Keep Art Alive :: “Star Girl” :: Art by Christopher Mitten
“Oh, my nuclear baby,
oh, my idiot trance;
All my idiot questions,
let’s face the music and dance.”
Rae liked three things about the desert, the way that you could see every, single, god-damned star in the sky at night, like everyone, like her front yard was a fucking observatory. She liked the way Aunt Jo would let her paint the tiny people who would go on to live inside the plastic globes full of shake-it-up snow that she would sell as souvenirs (though honestly, was there ever any snow in this hell-hot desert?). Oh, and Rae liked Laney.
Rae liked the way Laney dressed, like some crazy mix of Joan Jett and a 1940’s gangster Moll. Laney played punk rock records on an actual record player she sent away for in the mail and she had a map of the world taped to her bedroom wall full of colored thumb tacks that marked the spots she was going to go after graduation. Laney had a boyfriend with a guitar and a grey streak in his hair. They played in a band together with two other guys who did not go to school anymore. Laney had a cluster of stars tattooed down her left arm; they swirled into an “S” shape until they looped around her wrist like a bracelet.
Laney was like a cluster of stars.
Laney was older, two years ahead, and Rae had really only met her because of Jack. Jack who was Rae’s age, in the same History and English classes, and Jack, who was on the fast track to being her best friend.
So, I guess Rae liked four things then, she surmised. Rae liked Jack a lot. They both loved comic books and those ridiculous Fast and the Furious movies, scary ghost stories, cold cookie dough and 90’s Brit Pop. He was great, really, he was, but she liked Laney differently.
Rae liked Laney in that alone in her room with her hand slipped between her legs, eyes fluttered shut and wishing thoughts kind of way. She liked Laney in the breath caught in the back of her throat when Laney ever looked her way kind of way. Laney set off nuclear powered explosions in Rae’s insides whenever she stopped in to the gas station to buy a pack of Marlboro Reds.
Rae had never felt this way about anyone before, and she wasn’t sure what it all meant, that Laney was a girl, that she was her best friend’s sister, that she was completely out of her fucking league. Laney was like one of those observatory stars in the dark night sky, but Rae, she was dusty and dark and grey, and so utterly forgettable. She had no business liking a star girl like her.