Bright Morning Stars
It’s too damn hot. Yet Pip is sitting there drinking her tea. It’s a million and one degrees. Hot English tea. Never chai, never chai. Too good for her, she says. Never chai.
“I’m going out,” I say.
Pip looks up. What is it she’s reading? Bah, nothing good. Something we’ve all read before.
“Why?” She placidly asks. I huff. I storm out. I leave.
There is bright light and a pain in my stomach. I scream in frustration. There’s a cool drink and good food waiting for me around the corner. It feels like slime but gets steadily worse in taste and better in texture.
The lights fade, the pain disappears. Now there’s a friend down the street. (Pip takes a sip of her tea. Takes her teapot and refills her cup in what feels like my head.) He’s a nice little boy with bowl-cut blond hair and blue eyes.
The light is a bit darker today. I hit the little boy from down the street, my friend. I got scolded, perhaps that’s why. He looks at me, no he’s crying, as his mom drags him away, no he’s crying, and I almost see a black eye. No, he sits there crying. My mom is calling his. I mumble an apology. (Pip turns a page. What’s it she’s reading? Manifesto… Manifesto of what?)
I’m playing ball. There’s the boy from down the street. My friend. There’s the new boy, black and dark and he smells like sand, his dad is from Zimbabwe. And there’s this girl, can I really call her a girl? Yes, she’s a girl, dirtied pink dress, rusty red pigtails, split lip and missing tooth. We all stand in a corner and bounce a ball. And the sun is covered by a cloud. The boy whose dad is from Zimbabwe didn’t have any loose teeth, but he’s missing one now. He smiles at me.
“Hey! You knocked that loose tooth out. Thanks!”
(Not chai. Not Manifesto but Machiavelli. No chai. Machiavelli).
My hand hurts from all the writing I have to do. The day is cool, the sky a misty grey. Blue at the edges, sun peaking out. The girl whose locker is next to mine, she always smells tangy like fruit and brings dim-sum for lunch, she was winking at me. We know the same place. It’s a travel, getting there. They kept us ‘young and impressionable’ kids as far away as possible, we understand what the younger kids can’t. (Pip brews a new pot of tea. The steeping leaves smell up the place, somehow fill up my nose.)
I end up skipping the blunt. The sex was much more amazing.
I don’t see her in school next year. I kiss the boy whose dad is from Zimbabwe. That kid who lives down the street, shaggy blond hair that covers his eyes, we used to be friends. Now he draws anime. That girl? Her hair is short and her eyes are lined and her dress is short. Only now it doesn’t show scrapped knees.
(It looks like William Golding wrote it. What book, what book?)
The guy whose dad is from Zimbabwe is dead now. The whole school is gathered into the auditorium for the assembly. It was suicide. That anime boy from down the street, he’s moved on and it was just a phase and now he likes Charles Dickens, looks like he’s next. Pamphlets are handed out to the school below us. The youngest of kids don’t even hear. They’ll lean in six years in health class, the story of the dude who’s dead. The redhead and tangy dim-sum are both wearing sunglasses in the front row. I swear they’re holding hands. (The cup clinks, a page flips.)
“I’m going out,” I say. I huff. I storm out. I leave.
I met Petunia at a garage sale while trying to find a chair for my dorm. She was sucking on a lollipop and scrutinizing the salt shaker. Her hair is long and dyed at least five different colors, tho they’re natural hair colors. She had it tied back in a loose ponytail. A tank clung to her, her shorts clung to her, and she wasn’t wearing shoes.
I think that’s what I like best about her fashion choices. She never wears shoes.
Either way, I saddled up to her and asked for her major. Theology, she replies. Economics, I tell her. She makes a joke, then I make a joke. At three am we’re throwing the other’s clothes on so we can run to a fast food joint to pick up a burger. I had been expecting the same old, same old. I thought she’d try to wow me with some bizarre position. She wow’d me in missionary.
And now she’s trying to get me to wear condoms. Cause the little slut can’t be bothered to do it herself. Doesn’t she know how cruddy it feels? Surely she’s gotten it by now. But if I’m going to spend my hard-earned cash, I’m spending it on booze. Pipsie can go rot for all I care.
The vodka is raspberry flavored and burns going down. But it’s a hard and satisfying burn. I stumble onto the sidewalk and totter towards the dorms. Pipsie should be at class, learning her little lessons on god and love, like it’s Sunday school. I should be in class, learning the finer points of a business transaction. I puke in a trashcan. Hard raspberry washes away the flavor. I slam onto a nearby bench. A stoner, loaded and with an armful of cheese doodlzes, stumbles down next to me.
“I wonder,” He says, “if I would get chosen to fall from the sky if it ever rained men.”
“Want some?” I slur, pointing the neck of the bottle towards him. He takes a swig, chokes a little, then opens up a bag.
“I wonder if constalkes ever miss being able to hear after the harvest.”
“I bet it’d be sad.”
We sit there for a while longer, me getting steadily drunker, him eating his cheese doodlzes. I hear Petunia’s friends laugh in the distance. She better not be with them. I don’t like it when she’s with them. Stoner noticies my changed demeanor and gives me his last bag of cheese doodlzes to placate me, then wanders off. I eat the whole bag in 5 minutes.
I feel tired.
There is no sunset, it had been threatening to storm all day. I trip up the stairs, but my world is spinning. I crawl back to my dorm. I lay in the tub, how did I get here? In my clothes, how did I get this far? Coated in my own puke and poop. I’m starting to fade when I hear the door slam. Petunia screams my name.
“In here Pip,” I call out in a wavering voice. She comes over, I can hear her friends laugh and her brother calling and that little kid at the mall who wanted to show her its ‘picture’. I feel uncomfortable when we’re not about me. I feel left alone. Bitch.
I stand up and fling my soiled jacket at her. Petunia catches it and throws it on the ground. I grab her hair, so long and easy to hold. She tries to get away. I pull her down, I can’t keep standing. I puke and I hear the sound of her coughing on it.
I punch. I punch. I punch. Then blood splatters. I fade. Fade. Fade. Crying.
“Welcome back,” Pip says. I can see what she’s reading now.
It’s a book we’ve all read before.
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