American Contemporary People of Color

ok some quick notes

- there's a part 2 to this i just haven't written it yet. it kind of does a complete turnaround and i know where it's going i'm just too lazy to write it even though i want them all to be read in one sitting ahh

- this is not related to anythign but i'm bad with titles so i just went with the first thing that came to mind/is kind of a themeish in the story. but also it's the title of a song by addison grace and my favorites of theirs are actually 'overthink' and 'sugar rush' but she's an amazing artist anyways so go check them out :))

- none of this prolly makes any sense bc i'm listening to 'juice' (if you don't know who this is by please educate yourself) and i cant concentrate while listening to music but also i love lizzo too much to pause it so just deal with it

ok that's it enjoy the story lol

“Excuse me?” 

Ashton looked up from his fries. Someone was, for some reason, standing in front of his one-person table at a Wendy’s in Raleigh, holding a food tray with the inside of her elbow and balancing about a dozen other items on assorted places throughout her body. A lanyard, supporting keys and a wallet and tiny rubber charms, hung from her neck and bobbed against her chest; it looked as though a cloth headband or bandana was wrapped around her left lower calf; the top half of a bag of unopened Sour Skittles poked out from the front pocket of her denim shorts. 

Ashton quickly wiped his fingertips on a stray napkin, slightly miffed that someone had caught him in the shamefully solitary act of eating fast food. He swallowed quickly. “Yes?” 

“Can you name one member of Maroon 5 who isn’t Adam Levine?” 

Ashton blinked. “Um…” 

The girl shifted her food tray. 

“No, I can’t.” Can anyone? 

“Thanks--that’s all I needed to know. Neither can I.” She started walking towards the trash cans. A few moments later, she returned to her table, where she bent over to pick up something from the floor: A longboard, aggressively plastered with scratched stickers, which she held under her arm as she made her way to the door. Before the exit, the stranger turned to cast a glance behind her. 

Oh, she noticed I was looking. Now she’ll think I’m a predator. Great. 

The girl pivoted on her heel and in just a few seconds she was standing at Ashton’s table again. “Do you want to come with me?”

Ashton swallowed. “Sorry?”

“I noticed you were eating alone, and I don’t really think you look like a creep--absence of facial hair is a plus--so you’re probably lonely and don’t have any plans for the rest of the night. Want to join me? I’m going to go get ice cream, and I’m by myself too. Wanna come?”

Ashton’s brain did a little “!”. “Is this for real?”

The girl readjusted her longboard. “Do you want it to be?”

“I don’t know.” Ashton stared at the straw of his Diet Coke. “How come you’re alone?”

“All my friends are in school. They’re doing college things. I don’t like school, so I’m not. And I’m also lonely. What else were you going to do tonight?”


“Come with me, then. Yeah?” She grinned.

Ashton nodded a couple times. “Okay.” He laughed. “Okay, let me throw away my stuff.”

“Sure thing, bucko.” She did fingerguns with her free hand. “I’ll meet you outside.”

Ashton crumpled up his trash, tossed it in the can (along with a half-empty cup of Coke), and left Wendy’s. The woman was sitting outside, perched on the edge of a curb with her longboard in between her knees. She spotted Ashton’s hesitation and stood up. “You ready?”

“Um, I guess.”

“All righty, then. Let’s rock and roll, fam. I’m Lyric.” She paused--waiting for Ashton to introduce himself, he supposed.

“I’m Ash.”

“Coolio.” Lyric began walking, and Ashton trailed behind her. After a moment, Lyric glanced over her shoulder. “Come, now--if we’re to be friends, we should at least walk on the path together.” She made enticing motions in the air--the aerial equivalent, perhaps, of patting a couch cushion to encourage a dog to sit.

Ashton quickened his steps to walk to the right of Lyric, whose longboard was still under her arm. “Are you going to skate?” Ashton asked, gesturing, not knowing what else he could say.

“Ah, no. That’s what I’ve been doing the entire day. I actually took a curve too fast a couple hours ago. Look.” Lyric stopped walking to point down at her leg. A few fresh drops of blood glistened among a barely-dried scab on the wrinkly skin of her knee. “I also scraped my hands up pretty bad, but they’re not really stinging anymore, so it’s fine.” She resumed walking, skipping over a large crack in the sidewalk. “What are your hobbies?”

Ashton flushed. “Um, photography, I guess. Or swimming. I don’t really know--I’m still in school.”

“Oh, I’m not,” Lyric remarked amiably. “College is too smothering.”

Ashton tried to remember how one acts natural. “Do you have ‘hobbies’? Other than longboarding?”

“I’m not really sure,” Lyric said dismissively. “Fighting misogyny, I suppose. Are you a feminist?”

Does she think I’m stupid? “Um, no. I’m a man.” Ashton expected Lyric to become angry at him, or start lecturing about politics.

Instead, she remarked, “How disappointing. What do you like to photograph?”

Ashton blinked. “Um, people, I suppose. Like, portraits. Subjects.”

“Oh, really? Will you photograph me?” Lyric, at this point a few steps ahead of Ashton, stopped and spun around. She held her hands around the side of her face, as if framing it. “How do I look?”

While Ashton knew it wasn’t a serious question, he couldn’t help considering it. For the shortest amount of time possible, he studied the first good look he’d gotten of her face.

Her skin was dark--one of the deepest shades of brown Ashton had ever seen. As far as he could tell, she wasn’t wearing makeup, and her pores were quite visible. Her hair was black, with seemingly random streaks of blonde, brown, and perhaps even red scattered throughout the ends, the top half pulled back into a loose ponytail at the base of her neck, which sported assorted necklaces and a lanyard.

She winked at him. “Picture perfect?”

Ashton forced an ingenuine grin. “Of course.”

Lyric clicked her tongue. “I can tell when people are lying. And uncomfortable. Loosen up, Ash.” She laughed and turned to face forward again. “Come on. There’s ice cream on our horizons!”

Ashton cleared his throat.

“Pssh. Don’t act like I’m making you uncomfortable.” She tapped the tip of a blush-painted fingernail against the underside of her longboard. Her middle finger was the only one painted. A Spider-Man kids’ bandaid clung to the skin underneath her thumb. “Am I?” Still walking, she turned her neck to look at Ashton. “Remember, I’m a human lie detector.”

“Um, I’m only, like, a little bit weird-feeling--Lyric?”


“No, I was just--that’s kind of a strange name.”

“Oh, it isn’t real. I’m Chloe.”

Ashton frowned. “Why didn’t you tell me to call you that?”

“I don’t like it. I think it sounds like having mashed potatoes or spinach stuck in your braces while you’re talking to someone. Don’t you think? I think Lyric is much prettier. I think I’m pretty.” She shrugged. “You can call me whatever you want, I don’t care. But I prefer Lyric.”

As a matter of fact, Ashton preferred Lyric, too. 

They entered a wannabe strip mall’s overgrown parking lot, across from which was a whitewashed ice cream shack with a chipped wooden sign above it. “Our objectives are in sight!” Lyric announced, speeding up to cross the lot. Ashton matched her lengthened strides.

Soon enough, they were standing outside the old ice cream shop. A few wooden picnic tables were scattered, peeling, around the front. Lyric skipped up to the ordering window and pressed the top of a tarnished silver bell. “Browse the menu!” she encouraged, gesturing towards a chalkboard hanging on the outside wall nearby. She leaned her longboard against the side of the building.

Ashton glanced at the multicolored, barely legible chalk scribblings. Just then, an aproned man appeared behind the window. “Hey, Lyric,” he said in an indeterminate accent--maybe somewhere Central American? “Who’s this?”

Lyric opened her mouth, then turned to Ashton, wrinkling her nose. “I’m sorry, I forgot--what was your name?”

Ashton considered being offended, but decided against it. “I’m Ash.”

“This is Ash,” Lyric explained to the man. “Anyways, I’ll just have…” She clicked her tongue. “Three scoops of pink bubblegum. In a cone, of course.” She turned to Ashton. “And for you?”

“I’ll just take vanilla. In a cup. Please.” Ashton didn’t like making decisions. He also didn’t really like ice cream.

Lyric pouted. “Lame.” She unzipped the wallet clipped to her lanyard and pulled out a ten-dollar bill, setting it halfway between her and her employee friend. 

“I can pay--” Ashton began.

“Oh, ew. No, that’s awkward. Besides, they know me here. And they don’t take credit.” As the man picked up her money, Lyric added, “Keep the change.”

“Of course,” he responded, and went off into the building to scoop their ice cream.

Lyric grabbed her longboard, skipped a few steps over to a picnic table, and sat down. Ashton sat across from her, and before he had to try to come up with something to say, her phone rang.

Lyric set her longboard down on the bench beside her. “Hold on.” She pulled a phone out of her back pocket and held it to her ear. “Hello?” She moved from sitting normally to straddling the bench, facing her longboard, her left shoulder to Ashton. She watched the cars pass on the quiet road that ran by the strip mall while she listened to whatever the person on the other end of the line was saying.

Having nothing else to do, and liking to think of himself as a naturally observant person, Ashton studied Lyric’s clothes--after all, she wasn’t looking. Her back was slumped, despite the obvious importance of good posture. Ashton noted this. He also took in her ridiculously large jacket, perhaps long ago made of denim but now covered with so many patches, random stitches, odd buttons, flaps, out-of-place designs, and downright streaks of dirt that it had more more patterns and colors than the contents of an entire Salvation Army combined.

Lyric, still on the phone and still watching the road, made an “mhm” noise and drew one of her knees up to her chin. Ashton was tall, so he could see over the table to her side of the bench. Her leg was covered in scratches, aimless ink splotches from what would seem to be glitter colored pens, and here and there, a small, rectangular stripe of duct or scotch tape clinging to her dark skin. A few rubber bracelets, strips of beaded leather, and fuzzy pieces of string were laced around her ankle, some of them partially covered by her dusty white socks, which were shoved into worn cherry-red Converse. Lyric, still holding her phone against her cheek, continued making soft affirmative noises while she gently butted the edge of her longboard with her shoe’s toe.

“Okay,” she finally said, and hung up. She shifted her sitting position so she was once more facing Ashton. “That was my brother. Nothing important. Is our ice cream out yet?”

“Lyric!” the accented man called.

“Right on time.” She grinned. “Don’t worry about it, I’ll get them.” She stood up and, as promised, returned just a few seconds later with a cup and a cone. She slid Ashton’s ice cream across the table to him and bit into hers.

“Aren’t your teeth sensitive?”

“Yeah, it hurts like hell. But I don’t care, I like doing it.” She broke off a piece of the waffle cone with her fingers, then dipped it into the cotton-candy-colored ice cream like a tortilla chip into salsa. “Why’d you get vanilla? You some basic white boy or something?”

This time, Ashton took mild offense to the things Lyric said. “No,” he answered shortly. “I just--I don’t like decisions.”

“Ah, I see.” Lyric took another bite of her ice cream. “Wanna decide to start dating me?”

Ashton’s spoon froze midway to his mouth. “Um, what?”

“Is there something you don’t understand?” Lyric licked a speck of pink off her lips.

“No. That’s just very forward. And I’ve only very recently met you, and I think you’re too progressive, and I also think you’re not real.”

“Oh?” Lyric, invested in the consumption of her ice cream, was taking this all very lightly. “And why’s that?”

“You’re one of those tropes, like in movies. One of those girls who only exist in books. People like that aren’t real. They don’t have faults. And they don’t serve a purpose.”

“Hurtful.” Lyric bit a piece off of her cone. “What makes you think I’m perfect?”

“You’re not. You just think you’re one of those fantasy characters. You want to pretend you don’t have faults, and that makes it harder to fix them.” Ashton stabbed his plastic spoon into the slowly melting yellow ice cream. “This is what you get for inviting me to talk with you.”

Lyric frowned, chewing slowly. “Broski, of course I have faults. For example, I don’t have any money. I spend it all on stupid stuff I don’t need. Like candy. And flannel. That’s a fault. And I hate (like, hate) children and old people and I’m overly forward and I hardly ever shower and I don’t eat healthy enough--I’m actually overweight for my height category.” She swallowed. “I have a lot of faults, Ash. I’m not a character.”

“Okay,” he said resignedly, and pushed his ice cream cup away. “I’m done.”

“Fine, be that way, then.” Holding her cone in one hand, Lyric grabbed her phone from where it was resting on the table and unlocked it. “What’s your number?”

Ashton made a weird noise.

“Ugh. Men.” Lyric, with raised eyebrows, blinked at him several times. “What am I going to do, give your information to a Nigerian prince? Come on.” She waited.

Ashton sighed and told her. 

“Perfect,” she responded, putting it, with one hand, into her phone. “Do you want to do lazer tag after this?”

“No.” Ashton stood up and almost sneered at his ice cream on the table. “You can have the rest of that. Goodnight.”

“Okay, Mr. Grumpypants,” Lyric huffed. She was probably being sarcastic.

Still, Ashton turned his back and began walking the way they’d come, towards the Wendy’s. “If you hate children,” he called behind him, “why are you acting like one?”

There was no sound but that of Ashton’s shoes on the pavement as he left the girl with the two ice creams behind. Just when he supposed he’d hurt her feeling sufficiently enough to make her lose her desire to ever again get in contact with him, he heard, softly:

“So you remembered, then.”

May 29, 2021 01:08

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23:27 Jul 06, 2021

I'm hoping you'll see this- do you ever use nanowrimo? wondering if you are the same person I know. I think so. I know I'm using my school Chromebook, so it has a different name, but this is Calliope.


16:27 Jul 12, 2021

wait wait yes (as in coolio?) not as frequently as i used to and i bareeeeely come on this site anymore but nano!! yes!! i use it!! hello!!! it's inkk


02:33 Sep 14, 2021



13:29 Sep 20, 2021



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