Meeting Him For The First Time, Again

I’m hardly an app-oriented person. I just never saw the intrigue behind downloading a game purely to pass the time. I’d grown up my whole life thinking I spent enough time on my phone to the point where I shouldn’t bother downloading extra incentives to be glued to the screen. That was until I found this game called Love Nikki – Dress-up Queen and the title alone speaks for itself. I wouldn’t say I’m totally obsessed with the game since I go weeks without even looking at the app, mostly because the app isn’t on the front page of my cell, but it’s the only app that’s stayed on my phone this long. The basic point of this game—and I shit you not—you play a character in an alternate reality where people battle each other by picking out outfits. The best outfit wins. Instagram had this app advertised and I don’t even go for ads like that anywhere let alone Instagram, but curiosity got the best of me and it was the first advertised app I’d ever downloaded and I’ve yet to delete it.

I was on my phone playing this game when I got a phone call from Lucy. As soon as her name popped up I immediately felt a yearning for all of them. I’d spent so much time in that small town I was beginning to cherish it despite the distance from Chloe, Jodie and Janet. I wished I could just bunch them all up in one place and stay there forever. Even Chloe was visiting from Chicago. Did I tell you? She got a promotion and moved to a firm up in Chicago. It’s as if college never happened sometimes.

“Heeeeey we miss you!” Lucy exclaimed. I heard Katya and Vivian chirping in the background.

“I miss you guys too!”

“You’re coming back for Christmas, right?”

I nodded. “Sure am.”

“Good, because when it’s snowing it’s like being in a snow globe,” Katya said.

Being in a snow globe doesn’t sound so appealing when I put it in Alice Sebold’s context. And that was all I could think of until thanksgiving dinner. I had been researching other works by Alice Sebold and, other than The Almost Moon, Lucky, and The Lovely Bones, she’d written nothing else. I wondered if anyone missed her. Her work stood out in the way that honey moved at a glacial speed, all consuming and rich in texture. Her words stuck to the roof of your mouth and were swallowed layer upon layer until the last drop, the last word trickling down like the wheezing hippopotamus in Jumanji. This is the last one; this is all I have left; I am done.

What is it about thanksgiving time that makes people look in retrospect and contemplate their life? Thanksgiving is the pivotal moment to look back and New Year’s provided the resolutions for the future. They worked hand in hand, didn’t they? Like Thelma and Louise; hated and loved.

I’d gotten to Janet’s before the festivities began and helped her set up the table. Turns out she’d invited more people than the one dining table could manage so she arranged for a long-ass, last supper looking table outside under a foray of white tents thin enough to see the stars. She was still cooking when people started rolling in and popped out every so often to greet them with Stanley and then they both vanished back into the kitchen. I’d somehow got stuck being a budget hostess and helped with drinks and greeting people as well, most of which I had absolutely no idea who they were and wondered if they’d find it strange that Janet and Stanley’s poor man’s bartender is sitting at the table with them. The bartender being me, of course.

Then, I saw familiar faces burst through the front door. Chloe had kept her hair short, but instead of it being a blunt bob she accented it with some curls. Jodie was showing off thick, tanned legs for the winter after coming off the coast of Australia on holiday with her new girlfriend, Tatiana; an equally mesmerising Adriana Lima clone.

“Hiiiiiii,” I squealed, throwing my hands out and running to Chloe and Jodie for hugs. I hugged Tatiana Lima (see what I did there?) a lot less tight than the other two.

“Okay, before we get down to anything tonight,” Chloe held up her hands palms out, “I have to borrow those shoes,” she said, pointing down at my feet.

“You like?” I twirled.

“I love!” Chloe said in an Italian accent, before kissing her fingertips and then flexing those fingers back.

“I’m after Chloe,” Jodie added with all the seriousness of a hunter ogling its prey.

The hemline of my long-sleeved, chiffon, fall-toned floral dress peaked just below my butt, inches away from my black Stuart Weitzman over the knee boots. I’d been going for a reddish-chocolate mood and my brown with black and gold accent press-on nails matched the ensemble perfectly. Lucy would kill me if she knew I preferred press-on nails.

“You guys know me, you know how I used to fool around a lot,” Jodie said to me and Chloe as Tatiana was getting us a few drinks. “Well, I thought Tatiana was going to be the same, and it was for a while, but then we started, I don’t know, as corny as this sounds—” she rolled her eyes— “we started connecting. It wasn’t just fun, but it was engaging and stimulating, and I started feeling all these feelings I hadn’t felt of much before. It honestly feels great.”

“So, you guys are serious?” Chloe asked.

Jodie nodded. “Yeah. Is that weird?”

“That’s awesome, Jodie,” I said.

“Yeah, what are you even talking about weird for? Weird doesn’t even exist nowadays.” Chloe furrowed her brows.

Jodie sighed. “It just feels so good.”

Tatiana came back carrying our drinks on a tray, somehow becoming the new hostess. We started getting to know her thoroughly, literally interrogating the poor girl, I’d like to defend myself by saying Chloe was doing most of the interrogating. We had somehow become good cop, bad cop.

I trickled away when my heart tumbled at the sight of man bearing the same likeness to Daniel, although, as he got closer, it wasn’t him. I told everyone I was going to get another mocktail when on my way there the front door opened and in came Daniel. With his brown hair and green eyes; his leather jacket and towing his motorcycle helmet underneath his arm. My heart began to pound. He greeted a few people on his way in. I was waiting for him to notice me, but he just kept catching sight of everyone else. My heart slowly started to calm down and I continued onwards to the bar when he went into the kitchen.

“You look familiar, do I know you from somewhere?” a deep voice asked.

I smiled at how coy and cute Daniel was being, but when I twirled it was none other than a complete stranger and my smile grew wider at the mistake. I started to go a bit red. “Oh, no, I don’t think so. Hello.”

“You here by yourself?” He leaned in closer, his bushy beard inches away from my face.

“Yeah—no, my girlfriends are out there,” I said, pointing to the back.

“Girlfriends, huh?” He wriggled his brows.

My cheeks tightened and lifted in disgust. Not at the thought of my girlfriends but at the thought of him with all of us. Is that weird? “Yeah,” I said. “The friends.” He knows what I mean, why am I even trying to clarify?

“I have to go,” I said.

“Well, here’s my card if you ever want to have some fun.”

“Thanks, but no thanks.” I bolted faster than Usain.

I thought the tap on the shoulder was him trying to catch up to me and give me his card, but I kept walking. Then I heard a hearty laugh. “Anna, it’s Daniel, wait up.”

I stopped in my tracks and he bumped into me, grunting. I turned around. “Hey,” I breathed.

He’d never looked better. Toner body, skin a healthy glow, dimples still popping behind the veil of sexy stumble, his brown hair shined as if he just got off the set of a Pantene commercial; I couldn’t believe how hot he looked and how much of him I had forgotten.

It was meeting him for the first time, again.

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Remember Martin?

Remember Martin? He was the owner of the bar where I worked while at college. Well, I flew back home for thanksgiving and the first thing the girls and I did was visit the bar. Not for any special occasion but to catch up in a nostalgic arena. Everything was exactly the same; the lights glimmered orange, the floors were covered in peanut shells and spilled drinks, and UCLA students flocked at night like birds to a feather. I couldn’t believe how much it hadn’t changed.

“Like old times, huh?” Jodie said to me.

“Yeah,” I mumbled, scanning the bar.

“What ever happened to Tina?” Chloe wondered aloud.

I shrugged. “Beats me.”

“Last I heard,” Janet said, “she was in Chicago.”

“Doing what?” I asked.

Janet shrugged. “No idea. Hey, what about Adam?”

My heart crashed. “What about him?”

Chloe nudged me and wriggled her brows up and down. “Didn’t you guys have a thing?”

“No, no thing,” I said, shaking my head.

“Do you guys still see each other?” Jodie chimed in.

“Nope,” I simply said. The girls exchanged meaningful looks and then moved on to more nostalgic reminiscing.

Truth be told I hadn’t seen or heard from Adam in a long time. Last contact we had he was telling me about his new girlfriend with a baby on the way. Yes, a slobbering, pooping bundle of joy burrowing into the belly of a girlfriend to what was once my best friend, now a mere acquaintance. Is that weird? Yes. But do some relationships fall apart overtime? Hell yeah. The most important question above all is: do I miss him? And yes, I do miss him, but I can’t change what happened in the past. The weird thing is there’s no ill blood between us and we left things on a high note. So maybe there is hope for us.

In the meantime I was focusing on the shitfest that was thanksgiving. Great food; awkward family situation. Forget Adam, the person I should be keeping in contact with the most is my mother. We used to have such a great relationship but it’s been clouded by her beau, Joe, and their little bundle of joy. I’ve yet to see my baby brother—or, I should say, half-brother—and I wasn’t looking forward to our reunion on thanksgiving. It’s difficult to process and I know it shouldn’t be but it’s also one of those things where you put it off for so long, untouched, until it becomes this black hole of doubt and second-guessing.

“Oh!” Janet exclaimed. “Before I forget, Stanley invited Daniel. Is that okay?”

I shrugged before looking at their curious faces. “Yeah, I mean, it’s whatever.”

“Like, I know you guys have history, but he’s also Stanley’s friend, you know?”

“Yeah, I mean, is he coming?” I asked, keeping my voice monotone in an attempt to seem uninterested.

Janet nodded. “I should’ve told you sooner.”

“No, no, no,” I repeated in a high-pitched tone while shaking my head, trying to act all blasé but the Oscar does not go to me. I cleared my throat. “I mean, I’m not adverse to ex-boyfriends.”

“Okay, good.”

“See,” Chloe said, “I told you she’d be fine.”

I gulped. “Yeah, see, I’m fine.”

Janet stared at me, remaining unconvinced. “Okay.”

I almost wished she hadn’t told me while we were at Martin’s bar. All these thoughts of him came rushing back and the only way I snapped out of it was when I eavesdropped on a frat boy speaking to his waitress.

“…yeah, we go around saying ‘aye papi’ and throw confetti every five seconds,” the waitress said. “Do you want anything or not?”

The guy laughed with his friends. “Alright, alright, alright, don’t get your panties in a twist ‘mammi’.” He laughed again.

I groaned, wanting to punch him in the face when I heard Martin’s voice interject. “Is there a problem here?”

“No, sir,” the frat boy said, now solemn, all traces of humour evanescent.

“I’ll take it from here, Ava.” A short pause. “What do you wannabe attorneys want?”

“Uh..uhh..uh—” one of the guys stuttered.

“Got any ID?”

“We’re legal, dude,” another guy said.

“Not here you’re not. Get the fuck out.”

“Y—you can’t do that!?” a squeaker said.

“Call me when you pass the bar and sue. Until then, get the fuck out. I strongly advise that you don’t make me say it a third time.”

It was comforting to know Martin still had his employees’ back and hadn’t changed one bit.

You Probably Think This Song Is About You

Confession time: I have been obsessed with a Korean show called Boys Over Flowers. I got sucked in while browsing for new content on Netflix and I suppose the algorithm took into account what I watched earlier being The Tunnel and Train to Busan and decided I needed more Korean goodness. This show focuses on an empowering female that defies all odds and goes to this prestigious preppy school—with not a teacher in sight, mind you—and faces off against a group of four handsome and mean billionaires and three antagonists that hate her existence, all the while struggling to support her poor family. I looked up the series and it’s basically got 25-episodes and one season. The ‘empowering female’ lead may not be as empowering as everyone thinks; it’s basically got the same criticisms as Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey except a little more dialled down. But I literally don’t even care about the criticism because I’m addicted.

I was chilling in my living room watching when a knock on the door resounded. I seriously couldn’t be bothered with anyone today because I was balls deep into episode eight, but the knocking was so insistent that I knew they weren’t going to leave so soon and one of us was going to eventually give in.

“Yup! Coming!” I yelled, pausing the show.

Take a guess at who was at my door. I dare you. I double dare you.

“Jasper,” I said, elongating the end of his name in the same way you would getting a shit present for Christmas and saying ‘thank you’ unenthusiastically.

“You ran out pretty fast,” he said.

“I had shit to do.”

“The past few days?”

“I do work, you know.”

“And you never returned my calls or messages.”

I shifted my weight from one foot to the other and crossed my arms over my chest. “What do you want, Jasper?” He swooped past me. “Oh, come right in,” I said, sarcastically, closing the door behind me and following him to my living room.

He pointed at the television. “What’s that?”

No joke, literally no one but my UCLA girlfriends know I watch this show. I shook my head trying to act cool. “Nothing.” He bent down to reach for the remote and I jumped on him. “Wait Jasper!”

He shimmied me off of him and I plonked onto the couch. I got up too late and he pressed play and straightened his arm above his head. “What is this?” He asked over the Korean phrases.

“No—” I jumped— “thing—” and again.

He laughed. “Alright, alright, alright, here.” He handed me the remote, and I was more pissed that he started where I left off and now my short term memory is trying to figure out where the hell from. Like, I don’t have amnesia, but when it comes to recounting where I left off from movies or TV shows it’s like I’ve lost the ability to retain any information.

I paused and headed for the kitchen. “Ugh did you want something?”

“Did the image of my dying father scare you off?” he smiled, leaning against the wall.

“No,” I said, filling up a glass of tap water.

“Well, something happened.”

“I think you’re just paranoid.”

He rolled his eyes. “Would you just tell me and get it over with?” I turned around to rinse the cup. Jasper closed in on me from behind and stroked my hair back exposing my neck. “Or I could pry it out of you. That should be fun.” He kissed up my neck and butterflies swarmed my stomach. I rested my head back onto his shoulder and I could almost feel the smile on his lips pressed up against my skin. He slid a hand underneath my shirt and grabbed my breast, pulling me in closer to feel his erection. I breathed out, the warmth between my legs beginning to radiate.

“No,” I whispered, too low and breathy for even the wind to hear.

“Hmm?” He pecked the hollow at the base of my neck.

“No,” I said, a little more loudly. “No.” I shrugged him off and he stepped back, confusion cloaking his brows and creating lines around what were his soft eyes.

“Umm something wrong?”

“Yeah, no. I’m just done with this.”

“Done with what?”

“Just me and you. I’m not feeling it anymore.”

He scoffed and tilted his head back. “I knew it. See, this is why I didn’t tell you why it was so complicated before. No one ever understands.”

I rolled my eyes. “Oh my God. You know what!? The reason why I just bailed and haven’t been in contact was because of you, not your father! I mean, you’re with Julie because of this outdated 1950s ideology that is doing nothing but crippling you. No, as a matter of fact, I literally don’t even care what happens to you, but don’t blame your lack of balls on your father; and don’t put your shit on me!”

Daddy Issues

My heels thudded hard on the pavement as I stormed away. In the movies, this would be the scene where The Papapapas’s Fashion Killa would be playing as the lead swayed her hips and flipped her dark hair. Her confidence would reverberate down the street and everyone would be turning their heads like the boyfriend in that meme everyone is so tragically obsessed with. But this was not the movies, in fact, this was far from it. My heart was racing as I questioned whether or not I’d done the right thing or I’d gone too far. Sure, Julie’s a bitch and she said insensitive shit, but did it warrant a drink in the face? I could’ve just told her she was a bitch and then gotten on with the rest of the night, but instead, the bitch is still in there and I’m the one fleeing the scene. It’s like giving the victim a school suspension instead of the instigator.

“Anna! What the fuck!?” I heard a deep voice behind me yell.

I picked up the pace on the slight downward slope of the street and in my heels I feared I was going to face-plant mid-Beyoncé strut in my half-assed Madonna Halloween costume. Oh, who am I kidding, my costume is awesome!

“Anna! Don’t pretend you can’t hear me!” he yelled closer. “Anna!”

“What!?” I stopped abruptly and pirouetted, head-banging into Jasper and we both staggered back, rubbing our foreheads. “Shit.” I scrunched my nose in reaction to the throbbing radiating my head.

“What the hell went on back there?”

“What? She got what she deserved.”

“Listen, all I know is that I turned around at one point and you’re throwing a drink into Julie’s face.”

“Oh, what do you care anyway? Suddenly she’s your girlfriend, now.”

“Don’t be so evasive.”

“Don’t be so stupid, then. You’re acting all high and mighty going after me because you think I did wrong without even knowing the full story.”

He scoffed breathlessly. “I wasn’t even accusing you of anything.”

“Then why don’t you go ask your girlfriend what happened.”

“And now you’re pissed off that she’s even my girlfriend,” he said when I started to turn away. “Great.”

I turned back. “No, I’m pissed off at her and her bitchy ways. I’m surprised people have taken her bullshit for so long. I’m so surprised, in fact, that someone like you is with someone like her and all you can say is that it’s ‘complicated’. Listen, I’m tired, I don’t want to argue with anyone anymore. I’m all out of drinks to throw—I’m unarmed—just leave me alone.”

I slumped my shoulders. I couldn’t feel more deflated. Jasper just stared at me and I didn’t know whether I should way for him to say something and then leave or just leave.

“Follow me.” He took my hand and led me to his car.

I jumped in without any resistance because I figured he was taking me home but we did a detour first and ended up at the mechanic.

“I don’t need my car fixed,” I said as a joke, pointedly. And I certainly didn’t want to see Nate. I just didn’t have the energy right now to be all cutsey or defensive depending on how he’d take the image of Jasper leading me into his childhood home.

We barely spoke as I trailed behind him upstairs and down the hallway. At the end of the hallway was a room with a door cracked open and I could hear voices. A woman with what sounded like a southern accent and a T.V. tuned on.

“This is why I can’t just give everything up so easily,” Jasper whispered. “Stay here.”

Jasper opened the door and strolled in lively. “Hey, how’s my favourite father doing?”

“Oh, Jasper, don’t tease,” the woman said, stringing sentences the length of a medical report with words so long and complex they were like a second language to me.

I peeked through the door and saw the braids of a dark-skinned woman in nursing scrubs jabbering away with Jasper as he flipped pages on a clipboard. An old man lounged in bed with IVs, a heart monitor and other beep-bops lying about. Super technical set-up. I was staring at the inside of a hospital.

“What are you supposed to be?” his father asked.

“Danny Zuko.”

His father squinted. “What’s the difference?”

“No difference, dad, I just didn’t want to go all out.”

His father scrunched his nose disapprovingly. “Well, there’s always next year. By then you and Julie might be dressed as bride and groom?”

“How are you feeling?” Jasper asked avoiding the question, popping down on the side of his father’s bed. The nurse turned to the door and I had no idea whether or not she was supposed to see me. Jasper called after her and she stopped mid-way, giving me enough time to escape.

This whole time I thought the complication was a selfish indulgence or a particularity about Julie, but it turned out he just didn’t want to disappoint his father. Ugh, another guy with daddy issues. Am I just a magnet for men who are either exceptionally close or exceptionally distant from their fathers? Well, don’t I know how to pick them!

***Heya! Didn’t know if I should post all at once since I needed to catch up from Halloween of last year, but then I decided to just cut it up and post something now. Hope everyone is doing well and their new year is starting off great! I also posted on Samson&Delilah a few days ago. Soul xo***

Halloween Party

Katya, Lucy, Vivian and I were all getting ready at my house for a Halloween party at a place hosted by a guy called Greg. Apparently it was the going to be the first of a few stops before we headed down to the drive-in theatre to watch Hocus Pocus. Totally predictable but I can’t get enough of that movie even if it wasn’t Halloween.

While the girls were setting up in my room I got a facetime call from Chloe. They were all dressed up getting ready for their own party night.

“Aww I miss you guys! When are you all coming to visit me!?” I whined, pouting my lip.

“When you buy us three plane tickets!” Chloe laughed.

“Screw you,” I said.

“We miss you so much too, Anna,” Jodie said. She came closer to the screen and squinted. “Are you…? What are you?”

“Oh! I know!” Chloe chimed. “Madonna, right?”

“See, I knew you’d get it,” I nodded.

“I hope you have tons of fun!” Chloe said.

“And tons of hot sex!” Jodie yelled loud enough for Katya, Lucy or Vivian to hear.

I didn’t want to tell them I was sleeping with someone else’s man all things considered, so of course I felt horribly guilty for keeping a secret from my best friends. I mean, it’s not like we tell each other everything, right? Oh, who am I kidding, we tell each other everything.

I said my goodbyes and slouched on the bed.

“So how are things going with you and Jasper?” Katya winked.

I frowned. “Did you guys know he’s a doctor?”

“Who?” Lucy asked, playing with Vivian’s hair.

“Jasper,” I said. “This whole time, no one knew?”

“That’s weird. Why did he say he was a financier or whatever the fuck he did?” Katya asked.

I shook my head. “It wasn’t exactly him that said it, apparently.”

“You do get around,” Katya nudged me.

I smiled a crooked smile like I was both in excruciating physical pain and trying to hide it. “So, this party. Are we walking?”

I wanted to change the subject as quickly as I could. Enough with the Jasper and Julie talk. Tonight, I wanted to let loose and get drunk.

Kids were running around with their plastic pumpkin buckets as we walked up the street. Some with one or both of their parents and some old enough to go with a group of friends. If I’d known how far Greg’s house was I would’ve insisted on a car ride because my heels were killing me. by the time we got there they were throbbing and all I wanted to do was sit down and have a drink. We could hear them pumping music from outside; when we entered the crowded house, on repeat I caught the lyrics ‘get you alone’.

“Ladies, welcome,” a man I assumed was Greg greeted us at the door dressed as Frankenstein. “Let me guess,” he squinted and then pointed at Vivian, “you are—”

“Don’t you even start, Greg,” she said, holding up an open hand.

“What?” Greg laughed and shrugged.

“Where’s the bar?” Katya asked, rubbing her hands together.

“Are you already drunk? It’s in the kitchen, duh,” Greg said.

“Shut the fuck up,” Katya rolled her eyes, fisticuffing with Greg until he was begging for her to stop while also cackling sounding like a wild horse.

“Follow me,” Greg said, gesturing here and there like a flight attend and we the passengers.

We fixed ourselves a drink and started dancing to the contemporary club top 100.

“There’s your boyfriend,” Katya nodded at me, staring at someone behind me.

I turned around and saw Julie and Jasper walking in side by side with his hand around her waist.
“Ugh so gross,” I scrunched my nose as if I could smell a foul stench.

“Nevermind him, it’s just us tonight,” Vivian nodded.

“Yeah,” Lucy added. “Just us.”

“Hey guys,” someone said.

“Hey, Jasper; hi Julie,” Lucy beamed, waving her hand. Then, she shrugged, throwing me an apologetic smile.

I shook my head and smiled as if it totally didn’t bother. It shouldn’t bother me—they shouldn’t bother me—but seeing them together annoys the shit out of me. I think it’s the whole fake idea of happiness and being dragged along for the ride as a watchful third wheel from the distance that also happens to occasionally have sex with the boyfriend. Or maybe it’s his repetition of the phrase ‘it’s complicate’ that is so frustratingly vague I’m bordering being not giving a fuck and giving too much of a fuck that the curiosity is eating away at my insides like a rabbit nibbling on my organs.

“Let me guess,” Jasper pointed at me. I crossed my arms over my chest, defensively. “Madonna, right?”

“That’s right,” I sighed.

He smiled a cute and yet annoying smile. “You guys look great.”

“What are you, Jasper?” Lucy asked.

“Isn’t it obvious? Danny Zuko.”

“Dude, you’re only wearing a leather jacket. You look exactly the same as you normally do,” Vivian said.

“Excuse me.” He pointed at his hair. “The poof took me all night.”

“And it looks exactly the same,” Vivian emphasised, making the girls cackle.

I could only smile weakly but I literally have nothing to be so mopey about, I don’t know why I just don’t enjoy myself.

“Alright, car is parked and we’re set,” a bearded guy with an eyebrow ring entered the group.

“Oh, this is Sean my brother; Sean, this is everyone,” Julie said, sounding off each of our names and I loosened up my abrasive demeanour with each passing name.

Sean paid special attention to Vivian and Vivian eyed him knowingly. The sneaky exchange made me smile, I almost broke the secretive atmosphere by snickering.

“So what are you, Julie?” Katya asked.

“Oh, I don’t dress up. I’m not a child,” Julie replied, shooting a fake smile at Katya, point blank in the dead of night.

“Not a good lawyer either,” Katya grumbled. I widened my eyes a fraction and caught my gasp before I could escape and add more tension.

“What did you—?” Julie started.

“Alright,” Jasper smiled. “Play nice. It’s Halloween. For one night, let’s all get along.”

“Fine by me,” Sean said.

“Same here,” Vivian added. They smiled, neither of them breaking their line of sight.

“Whatever,” Julie mumbled, crossing her arms over her chest as Jasper squeezed her closer. I almost gagged. He should get an Oscar for how well he acts. If he kisses her, then I’m done. So done.

“I’m going to get a refill,” I said, moving away before anyone could ask that I fix them a drink. It’s a good thing no one knows I used to bartend.

I realised I hadn’t completely finished my vodka soda so I took my sweet time taking small sips until every last drop was gone.

“Boo,” a voice behind me startled me.

I scrunched my face and turned around. “Oh it’s you.”

“Now that’s a scary face,” Jasper said.

“Shut up,” I nudged him, chuckling. “I was ready to kill you for jumping at me like that.”

“Do you have amnesia? Short term memory loss? It’s Halloween.”

“Doesn’t mean you go around scaring people. Especially people fixing themselves a refill.”

“Yeah, I noticed you were drinking at the table. I mean, we could call a hotline, get you into AA. Supportive groups are all the rage apparently.”

“I will fuck you up, Jasper,” I said, firmly. He laughed. “What’s with the budget Danny Zuko costume?”

“Hey, I wasn’t even going to dress up in the first place.”

“This is you dressed up?”

He pointed at his mane. “The hair, it’s all about the hair.”

“And the leather jacket,” I added.

“And people said I’d never wear this jacket, yeah right.”

“Yeah. Right.”

“Excuse me while I…” he leaned over me, his nose buried in my hair, holding for a few seconds and then returning to leaning back on the table, his hand lightly grazing my lower back as he pulled back. He cleared his throat, smiling cheekily. “…fix myself a drink too.”

“You shouldn’t draw attention, you know,” I warned.

He furrowed his brows in disbelief. “Everyone is either not paying attention or too drunk to even notice.”

“Not Julie,” I noted.

“No, not Julie.” He looked down at his empty red cup. “You know what else is not Julie? The person I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.”

“That’s too bad.”

“Actually, that’s pretty good.”

“Except when you get a hard-on and Julie has to take of it, huh?” I scoffed, raising a brow along with my attitude.

He narrowed his eyes. “Why do you have to break what I’m saying like that?”

I shrugged. “What?” He didn’t say anything. He just held my gaze to the point where I squirmed with discomfort at the thoughtful silence. “I’m going to go. Enjoy the rest of your night,” I smiled. Bitch alert? Present!

“…ugh why is he even talking to her?” Julie hissed.

“Give it a rest, Julie. She’s hot, he’s hot, get over it,” Katya rolled her eyes.

“Can we talk about something else?” Lucy asked.

Julie studied Vivian with a slight, mouth-curdling disgust as Vivian leaned over the intricately detailed fireplace and Sean was leaning into her.

“I don’t even know what he sees in her,” Julie hissed again, ignoring Katya’s protest to give it a rest.

“Oh watch out now, if Vivian drives home with him you better believe his getting some, even on the drive there,” Katya joked. “Let them have fun, you prude.”

Julie narrowed her eyes at Katya. “What are you even talking about? We all know Japs can’t multitask while driving.” She burst out laughing. “I’m just joking.”

“You son of a—” Katya started.

Before I could let her finish, I threw my vodka soda in Julie’s face, drenching her and her suit. “Bitch!”

***So a while ago there was a celebrity that apologised for making an offensive joke, and so I was talking to someone the other day and told them this and wondered why is it that when a celebrity makes that kind of joke they have to apologise for it, but when our friends or people we know make an offensive joke, it’s all in jest and light-hearted fun. That person said it’s because that celebrity is making that joke to an audience of a large scale, not like how a friend would say it to a friend of theirs, perhaps even about their friend. So I was wondering if you make\made offensive jokes? What’s the reaction from people? What’s the reaction from yourself? Do you see anything wrong or not with it? What’s your overall thought on the subject? There’s also an interesting notion from a YouTuber who frequently says the N-word and the homophobic F-word in an effort to make a point and when he gets flamed by people saying it’s wrong or that only certain people can use certain cuss words, he maintains that either all of it is okay, or none of it is okay, and that’s especially in relation to the N-word. So basically what’s your thoughts on all that I’ve mentioned? Hope you all have a lovely day! Soul***

In The Thunderous Silence Of The Night

“I didn’t know you drove a ute,” I said, scanning the interior curiously.

“I don’t. I borrowed it for the night.”

“Why?”

“Because this single chair serves a purpose for where we’re going,” he winked.

I narrowed my eyes. Don’t think I didn’t notice it because the first thing that popped into my head was snuggling up next to him.

“I’m seriously thinking all you townspeople just like to take people to dark and secluded areas,” I said, curling up in the cold. My sweats not doing much to keep me warm.

Jasper laughed. “Oh yeah, it’s easier to hide the bodies.”

I widened my eyes but laughed at the same time. The mixed reaction made Jasper almost choke on his cackle. I dropped my shoulders and breathed out. “Not funny,” I mumbled. “Seriously, where are we going?”

“Stop your whining we’re almost there, bear.”

I scrunched my nose. “Shut up.”

“So grouchy,” he chuckled. “Was the date with my little brother really that bad?”

“He was a complete gentleman actually. We had so much fun.” I turned up my nose like a snob.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yes. He’s fantastic. Unlike someone else I know.”

“What an insult. I’m not like my brother. Thank God for that.”

“What is this animosity you two have towards each other? You guys are grown ass men. What are you? Thirty? Somewhere around there?”

“Somewhere around there.”

“And what is he like ten years younger?”

Jasper scoffed and furrowed his brows. “He’s two years younger than me, actually.”

“Sense the exaggeration. And apparently not so ‘little’ as you so politely call him.”

“It’s said in fondness.” He laid a hand on his chest. “Totally from the heart.”

I rolled my eyes. “So why do you guys have this hatred towards each other?”

He shrugged. “It’s not a hatred.” He let out a breath he struggled to keep in, almost as if there was an explanation on the tip of his tongue but his lips weren’t cooperating. “It’s nothing. It’s…it’s just—”

I held up my hand. “Wait, wait. Let me guess. It’s just complicated?” He looked at me seriously as we slowed to a park. I half-smiled. “I haven’t heard that one before.” He smiled apologetically, and my chilly disposition dropped at the sight of it. I rolled my eyes, he wasn’t getting me that easily. I cleared my throat and looked out into the darkness surrounding me. Single lamp posts placed sporadically in the field. “So is this the part in the movie where you put a mask on and spray me with some sleeping gas?”

He chuckled and beeped the horn twice. I expected someone to come charging and scare the shit out of me. My mind knows how to go apeshit and play tricks on me.

Just then the large screen that I completely ignored lit up and the introductory animation and song to Grease started playing. Jasper waved his hand back to an unknown person, the equipment too far away.

“What’s this?” I smiled.

“I know you missed out on that whole drive-in movie thing so I figured why not set one up.”

“Oh,” I breathed. I didn’t know what to say or do so I just stared with my jaw drooping.

“And—” he lifted a finger and then leaned back and pulling up a box— “I couldn’t gather people for the food carts so I made us some popcorn, got us some chocolate, and water, you know so we don’t die of thirst from all the salt and sugar.”

“A natural refresher,” I noted.

“As intended,” he grinned.

I shook my head, still stunned. “How did you do this?”

“Well, Irve owes me one and I just decided to use that one on you.”

I gulped. “Umm, thank you.”

“Don’t read anything into it,” he shrugged, awkwardly. “It’s nothing big. I mean, it was annoying to hear you go on and on and on about the drive-in theatre that I figured I’d…shut you up.” He furrowed his brows.

I laughed. “Well, thank you nonetheless.”

He nodded. “Yeah, well…don’t read—”

“—anything into it, I know, I know.” I held out my hand. “So hand me the popcorn?”

I sunk back into the chair comfortably and started chowing down on the popcorn. I didn’t think I had any more room left in me to eat after my date, but when it comes to confectionary I have the appetite of a lion.

“I firmly believe John Travolta’s hair defies gravity in this movie,” Jasper joked and I laughed. “Newton would be tossing and turning in his grave.”

“You should dress up as him for Halloween.”

“No way.”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. Those tight shorts, you know.” I wriggled my brows.

“It’ll scare the children, truly,” he laughed and I joined him. “Look at him. He’s exercising under the sun and his hair is like a rock. Anyway, I can’t imagine it would be comfortable doing the pumpkin carving contest in those clothes. I have my choice of leather or tight shorts, yay.”

I chuckled. “I’m going as Madonna.”

“Which era.”

“Eighties.”

He nodded approvingly. “You have my permission.”

I looked at Jasper and narrowed my eyes in thought. “Sometimes I think you and Julie are total opposites, and not in a good way.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, she hates the small town festivities.”

He shrugged. “I think she’s just itching to move back to New York.”

I swallowed some popcorn and essentially started choking on the salt. I chugged some water and put the popcorn down, slapping my hands together to rub off the excess. “Are you excited to go back?”

Jasper sighed and looked at me. “My favourite topics: Julie and New York.”

I smiled apologetically. “Well, everyone thinks you’re moving back. Going back to that lucrative job on Wall Street while your girlfriend works in a law firm.” I looked back at the screen. “You guys will probably live on 5th Avenue and shit.”

Get a puppy. Get married. Have kids. The works.

Jasper chuckled. “I don’t work on Wall Street. I’m not a money wiz.”

I angled my brows and gazed at him confusedly. “Everyone said—”

“—oh I know what they think. I never corrected them.”

“Why not?”

He sighed, his chest swiftly rising and dipping. “Because it was never me who planted the seeds into everyone. Julie went around telling everyone and then it just got too far in. Plus, at the time I didn’t want everyone to think how weird it was that my girlfriend was lying about my job.” He laughed, awkwardly. “In retrospect I could’ve told everyone she was joking but usually the prerequisite of a joke is that it be funny.”

“So they would’ve thought she was a psycho.”

“Pretty much.”

I chuckled, humourlessly. This is so weird. “So…what do you do?”

“I’m a doctor.”

I lifted up my brows. “A doctor? Why the hell would she lie about you being a doctor?”

“She has this weird idea that if you’re anything but a Wall Street guy in New York then you’re not good enough. I think the only person who knew was Nate.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah,” he breathed.

I don’t think ‘psycho’ quite cut it. “So what are you going to do? Are you just going to go along with it until you move back? Is this the complicated thing you’ve been alluding to this whole time?”

He laughed. “No, that’s not it. And honestly, what I really want to do is buy a spot here for my practise. It doesn’t mean I’ll live here permanently but I’d like to work while I’m here.”

“Well, why don’t you.”

He shrugged. “Don’t know. Conflicting signals? I suddenly open up a practise when everyone think I do something else?”

I gulped some more water. “You should.” He looked at me. “Do it. Why not? What do you have to lose?”

“Nothing, I guess.”

I paused and then nodded. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

I lifted up my shoulders. “For telling me.” Then, I let my shoulders down.

“Yeah, no big deal.”

“Right,” I rolled my eyes. “As always.”

“I always thought this ending was sad.”

“Yeah?”

“I mean, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, I guess I could see that. Or maybe it’s just bitter sweet.”

“Real bitter.”

“Least they’re happy.”

“Yeah.”

Under the bright light of the clouds as the car flew I looked up into Jasper’s brown eyes fixed onto me. With the back of his fingers he stroked my cheek and brushed my parted lips.

“Won’t Irve see?” I whispered.

Jasper only shook his head and leaned forward, placing a gentle, light kiss on my lips. It felt like I was kissing him a lot longer than I was, and I was expecting him to become a little urgent, but he remained sweet and slow. Balanced. A kiss where I faded into him and everything else disappeared.

“What was—?” I stopped short and cleared my throat. “That was different,” I said, hoping for an indication that I wasn’t alone.

He caressed the corner of my lips. “It’s no big deal.” He paused to look at me, lost in a thought. Then, he cleared his throat and shifted back to start the car. “I, uhh, hope you had fun,” he said, smiling a smile that didn’t meet his eyes. One which was way too distracted.

“Yeah,” I breathed. “Thanks, again.”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

I didn’t push it and the rest of the ride home was done so in the thunderous silence of the night.

***

“Good morning, deary,” an old lady in Lucy’s chair greeted me as soon as I entered the salon.

“Hi, how are you?”

“Fine thank you, and you?”

I smiled. “Can’t complain.”

“Good, good,” she nodded.

“Martha was just telling me about a rumour she heard,” Lucy said, eyeing me strangely.

“Oh yeah?” I asked.

“These townspeople talk, you see? We like to talk, it’s like an Olympic sport for us and the hunting grounds are ripe with secrets.” Her eyes beamed. “Well, you know Ricky he knows everything and Ricky spoke to the baker whose wife spoke to Irve’s wife and well, to get straight to the point, they’ve all come to the same conclusion: Jasper may be hiding a secret.”

Human Nature

When I thought about it, I didn’t enjoy the idea of opening up the past between me and Daniel so soon, especially when the past seemed as distant as east to west coast. So I replied to him last minute and through text. A simple, ‘hey, I’ve actually moved but let’s catch up another time. I miss you, too’. Janet, Chloe and Jodie were helpless. Somehow Daniel’s proximity opened up a debate about which coast was better; sidenote, food is a huge deciding factor.

I couldn’t think about it now though, when I have Jasper on top of me and his hand up my shirt on the abnormally large sofa I first picked out for my new home. He grinded his hips into me, my legs wrapped around him and squeezing him closer the more he thrust. I turned him over onto his back and mounted him, kissing his neck, the top of his chest, the hollow at the base of his neck, and trailed my lips back up. He scrunched my hair up, pulled me back, gently holding me at my neck; I had my eyes closed for a moment when it felt like the moment carried on for a bit too long, and I looked down at him. His face peaceful, just watching me with those big brown eyes, a smile appearing ever so slightly before pushing me down onto his lips.

Then, the sofa vibrated. I ignored it until it stopped. But I opened my eyes and pulled back when it started again. “Umm?”

“What?”

“Don’t you feel that?”

He paused and then his brows parted. “Oh,” he breathed. He shimmied upwards and shoved a hand down his back, pulling it up and clutching his phone. He threw it onto the coffee table with just enough time for me to catch a glimpse of who was calling. Julie.

I literally winced.

Jasper turned me over onto my back again and pulled my leg up over his side. Stroking it as he ran kisses down my neck. I closed my eyes, anticipating his lips on my nipples. But then, his phone started vibrating again. Julie.

“Uh, maybe you should answer that?” I bit my lip as soon as the words came out.

Jasper breathed a tickling chuckle into my chest. “What?”

“Maybe she’s worried about you?”

He snickered and looked up at me. “I don’t think so.”

He was about to continue the kisses when I grabbed his jaw and turned him back up, his lips fully puckered on a squished, confused face. “Sorry,” I said, immediately letting go. “I think…you know I have some work to do. I might go do that now.”

“Some work?” he lifted a brow, looking hotter.

I smiled. “Yeah?”

He shrugged and sighed, still confused. “Okay.” He hopped off the couch and grabbed his phone. Tapping the fresh flower he gave me in the vase. “See you later then.”

“Yeah, see you.” I plonked back down deflated as soon as he left.

***

I had volunteered to help out with the town book fair later that day and decided it was the perfect time to reflect. And by reflect I mean I’m training myself to not feel guilty. It was mostly a small fair in the middle of the town square where everyone were able to purchase or exchange books. Most of them came from the bookstore where, Winston, the old shop owner, allowed me to go back and forth so long as I kept track of what I was selling. I found myself working in retail suddenly and it all seemed as if I regressed in my career, going from writer to salesperson.

I’d heard about a little shop in New York that had books covered in brown wrapping paper with blurbs written by people who read the book, so I was in charge of selling that small collection of books that were covered (and numbered since I still needed to keep track).

“How you holding up, Anna?” Lucy asked.

I was sitting down reading a book when she popped up. “Slow day.”

“It’ll pick up. It’s not even lunch yet. That’s usually when the rush hour is. And after 5pm.”

“I’m not complaining.” I’d slacked on my reading and needed to catch up.

“Hey what’s up Anna,” Katya jumped in.

“Hey Katya—”

“Ugh!” Katya scrunched her nose eyeing something in the distance. I stood up, trying to follow her line of sight.

“What?” I asked.

Lucy rolled her eyes. “Julie is here.”

“Why? It’s clear she doesn’t read,” Katya said.

“First time for everything, right?” Lucy said.

“She’s totally here because of Jasper.”

“Jasper?” I asked. Oh, yup. There is. He and Julie were walking as in sync as the opposing sides of a magnet. Here and there he’d throw his arm over her shoulders and pull her in. My stomach churned at the fake picturesque image. “Eww,” I muttered.

“’Eww’ is right,” Katya said.

“Oh, shit, Nate is here,” Lucy spotted.

“I love how we sound surprised as if we don’t see this people every day,” Katya laughed, making us both laugh with her.

“He’s coming here,” Lucy said.

“Hey Anna,” Nate smiled. “How are you?”

“He’s here,” Lucy whispered.

“Oh, what?” Nate asked.

“Ignore her,” I quickly said, eyeing Lucy.

Nate chuckled. “How have you been?”

“Fine, fine. You?” I asked.

“Yeah, great. Listen, I, uhh…” he turned to Katya and Lucy. “Did I interrupt something or…?”

“No, please, continue,” Katya said. Lucy chuckled.

I shook my head. “Ignore them.”

“Yeah,” Nate furrowed his brows, still keeping that smile on. “Umm, well, I was hoping for this to be without an audience—” Lucy and Katya snickered— “but I was wondering if you wanted to go out sometime? I’d like to take you out to dinner.”

“Oh,” I breathed.

“What do you say?”

“Yeah,” I shrieked. I cleared my throat while I turned red and hot. “I mean, yeah, sure, I’d like that.” I glanced at Jasper and Julie, both heading this way, Jasper staring at me for far too long. “I’d like that a lot,” I nodded.

“Great!” He beamed. “So…” he looked at Katya and Lucy, grins from ear to ear. “I’ll call you.”

“Yeah, okay.”

“I’ll see you.”

“See you later.”

He turned to Katya and Lucy. “Bye ladies.”

“Bye Nate,” they said in unison.

They quickly leaned over the table. “Well that was interesting,” Katya said.

“What are you going to wear? Oh, can I do your hair and makeup!?” Lucy asked, jumping up and down with her hands together. “Please, please, please?”

“Lucy,” Julie interjected, “glad to see you have accepted your true beggar form.”

Lucy rolled her eyes. “Julie,” Katya started, “I didn’t know you read.”

“Yes, well, I do it all,” she gushed, flipping her hair. I almost gagged.

“No, I mean, I didn’t even know you knew the alphabet.” Lucy chuckled and it almost sounded like she was about to choke.

“Yes, well, the more you know.”

“Yes, well,” Katya batted her lashes and flipped her hair dramatically. To which Julie rolled her eyes.

“So what’s the hair and makeup talk about?” Julie asked me directly. “I’m surprised you have somewhere special to go,” she chuckled.

“Uhh, yeah, well—”

“Nate just asked her out,” Katya blurted.

“Did he?” Julie asked.

“He did?” Jasper added before clearing his throat.

“That brother of yours sure knows how to pick ‘em,” Julie said.

“Yeah,” he chuckled humourlessly.

“You guys should all double date,” Lucy said.

“No, no, no,” we three said, awkwardly laughing at how quickly and brashly we rejected that idea.

“I mean, I think Anna would get bored of me and Jasper getting all lovey dovey on each other,” Julie said. She kissed him on the cheek before telling him to kiss her back. He lowered his head and pecked her dryly on the lips. He pulled back and wiped his lips with his fingertips, looking down. I cringed so hard, I felt so uncomfortable. This guy just a few moments ago was making out with me, and is now kissing his girlfriend. I think I’m going to be sick.

I smacked my lips together. “Well, umm, I have to go get more books from Winston so I’ll see you all later.” I ducked out before anyone could say goodbye.

Once inside the bookstore I headed straight for the water cooler.

“Hot out there?” Winston asked.

“No, just, crowded.”

“Oh,” he dipped his nose and looked out the window. “Oh.”

I looked out the window too, catching a glimpse of Jasper walking this way. “Winston, I’m not here.”

“What?”

“Just tell Jasper I ran out for a quick second. Please?” I shot straight up the stairs and threw myself into an aisle of books.

The door rung open. “Hey, Winston.”

“Anna’s upstairs,” He immediately said.

“Winston!” The traitor. Jasper laughed.

Magic

Lucy was kind enough to take me shopping for this outdoor party tonight, but as it turns out this small town had so few shops for clothing. Apparently frequenting bigger towns for any other or further needs or necessities was a common thing. I’m just glad ordering online was still a possibility otherwise I’d have withdrawals from buying makeup. On the other hand I need to cut back.

“What do you think of this one?” Lucy asked Katya, a friend of hers since they were babies.

“I don’t know,” Katya replied, scrunching her nose and twirling her long brown hair. She had likeness to Chloe except Chloe cut all her hair off. “It seems a bit poufy.”

“Anna?” Lucy turned her head.

“Uhh…” she was wearing her signature overalls over a crop top. “I thought you were going to pick out a dress or something.”

“Oh, it’s not that kind of party.”

“No?”

Katya laughed. “Definitely not. It’s super casual.”

“I can do casual.”

“You’re a city girl,” Katya said. I shrugged. “City girls don’t know how to do casual.”

“What are you talking about? It’s not like a skill.”

“It’s just the difference between casual and casual-sexy,” Lucy said. “Not that it’s bad.”

“Yeah,” Katya agreed, “it’s just…city.”

I couldn’t be that far off could I?

“Aren’t you going to pick out anything?” Lucy asked.

I shrugged. “I’m thinking of this playsuit I have that I could wear with ankle boots and some chains. I think I’ll be fine.”

“See,” Katya nodded, “city girl.”

I rolled my eyes playfully. This whole town knows me as this city girl and I was hoping that didn’t come with me appearing pompous. Michael always said I was pompous and I hear it now as a dig more than a joke. Oh, and Chloe is taking her own sweet time replying to me. I keep worrying that she’s mad at me and on top of the deadline I have with this new job, I’m beginning to feel like a ball of stress. I want to loosen up at the party but to be known as the drunk city girl would be the cherry on top of the cake.

***

When they said it was an outdoor party, I was picturing a rooftop bar under artificial twinkling lights with pumping Billboard Top 100 music. Instead, it was located in the middle of nowhere. I literally had no clue where we were. The twinkling lights were the stars (which was amazing, I’ll admit that!), and the music was a mix of songs like Magic by Olympic Ayres, What Once Was by Her’s, Everyone is Falling in Love by King Neptune and other various alternative grungy-type artists. It was nice, but it definitely was a change of scenery. Lucy and Katya were right about this being the type of low-key party. I was so dolled up it wasn’t even funny. I felt so out of place that I wrapped my arms around myself self-consciously, and I never do that.

“Relax,” Lucy leaned in to whisper and then pulled back, “the drinks have got to be the same, right?”

I smiled. She was so sweet trying to make me feel at home and everything. “They better be.”

“And hey, they’re free over here.”

I nodded, impressed. “Bonus.”

She laughed. “I’ll be back.”

Lucy and Katya drifted into the sea of flannel shirts and jeans (of course, not everyone was a clone of stereotypical country town) and I was left with myself desperate for some alcohol to calm my insides like an addict. At least I was wearing a jacket (?).

“Beer for you,” Lucy said, handing me a bottle I eagerly began drinking.

“Whoa,” Katya chuckled, “Slow down there.”

I laughed, nearly spilling out of my beer. “Sorry.”

“Are you nervous?” Katya asked, dumbfounded.

I reddened, of course. “A little.” Who the hell gets nervous at parties!?

“Don’t be,” Katya demanded. “You are hot. Hot girls don’t get nervous.”

“Umm, thanks?” I said, confusedly.

“I think Katya might have been drunk already,” Lucy said.

“Huh?”

“She’s a lightweight,” Lucy winked. “We better watch out for this one. Or better yet—” I chugged as she spoke— “I better watch out for the both of you.”

I was distracted by a buzz from my cell from Chloe: ‘What seems to be the problem?’

‘Omg Chloe, I thought you’d never text me back :’(‘

‘Lol why?’

‘Because I thought you’d be mad at me forever and ever.’

‘Nah, only for a bit. You’re still my best friend.’

Ugh, I could’ve just died right there and then. ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’

‘Don’t be so mopey! You changed your whole life and now you’re having second thoughts?’

‘I changed it for this job and now I got nothing. Nothing’s happened; nothing’s happening.’

‘Make. Something. Happen. Make anything happen!’ She sent me a gif of Shia LaBeouf with the caption of ‘just do it’ flashing on the screen.

Her encouragement made my heart race in search for something—anything—to make a story out of. From across the field (?) I met eyes with a handsome blurred out man that came to be clear the closer I got to him. He turned around and grinned as I strode towards him, I flushed as his friends watched, and out of nowhere I threw my arms over him and pushed my lips up against his. I was confused at the gasps but I expected the laughter.

No Introduction Needed

Dear Anna Parker,

I hope you’ve settled in nicely in your new town. From your previous email description of the place it seems like we couldn’t have picked a better place. An actual town square (unfortunately no gazebo), minute speed limits, stores knowing other stores, neighbours knowing neighbours; it seems all we need is a story. No pressure but it’s been a while now and we were expecting at least a semblance of a story. Let us know if you need help but do get back to us shortly.

I look forward to hearing your ideas.

Regards,

David Baker

***

I was beginning to feel apprehensive about the whole move for this job in its entirety. I didn’t think I’d feel so far out of my element but I was. No family and no friends of my own to settle me in and introduce me to new things and new people. I had to do it all on my own and suddenly I felt like I was back in first grade with all the butterflies raging around in my stomach. It was much easier to meet new people in a big city than a small town. Albeit a super nice novelty-looking town, everyone knew everyone here. I can only hope that I wasn’t the talk of the town just yet. As I walked down the flat-levelled street, I didn’t think so. Though I did turn heads I assume because I wasn’t a familiar face.

I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing,’ I texted Chloe. Probably the last of my friends I should be texting all things considered, but I know she could get me out of this rut. Oh man, I’m already in a rut! ‘My editor needs something now and I have nothing. Nothing I tell you!

“Hey,” a girl said.

I looked up from my perch on a sidewalk bench at a woman wearing overalls and wispy, short, blonde hair. “Hi.”

She took the lollipop out of her mouth and it glistened red. “You’re the new girl, right? Annie?”

“Anna.”

She nodded and smiled. “Close enough. Half a point?”

“Uhh…”

“I’m Lucy. Not like diamonds in the sky.”

“Hey, I’m…Anna.” Oh, kill me now.

“You need a haircut.”

“What?” I fiddled with the ends of my raven hair.

“My shop is just here. Want to get a haircut?”

“Sure.” Why not. Not like I’m in the position to turn anything down.

“Everyone knows about you,” she said as she placed the cape over me, lollipop in mouth. I pray she doesn’t salivate and spit all over me.

“Oh, yeah?” Told ya.

“Talk of the town you are. Though I’m proud to say anyone who comes to my shop knows anything.”

Duly noted. “It’s like I’m intruding on a family.”

“Yes it is.” I was taken aback. I didn’t think she’d agree with me. “But we sure do love the intrusion. It’s exciting. So, what brings you here? Running from something?”

I chuckled. “What?”

She shrugged. “People normally go from small town to big city, not the other way around. It’s been my observation that the people who come here don’t stay for too long because they get forcibly removed if you know what I mean.” I gulped and she snickered. “Oh, sorry. I mean to say we’ve had a couple of run-ins with fugitives before. So exciting. So, you. Why are you here?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Ah, can’t get a job anywhere else?”

“No,” I laughed at her brutal honesty and forwardness, “my job requires me to be here.”

“Oh, how cool. So, what are you writing about?”

I shook my head and shrugged. “Maybe about the first person I met who offered to cut my hair.”

“Offered? Girl, you are crazy. You are definitely paying.” We both laughed. I think I laughed harder because I was enjoying her sass.

“It’s a good thing I didn’t leave the house without my purse.”

“Where do you live?”

“A small townhouse up the road. Pretty nice for what it’s worth.”

“Ain’t that surprising? Things just trickle down in pricing the further away from it all you get.”

“Yeah, that it is.”

“Well, you can write about me if all else fails. I inherited this salon from my mother when she passed. Been doing hair for as long as I can remember. It’s in my blood. Along with a stiff drink and a good sense of humour.”

The doorbell rang open. “Package for Lucy!”

“Oh, hey Ricky!” Lucy leaned down. “Ricky is our resident postman and he’s like 100-years-old.”

“And still kicking!” Ricky said, winking at me. “How are you, darling?”

“I’m fine.”

“Ya miss the Big Apple?”

“She’s from California, Ricky.”

“Oh,” he furrowed his brows, “now I gotta correct myself to the whole town.”

“That won’t be necessary,” I smiled.

“Oh, no, no, no, I’ve done wrong now I gotta fix it. You two ladies have a great day now.”

“Bye, Ricky!”

“See you later, Lucy!” 

“So, you want to come to a small outdoor party with me. Get to know some people. Maybe we’ll find you a story there.”

“Yeah, sure. Maybe some people could get to know me.”

“Honey, by the time postman Ricky gets through everyone the whole town will have gotten to know you. No introduction needed.”

Offers and Opportunities

***Sorry guys, didn’t know how better to transition after a month of no posts. Hope you still enjoy and like the new direction. Also, the new post for Samson&Delilah is up now. Soul***

You know how they say ‘all good things must come to an end’? Well when Michael and I ended our relationship, if you want to call it that, I started to wonder afterwards if it was even a good thing. Dwelling on the past is my least favourite pastime, but I couldn’t help but wonder when it was it all went downhill. Maybe when Michael’s friends said racially cloaked jokes? Or when Janet said I’d known nothing of what it felt like? I think the truest moment was when that girl at the party came up to me and told me Michael and his friends make bets on whose pants they could get into first and for how long…

***

I decided to confront Michael days later instead of being done with just hearing rumours from the grapevine. I approached him one night while we were out an about at another party, Michael sure does love his parties.

“Hey, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something,” I said.

“Shoot.”

“Umm…” I chuckled, it was foreign territory, “well, I don’t know how else to say this but, I was talking to someone who said that you and your friends make certain kinds of bets.”

He rolled his eyes. “Is that why you’ve been iffy these past couple of days?”

I shrugged. “I wouldn’t say ‘iffy’.

“Did she go into detail?”

“Sort of.”

“What did she say?”

“I’m more interested in knowing what you think she said.”

“Aww come on, Anna. Don’t do that extra chromosome thing.”

It was always in jest when he joked like that. Now, though, when I was trying to have a serious conversation with him, it sounded more insulting than ever. Was I getting too sensitive?

“She said you and your friends make bets on who you can land, for how long, and how many at a certain given time.”

He smiled. “It’s…” he shook his head. “It’s whatever.”

“Is that true?”

“No, of course not.” He sounded way too shrill for it to not be true.

“Really though.”

He rolled his eyes. “Fucking relax and don’t be an idiot. Who even cares if it is true? It’s a bunch of girl gossip. I swear—” he shook his head— “all girls want to do is bring other girls down.” Then he mumbled, “Feminists my ass.”

***

After that he called less, we hung out less, spoke less, I even started to see him at work much less. He’d barely go into the building. Not that my presence would stop an obnoxious guy like that from being around me. But still, our so-called relations fizzled. I’m glad I only slept with him once. Too bad the sex was good. Janet was the only one over the moon about it. Everyone else seemed indifferent. I guess he didn’t leave a lasting impression on them.

Oh well, onto bigger and better things. One of them being that I got a new and exciting job offer. Super exciting. And unique. One that I’ve never received before. The way it happened was so out of the blue too. I was actually at a coffee shop talking to the girls about being dissatisfied with my job. It wasn’t entirely bad but it wasn’t exactly what invigorated me each day to not look for anything else. A guy listening in to my conversation and approached me afterwards. Said this opportunity was unlike any other and at first I thought he was trying to pick me up but when he gave me his card and explained the job a bit I decided to give it a chance, more so because I was intrigued. I called an interviewed with him and some HR chick, I don’t even remember I was too excited.

The only downside is I had to move away for a few months. The way they explained it to me was Sex and the City meets Gilmore Girls. The only person that wasn’t down for it was Chloe.

“I don’t see why you have to keep moving for your jobs. Why don’t you let the jobs come to you?”

“This just sounds too good, Chloe.”

“But what about us?”

“What about us?” Janet asked.

“She’s got a life here. You’ve always had a life here and we’re always here.”

“You can come with,” I smiled.

“Problem solved,” Jodie said. “We’ll all move away with Anna and claim it on her new job’s budget.”

We laughed, but Chloe was still sour about it. “It’s cool. It’s probably only temporary anyway. They want to see how I go after six months.”

“Why would you uproot for something so temporary?” Chloe asked, confusedly.

“Because it might not be,” Jodie muttered.

It gave Chloe pause. “Is that why? Are you honestly prepared to live the small town life and write about it?”

“Why can’t you be more supportive?” I asked.

She shrugged. “Whatever.”

“Well, I think this is cause for a celebration,” Jodie hugged me before sitting next to Chloe on the couch.

“Don’t be mad at Chloe,” Janet said. “She just misses you that’s all.”

“I guess after Daniel we thought you’d never want to move away again.”

I gulped. “It wasn’t just for Daniel.”

“Yeah, well, you know,” she shrugged.

I nudged her. “I’m going to miss you guys, too. I always do.”

“Then you should stay,” she joked. We both laughed.

Is it possible to be too clingy to your friends?