The blue light of the television flickered across the small living room in my house, dramatically altering and emphasizing characteristics of each face. Brody’s long, narrow nose cast a shadow across the rest of his face, and Lily’s cheeks seemed to angle down. The three of us sat on the sofa—my arm wrapped around Lily as she clung to my shirt like a helpless child. Devin occupied the smallest space on the carpet about a yard away from the sofa, as if she was quarantining herself from the rest of us, an alien in a world with few familiarities.
I would glance at her occasionally during Aliens, expecting her to squeal or regale some form of discomfort while watching it. Maybe when the android was ripped in half, or maybe when Sigourney Weaver pulled off some awesome escape, but, no, she was statuesque, still and calm like a queen on her throne.
Lily kept grabbing me throughout the movie every time one of the monstrous aliens unveiled its gnarly mouth. She would occasionally twist under my arm and move closer and closer to me.
In an unusual way, I was neglecting Lily in the aspect that I paid more attention to the movie. I notice I was paying attention to a numerous amount of things—school, family, friends, Devin. The responsibility of making sure Devin transitioned to life without Heath somehow fell upon me due to no one else assuming it would be a problem, but I had never seen her with anyone else. I had never seen her have a conversation with anyone else.
Devin glanced over her shoulder at me, feeling my stare upon her. Her blue eyes shone lightly in the dimness of the room, and then they slid back toward the television. She crisscrossed her legs and leaned back on her palms as the movie neared its climax.
Lily grab my chin and laid a kiss on my lips, and I tore away from her hand. “Lily, we’re watching a movie.”
“So?” She twirled one of her black locks around her index finger.
Brody deliberately coughed.
I pointed my chin to Brody. “Think of the children.”
She rolled her eyes and leaned back into the sofa. She crossed her arms across her chest and glared at the TV with a pout on her lips. She let out an irate sigh and refused to make eye-contact with me through the rest of the movie. Finally, the credits scrolled up the screen, and Lily spouted, “Finally!”
Devin twisted around to the sofa, pulling her ankles closer to her as her knees bowed out. She pursed her lips in inquisition. “You didn’t like the movie?”
Lily scoffed, “No! That was the most gruesome thing I’ve ever seen.”
Brody rolled his eyes and moaned, “Should have seen the first one, Lil; would’ve given you a heart attack… or an aneurysm.”
Lily turned to Brody and growled, “And you would just love that, wouldn’t you?”
Devin and I awkwardly made eye-contact, and she quickly flicked her gaze to Lily and Brody. I opened my mouth to apologize but decided against it as I realized she probably already knew with my concerned expression.
“Devin seemed to enjoy it just fine, Lily.”
All of the eyes in the room fell on Devin, and we waited for a response. She rubbed the back of her neck as she admitted, “That’s actually one of my favorites.”
Lily groaned, “Oh my God, she is one of the guys.” I gave Lily a chiding glance with a folded brow.
Brody furrowed his brow and retorted, “What’s so bad about us?”
They argued for a while, and Devin turned to me again. I mouthed, “Do you want to go home?”
She quickly nodded.
I popped up onto my feet, ignoring my friends as they began hurling insults at each other. Devin followed my lead, and I escorted her out the foyer and into the cool fall air in a short few paces. A gale whipped in between us, pulling down lip of the back of her t-shirt, revealing black ink against her skin. “You have a tattoo?”
Her hand shot to the middle of her back, and she glanced over her shoulder. “Oh, yeah. Heath and I got them together.”
“What is it?”
“To remind me I belong to no one.”
Astounded, I kind of took a step back. Most teenagers who had a tattoo at my school had a reference to a television show or some book. I had never heard of someone receiving such a simple tattoo that held such depth.
I scurried to her side, and we walked through the neighborhood, cutting across and through yards to get to her neighborhood only a long walk away. Silence embraced us, and I didn’t know if I should break it or not as I couldn’t tell if it made her uncomfortable like it did me.
“I like it when it’s like this,” she mumbled, her chin turned up to the sky.
I pulled my gaze up to see a mass array of entropy—stars upon stars upon stars with the occasional planet. I glanced at her through my periphery, and I noticed a sad grin sweeping across her face. Her eyes twinkled and sparkled, and a part of me rushed to find a way to prevent her from crying because I didn’t know how to console anyone like that.
“So, Aliens… your favorite, huh?”
She blinked and came back to her body. She nodded after wringing her hair over one shoulder. She failed to even look at me, but I didn’t mind because her eyes always set me off into a trance. “Yep.”
She stopped walking, and I halted beside her. She turned to me with those large eyes and small features. She confided, “It’s kind of weird.”
I shrugged my shoulders nonchalantly, “I highly doubt it.”
She licked her lips before she continued, “You know horror is my favorite movie genre.”
I glanced at the sky and turned back to her. “Okay? Why are they your favorite?”
“You always know who the real monsters are.”
We then continued to walk to her house in silence. I helped her climb over a fence as she did for me earlier when I came by to ask if she wanted to watch a movie. We finally came to her house and strolled up to her porch. She turned to me and thanked me. She then went inside the house, the door barely ajar before I said something.
“What if I showed you one of my favorites tomorrow?”
She stopped abruptly and slid the door open. She squinted her eyes and declared, “It depends.”
“It’s a surprise feature.”
She smirked and nodded. She waited for me to step off the porch before shutting the door. I smiled to myself and shook my head as I sauntered my way home, wondering what she meant about “monsters.” I shoved my hands into my pockets and pushed the thoughts away, reassuring myself that it was an intimate metaphor I really shouldn’t analyze.
She knocked on my door the following Saturday night, and I would be lying if I said I truly believed she would come over that night. I was lost in perhaps the idea that maybe she wouldn’t attend because we barely knew one another. I mean, we had hung out multiple times, but we hadn’t been alone together in what seemed like forever, and for her to show up, it seemed like fate was taunting me to get to know her better—in the worse kind of sense.
Devin Sebold was definitely not naturally beautiful in the denotative sense—a strong brow, minute features, and bug-like eyes with blonde locks messily strewn down her back. She showed up in athletic shorts and a t-shirt, staring above at the porch light. However, despite all of these facets of the oddity before me, something ensnared me about her—something mysteriously feral and curious.
I flung open the door excitedly, not expecting her to be on the porch, and she jumped. “Oh God, I’m sorry! Did I hit you?”
She stuttered to answer and then finally murmured, “No.” Her eyes fell over my shoulder, and she took a step off the porch. She shook her head and turned back to the street and began strolling into the horizon.
I quickly shuffled down the porch steps after her. “Why are you leaving?”
She did not even turn to look at me as she spoke as if she was speaking to the audience of the stars and clouds instead of just a human being. “I thought Brody and Lily would be here.”
“I know that. Why are you leaving?”
“Wouldn’t I be intruding? I mean, you’re Lily’s boyfriend.”
I halted in my gait and furrowed my brow. I flailed my arms as I tried to grasp her point. “Look, I’m not Lily’s property. I’m a human being, too.”
She turned to me finally and cocked a brow. “You didn’t tell her about this, did you?”
I paused for a moment and nodded a little bit. “Well, she’d kind of lose her religion if she knew I was hanging out with you.”
Devin smirked and noted, “’Cuz I’m a girl?”
“Uh, no, because you’re you.”
She nodded her head and then continued her hurried gait.
“Wait a second! Where are you going?”
“I’m not in the business of stealing boyfriends, Mr. Mortis.”
“Oh, come on, this is between friends; I promise I’m not trying to seduce you or anything like that.”
She stopped and pivoted on her heels one last time. She knitted her fingers together behind her back mischievously. She folded her brow with an accusatory expression carved into her features. “You’re not?”
I shrugged innocently. “No.”
She grinned from ear to ear. “That’s wonderful news! What are we watching?”
I smiled and locked arms with her, escorting her like I imagined they would in the era of the movie we would be viewing. I patted her hand and led her back to the house. My parents and sister were at yet another soccer tournament, so I did not feel it was necessary to warn them about the unexpected guest because I had a feeling they would be judgmental of my decision to hang out solely with just Devin. Because I expected myself to be guilty.
We nestled down in the family room in our normal seating areas, and I dimmed the lights. “You’re either really going to love this movie or really going to hate it.” I slipped the disc into the player and flicked off the lights. I blindly maneuvered back to the back of the room opposite of the blue glow of electricity.
She tilted her chin up as I slid past her to get back on the sofa. “Is it horror?”
“Then the latter.”
“Don’t get your hopes up.”
The introduction of the movie came upon the screen, and she quickly glanced at me over her shoulder, desperation hidden in her eyes. I cocked a brow with concern before she muttered, “The Great Gatsby, huh?”
She nodded her head languidly, as if she was computing the whole issue. Maybe she was just analyzing the situation—the matter of the situation, I don’t know. She turned back to the screen, hiding her features from me. I cuffed my shin in my hand as I leaned back into the couch, focusing more on her reaction than the excitement of absorbing Leonardo DiCaprio’s and Toby Maguire’s performances.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s world and Baz Luhrman’s creation sparkled across the screen with the glamour of the roaring 1920s exploding from each actor. Flappers and dapper men danced and twirled to the exuberant hum of alcohol, jittering away to the thrill of a booming economy and end of a war. Bright colors threatened to dissolve the magic of reality with the blues, reds, greens, and oranges ripping through the scenes. The Eyes of God watching over the city sent chills down my spine as the narrator continued to create the mood of love lost and regained and then lost forever. The love story of Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby fleeted as the movie continued until the dramatic end swirled and credits ensued. The room fell into blackness as the credits ended, a black screen echoing the last memorable quote from the book.
A deafening silence fell in the room, but I could feel a tension in my bones as I turned my gaze back to Devin. I smiled as I leaned forward against my knees to see her face, but I froze as I noticed her jaw slackened. She combed through her mane wildly with her nails and glared at the screen with glazed eyes. “Did you like it?” I murmured quietly.
She frantically faced me and climbed to her feet. She threw out her hands and stated, breathing heavily, “No, no, no. This movie is not alright. This whole thing is not alright!”
“Okay, I’ll make note of that for next time,” I joked.
“No, no, this was awful! This was awful!”
I shuddered as she began to pace across the room. Her eyes glowed in the darkness as she kept running her fingers through her hair. Her right foot turned in slightly as she walked, and I wondered how she must have injured it to walk like that. I began to wonder a lot of things about her. I knew she wasn’t stable, but this whole episode was just ludicrous. “Okay, you don’t like the movie. I’m sorry it offended you.”
She snapped, “It didn’t offend me.”
“Then why do you hate it so much?”
She violently spun around to face me. “Because they’re all monsters!” she roared. Tears reflected the dull light from the kitchen, streaming down her cheeks like tiny diamonds.
I could only just stare at her, baffled. I didn’t even know how to respond.
“All of them! All of them! Tom’s, Daisy’s, and Myrtle’s adultery—Gatsby’s illegal money—Daisy, you know. You knew all about this, yet you love it. How can you? All of them are monsters.”
“What about Nick Carraway? He’s a good guy in the movie.”
“No, no, he’s not! Ned, he let this all happen. A bystander is the worst kind of perpetrator because they could have done something. They could have ended this whole situation. He could have saved everyone, but he was too scared to confront them. He could have saved him.”
That Monday, I came to school timid and meek, terrified to come across Devin because I was fearing an awkward encounter after she was so frustrated with me. I rubbed the back of my neck as I stalked into Chemistry, and I kept my eyes glued to the floor. I flopped down in my chair, deflated and frustrated I could feel those blue globes on me.
I glanced over my shoulder, and, to my surprise, her eyes were glued to her desk. She turned the page of a book, her eyes dancing across her sclera as she imbibed the words ravenously. Curiosity piqued, I had to know what she was so enveloped in. “Yo, Dev!”
She turned her gaze to me and cocked a brow.
“What are you reading?”
She flipped up the front cover of the book and gave me a stiff smirk. The Great Gatsby sat cradled in her delicate hands as she turned back to the words and continued to devour them.
“Guess you liked it after all, you liar?”
She then made a rude hand gesture.