I stand in the kitchen, looking onto the driveway as my father’s Audi drives down the road. They’re off to praise Jesus and have their souls saved, and by that I mean try to not burn in hell which they ever so often threaten me with.
I remember those days. My most fond memory of being a church goer was spending time with Chloé.
Her skirts were always a little too short, her hair a little too dirty, and her language just a tad too vulgar. She was extremely outspoken and wouldn’t be caught dead not wearing a choker necklace which she called her “black-belt in whoring around.”
She was the only one keeping my head above water in a sea of pretentious Sunday-holy people.
Early in the beginning of last year, she was telling me about our new Sunday School teacher that we’d be getting. She said, “he’s not too bad, I mean there’s nothing wrong with him, it’s just that he’s saved.”
I wasn’t too sure why that was a problem until I met him.
He was a small-minded Sunday-holy prick.
So I guess there’s nothing wrong with my parent’s, they’re just saved.
I won’t deny that my atheist existentialism (and periodic depression) does in-part exist out of rebelling against my parents’ love for the Holy Trinity. Denying that would be pretentious in its own right, just like Chloé’s dad who left his wife for his PA and continually called the divorce an ‘Unconscious Uncoupling’. That really messed with Ronwyn, Chloé’s slightly younger and mostly troubled sister.
I take the last sip of my coffee and go up to my room – there are 15 minutes until Autumn and Chloé arrive so I get ready by changing my shirt, a burgundy V-neck which Autumn has complimented before. Seems like a safe bet for the night.
I spray my cologne and lie on my bed eyeing the mirror on my ceiling. I somehow managed to convinced my parents to let me put it up even though it makes my room look like an old motel primarily booked for short-term pleasure in the form of a prostitute.
I look at myself, turning my face to see it from a couple of angles.
Mirrors are used for seeing yourself. Vanity.
But, they also have a depth to them that breaks reality a little.
There’s something to seeing yourself. Finding yourself.
Carl Rogers talks about the three sides of a triangle: the Perceived Self, the Real Self, and the Ideal Self.
The mirror shows me the Perceived Self, it lets me see who I think I am, even though in reality it’s showing the reflection of the Real Self as I stand there – yet if it’s a good day I’ll end up seeing is my Ideal Self, whatever that would be for the day.
I think today I’ll live the Ideal Self. I have the energy for it for once.
I sit up unable to stare at myself for that long.
I have a very simplistic theme to my room. Large open spaces with simple all-wood furniture. All colors neutral.
It’s my way of pretending it’s a New York apartment loft, when in reality I’m trapped in suburbia, which I guess isn’t the worst thing.
I grab my dictionary that’s always in my side table drawer like a Bible or condoms.
Suburbia: noun 1. The suburbs or their inhabitants viewed collectively.
I’ve always had a love-hate for the place.
I start compiling a mental list.
- How there’s areas with cobblestone streets;
- that there are more oak trees here in one town than in some countries;
- that we have a stream that flows throughout the entire town that at some parts are surrounded by a small forest;
- how it’s the ‘city’ between two smaller towns; and
- that whenever someone gets married, the whole town gets invited.
But, I hate that:
- it’s so conservative;
- there’s a church on every block;
- everyone knows everyone and that it’s so damn easy to be up in each other’s business; and
- whenever someone dies the whole town has to be at the funeral.
Whenever I’m on holiday and I return after a week or two away the air just feels right. The colour of the grass and trees always seem to be oversaturated in whatever state they are and that no matter how cold it is the stream keeps flowing and the water remains clear as glass.
“It seems we’re never letting go of suburbia” Troye Sivan would say.
The wall opposite my bed is just bookshelves. Each shelf is stacked full, but I haven’t even read half of them.
So many books to read, so many lifetimes I might never get to experience. All the lessons, all the adventures.
My alarm goes off. It’s 19:00.
I go downstairs and sit on the patio overlooking the driveway, and it’s not long until they arrive.
Autumn’s mom parks the van in front of the dark wood garage door which contrasts well with the light paint of the house. The house has large windows stained the same color as the garage door, and most of them look out onto the same stream that Jacob’s Coffee does – the house is just upstream from it.
Jacob’s is the Posy’s go-to coffee shop and it used to be the place me and Kai would get take away sandwiches before we’d venture into the forests.
As a kid Kai and I would drop a bottle with a note in the stream here and follow it through to Jacob’s.
I see the van’s sliding door open with Chloé popping out and Autumn following suite.
Autumn’s mom greets me with a warm motherly smile and a lame “what’s up”. I’m tempted to answer “it’s a Disney movie where this old man turns his house into an air balloon” but stop myself fearing she won’t get it and feel old. I just smile and give a “hi” to her, then give Chloé a hug, thereafter Autumn a slightly longer, more passionate hug.
In contrast to Autumn’s, my mom is a lot more conservative – my entire family actually.
It may be an age thing. Autumn’s parents are much younger than my own.
I open the front door hastily to get into the warmth of the house – it’s gotten considerably colder since this afternoon.
As I open the stained-glass door for them I say “ladies” mockingly as they pass through. I say under my breath “chivalry is not dead” in an overly masculine tone.
“Not all female’s want to be labelled as ladies – there’s a difference between a lady and a woman in the way people use language to oppress women. I’d rather be a woman than a lady thank you very much.”
Autumn and I give each other look behind Chloé’s back and I shrug my shoulders in an “oops” gesture. Autumn smiles at me.
I’m not sure when Chloé started her “strong independent woman who don’t need no man or no label” phase but I thoroughly enjoy it.
Once we’re in the lounge we’re enveloped by the warmth of the fire.
The lounge finds a balance between modern and classic with a beige and grey theme that ties in with the dark wood flooring and furniture. The high ceilings makes the place seem larger than it is, but the big windows looking onto the stream help.
We sit on the floor before the fire in silence for a bit. Autumn sits close next to me, Chloé on the other side of Autumn.
“Let’s play a little game…” Chloé teases, a sly smile on her face.
“I’m listening,” Autumn says softly looking suspiciously at Chloé and me.
I just look at Chloé with a deadpan expression.
“Guess what’s in my bag," Chloé says, her sly smile turning into a grin.
“What are you, a beauty guru?” I ask Chloé and then chuckle softly.
“Seeing as no-one is guessing it’s wine. Of the horrible pink variety.”
“Oh God,” Autumn says. I can see flashbacks from last year’s camp on her face.
“Please tell me it’s not the same brand as last year’s…”
“Yup,” Chloé interrupts me.
“And best of all, I have two bottles, and they must be finished tonight.”
“That stuff was awful,” I announce, my face showing the pain I went through trying to drink it last time.
“Two bottles? Tonight?” Autumn exclaims, clearly not ready for the events to follow.
“Oh yeah, tonight. Get your body ready!” Chloé shouts whilst attending to her backpack where not one, but two bottles of pink death are wrapped in a hoodie.
“I’ll get glasses, but we have to wash them before le parents return, okay?” I ensure.
“Okay” Autumn and Chloé agree.
Once the glasses were full we, in Posy tradition, down the first glass.
I eye Autumn’s expression as soon as she puts the glass down.
Her mouth is still full of wine, and as she tries to swallow it her face seems to be drained from any form of happiness.
Chloé starts filling the glasses again.
“We all know the first glass is the worst, but now that that’s over let the good times begin!” Chloé announces with a wide grin.
“This brings back so many memories of last year’s camp,” I say after taking another dreadful sip.
“That was one of thee best Chloé catastrophes to ever hit Swanford High,” Autumn says, her eyes sparkling from nostalgia.
“Well, we all agreed that camping should be an adventure, and the school’s isn’t, so we had made a plan to make it an adventure,” Chloé reminds us.
“That’s true…” I agree.
“Yeah, but it was your fault I got so drunk!” Chloé says sounding mad but not looking the part.
“Hey, it was Autumn too!” I defend myself.
Autumn shrugs, admitting her guilt.
“The thing is, the wine was unbearable to drink. So you can’t blame Autumn and me for spitting it back into the bottle,” I say, still attempting to defend myself.
“Yeah, but if you two didn’t actually drink, that means Matty and I drank all three bottles!”
“Yeah, trust me I know. Everyone knew,” Autumn giggles.
“Yeah, I’ll admit. I was next-level drunk. The havoc I caused that night…” Chloé confesses, smiling at the thought of it.
“And now because of that night, the entire school body is on high alert for Chloé catastrophes,” Autumn quotes what Chloé always says after telling someone about that night.
“Hey that’s my line,” Chloé winks at Autumn.
“I still can’t believe Matt got off clean,” I add.
“Yeah well, if one of the Posy had to get an Oscar for something it’d be Matt acting in the role of Sober,” Autumn says with a shrug.
“Facts” Chloé and I say simultaneously before shouting “jinx” at the same time.
We look each other in the eye and clink our glasses to down.
“If we jinx, we drinks” we chant before downing the glass.
It wasn’t long until we finished both bottles and we all came to the realization that 1. This will always be horrible wine, 2. We haven’t eaten since lunch at school, and 3. We are rather (very) drunk.
As soon as that thought sunk in The 1975 stopped playing on the stereo and an awkward silence filled the room.
“So… coffee?” I ask in an attempt to break the silence and sober everyone up.
“Yes. Coffee heals all. Coffee understands” Autumn begs more than asks me.
Autumn has always been the lightweight of the Posy.
I stand up and hold onto the couch to steady myself.
Once all the blood rushing to my head ceased, I got to making coffee.
The kitchen was recently remodeled with marble tiles and granite tops. It’s too fancy when one considers no one really makes food in this house, and when we do it’s usually just the basics.
I press the button that gets the coffee going and Autumn and Chloé enter. In a side-to-side comparison, Chloé and Autumn share a small build, but Autumn has less ‘junk in her trunk’, not to mention Chloé is a head shorter.
Conclusion: Chloé has more curves and wider hips.
I place the mugs on the table and pour the delicious caffeinated contents into them.
Autumn takes hers hastily and immediately drops it from the heat.
It hits the corner of the granite counter and breaks, spilling on her as she lets out a scream.
I grab a cloth to contain the spillage, Autumn cursing under her breath.
She starts “sorry, sorry, sorry” and reaches down to pick up the largest chunk of what’s left of the mug and cuts her finger before I could stop her.
To make matters worse, Chloé can’t handle blood at all. She immediately freaks out and moves to the lounge.
Autumn’s finger continues bleeding, now dripping on the floor.
“Here," I tell her as I wrap a paper towel around her finger and drag her upstairs to the bathroom where the medical kit is.
She sits on the edge of the bath as I search through the kit for a suitable plaster. She looks extremely confused, is she drunker than I thought?
I hand her a cotton ball and she cleans off the blood, then I hand her an antibacterial ointment and a plaster. She thanks me with each item I pass over to her.
As soon and as the plaster is on she looks at me and then looks down with a very sincere “thank you”.
“Let me get you some sweatpants," I say marching to my room.
I look in my cupboard finding something suitable when I hear her walk in and lay on my bed mumbling something I can’t make out.
“Okay sleepy-head before you fall asleep with your wet jeans on my dry bed put these on pretty please?” I ask so I don’t have to dress her.
“Mmkay," she says sitting up, her eyes still closed. I hand her the pants and move out the room.
“Uh-uh," she moans.
“Don’t leave me” she mumbles.
I remain in the room but face the other way even though I’m tempted not to.
“You can tuurn. You know whuut? I’m feelin’ great now.”
I turn to attend to her before she does something stupid. She seems very unstable so I reach to grab her arm to steady her, but before that happens we’re already falling and I grab her as we both fall onto the carpet, her on top of me.
I laugh at how drunk she is.
“You okay?” I ask, just to make sure she didn’t break a rib seeing as I nearly did.
“Mmmhhm, you’re really comfortable. I’ve always wanted to lie on you…” she murmurs as she buries her face in my chest, exhaling loudly as she makes herself comfortable.
I lay there with her on top of me realizing that this would be the ultimate fantasy if we 1. Weren’t intoxicated, 2. Naked, and 3. She loved me as much as I loved her.
She suddenly opens her eyes, the blue bluer than ever, the white part red from the wine.
She creeps in closer to me, pulling herself closer to me with her hands on my shoulder, nails clawing into them.
Her lips are agape as she leans in as though she’s about to kiss me.
Time feels like it pauses, I ready myself for what I think I’ve always wanted when…
“What even. I bring only two bottles of wine and Autumn is kissing her best friend. Come on, up and at ’em – your mom’s here” Chloé instructs after bursting into the room killing what could have been the most progress Autumn and I have made this year.
“Autumn and I know where your true desires lie," Chloé says with a chuckle as I help Autumn get up.
I help her down the stairs at the patio and assist her into the car, Autumn’s mom laughing as Chloé tells her what a lightweight her daughter is after “a glass of wine.”
I wave as they reverse down the drive-way.
I’m already regretting the night and how late it is.
I tidy up just in time for the rents, pack my clothes for tomorrow and lay my head on my pillow.
I close my eyes waiting for sleep to take me, Chloé’s words echoing in my mind.
“I know where your true desires lie.”