The plant grew and shed leaves all around it’s base. I’d pick them up before she came home, begrudgingly. “‘It’ll be like having a kid that doesn’t shit all over itself,’” I’d say in a mocking her. Every so often during her morning ritual I’d poke fun at her for loving the plant more than me. She’d raise her eyebrow, put her hands on her hips and affect a mock indignant tone then she’d give me a little more than a kiss.

It was beautiful, and happy, and light, and it was some of the best times I ever had. Then seemingly out of the blue Tricia became tired. She would still wake up water the plant whisper to it and kiss me but it was more like soap actor going through the motions than my beautiful, passionate Tricia.

As time wore on she would stay in bed more often, slowly neglecting her morning ritual more and more. She said it was nothing and she’d be better the next day. She’d say the same thing the next day and the next and the next until I finally forced her to the doctors. He said it was cancer. He said it was much too late to do anything about it, it had already spread to most of her organs. It was a matter of days he told me. All they could do was to make her comfortable.

She was admitted to the hospital. I made them let me bring Fifi into the room with her. Everyday I would go to her. I’d water the plant, stroke it, and breathe, “I love you,” onto it’s leaves. Then I’d cross the room and sit in the chair next to her bed. I would hold her hand, stroke her lank, greasy hair, and whisper “I love you, please don’t leave me,” in her ear. I would do this every day, every day until she mustered her last bit of energy and rattled, “I love you, Nate, I’m sorry. Please, take care of Fifi for me.”

Nonproblems of a Member of the Privileged Class

This afternoon I was struck with the dire decision of where to get first meal. I’d slept in later than normal and when I got up my roommate was watching the episode of sherlock with That Woman. So, of course, I had to stay and watch before getting on with my routine of yoga, breakfast burrito, coffee and writing.

Anyway after watching I was way to hungry to do yoga but also feeling fat so the breakfast burrito was out of the question. Now incredibly hungry, a little stoned, and without the predetermination of a routine I got into my car and haphazardly drove off to figure it out on the way. As some of you may know that was a terrible decision.

As I waited at the first stoplight the true weight of the matter fell upon my feeble mind. Where would I eat? The myriad restaurants passed through my mind faster than I could process them as every car on the road seemed like they wanted to slam into me. It had to be somewhat healthy (veggies, no grease, etc.). I know I was disgusted with myself too however I skipped yoga, my dubious excuse for eating like an american, but everything that came to mind was the opposite.

Breakfast bagel from my favorite spot? No, right direction but too late. Breakfast burrito? No, stupid. Okay fine, something from the coffee shop? No not enough food. The buffet of choice overwhelmed me as I drove aimlessly. I lamented the plethora of choice and my own indecisiveness. It seemed there would be the perfect solution if only I sifted through the proverbial haystack.

That or I should just pick something, anything, and get on with my day. I mean, it’s all clean, edible, and in most cases delicious. How was this even a problem. In fact it wasn’t and shouldn’t have been at all. The plethora of choice of food is the pinnacle of society.

I began imagining a nondescript third world community of huts, scavenging the slim amount of edibles from the plain on which they live. They had no problem deciding what to eat all they could do was happily accept the bland wheat and whatever meat would pass by. Their entire life is based around scarcity. Everything from what they could eat to their job in the community is determined by working with what they have.

I envied them. In The States, well at least the part in which I live, there is no scarcity. We have an abundance of places to eat, types of jobs and anxieties about which to choose. It reminded me of an episode of Malcom in the Middle where Malcom was caught in the middle of the indecision the plethora inevitably creates. He was faced with choosing a career, and only told he could be whatever he wanted. Some would see that as nice problem to have, especially the fictional third world community I made up above, others would point out it’s fiction.

However, it points to a very real problem what do you choose when you could literally do anything and nothing seems right.

Then my stomach growled and I was on a road with no food at all so I pointed my car toward the coffee shop and settled on the terrible sandwich shop next to it and wrote this.

Wine May Not Have Blue Mountains but it Gets You Laid

Wine is by far the best party drink. Forget your 4lokos and your (now plastic) bottles of mickeys those are for frat boys and teenage girls, respectively. You want a man’s drink better come prepared with a corkscrew and a muscly arm because no spindly little twig arm is getting to that sweet sweet merlot.

Now imagine this you’re at a party, your bro’s hitting it off with a 9, you walk over to give him a cheers. You’re long thick glass bottle taps against his puny tin can, and even though those mountains are bluer than the mediterranean on a clear day, you catch her eying your thick long bottle of sauvignon blanc. She bites her lip but you don’t notice because your enjoying that translucent yellow liquid splashing against the back of your throat.

You walk away so as not to put a damper on your bro’s game, even though it would be no contest. You find a group of buds and push your way into the circle. They’re all clutching frosty cans except one, he “forgot” to get beer again. He’s been trying to bum a brew from the other responsible party goers. Your eyes lock, you know whats coming so you put your mouth around the mouth of your big bottle of cabernet sauvignon and take long slobbery draught. You catch his eye again, he looks away.

That conversation went stale, much like the taste Natty Ice. So you turn around try and find that gorgeous pair of legs and breasts that intimidated you half a bottle of syrah ago. Now, however, your cheeks are ruddied and your step is wobbled and you got balls as big as John Cena’s and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s put together. There she is right over there, by herself, you can fix that. So you swig a mouthful of chardonnay move toward her.

But what’s this? Some pussy steps up first and in his hand he’s clutching a plastic baby bottle of Steel Reserve. Pah, he’s some kind of bitch, so you step between them and start laying down that vagina moistening game harder than you thought you could. That guy taps your shoulder and starts swinging, sayin that’s his girl, but you’re a classy motherfucker so you tell him you can’t own a girl, and that she has the free will to choose whoever she wants to rail her. He brings that bottle of Steel Reserve down on your head, but the plastic crumples and bounces off with hardly a tickle. You ain’t mad but he mussed your hair so this loser’s got to learn a lesson. You cork your thick glass bottle of zinfandel swing it hard into his ear. He goes down, she draws closer and tells you to take her to your house.

Now you’re getting laid and that malt liquor drinking barbarian is lying on the grass with cauliflower growing out the side of his head. You wanna know why, because you’re that classy motherfucker who brought wine to a party.

A Love Story, Part 1

Bananas, or My First Lesson

 

Everyday I take the same way home after school; go left out of the main entrance, walk three blocks, turn right, pass the zoo, and my house is four blocks down on the left. Its a simple route that my dad taught me when I was in 3rd grade and I’ve been taking it ever since. I’m nearing the end of 8th grade now and soon I’ll be in a new school, and I’ll have to take a different way home; maybe I’ll have to take the bus, maybe it’ll be miles away and there won’t even be a bus. As I was overthinking every possible danger of my new route I heard the familiar howl of my friend bananas.

 

“Bananas,” I call back with the name I’d given him the first day I walked home on my own.

 

“Where are you, I hear you but I can’t see you” I yell to him playfully as he bursts out of the trees and lands on the bars. He howls and screeches at me as if he’s catching me up on the events of his day. I pull out the banana I always bring to give him on my way home. He crawls down the bars to meet me at shoulder level and starts grabbing at the banana.

 

“No, Bananas, what did I tell you about manners? Now ask politely.” He complies and asks in his native tongue for his banana as I peel it, “here, since you asked so nicely” I hand him his banana then unwrap my own. We sit for a moment enjoying our fruit, usually I run my mouth when I meet up with bananas at the end of the day but today, I guess, I just had too much on my mind, or not enough. He just sits there, though, as unexpectant as ever. I’ve always like that about him, sometimes its nice not having another person around. They always expect you to contribute when sometimes you just want to focus on yourself.

 

“I’m going to miss you bananas, next year, when I’m off to high school. I really hope I can make time to see you, but my older brother keeps telling me ‘enjoy this time, you’re not going to have time to later.’ He’s an idiot though, he always tries to scare me with that stuff.” I pet bananas as I explain, he lengthens his body to extend the feeling of my hand on his fur each time I stroke it. “I don’t know, maybe he’s right, he always comes home and closes his door and doesn’t come out until dinner. Mom and Dad did just give him a computer though, he’s probably just playing with it the whole time. I can’t wait to get my own though, he says its the best thing ever. Well, he says the internet is the best thing ever, he never says why though, I mean I’ve used it before, it is pretty cool; I can do all my school work on it without having to go the library and carry books, but I’m always locked out of stuff on it.”

 

I continue absent-mindedly petting him, he purrs and closes his eyes, he still hangs on the bars, lower now as I’d taken a seat against the fence, and enjoys his banana. I take a bite out of mine. We sit again in silence. The only sounds are the common and usually ignored; cars passing on the street behind me, passersby patting the ground with their feet, and sometimes brief confused whispers between pedestrians as they pass by me sitting at the fence of the zoo as I stare glassy-eyed in no particular direction while I stroke my friend.

 

“You know, Bananas, I think you’re the only one that ever listens to me. Yeah, my parents always say I can tell them anything but its so uncomfortable talking to them about… stuff. Mom always tells me to talk to Dad, Dad always tells me to talk to my brother, and he just tells me to google it and when I do its blocked. I just want to know why Jenny makes me feel weird.” Bananas twitched drowsily while I continued to pet his soft little body. “I just get so… so weird when I talk to her now; like, my body tenses up, I start mumbling and forgetting my words, then, the worst part, my stomach feels like it’s fallen out completely and I feel like I might throw up all over her. I’ve known her all my life, and, I mean, we’ve grown up together. We’ve always been in the same grade. We used to live next door to each other and play everyday. I remember our moms used to wash us in the bathtub together when we came inside covered in dirt.” Bananas wriggled under my hand so I took it off and let him stretch, when he was done he laid on his belly, fully extended now in the dirt on the edge of his habitat. He opens one eye and looks up at me expectantly so I continue to stroke him. “We did everything together; made mudpies, played doctor, climbed trees. She’s my best friend and now I can hardly look her in the eye.”

 

“Who in the eye?” Bananas and I both jump out of our skin, he curls up and retreats slightly under a bush as I look around to see a familiar face.

 

“Jenny, hi!” The words stumble out of my mouth as I fall over myself to greet her.

 

“Hey I thought I’d find you here, I wanted to hang out with you after school but you left in such a hurry.” She says as I hug her. My stomach flips upside down and I can’t find anything to say to her.

 

After a pause she says, “Who were you talking to?”

 

“Just bananas, he’s my friend.” I reply, I really hope she didn’t just hear my voice crack.

 

She giggled even before I finished my thought, and it just made my stomach churn even more. “It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen him,” she goes over to the edge of the fence and begins calling him out of his hiding place. “Bananas, Bananaaas,” she repeats this a few times until he eventually crawls out from under his bush, “Hi, Bananas, its been a long time huh?” She croons to him.

 

As she bent over to say, “come here boy, come here,” my eyes, uncontrollably and unnaturally, run the length of her body. When did her skin get so smooth? Had her hair always been so soft looking? Then, when my breathless eyes finally ended on her chest I thought, what are those; had those always been there?

 

I catch myself before she does and step a little closer to her. She already got bananas to fully come out of his bush and was petting him gently but firmly.

 

“I think he likes you more than me,” I say as I watch my monkey wriggle and purr more than I’d ever seen him before.

 

She giggles again, like she wants me to faint, and says, “yeah, I think I have a softer touch because I’m a girl.”

 

“Yeah,” I say back, forgetting every other word I’d ever heard.

 

“Hey, Timmy…” She pauses, seemingly entranced by petting Bananas. I noticed he was fully extended on the ground, trying to feel her hand on as much of his body as he could. It looked as if he’d never felt anything so perfect in his life. Just as I began wishing that was me Jenny looks up at me and says, “I came here to find you because today was the last day of school and I just really wanted to tell you, I think I really like you, like, like you, like you.”

 

I feel my heart fly right out of my chest, my stomach, nowhere to be found. My palms start sweating and my face explodes with fire, I finally manage to say, “uhh… bluh… guh…” She just continues to stare at me while she absent-mindedly pets bananas into an absolute frenzy.

She stops immediately and jumps away in terror, straight into me, knocking us onto the ground. I just lay there dazzled by her sparkling green eyes, “I never really noticed how pretty your eyes were.” She smiles the biggest most heartfelt smile I’d ever seen and wraps her arms around me pulling us up. Her arms still holding me tight. I wrap mine around hers, but now It doesn’t feel so weird, now I just feel perfect; whole.

Birds of a Feather

Note from the author: Hey every one this is another flash fiction thing I had to do for class “2030, Iceland, A Story of Love in Multiple Forms,” now simply called “A Love Story” is almost complete, I just need to do some finishing touches and I will release it episodically in the coming weeks. I thought you all might be becoming disillusioned at the lack of new content so here you go, enjoy. 

“Excuse me, Ms. S. I need to go pee!” I said squirming the same horribly small desk-chair combos I’ve had to have sat in for the past 7 years.

“No, Steven, Timothy’s already in the bathroom; you know the rule.” She said while continuing to write the pythaguras theory she’d been going on about.

Screw Tim, she let’s him do whatever he wants, it’s my turn, “Okay, so Tim gets to spend 15 minutes in the bathroom while I get to pee myself all over this beautiful desk.” As soon as I finish Tim walks in with his hands in his pockets and his eyes to his feet. One of the girls, a couple columns over, giggled and whispered something I didn’t catch. “Ms. S. I’m going to the bathroom now.” With that and nothing else I’m already passing Tim out of the door.

“What’s so exciting, Tim?” I heard someone say behind me as I passed into to the hallway. Red, white, and blue blur together as I rush through locker hall and tackle the swinging door to relief. After I finished I decided to take my time going back to class. I looked through the stalls, opening them one by one; nothing, ew god gross, toilet overflowing with toilet paper, Kamel Reds, fuck yeah! I put my prize in my kangaroo pocket, hiding it with my hands against the fabric while I walked back into class.

I spun into my seat with my back to the teacher while I dropped the cigarettes into my backpack. Rachel looked at me and smirked, my heart skipped a beat; she took a smile from me in return. “Hey, Steven what you got there?” She asked leaning across the aisle.

“Shh, I’ll show you at lunch, come with me to the portables?” My voice cracked from astonishment, she giggles into her sleeve and nods. Woohoo!

I notice Tim talking to the girl next to him, again, while the teacher explains how A and B make C. She’s giggling, watching him adjust himself in his seat by the window. Birds congregated on the tree that grew above the wall around the school, tweeting and flying in circles around each other. Two of the birds flitted with each other concentrically, coming together a few feet above the others. One fell away and landed between two sitting on a branch, it pecked each on either side of it while its friend flew over them. It left the two on the branch to fly with its mate again. The quartet then flew together in separate circles above and under and around each other until I couldn’t tell which was which.

Something cracked, I twisted my head to the front. Ms. Smith was leaning over me, dry erase marker pressed against my desk “what’s so interesting Steven? Care to share it with the class?”

“Uh… Uhm, well there’s these bir-” BEEP, BEEEEP, BEEP. One short, one long, and another short; lunch time. I stood up with my bag and looked the teacher in the eye while I left the classroom with the other students. Single file out the door, stay in the same line, parallel with the others. Tim walked hunched over ahead of me, encroaching on the boy ahead of him.

We exit through the grey-green double doors to the concrete square. Vending machines with colorful screens line the walls of the square, my classmates swarm their gentle glow. Every time, thank you mom for packing my lunch. I felt something brush against my leg, “Oh, hey, Tim what’s-” he looked at me terrified then quickly dropped his head and ran away, “up? That was weird.” I said to myself.

I waded through the sea of classmates and the din of chatter, laughter, and the occasional screech out of the main lunch area. There was an overhang with an expansive mural displaying an american eagle, with the appropriate flag, raining stars down on an open field with children playing. One of the students was etching an elephant in the faded red lunch table as I walked to where Rachel was waiting for me in the sun just past the awning; her fly-aways refracted the light around her brown hair. “Hey,” she said, pulling another smile from me.

“Hi,” I throw my hand up then quickly it’s back at my side in a kind of awkward wave. “You have your lunch already?”

“Yeah, my dad makes it for me,” she answers, then bashfully adds, “want to go over to the portables?”

Smile still uncontrollably plastered on my face I lead her to my spot between the portables and the wall. It was perfect: I could see everything coming this way, but one could see me. We sat down across each other and looked in our brown bags, almost in unison we pull out our lunch. She takes out the brightest fuji apple as I pull out the same apple that’s lost its sheen. She set it on her lap and took out a salad, it was all sorts of red, green, yellow, purple, and white in their purest form. I pulled out a squished peanut butter and jelly with a purple-brown spot soaking through one side. We sat and ate looking down at our food, I’d chance a glance at her but she was either chewing or looking at her phone, or both.

“What is Tim doing?” I said, she looked up at me in confusion; she was facing the wall. I pointed around the corner where Tim was standing a few feet away. He’d just been pushed away from an embrace with a belligerent 8th grade football player. As the bull ran after the matador I saw a girl in a loose dress with golden-brown hair keeled over in laughter farther in the distance. Immediately, I heard hurried footsteps to my right. Tim launched himself over rachel and past me then hid under the wheelchair ramp.

“Did you see some skinny little gaybo run through here?” The football player asked while gasping for breath; he looked like a lineman, not muscular though.

“Uh, well… no its just been us back here,” I replied standing as straight as I could, he still towered over me. He leaned into me until his nose almost touched mine, forcefully exhaled onto my upper lip and skulked away. I turned around to tell Tim of his safety, but he was already wrapped around me. He drew me in close; I felt something press against my leg, what? Does he… oh, no that’s not his. I press myself into him until I feel the rigid lump crumple against his pelvis; he fell on his back in apparent agony.

“Hey woah, Tim get up,” Without turning my head I scanned to see if anyone was looking. The golden-haired girl, wiping her cheeks and regaining control of her laughter, was walking this way. He was holding his crotch and crying, “my dick! My dick! Oh god, my dick!”

“Dude! Your dick! What did I do?” I replied in hyperbolic concern.

“You pushed it back in!” He declared as he slowly lifted himself from the ground. Suddenly he sprung himself around me again, legs and everything, and ecstatically exclaimed, next to my ear, “Thank you!” He dropped to his feet and continued, “finally, I was so scared it was going to fall off. It came out and wouldn’t go back in.”

I stood there, bewildered, for a few seconds, looking him in the eye; I broke down. I couldn’t control my laughter. By the time that girl had shown up I was in tears, curled into a ball. How does he think of this shit? How does he do this shit? Mid thought I was lifted to my feet and greeted to toothy grin that reached twin blue eyes behind a shade of dark hair. “Hey man, thank you: no one else had the balls to help me.”

“Stop… Stop please… It’s too much,” I sputter through my convulsions. I couldn’t handle it; this was the funniest kid alive. I leaned back against the wall, resting my head against it and closing my eyes. I listened to the birds chirping in the trees just outside, the cars out on the freeway, and, lastly, someone clapping by my nose, pulling me back.

“Hey, how’d you know?” Tim was standing directly in front of me at this point, still giddy.

“Know what? That you had a toilet paper roll for a wiener?”

“Yeah,” he replied his eyes focused on mine, anticipation?

“Well, you know, I felt a wiener before, in my life, that wasn’t one. Was that why you spent 15 minutes in the bathroom?”

He blurt out a short laugh, “Yeah why?”

“Ms. S wouldn’t let me leave until you got back, douche.”

Without offense, he replied flatly, “oh, well if you really had to go you should have gone before me.”

“Yeah, or you shouldn’t take 15 minutes in the bathroom,” I replied feigning indignation.

After a short, silent pause Tim stuck out his hand, “I’m Tim, this is Jenny, we used to live next door, but she moved,” with his other hand he pointed to Jenny.

I looked down at his hand, “I know who you are, we’ve been in the same grade for 7 years.”

“Hey rachel, hey steven,” Jenny said brightly as Tim put his hand by his side and she put hers on his shoulder.

“Oh, well we never talked before so I felt awkwa- like I had to introduce myself.” He said smoothly, I almost didn’t catch the slip.

Rachel drew closer to Jenny, “Hey, Jen, oh I was going to ask you what I should wear to your sleepover,” I immediately tuned out of that conversation.

Tim comes close to me and whispers, “So what are you guys doing back here,” winking at me.

“Just eating some lunch,” I said nonchalantly.

“Just some lunch?” He repeated dubiously while backing out of my space.

I turn and point to our lunch, “Yup, just some lunch,” which had been trampled, to my surprise.

“Oh, man, I’m so sorry, here (hands me a few dollars) Jenny’s mom made enough for both of us today, but my mom gave me this; I don’t need it.”

“Thanks, but I’m full, plus I can’t stand the food they have in there,” I said keeping my hands to myself.

“Well, take it, maybe sh-you’ll be hungry after school.”

“You know what I will take it, because…” I paused for dramatic effect while I reached into my bag, “of this,” I ecstatically presented the Kamels I’d found this morning.

Jenny stops mid conversation, her and Tim’s eyes widen, she spoke first, “what are those?” She said without any discernable emotion.

“They’re Kamel Reds, my older cousin says they’re the best,” I responded less enthusiastically.

“C…can I have one?” Tim asked, in a surprisingly timid voice.

“Of course,” I said as my heart slowed its beat. I opened the pack and offered it around, everyone took one. Jenny had a lighter in her dress and lit us all up. In the next second we were hacking in a circle. It felt like I swallowed razors, but it tasted like… nothing I’d ever had before. It was delicious. I took another drag immediately after I recovered; the razors dulled. Jenny was sitting serenely on the handrails above the ramp dragging her cigarette, how?

Rachel sat by my feet against the wall and looked up at me, I sat next to her. She asked me what I liked to do outside of school, when I told her she seemed interested. She even asked if she could join me sometime as she realized we live in the same neighborhood. Tim and Jenny joined their conversation with ours while we finished our cigarettes, then left us there alone. Rachel and I talked until the bell rang and we had to join everyone back in the classroom.

A Normal Conversation

“So, last night I was watching TV, you know, one of those cop dramas. You know how there’s always some murder, it was this guy and his girlfriend, like, called the cops saying she just came home and didn’t know what was going on. Her boyfriend was on the ground bleeding and mangled from being beaten by a bat,” Amanda, paused for a second to take a sip of her tea.

Amy, in turn, responded, slightly offended at, yet intrigued by the brutality, “That… sounds awful, which one were you watching?”

“It was just one of them, I don’t really remember, but it turned out that she was the killer, I never expected it! The whole episode she was so heartbroken by it, but it turned out she had been hiding her hate for him, keeping it inside the whole time, letting it bottle up until she just exploded. It was really sad when she explained it at the end…”

Amy let her drone on, half listening to the extended explanation of how the character brutalized her boyfriend with his bat, half just listening to her voice. Like the most beautiful symphony it rose and fell; it only grew sweeter and more harmonious as she let it caress her ears. She was never fully interested in what Amanda said, it was never of much substance, she was more interested in just being with her. It made her feel happy, and complete.

“So how are things going with your boyfriend?” She butted in when she felt she’d heard enough gore, feigning concern she added, “are you guys still ‘on the rocks?’”

“No, I think it’ll be better now, I worked it out.”

“Oh, wow really? What happened? what’d you do?”

“Nothing, I’m just, probably, going to need a place to stay for a couple days.”

“Did he kick you out? That’s terrible, you paid for that place too you know,” Amy said with vicarious indignation, trying to hide her elation from hearing the delicious fruits of her labour. ”You know, you could always stay with me, it’ll be like those sleepovers we had as kids,” she said forcing a laugh to seem like she was joking, but just the reminiscence of it gave her a warm feeling in the pit of her stomach. She had only recently realized how much she missed those intimate nights with her most gorgeous and closest friend.

“That’s so nice of you to offer, I’d love that. I do miss that, how we used to talk all night about boys, pillow fights, oh, and remember that night my first boyfriend broke up with me and you let me cry on your shoulder until we both fell asleep.”

Amy couldn’t help but smile for it was her most fond memory of their relationship. She could remember every minute detail of that night. She immediately recalled the flowery aroma of Amanda’s gorgeous, thick, blonde hair while she stroked it, the warmth of her tears on her bosom as Amy comforted the 14 year old Amanda to sleep. Tonight, she thought, tonight is the night I could make this all happen again. Everything I’ve been working for since that fucking boyfriend took her from me is coming together.

“That would be nice,” Amy said still deep in her memory, she was startled when she heard amanda’s phone ring, Amanda answered it. Amy, deciding to be nosy, tried to listen in. She couldn’t hear much of the other side of the conversation only truncated phrases or words, but she distinctly heard: “questioning…” “squad car to your location…” “stay where you are.” Fearful but acting concerned, she asked , “Who was that?”

“Oh its nothing I just need to go to the police station for a bit.”

Amy was shocked at this news, What does she have to go there for, What did she do, have I done?

A little bit later, the police showed up, much to Amy’s disappointment and horror. She knew why they were on their way but she didn’t want to believe it. She was so close to her goal, however, she never imagined it could end this way. All she could do was sit there and watch as her best friend and almost lover was questioned by the police about a painted wooden bat, her bloody apartment and her allegedly murdered boyfriend.

Amy left the coffee shop shortly after her friend was handcuffed and driven away. She arrived home. She fell apart as the door shut behind her. Through her tears and sniffling she lamented “Amanda… Amanda… no, this isn’t fair, she was mine again, and now i’ve lost her forever.”