Cheyenne didn’t know why, but she always felt cut off from the popular crowd.
Sure she was pretty enough, that wasn’t it. Her mixed ancestry of Thai and Native American guaranteed her high cheek bones, and smooth olive skin. Her piercing hazel eyes and radiant smile made her irresistible. In fact, it was arguable that she was among the prettiest young women at UCLA.
But no matter how much she tried it never seemed to be enough. Whether it was binging the latest shows that were all the buzz on Netflix, or the other streaming giants, or buying the latest Starbucks concoction, she still never seemed to be able to fit in.
She tried her fair share of all the latest fads… Jiu Jitsu, surfing and ceremonial magic. But their followers, rules and gatekeepers seemed to change every other month, as the majority of people got bored and moved on. She always seemed to be just behind the curve of the latest trends.
She kept up on the latest music releases and followed all the top charts. Even allowing herself to dive into the underground of genres she didn’t even particularly like, just to be able to sound cool.
She changed her identity, sexual preference and gender identity at the drop of a hat. Not because she felt those things resounded with her deep down, but because she felt that when everyone else did it, they immediately appeared as trendsetters and were accepted, even applauded, for their diversity.
She championed any and all rights of anyone she felt persecuted, whether that be minorities, the homeless, the LGBTQ+ community, whomever. But as much as it felt good to help those people, she always felt like an outsider deep down inside.
She latched on to whatever diet was trending… Keto, Organic, Vegan, or anything. She was willing to sacrifice her happiness and sometimes health if it meant that she appeared to be having whatever it was the in-crowd was having. It wreaked havoc on her emotions that would fluctuate as much as her water retention.
She knew all the bouncers at all the clubs, and had al the secret passwords and handshakes. She knew what celebrities were going to be at which after-parties and which backstage doors would be open. But nonetheless, she always felt like an imposter.
Even when she rubbed elbows with people she felt were at the top of LA’s Hollywood Elitist chain, she never could get comfortable with them. She always choked midway through conversations, or hated the sound of her own voice as she tried to overcompensate mid-silliloqui just to sound cool. She was a poser to the max.
Her grandfather had once told her, before he died, that you have to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything. Never did she feel the wise words ring truer than they did now. That was exactly her problem. She was trying so hard to be what she thought everyone wanted her to be, that she never figured out what that actually was for herself.
The harder she thought about that, the more she hated her poor life choices up until that point. Instead of choosing skills that she could actually excel at, because she was passionate about them, she had wasted uncounted time, effort, and money chasing fluff hobbies that never amounted to anything. She definitely was a Jill of All Trades, master of none. Hell, even her major went from indecisive to Film, just because she thought it sounded cool. What the hell did she ever give a shit about cinema?
But tonight she had made up her mind. She was through being a fly-by-night fan of whatever the flavor of the week was. She never liked the Lakers (neither the Kobe or LeBron version) or the Dodgers and especially the Kings. She simply bought the merchandise to fit in, just like everyone else her age. She actually didn’t even like sports, if she was being honest with herself. She would start by throwing out all those clothes as soon as she got home.
She would pick a major for something she wanted to actually do. She would drink wine and eat red meat. She’d pour those disgusting bitter IPAs down the sink and start drinking PBRs again. She would stop spending every check on Ticketmaster for bands she had barely even listened too, and would start taking Uber ride shares instead of Black.
There was no need for her to go clubbing all the time. Forget the Sunset Strip, and even worse Vegas. She wasn’t looking for a relationship and she didn’t even drink that much. She could barely dance and she would much rather stay home and read a book and watch reruns of "Dark Shadows", a show only her grandmother’s generation could appreciate it. She would no longer be entrapped by "Game of Thrones", or "Breaking Bad" or "Squid Game" or whatever the hell she was supposed to watch next.
Forget about Magic Mountain, Disney, Universal and Knott's Berry farm. That was tourist shit, not Instagram fodder.
She was done.
And she would get rid of all her fake friends, and her meaningless social media accounts. What did she care if she had any followers? What would that ever get her in life? It’s not like they were going to pay her rent or help her graduate.
She would spend more time outdoors, and less time on-line. And not “hiking” at the trendy Runyon Canyon or Hollywood Reservoir, with a $75 JanSPort and a $40 water bottle, either… No. Like actual camping or kayaking with not a cellphone or wifi password in sight.
And she would be damned if she’d ever buy an overpriced ticket to the Hollywood Bowl or Coachella anymore. What a joke that was, and for what? You could barely hear the bands and the hot dogs were $16 dollars apiece.
She would never drink another Kombucha or almond milk ever again, and tofu was permanently off the menu. She was all for health, but she had grown up in Wisconsin. She liked cheese curds and greasy bratwurst. It was fine in moderation. And no more $8 pumpkin spice lattes. She didn’t need a selfie of every goddamned cup of coffee she drank.
Tonight was the night. As soon as this party was over at the former house of Mega DJ, Avicii, she was going to change everything. She was sipping her last glass of wine and saying goodbye to a group of people, she barely knew. The ones she did were as superficial as a botox filler.
She drunkenly stumbled down Blue Jay Way, smoking a menthol. She had always despised cigarette smoke, but this was the last trendy thing she would do. As the momentum of her body shifted her weight, the heel of her stiletto broke off, causing her to sprain her ankle badly.
She never saw the mountain lion stalking her, and by the time she had, she was too injured to run. It carried her up into the hills by the nape of her neck. The blood loss made her pass in an out of consciousness, only to awake again in the powerful jaws of the animal.
After an extensive search they finally found what was left of her body, nearly three days later. They were only a few uneaten parts left, like her $245 sneakers, remaining from the kill.
Her coffin was the only place she would ever end up actually fitting in.