[CW: Minor use of foul language]
I suppose I don’t really remember when I started being the way that I am. Or when I started being in general. Though I have many theories. Thoughts. Ideas…That I was brought here. By another being. Entity! Energy? Oh, energy. I miss having that. Now all I have are memories of energy.
Is your skin ever itchy? But, it’s not your skin. It’s more, underneath. Much deeper than your skin. Beyond your flesh. Fresh avocados! That’s what I needed to get today. What does one define as fresh though? When they’re hard, or when they’re soft? When they’re ripe! But not too ripe. They always get too ripe too quickly. Well, it takes forever. Not actually forever. But it feels like forever. And then they ripen ridiculously fast. Like, out of nowhere! Respectively, how tea is always way too hot to drink for way too long. So you let it “cool off”, but by the time you remember that you had poured yourself a cup, it’s ice cold! Speaking of, I could go for some caffeine right about now.
I’m buzzing and rambling to myself amidst the mundane routine of what is just another Thursday, when she walks in. The bell above the door serves a pointless purpose whenever she comes into the store, because I swear I can smell her perfume before she even enters. I immediately know that somebody is here, and that somebody is her, and her being here, is something that my body remembers.
Marly. Her name is Marly, and she has this beautiful blonde hair that pours from her scalp like a fountain of gold. We’ve actually grabbed coffee before. But, oof. That was months ago. And nothing ever came of it. And I’m pretty sure I was the last person to text her. Actually, I know I was. I have the messages saved on my phone.
My eyes discreetly follow her steps as she glides toward the essential oil aisle. I begin to creep in her direction. My hands are liars; they restock vitamins that are already on the shelf in their proper homes. I feel sheepish, as I am a 27 year old woman, searching for any pathetic excuse to prowl closer and closer to this Goddess of a humanoid.
I’m trying to pull inspiration from the colorfully decorated boxes and bottles in front of me. Come on, come on. There’s gotta be a conversation starter here somewhere! Achy joints? Turmeric will change your life! Two. Turmeric. Tum. Rick. Rail. Rail me! Ope. No. That’s not it. Urinary Tract health is mighty important, you should try these rare herbs from Bulgaria! Wait a minute…am I selling this girl shit or am I trying to ask her out?! Is this how I flirt now?
Like a ping pong match inside of my brain, my multiple selves are bambling and babbling a mile a minute, seeking a clever and silky way to approach her. My gaze of the lovely girl is interrupted when I feel two hands drape themselves over my shoulders. I spastically whip my head around, jolting my arms up into the air in the same way a praying-mantis does when entering combat.
“God damnit, Spence! You scared the shit out of me.”
She bellows a deep and honest laugh in response; “Sorry, Nessa! Maybe if you laid off the caffeine, you wouldn’t be such a spazz!”
I shoo her away while pursing my lips and rolling my eyes. Which we both know is my own special way of saying, “Yeah…you probably right.” I lock my hip to the right, putting my fist into the nook of my waist, peer closely into Spencer’s eyes, and say with a faux attitude, “Yanno…missy…you are late!” She smiles devilishly, lines her nose up to mine and whispers, “Hmph. I suggest you take it up with management then.” I playfully push her away, scoff, and say, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll just dock your pay for the day, or whatever.”
She raises her eyebrows, smiles, and suggests, “Yes, yes, you could do that, or, you could just let me buy the beer for tomorrow; no cheap shit either. I’m talking, like, craft level. Which, like, honestly, a twelve-pack of anything not PBR probably equates to even more than what I make in a day here. So I deem that as reasonable punishment.”
“Beer for what?!”, I ask.
Spencer wears an apprehensive expression and her hands begin to fidget.
“For uh, Tammy’s going away party. Remember? Don’t you…r-remember? I mentioned it last week and you, uh, you said you’d probably go. And I was wondering if you, yanno, uhm. Would…would you?”
“Would I what? Go? Oh, hmph, yeah I guess I could!”
She stands there for a moment making anxious movements with her lips, but before I can even consider connecting her body language to anything more significant, I gasp, and exclaim, “Hey!! I should ask Marly if she wants to go!”
“What, oh? Would that be totally weird?”
“N-no, I just..”
“She’s probably seeing someone, no, that’d be weird. We haven’t talked in forever. That’s too forward.”
“Or maybe she would just say yes, I mean, it was really nice when we got coffee, and I could just ask casually, yanno? Not like, make it seem like a date?”
“Yeah, I mean”
“No, yanno what? Fuck it. I’m gunna ask her as a date. I’m not gunna sell myself short. I deserve a date. Well, not like, in an asshole, gimme that type of attitude, I just mean like, that I deserve to have the confidence to just ask her.”
Spencer shrugs her shoulders, smiles, and in a reticent tone, just simply says, “Yep. Go for it!”
I pull her in for a hug, in which she doesn’t respond to (for some reason?! She’s being a weirdo right now. I’ve gotta talk to her later about that), and I bolt over to the cashier’s counter, reserving my spot for when Marly comes to checkout. About 10 minutes later she walks up, hands overflowing with an assortment of what is essentially “spiritual” and “hippie-dippie” chachki disguised as “organic” and “holistic” remedies. Dandelion coffee grounds, tea-tree oil, multivitamin drops, and a box of frozen macaroni and cheese free of gluten and dairy.
I begin ringing her items up, and say, “Yanno, this dandelion coffee kicks ass with our honey and lavender infused oat milk.” I lie. I’ve never had this coffee before. And I’m pretty sure we’ve not been able to get oat milk from our distributor in weeks. Also, that specific product doesn’t even exist. Her eyes lighten, “Shut up. That sounds amazing. What aisle is it in?”
“Oh, well, I…hmph…we have to special order it. It uhm, it’s seasonal. So.”
What am I saying? What?
“Damn. You’ll have to let me know the next time you guys order it then! I’d love to try it.”
I shoot my fingers towards her and say, “Oh you got it. I’ll just send you a message!”
“Message? Are we friends on Facebook?”
“Oh no, I meant like, a text message.”
“Do you want my number then?”
I squint my eyes and puff in a ball of air before I respond, “No, I…I already have your number, actually. We, the…we got…We had coffee.”
She slaps her forehead, igniting an embarrassed expression. “I. Am. Such. An ass! I’m so sorry, yes, yes. I absolutely remember that. Yes. That was fun! We never really hung out after that, huh? I’ve just been so busy. I feel like I can’t remember anything these days.”
I told her that it was okay. I told her that I understood. And though my pride was slightly punctured, I asked her out anyway. And she said YES!
By the end of the day, I am bouncing off the walls. (Could be from serotonin, could also be from the six cups of coffee I’ve had today; who knows!?) I’m feeling so elated, that as soon as the time strikes 9 o’clock, I close the drawer and lock up. I can come in early Monday morning and do the shift report. I essentially push Spencer out the door. She seems perturbed.
“Don’t even worry about it, Spence. I’m coming in early on Monday to finish up my stuff. I'll sweep the store then too.” At this point I’m already walking backwards (skipping merrily) across the parking lot, while I start to raise my voice from across the street, “Enjoy an early night off, and I’ll see you tomorrow at the party!”
She tightly pushes her lips together, the left side of her mouth slightly curling upwards, and silently waves goodbye from the outside of the store.
I’m awakened the next day by the kiss of morning sun. It’s Friday, and I’m in…no, that’d be way too cliché to finish that sentence. But, it is Friday, and I’m terrified. I’m also excited! And I'm quite nervous. Very happy. Mostly though, I think I might throw up.
I send Marly a text, verifying our evening plans. She responds immediately. Eek! I shoot Spencer a message as well. She doesn’t reply. Weird. I decide to buy new jeans and some booze for tonight. Dark blue jeans? Red wine? Black jeans? Beer? A dress?! Tequila?! Perhaps just some Michs and a pair of shorts that I already own. Stop overthinking.
I choose to leave for the party slightly late. Yanno, like a cool person would. Just kidding. I’m held up in the bathroom against my will, clogging my toilet up with butterflies. It’s 10 o’clock right now. Last I heard from Marly was at 6:30. Party started around 9.
I wonder if she’s nervous too. I debate with myself if she made a last minute decision to revamp her wardrobe for this date. Or if she’s struggling to decide what type of wine she thinks I’d like. Her last response to me was, “Can’t wait!”. Mine was, “Looking forward to tonight :)”
Should I not have sent the smiley face? Was that overbearing? Oh my God. Stop. You’re overthinking again. We agreed to meet at the party. Stop stressing yourself out. Did I send her the address?! I did. She’s got it.
I feel bad, realizing that she most likely doesn’t know any of the people who are going to the party. Ugh. I’m such a dick! I mean, she probably remembers Tammy. She also works with Spence and I. Well, used to. She’s recently accepted a job across the country. Something about coaching? I’m not really sure. I should probably pay closer attention to people.
I call Marly, anticipating that she’s most likely awkwardly standing outside of her car, waiting for me. No answer. Hmph. Maybe she’s inside already? Music is too loud. She can’t hear her phone. I pull up to Tammy’s house. I look amongst the sea of cars that sail along the right side of the street. I can’t remember what kind of car she drives. I also definitely don’t see Spencer’s car parked anywhere.
Should I wait here? I call her again. It’s after 10:30 now. No answer again. I shoot her a text. “I’m here!” Relax. I stand outside of my car for a bit, awaiting her arrival. I bide my time by drinking (chugging) a beer. And another one. And another. It’s 11 o’clock now. I’ve dizzied myself in a matter of 25 minutes. Mentally, my nerves have slightly settled. Physically though, my stomach and limbs have not forgotten.
My legs shake as I grab the remaining beer and head inside. I enter and greet everyone with a boisterous and flamboyant squeal. For a moment I forget that I’m being stood up. I can taste the smell of booze throughout the air. Maybe it’s me. I inhale a fourth beer. And another. And another. I’ve sent Marly two more texts by the time midnight rolls around.
I find an empty bedroom and retire there for the evening, knocking out another three beers. The nausea has returned, for a multitude of reasons now. I tumble off the bed when I go to reach for another Mich, my body slopping onto the floor. I start laughing. Laughing hard. The type of laugh that can only be described as purely mad.
A sliver of light pierces my eye as the door opens, revealing a slender figure in the archway. A warm voice softly says, “Hey buddy. How long have you been in here?”
“Spencer! Aye! Baby! Come on innn, the water is juuust fine.” I clumsily utter while slapping the floorboard. She chuckles, and with no hesitation, lies down right beside me. She notifies me that it is 2 in the morning, and apparently she’s been here for a while. I let her know that I’ve been rejected. And I start to drunkenly weep. And then laugh. She laughs too.
I wipe my eyes, take a deep breath in, and rotate onto my back, staring upwards. She mimics my movements. The ceiling is white, and has harsh lines digging throughout the paint, creating an illusion of foliage. The texture is stuccoed and pleasing. In between hiccups, I manage to stutter aloud, “Yanno, that’s a garden up there.”
Spencer leaves space for me to explain. “You see the vines and stuff? It’s so pretty. It’s…it looks just like a garden.”
She turns her jaw towards mine, without breaking her stare above and asks, “If the ceiling is a garden, then what are we?” I say, in a matter of fact manner, “Well, that would make us the sky!” We both lie there in the stillness. I look over at her. And she looks at me. “And you’re like a wonderful little star. Just shining. Doing it’s thang. Being a star.” I chuckle. She does too. But there’s discomfort in her throat.
I thank her for finding me, and for making me feel better. She’s humble and short in her response.
I ask, “What would I be?”
She scrunches her eyebrows and says, “What do you mean?”
I whine, “In the sky! What would I be?! Would I be a star too?”
She genuinely looks at me. Tracing my face with her eyes, and responds, “You’d be a cloud.”
“A cloud. Yes.”
“I don’t fucking know. We’re drunk. You just strike me as a cloud! How am I supposed to answer that?!”
We simultaneously howl a laughter that comes deep from within our bellies. That type of cackling that stops your breathing and the room is totally quiet besides the intermittent gasps for air. We roll into one another, and settle our souls. I feel like I’m just now seeing the color of her eyes for the first time. I’ve known her for four years now, and I’ve never noticed the bright amber that flowers around her pupils. Her left iris is a deeper green than her right. They’re beautiful. Truly beautiful.
I hesitate. Start, then stop. And finally I whisper, “Why…didn’t we…ever…”
The door swings open, standing on the other side, a pretty girl with question in her eyes. “There you are!”, she exclaims. I slowly sit myself up, my vision straining and my thoughts blurring. Spencer bolts up to her feet, introducing me to the pretty girl.
“Oh hey! Sorry, this is my uh, this is my friend, Nessa. Nessa, this is…Nicole.”
Nicole extends her hand outwards, (people still give handshakes?). She politely greets me, “I’m Nicole, hello, hi, nice to meet you.”, she casually continues, “I came with Spencer tonight!”
My brain feels like a lazy susan. My fingers press upon my temples, attempting to settle the spins. “Oh.” I say. I don’t even try to say anything else. She cuts through the awkward air, turns toward Spencer, and says, “I do need to be up in the morning…”
She rebuttals with an uneasy tone, “Oh yes, yeah, of course. We should probably head out. I’ll uh, I’ll see you on Monday, Ness.”
I shake my head, send up a quick wave, and before I know it, I’m all alone again. I don’t deserve to be upset. Right? I was supposed to be here with someone else tonight. Oh yeah. There’s silence again. I lie back down. Staring upwards again. My eyes well up. I begin to cry. And I feel pretty sad. But it’s okay. Flowers love when it rains.