tw: substance usage
Wrecked with inebriation and dopamine, Jean steps at the mossy white picket fence. All the houses in the neighborhood looked identical. Beige painted walls and a white picket fence with a mediocre yard. Prompted to be like each other merely for the aesthetic.
Her eyes narrow at the freshly mowed lawn laced with peonies. In her dreams, it was full of weeds. It used to be full of weeds. And Jean finally figured out that she didn't have the potential to tend for a patch of grass. She can't cradle a single thing and at the very least try to care for it. Who could blame her? It was a tedious task that she couldn't waste time on. Though, it was Illisa who coaxed her to try to fix the issue with I love you's as some loose motivation.
Illisa probably doesn't care anymore. She has her lawn to tend to rather than persuade an ex-lover to keep it up for no payoff. And Jean was expecting it.
The clouds perched overhead, dark and molded into forms that barely anyone could make a shape out of, lining the sad sky. Jean stared above for a split second and swayed with the wind. She made out in the clouds a slim figure of a person, the face twisted with the endless exhaustion and burn-out of a gifted student. Jean named the strange character Michael and opened the gate.
A discolored garden gnome was rested on the doorstep. Its face was a pallid dolphin gray with weed killer stained teeth spread into a dopey grin. The gnome was in a yoga warrior pose, burning its chartreuse eyes into hers in resentment. Jean mustered a step towards the door and she rang the doorbell.
A drizzle of rain escapes the clouds from above, being released like dogs out of a house. Jean left her Prius a few blocks back. If the rain starts to pour harder, she'll be drenched by the time she stumbles into the front seat. And the clothes she was wearing now were the only clean ones in her apartment, the washing machine downstairs was broken, and she forgot to do her errands and... There was always an endless spree of problems that pushed her back to sleep naked in an agonizing position.
The splintered door opened and a girl of the same age as Jean stepped into view, with hair slightly lighter than Jean's chestnut brown. Her hands were entangled in a lighter, attempting to ignite the end of her roll-your-own cig. She finally met gazes with Jean and grinned. "Jean? What are you doing here?"
"You didn't get my text?"
"No?! Just come in, I just got off work."
Mack's living room had a very psychedelic 60s' vibe since Jean last remembered, looking nothing like how the outside of the house appeared. Posters of unsmiling women advertising pottery in brilliant colors made her mind voyage in circles like a child. Inappropriate scribblings and handmade candles carved in the shapes of body parts were scattered around the room. Books and magazines from the 60s littered the floor. Jean automatically assumed that the living room was designed from a Pinterest feed; it didn't feel authentic. But who does Jean think she is, feigning to know what authenticity is supposed to be?
She took a seat in one of the shocking pink cushions on the ground. It felt stiffer than it should've.
"Want one?" Mack said abruptly, collapsing onto the blankets draped on the carpeting. She held out an extra vivid red lighter and a cigarette. Jean politely declined and Mack lit her cig in a third attempt, inhaling to then exhale smoke swirls a few seconds later. The vapor laid thin sheets over the fluorescent lighting, moderately dimming the room.
Jean straightened. "You redesigned this whole place, better than I could." Her eyes rambled a bit until they stopped at the Shocking Blue record tucked under the couch. "It looks so different in here."
"Yeah! I had a three am epiphany or something around that. Like, I watched the first Freaky Friday with a fling - she was weirdly obsessed with this kinda stuff. It was like..destiny crazy." She coughed a bit before continuing. "I - I can't describe it but this is how everything came to be, y'know?" Mack sighed.
"Are you proud?"
"It was stupid, to be honest, but it adds some spice to life. Like revamping an entire room inspired by some person for that same someone to leave the next morning." She paused and continued with a snicker. "Forget that I put 'like,' that's exactly what happened." A careless swish of her hand for her cigarette to her mouth, and she rested stoic once more. Jean felt intimidated by the woman's poise, uncomfortably shifting in her spot.
"I want to get out of here. Go to Europe, maybe start completely new. Like a whole new thing." Jean's throat tightened at the thought of rejecting all the things she's known, but some part of her wouldn't mind getting away from everything that reminded her of Illisa. Maybe she'd go to Europe, in a place where her expectations will be over some more unsmiling models and weed.
"Shut up, you know I can't. I have to go to work tomorrow." That was the worst thing she could ever say.
Mack blew a puff of smoke into the air, molding into rings that faded into the ceiling. "Go to work somewhere else! You're always complaining about your jackass of a boss. It'll do you some good."
Her head is full of nonsense, but she's content with that. She doesn't mourn for anyone else but herself, which is oddly admirable.
Jean didn't have any response. She didn't take a moment to consider Mack's suggestion, nor to admire the strangely tasteful room that she was sitting in. Jean just sat there with the silence of a mouse, watching her friend smoke whatever the hell she offered to her.
"You can't just be living for . ." Mack sighed, concentrating at the vivid red wall as if the words she needed to look for were there. "I swear there's a moment where you need to . . leave." Her eyes returned to Jean's. Droopy.
You want me to leave? Jean thought. Then she said it.
Mack replied with nothing.
The fact that Jean didn't have the same ability to let go of everything and change without difficulty burned in her brain. It didn't matter the time frame for that thing to be completed, it just needed to be done for her to be satisfied.
Actually, she didn't really care. She just wanted someone else to approve of whatever shit she had created out of the few tiny artistic abilities she had.
There was a void in her heart. Completely nothing. She didn't feel happy. She was never truly happy with things. No one else persuaded her to make things perfect and nice and she was jealous of someone who did feel happy over random fucking shit - goddammit!
Jean threw caution to the wind and grabbed Mack's face just as she was going to take another puff. Mack's gaze widened in the split second but she still waited for it to happen. It was expected of Jean.
Jean scooted forward and pressed her lips against hers. The kiss was just as empty as her heart. She wished someone was more like her. Maybe her venom of compressed anger on how she had to deal with a broken laundry machine and dirty clothes, her jackass of a boss, how the love of her life left her because she wasn't good enough - she wanted to poison someone to be like her too. Maybe she wouldn't feel less alone. Maybe she wanted the weeds. Maybe Illisa was wrong. Or Illisa might've been the opposite. This didn't make sense. It doesn't make sense. It never will.
Jean pulled away after a few seconds, after realizing the chaos of her actions. Mack didn't seem startled, as if this happened to her on a daily. She pierced her eyes into Jean's and was silent. It was the worst type of confrontation.
Tears struck Jean's eyes like fire and she immediately stood up, holding the armrest of a neon couch, as if it would ground her. After gaining some composure, she bolted towards the door and shut it behind her on her way out.
Mack told herself she'd call Jean tomorrow and ask how she would be feeling then, but she knew she was lying to herself. Slightly taken aback, she inhales the smoke, positioning her shaky fingers around the cigarette. She chokes for a bit and gathers her own share of equanimity, before distracting herself by digging out the Shocking Blue record from under the couch.
The rain was now heavy, maybe Jean didn't hear it in the spur of the moment. The perfect lawns were now drenched and soppy. Jean watched, tears streaking her cheeks. She wanted to die and she wanted to escape and run away but stay here and everything's the same but she likes it and -
Michael was crying. Crying tears of anger, of regret, of sadness. Embarrassment.
Jean joined him.