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stormie

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Chapter 1
« On: July 26, 2017, 11:28:24 AM »
should i go in? it’s been an hour
i’ll give a fake name and i’ll hang in the emergency room
they say the good thing about plastic flowers
is you can spray them with any type of perfume


-- the front bottoms, “plastic flowers”


This is the world the way you like it: cross legged on the floor of someone else’s shower, your eyes closed, Phasma’s large hands gentle in your hair, your voice sharp as you detail the plan.

‘Tilt your head,’ she says, and nudges your right cheek; you comply to expose the left side of your scalp to her. You can feel her carefully part a fresh line through your hair, the tip of the dye bottle against your scalp, the small trickles of cool liquid. ‘So who are you going to use?’

Use. Well. It’s not inaccurate. ‘I haven’t decided yet. It’s not that easy to remember and run through everyone you know. I was going to have a look around at school.’

There’s a pause; you assume she nodded. You continue: ‘It can’t be someone who’s going to get me kicked out. I can’t afford that yet.’

‘You could move in here.’

You shrug. This is something she has offered before, from time to time, and while the idea of getting out of your house for good certainly appeals, the idea of relying on her grandparents’ mercy does not. You’re already over enough that it works out to the same thing without having to directly ask them to pay your cost of living. ‘I’m alright. It’s going to be alright.’

‘Mmm.’

‘But I do want to shatter their expectations as much as possible. I’m not quite sure how, yet. It’ll depend on what my options are. Maybe I’ll pick someone completely normal, just to throw them off. Except then I’d have to be around someone completely normal, and-’ You open your eyes for a moment for the express purpose of rolling them. The world is blurry without your contacts, light and soft between the cream-coloured bathroom and your peach-coloured friend. Both of you, long used to each other’s bodies, are stripped down to your underwear to avoid dyeing your clothes; you can still make out the jagged pink stretch marks on Phasma’s belly at this close distance. She laughs a little. You shut your eyes again.

‘You just need to pick someone that seems normal,’ she suggests.

‘Fair.’ You sigh. ‘If it didn’t have to be someone masculine presenting I’d pick you. That’d be perfect. The childhood best friends turned lovers-’

‘I know. I’d do it, too.’ She’d be good at it. You’re quiet for a while, chewing on your thoughts. ‘Tilt,’ she says, and nudges your left cheek.

‘You should help me pick,’ you say as you tilt your head accordingly. ‘You’re going to have to spend time with them, too.’

There’s another pause where you know she’s nodding agreement. ‘On Monday,’ she says. ‘We can just go through everyone we see.’

You almost nod, but stop yourself. ‘Alright. So. Criteria: one, we have to be able to stand them.’

‘Mmhmm. No punching your boyfriend in the face.’

You laugh. ‘That’d be a bit of a giveaway, yes,’ and she laughs too.

‘Two, they need to be someone my parents would find unexpected or off-putting, but not someone they’re going to threaten with a shotgun or throw me out over. Three, passably masculine, preferably male or already closeted, I’m not about to ask anyone to allow themselves to be misgendered if they weren’t going to do so already.’

‘Mmhmm.’

‘Four,’ you continue, ticking off on your fingers even with your eyes closed, ‘They have to not ask for anything outrageous in exchange. Five, they have to agree to it, obviously. Six,’ you restart your hand, ‘They have to be able to not slip on my name and pronouns, and in general act convincingly.’

‘I feel like four and five can be merged,’ she says. ‘Four, you have to come to a reasonable agreement.’

‘Good point. These can also be ordered better.’

She leaves a nod-pause. ‘I’ll write them down while you’re setting.’

‘Thank you. So, checklist order: one, masculine, two-- unexpected?’

‘That makes sense.’

‘Three, tolerable, four, convincing, five, they agree to it.’

‘Sounds good. We can run everyone through the list on Monday.’

‘Oh, six: they have to survive my parents.’

‘Between unexpected and tolerable.’

‘I was thinking between tolerable and convincing.’

‘Mmn. Merge it with convincing. “Can they deal with your parents.”’

‘That works.’

‘Great.’

This is standard procedure, for the two of you, and all your various schemes. This particular venture is a plot on a scale similar to that of you starting smoking a couple years ago: that is, likely longer term than you are currently thinking about, and with the potential for severe consequences further down the line. Even anticipating this, you’re going to do it anyway. At the very least boyfriends don’t come with a surgeon general’s warning, and high school relationships are notoriously fleeting.

It’ll be fine.

‘I’m gonna do your eyebrows now.’

‘Alright.’ You right your head, tilted up towards her voice. One of her large fingertips, careful, practiced, and warm through the plastic gloves, brushes across your forehead. You breathe through your nose, and for a moment are still and silent, and your world is darkness and gentleness and warmth.

‘There,’ she says, and the moment has passed. You open your eyes. She’s pulling off her gloves, turning them inside out, getting up from her kneeling position to throw them away. ‘It turned out super cool.’

You sit back in the shower. ‘I look forwards to seeing it. Can you set the timer?’

‘Yep.’ She perches on the toilet seat, phone in hand. The bathroom is small enough that she’s nearby and not blurred beyond all detail recognition. A cluster of blond hair has come loose of her ponytail and is falling in her face. She brushes it away just as you think about how it must be bothering her. ‘Okay,’ she says, and sets her phone down somewhere you can’t see from inside the shower but know to be the edge of the sink.

She lets out a puff of breath. ‘I’m gonna go get the notebook.’

‘Take your time.’

‘Nah, I got it.’ She leans forwards, gets to her feet again. The bathroom door creaks when she pulls it open. She shuts it behind herself. You both dumped your backpacks in the basement when you arrived, as usual, so she won’t have far to go. You’re right in thinking she’ll come back very soon; you’ve thought about little else by the time the door creaks open and clicks shut again. She holds the scheming notebook and a mechanical pencil in one hand. It’s a spiral notebook with plastic binding and a blue-green moonscape and several dumb stickers on the covers. It’s far run out of blank pages, but neither of you have suggested replacing it.

She pages through for a clear space to write and moves the paper clip you use as a bookmark to that page once she’s found it.

‘Okay,’ she says, and narrates as she writes: ‘One, masculine presenting. Two: parental shock value. Three--’

‘Wait,’ you cut her off. ‘Switch three and four. Do the things we can identify from a distance first.’

‘Right,’ she says, and nods. ‘That makes more sense. What was four again? Or, three, whatever. I forgot.’

‘Ability to deal with my parents.’

‘Right. Okay, four, likeable.’

‘They don’t have to be likeable, just tolerable.’

She shoots you a look. ‘If you don’t like them you’re going to be insufferable. And I won’t want to hang out with either of you.’

‘Fair.’

‘So four, likeable. Five, they agree.’

You nod, once, sharp. It feels as though you’ve just signed a contract. That’s inaccurate, you tell yourself. You’ve just drawn up a contract. Not even. The real contract will come later. But this is the first step, the plunge of your plot moving out of the realm of thought and discussion and into being physical fact. This is how it always is; that, along with organisation, is the purpose of the notebook. It’s how things get done.

‘So that’s done,’ she says, and looks at her handiwork a moment longer before closing the notebook. ‘Listen, are you sure this is a good idea?’

‘No,’ you say. ‘But I’m still doing it. Worst case scenario, I can always dump him. People date people for like, three weeks all the time in high school. Either that or everyone’s just pretending that’s a thing and in that case I’ll have played right into their facetious expectations and they’ll all be terrible but nothing more than mildly surprised. What do you think I should be worried about?’

She shrugs. ‘We don’t usually involve other people, is all. Not for this long.’

‘You think they’re going to give up the game?’

She shrugs again. ‘I think there’s a lot of factors we can’t account for. Whoever it’s gonna be, we’re going to have to trust them to some extent, and we’re not really gonna have a chance to get to see if they’re trustworthy. I don’t mean they’re going to screw you over,’ she quickly continues with an air of knowing exactly where your thoughts went, ‘I don’t think normal people do that all that often, but they could turn out to be a terrible liar, or kind of a dick, or panic and tell your parents something.’

‘I don’t plan to tell them more than they need to know.’

‘That’s still enough.’

She has, unfortunately, a point. You wish she’d brought this up before you went and finalized it in the scheming notebook. You shift your position to be leaning forwards; press your hands together and press them against your lips. This wouldn’t be the first one of your plans to be abandoned, though you really hate doing it. It always feels like an admission, of sorts, of a small handful of the things you hate about yourself: weakness, uncertainty, shyness, fear. You can feel it rise sleeping in your chest and beginning to claw at your throat. Fuck, you don’t want to think about this right now. You’re not a fucking coward.

‘We’re going to be bribing them,’ you remind her. ‘And it’ll only be for as much time as my parents need to see me with them. It’ll be okay.’

She gives you a look. ‘Stop that,’ you say. ‘I'm not going to change my mind.’

‘You only say things will be okay when you’re scared.’

She’s right, damn her.

‘You don’t have to do this.’

‘Yes, fuck, I do.’

‘You--’

‘No, shit, listen. If I have to listen one more time about how much of a shame it is that I act so boyish and I’m wasting my good looks and my good fucking breeding and no man will ever want me ever, I’m going to fucking kill myself. I will gouge the eyeballs of the next family member who gives my mother a look about me being single out with a rusty spoon. If someone so much as asks me if I have a boyfriend yet one more time I will literally fucking murder that person. I will stab them in the chest with the nearest sharp object even if that is my mother’s fucking fingernails, and it will be brutal and bloody and I will throw myself out of the police car while they’re trying to take me to jail and if I don’t splatter myself out on the highway I’ll have to run away to Canada and I’ll never get to see you again. I don’t care if it’s giving in, I don’t care if it’s fucking kowtowing to their expectations, it’s the easiest way to shut them up. I have to do this.’

‘I’m pretty sure police cars have criminal safety locks on the back doors,’ she says, ‘but okay.’

‘Besides,’ you add, ‘it can’t be worse than starting smoking. Or breaking into a convenience store at three in the morning.’

‘To be fair, I told you not to do both of those things.’

‘I’m just saying, even if they fuck up, I’ve fucked up worse.’

‘They could out you to your parents.’

You set your jaw. ‘Anyone could out me to my parents, Phasma. Half the school knows I'm trans, and it's only because of minimized exposure that it hasn't happened already.’

‘That's the thing. Exposure.’

‘Look, it's going to happen sooner or later,’ you snap, sick of doubt. ‘If this is how it happens, so be it.’ You say it with such finality that it once again feels as though you're signing something, perhaps this time your death sentence.

‘Okay,’ she says. ‘If you're sure.’

‘I am.’ You aren't, but you're sick to death of being afraid.

A silence settles on the pair of you, heavy with the feeling of chewing on thoughts. You aren’t actually thinking about anything in particular; your head is not in any particular state of storm or mess, but it is void of articulate thoughts at the moment. You wonder how much time is left before you get to see how your hair turned out. You’ve gone both fully black and with black tips in the past, not to mention all the combinations of black and cherry red, or the time you bleached your hair blond and then went green on the way back down, which worked really well with about half your aesthetic and really fucked with the rest of it. But you’ve never tried dyeing just your roots before, and you’re curious to see how it turned out. At least the most likely ways in which this could’ve fucked up will still result in it looking cool, and if worst comes to worst you can always hide it under more black hair dye.

‘So I’ve been thinking,’ Phasma says, and you look up. ‘I need to do something. I’m not sure what yet.’

‘What sort of something?’

‘I don’t know. I’m just reaching the point where I’m tired of everything. Even with you, I’m just doing the same thing over and over every day. I don’t have anything I’m doing anymore, I’m just helping you with stuff, which I don’t mind doing, but...’ She shrugs. ‘I just want to mix it up, you know?’

‘Of course. Are you thinking something more along the lines of a new hobby, or arson?’

‘Not arson.’

‘I know you’re not the arson type, I just meant along the lines of arson.’

She breathes the traces of a laugh. ‘Something in the middle, I guess? I have enough hobbies and I’m bored with all of them. I just need something I can go out and do.’

You nod, thinking. For the bulk of time you can remember her depression has waxed and waned in one long, grey note, like an organist died at their post and was never removed from a position slumped onto the keys. She wasn’t always this way, you can remember clearer than you can remember a time where fear didn’t make your stomach flip and your throat close up - vague memories of a childhood spent having meaningless fun, stalking others like gargoyles on the highest parts of playgrounds, making up stories where you conquered the universe, playing board games and dice games and feeling something other than disgust when presented with food. You don’t know when she started losing interest in everything around herself. The important part is it happened, and you know she’s slowly fading away to nothing, just as you’re burning up to a crisp.

‘It’s not that it’s getting worse,’ she says, eyes on her large, pink-capped knees. ‘It’s just compounding. I can’t take it anymore. I need something to be interested in.’

‘I’m trying to think of something.’

‘It doesn’t have to be immediately. We should get your boy figured out first, anyway. One thing at a time. But, y’know. It’s something to think about.’

You nod sharp. ‘I’ll let you know if anything occurs to me.’

‘Thanks.’

You dissolve into silence again. You’re trying to think what might be exciting, especially since Phasma’s idea of exciting is much less destructive and potentially dangerous than yours. She wants to do something. Go somewhere, perhaps? There’ve been times, before, where you’ve borrowed her grandparents’ car for a Saturday night and driven out past the suburbs to somewhere you can see at least a few stars, usually somewhere with a lot of cornfields, until you get tired of driving, and then fall asleep on the roof of the car and get mistaken for a couple by the passers by who wake you with offers of help in case you stalled out here, and after waving them away get breakfast at a small-town diner and call each other by fake names and actually pretend to be a couple this time, riff off each other to make up a story about two twenty-somethings driving west for family or a new beginning while you chat to the waitress, because you can both pass as older, especially when you dress like it-- and pretend to be these people, young but older than you and in the sort of love people expect when they see you as a boy and a girl. These are some of your fondest memories, and you’ve done it twice in different directions but wouldn’t mind at all doing it again. But, no, she wants to mix it up. Wants something new.

What haven’t you done before? You’ve done a lot, and the things Phasma hasn’t done with you were things she wouldn’t do anyway, or couldn’t by merit of not being you. You go on walks by the river, explore the paths along the steep-hilled woods and craggy shore, or trawl through town while she plays Pokemon Go and you make eye contact with every person you pass like you’re daring them to have a problem with you, an entirely different form of catching them all-- or more often than not hunker down here, in her grandparents’ basement, and find new things to watch that sound mildly interesting while talking about anything you can manage to think about and splitting homework assignments fifty-fifty. Or you’re working on your plans, as discussed, though those normally thread with more or less grace into the normal flow of your life. Take your current plan for example: you’re starting your search at school.

So what might be interesting to her? You could pick some far-off place and skip school for several days to go visit it. You read about an automata museum once, online, in Michigan or somewhere. Something like that, some inconsequential distant oddity that you can go to just for the sake of going to.

You’re about to voice this idea when the timer goes off. She reaches for her phone to shut it up. You stand up; you’ll tell her later.

You don’t need words for this next part even though she’s the one holding the instructions and you’re the one taking the actions; you’ve done it enough. You shut the shower door and pick up the detachable shower head, though you don’t bother to avoid getting your binder soaked through while you rinse your hair. You were going to have to change out of it at some point anyway. You get some water in your eyes, but you keep them open, fixed on the streams hitting the shower floor, waiting for them to run clear. Your eyebrows are a pain, but you shut your eyes for that part long enough that you don’t get dye in them, and the water blurring your vision is clear when you open them. You give your whole head another once-over to double check, scrub in the provided conditioner packet - it’s slippery from where it was sitting on the floor of the shower, little fucker - rinse again, and turn off the water.

Phasma’s old, ratty beach towel, which has only avoided the trash because you use it for this purpose, is waiting for you on the towel rack. You wipe your eyes with the cleanest corner and rub your hair dry as thoroughly as you have the patience for, which isn’t long, and go to look in the mirror, the towel draped over your shoulders. If you lean close enough over the sink you can see yourself in something approaching sharp detail.

‘You look great,’ Phasma says, and you agree. It came out exactly as you had intended: black at the roots, with a few occasional dark streaks. Your eyelashes betray your original hair colour, but that’s what mascara’s for, and otherwise it looks more or less like you have black hair dyed orange, rather than the other way around. Aside from the streaks, that is, but you really like the streaks. This is probably your best hair aesthetic yet.

‘My compliments to the stylist,’ you say, and she smiles.

‘You’re welcome. I’m gonna go get dressed,’ she says, and after a few moments gets up. You put your contacts back in.

‘Can I use the dryer?’ you call into the other room.

‘Yeah, totally.’

You leave the bathroom for the small, unfinished laundry room that separates your makeshift salon from the main basement. The cement floor is much cooler than the tile. You strip out of your wet underthings, wrestling for a few moments with your binder, and toss them in the dryer. You hate being naked for any longer than strictly necessary, though Phasma is the only person in the world you don’t mind seeing you like this. You hastily towel off your damp chest and wear the towel into the other room draped over your shoulders and pulled close with crossed hands, like a shock blanket. Phasma has vacated the basement, likely in pursuit of clothes. You go straight for your backpack and the spare underwear and pajama pants you shoved into the middle pocket this morning for this express purpose, and dress hastily, grateful as always for how much an undersized sports bra and today’s oversized t-shirt do for your silhouette. You have breasts, yeah. You don’t want to have to fucking look at them.

You retrieve your beloved trenchcoat from the arm of the sofa and drape it over your shoulders in place of the towel, combating the chill of the basement. It’s a really good coat, dark grey bordering on black, a thrift store find. It’s a little big on you, which makes you look bigger since you pad the shoulders, and is made of this really nice heavy canvas, so it’s warm, swishes well, and in all honesty has a very comforting weight to it. It’s a good coat to live your life in. You flop down on the sofa. You want a smoke.

A door creaks open and you can hear Phasma thundering down the stairs. She’s wearing her Star Trek pajama pants. She comes and sits next to you on the sofa; puffs out a sigh. ‘So what do you wanna do next.’

‘I don’t know,’ you say. ‘Put in a movie? I was going to go have a smoke.’ Out of respect for Phasma’s grandparents and the fact that they continue to provide you with food and shelter you don’t do it in the house.

‘I’ll sit with you.’

‘Alright.’ You get up, and she follows you up the stairs and out to the back door. Phasma lives in a duplex, and the backyard is shared between the two units. It’s beautiful out here, thanks to her nanna’s and the neighbours’ love of gardening. The cement back steps and sidewalk give way to a brick path through massive amounts of green. There’s a pond and firepit off to the left side, and a small patio bordered by shrubbery to the right. This time of year all are filled with small yellow leaves. The sky is a dim wall of clouds. It’s chilly in the autumn evening, and you hunch into your coat and pull it closer around your shoulders. Phasma, as ever, is unbothered by the cold.

You sit in silence for a bit, as you go through the rote of drawing your cigarettes from your coat pocket, slotting one between your teeth, fidgeting with your gas station lighter, exhaling into the crisp air. You can feel anxiety leaving your body as easy as the smoke, verging into physical sensation as the bowstring of your shoulders loosens. Phasma is examining her large, square hands.

‘I wanna paint my nails tonight,’ she says.

‘Mmn.’ You look at your own, and the remaining chips of black paint from a couple weeks ago. ‘I will too, I think. Do you want to watch a movie?’

‘Yeah. What?’

‘I don’t know.’ The thought occurs to you to take pictures of your new hair colour, for posterity if nothing else. You pull your phone from your coat pocket and take three or four selfies. You’ll look better with mascara on, you think. Phasma leans over and deadface-photobombs the last one. You notice but take the picture as if you hadn’t. You have a new text. It’s from one of your parents, it’s got to be, no-one besides them and Phasma ever contacts you. You put your phone back in your pocket.

‘I got some new things from the library.’

‘Alright.’

She sits back on her hands and lets out a long sigh. You look at her. ‘Do you ever think we might be screwed?’ she says. It’s not really a question. ‘Future-wise, I mean.’

‘All the time,’ you say, and exhale a stream of smoke. ‘We’re not going anywhere. I’m not going anywhere. You probably could, if you still wanted to.’

She shrugs. ‘I don’t know. I don’t know what I’d do. I don’t know what I’m going to do.’

‘You’re not going to college, then?’

The question hovers heavy between you for a moment.

‘Not paleontology?’ You know the answer, but you haven’t talked about it in so long, you want to hear it from her.

‘No. I don’t know. I feel like-- I could see myself doing that, but it’s not really me, when I think about it. It’s an alternate me that split off around eighth grade. And she’s really successful and really enjoying it, but-- I’m not her. It just doesn’t matter to me anymore. I don’t know if there’s any career I could take that would matter.’

‘So do what I’m doing. Pick for ease, pick for money.’

‘Yeah. I suppose. It’s just-- is this all there is? We’re just gonna graduate and then go make money and come home and sleep and do it all over again?’

‘I know it’s pointless. I know it’s--’ you hiss out the last letter and sigh, knowing the usual reasoning the two of you share won’t be enough for you either, now. At least we’ll have each other. At least we’ll have little things we enjoy. Once we have enough money, we can have big things, too. The weight of the future presses down on your mind, heavy and painful. You pinch the bridge of your nose. ‘I know we need something more.’

She hums flatly, and sits back up. ‘I don’t have the energy for anything more. I really want it, though.’

You nod. You have the daily energy her depression denies her - too much of it, almost - but that alone won’t get you far. This isn’t what she was talking about back in the bathroom: close, but across the scale of your whole lives, and it’s always hung over your heads like an approaching storm: you will never be satisfied. The two of you were meant for something more, something greater, but something fictional and elusive, that you’re only able to glimpse in the corners of ambitious daydreams. You will live, you will die, the world will turn to dust, and nothing you do before it does will matter in the way you want it to; matter to you and no-one else. You have no grand plans of conquering the world, of achieving fame and glory, of building a monument or burning one to the ground. You just want to grasp the concept of something you would feel happy achieving, and that’s why you do what you do on a day to day basis: satiating passing whims on the off chance you glean a glimpse of some greater satisfaction with the idea of your life.

‘I know,’ you say. ‘I know.’ Take a long drag of your cigarette. Try to think of what is rather than the unknowable thing you might someday wish was. Maybe once you’ve finished with your nails you can pull up something terrible and MST3k it, which you end up doing with a lot of things anyway, or walk around in the dark hunting Pokemon and talking about whatever, though it does look like it might rain. You might even be able to sleep, later. What a thought.

You lean back til you’re lying against the cement and stare up at the solid soup of clouds. It’s like a ceiling: far, far away, but if you go far enough you’ll eventually hit it. You just wish you could-- escape. From all of this. From the responsibility of finding a life that suits you. You wish you could drive away, and that would be it: a whole life of your weekend road trips, of taking up new names and identities and speaking them like truth. Of staying up late and looking at the stars. It’s not as if you don’t have anything reasonable to run from. And actually--

‘New plan,’ you say. ‘We’ll buy a trailer and live in it, and drive all over the place. We can make money doing odd jobs. Whenever we get bored, we’ll just go somewhere else. It’ll be like our road trips. We can pretend to be other people whenever we feel like it, because no-one will be able to tell us otherwise. We’ll never have to settle down.’ A bit of ash falls on your t shirt. You brush it off.

‘I really like that,’ she says, turning to look at you. ‘Let’s do it.’

‘Great. I’ll get certified in as many construction trades we can afford so I can keep finding work, and I’ll steal the money for the trailer from my parents before we ride off into the sunset.’

She laughs in a soft heh. ‘I’ll lie when the cops come looking, promise.’

‘I’ll have changed my legal name and gender by that point. We won’t be staying in the same place for long enough for anyone to recognise me.’

‘You’ll get us run out of so many towns.’

‘I will. We’ll live like an old west comedy.’

She laughs for real this time, smiling down at you, leaning back on one hand. She’s beautiful, it strikes you as you look up at her, as it does occasionally, and you are very lucky and if you were in love you would be very much in love, and as it is you love her anyway. ‘I’ll try jobs out til I find something that sticks,’ she says. ‘I’ll be a cook in a diner, or a gardener for rich people, or a receptionist, or a babysitter, or a garbageman. Garbagewoman. My resume will be so impressive. I can just do that forever, because anyone will want me to do anything, cause I’ll have done all of it. Ugh, that wording sucks.’

‘I know what you mean.’

She brushes some hair out of her face, tucks it behind her ear. ‘I can have pet rats, you can have potted plants. We’ll fill the whole RV with potted plants.’

‘Herbs. We’ll have fresh basil and rosemary and mint right in the kitchen. And strawberries.’

‘We’ll have one of those upside down hydroponic setups, to save space.’

You nod, and extinguish the stub of your cigarette on your palm. ‘We can keep them on the wall, or under the cabinets, or something.’

‘Cabinets. That way we have something to build the system into,’ she says while you sit up and stretch. Your coat falls off your shoulders. You pick it up and shrug it back on.

‘There’ll be no landlord to deal with, either. Well. We’ll have to park somewhere, I suppose, but the living space will be our own.’

‘I’ll paint all the walls. And we won’t have to have any carpet.’

‘Oh my god, we have to do this now.’

She laughs. ‘Wanna go in? I’m hungry.’

‘Okay.’ You stand. She braces on the railing to get to her feet.

‘Do you want anything?’

‘Ugh. I should.’ The kitchen is warm and bright compared to the outdoors. You run a hand through your hair and go to throw away your cigarette butt in the trash can.

‘Yeah, you should. Ramen okay?’

You nod. It doesn’t sound odious, which is about as close as you can get at times like these. You watch her as she gets a pot down from the pot rack and fills it with water. ‘I assume I can have your flavour packet?’

‘Yes.’

‘Sweet.’ The stove makes a clicking noise as it lights; the flames blaze up blue. You watch it with dull interest. She sets the stove timer to fifteen minutes in a series of shrill beeps and retrieves the unholy combination of ramen flavours she’s interested in tonight from the cupboard. You both stand in silence for a few moments, unsure, as ever, how to proceed.

After a moment Phasma asks, ‘Tage, have you considered... actually dating someone?’

Beat. You wet your lips. ‘Yes,’ you say, and it's not a lie. ‘But high school boys are boorish and that is way too much of a time commitment.’

She's already smiling when you look at her, a laugh just waiting to burst from behind her lips, and you laugh too because you have to admit you see the joke, that you're ridiculous and awful and have always been ridiculous and awful and always will be, too: the two of you, laughing together now, encouraged by the other in an endless cycle. Those stupid giggle-snorts of hers, your own laugh both light and raucous.

Yes, you think, it's going to be okay.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 08:46:42 AM by stormie »
heavenly bodies make the devil a little uncomfortable

Lynet

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Re: Chapter 1
« Reply #1 On: July 27, 2017, 03:01:29 PM »
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You nod, thinking. For the bulk of time you can remember her depression has waxed and waned in one long, grey note, like an organist died at their post and was never removed from a position slumped onto the keys.

and

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...the solid soup of clouds. It’s like a ceiling: far, far away, but if you go far enough you’ll eventually hit it. You just wish you could-- escape. From all of this. From the responsibility of finding a life that suits you.

Fantastic imagery that so well conveys what these two are feeling. Wonderful. I'm looking forward to Chapter 2. :)
Be polite, or I may put you in a book and kill you.

Young at heart, old everywhere else.

Not doing things is my new superpower. I’m not doing an infinite number of things as we speak.

Mirelly

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Re: Chapter 1
« Reply #2 On: July 29, 2017, 09:16:48 AM »
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You nod, thinking. For the bulk of time you can remember her depression has waxed and waned in one long, grey note, like an organist died at their post and was never removed from a position slumped onto the keys.

and

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...the solid soup of clouds. It’s like a ceiling: far, far away, but if you go far enough you’ll eventually hit it. You just wish you could-- escape. From all of this. From the responsibility of finding a life that suits you.

Stormie!
Forgive me reading on a tablet (kindle). I saw Lynet's picks and I had to read for myself. I saw so many other incredible and incisive metaphors. I can't speak for your ability to construct a yarn (although it looks pretty good to me, so far) but the combination of raw honesty and metaphor -- frankly -- masquerading as allegory in your writing is startling to see. Surely, you're in your mid forties and have a long, hard, and troubled life behind you!
Sorry, but I can't get over the aptness of that dead organist; perhaps you just pricked a particularly sensitive nerve, but I don't think so. That "one" surpasses metaphor -- and allegory; it's fucking amazing poetry!
I am NOT worthy ....
"Physics is like sex. Sure it may give you practical results, but that's not why we do it"
R. Feynman

Surprised_by_Witches

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Re: Chapter 1
« Reply #3 On: July 29, 2017, 03:32:14 PM »
Long overdue. The only thing I don't like about your writing is it makes mine look bad by comparison. Your use of metaphor is amazing, as are your descriptions.

I was right here with them:

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One of her large fingertips, careful, practiced, and warm through the plastic gloves, brushes across your forehead. You breathe through your nose, and for a moment are still and silent, and your world is darkness and gentleness and warmth.

Really good picture of the narrator forms here:

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She shoots you a look. ‘If you don’t like them you’re going to be insufferable. And I won’t want to hang out with either of you.'

And yes, I know I know him but even if I didn't . . .

This made me laugh.

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‘I’m pretty sure police cars have criminal safety locks on the back doors,’ she says, ‘but okay.’

I love their trailer fantasy. I'd go!

This is so good. I look forward to where you take it next.

Mirelly

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Re: Chapter 1
« Reply #4 On: July 30, 2017, 11:08:29 AM »
The only thing I don't like about your writing is it makes mine look bad by comparison.
LOL, SB. But you shouldn't give up the "day job" yet. Stormie has an amazing talent but I still admire your skill with dialogue. The child can still learn from the parent ....
"Physics is like sex. Sure it may give you practical results, but that's not why we do it"
R. Feynman

Surprised_by_Witches

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Re: Chapter 1
« Reply #5 On: July 30, 2017, 02:19:06 PM »
Thank you! I realize I may have fished for that but I'll take it. I do enjoy writing dialogue.  :*

Mirelly

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Re: Chapter 1
« Reply #6 On: July 31, 2017, 04:16:26 AM »
Trust me. It never occurred to me that you were fishing. I saw parental pride expressed with a soupcon of schadenfreude.  :halo:
"Physics is like sex. Sure it may give you practical results, but that's not why we do it"
R. Feynman

stormie

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Re: Chapter 1
« Reply #7 On: August 01, 2017, 11:08:12 AM »
Thank you all so much!! I'm so glad you guys enjoyed it c: Really looking forwards to sharing more with you.
heavenly bodies make the devil a little uncomfortable