She Sends Her Regards (an excerpt/work-in-progress)
Dark blue swirls around the sink in spiral s’s and leaning y’s. The clock reads 6:53pm. “Plastic Passion” fades in and out of sound’s grasp as Lucy dunks her head in and out of the lukewarm water. The faucet is starting to run cold.
How long have I been in here?
How long have I been rinsing and repeating?
How long have I been retracing the past four days?
How long have I been waiting for this final week of hell? Of High School?
Graduation day. They say this is where the story ends. Or begins. Don’t they? But who the fuck are “they”?
And here she is still. Hair dangling and dripping down pale skin, bare shoulders, eyes circled in black. Black as midnight. Or “black as death” as Lucy’s Mom is wont to say. But her cheeks are flushed. Red as a slice of cherry pie. The only shade competing with her newly cartoon-colored hair.
Steam surrounds the bathroom, takes it over, almost suffocating Lucy. Cloying. Confining. Blinding. The effect of it, mixing with the chemicals from the out of a box hair dye spins her mind into a dizzy, dreamlike haze. Lucy likes the way it feels. The way she can barely see herself in the mirror. She likes the look of herself this way. Foggy and hard to make out. It’s almost like starting out with squinted eyes. She’s in there somewhere, just behind the shadows and outlines. A blurred-out almost-stranger.
I think I like my life like this.
Out of focus.
He was supposed to call tonight. They had outfits to discuss, a sanity plea to collaborate on. He said he had things that needed to be said. Out loud. Sentences to set to music. They both know how to blend the two, how to weave together lyrics and language. It made sense to them. But underwater, Lucy can’t hear the phone ring. Or the phone not ringing. With the music she can pretend to drown, to drift away. She can block out the hallway rumors, just close her eyes and ignore it all. People like to talk about everything. Lies are so goddamn appealing.
No one knows us.
Lucy wants to wear his tee shirt tonight. The one with the fins painted on them from that night when they’d snuck back into the theater building after everyone had gone home. It helps to be teacher’s pet sometimes. All those good grades and mocking echoes, well, they’d granted them passage that night. Sitting backstage on the dusty floor together. The three of them together.
“Make me magic, Luce. Turn me into something beautiful, ” he’d sang.
And she had.
Paint on her hands, smeared streaks on her face. Glitter and make-up, enough to make Bowie proud. They tore up dressed to make wings. Pinned them to his flannel. Then they painted wings on Lucy’s jacket, and fins on the front of his grey tee shirt. They’d finished off two bottles of wine by then. Boones Farm. The kind that tasted like strawberry candy. They’d shared a few lines of speed, too. Falling together into that foggy haze, like how the bathroom feels now.
They’d become a tangle of arms and legs and lips.
They’d stopped being bodies. No. They were something else entirely. Unearthly beings intertwined.
“Boys Don’t Cry” played out of that tinny sounding double-cassette player. The Cure was always “theirs”.
She can’t hear any music now. No. Just scratches, then the sound of thick air. Silence always weighs too heavy on Lucy. Too laden with expectation and the unknown.
No one’s back yet. Her mother is out with friends. It will be hours until she returns if she comes home tonight at all. Yet as she opens the bathroom door Lucy swears she hears footsteps. She feels someone there. She can sense eyes landing on her, looking her up and down. As she runs towards her bedroom she swears she can feel hands where eyes had just been. The shallow knot of not being able to breathe lumps in her throat and her chest tightens just like her fists at her side, coiling up, ready. Lucy can feel the shock of the cold drips of water as they slip under the towel’s edge, snaking down the arch of her back, slowly. It feels like the fear that is coursing inside her. It feels like the trace of icy dread on her skin. It almost tickles. The taunting. The Terror.
There it is again.
Or is that me?
Am I still breathing?
Her bedroom seems miles away. The long hallway stretches out in front of her, seeming to grow further and further away, like in those Saturday morning cartoons. But she knows when the mallet hits she won’t get back again. No. Not this time.
If only he’d called.
Deep Sea by Sarah Joncas
“Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure