A Few Good Conversations (Well, At Least 10)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 7 (v.1) - July

Submitted: April 30, 2018

Reads: 73

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Submitted: April 30, 2018

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“Today is the free-est day of the year.” Declared Immy with a broad grin.

“Free-est?” I inquired.

“It’s the 4th of July.” Responded J Mickey. I stifled a laugh to prevent any unnecessary ego inflation.

“She does this every year.” Blochy added. “Don’t worry about it.” They were both pretty comprehensively over Immy’s annual joke. I still found it funny, and she could definitely tell.

On the 4th of July 2014, history was our last class of the day. School had been profoundly tolerable since my return, probably something to do with the quality of its population. Jared and Blochy had tactfully avoided the topic of Giacci’s now permanent absence, but Fresty and Oscar hadn’t been nearly as kind. I’d like to say that I was doing a good job of ignoring the empty seat in the room (there were actually a lot of empty seats, since the room obviously wasn’t designed for classes of 7). Ultimately though, I was hardly committed to my studies. I’ve been told since that my reaction was fairly expected. It didn’t feel that way though. I did, however, laugh when Oscar accidentally referred to the Cold War as the Frosty Conflict.

The bell eventually rang, and I followed Immy and Jared out of the room. We were apparently on a mission to replenish our cigarette supplies before the next holidays.

“Ed?” Said Banni, interrupting my exit.

“Sir?” I replied with a slight eyebrow raise. He looked at me wordlessly. His eyes were red (as they often were, he was rumoured to have terrible allergies). They portrayed woe that likely was not there. He gave me a little signal to walk over to his desk. His mouth repeatedly opened and closed, but silence prevailed. He reminded me of a silent movie star, and that was compounded by his rather excellent outfit.

“I’m sorry about Nicholas.” He finally said.

“You mean Giacci.” I corrected.

“I suppose I do.” He acknowledged. “He was a good kid.”

“Terrible student though.” I smiled, and it was probably fake.

“Pretty awful, certainly.” He said returning the smile.

“Can I tell you something, sir?” I requested, grabbing a marker from his collection.

“Of course.” His gaze was fixed on the marker. Little did he know, I was a terrible shot. And I also had no intention of throwing it at him.

“I hate how everyone keeps apologising for his death.” I said launching the marker in the general decision of the bin. I missed horribly (it was about 4 paces away). He was visibly shocked by the artlessness of my statement (and my terrible shot), but he regained his composure quickly. I shouldn’t have found that surprising, given the culture of avoidance that plagues modern discourse, but I did.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s an apology, Ed.”

“Well then I hate the fact that everyone says the same thing.” I maintained.

“Then I fear you’re just looking for something to hate.”

“You’re certainly right.”

“At least Stalin would approve.” He finally said, and he brought his attention back to whatever book was in front of him. That was evidently my signal to depart.



 

***



 

Friday the 5th of July was the last day of term 2. Jared invited us all over, but I politely declined the offer. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to see the others… Actually, no, that’s exactly it, but it wasn’t just them. I didn’t fancy spending time with anyone. Drinking Jack Daniels and starring at my bedroom planner seemed like a fantastic way to spend the 5th of July.

I backed into my driveway (I was never able to do it forwards), and mechanically made my way to my front door.

“Hey, Ed.” I heard a forgotten voice say from behind me. I turned around, and I saw her.

“Kacey?” I said both angry and surprised. She was the last person in the world I wanted to see. In fact, she was probably the last thing in the world I wanted to see. She ranked only slightly below Satan in that regard (and many other regards, too).

“How’s it going?” She said with a rather dishonest smile. That being said, I don’t think very many things about Kacey were honest.

“Are you fucking serious?” I said. “How did you even get in here?”

“The gate, it’s...”

“Yeah, I know the fucking gate!”

“Do you wanna grab a coffee?” She said, pointedly ignoring me.

“I don’t think there’s anything I want less.” I complained.

“I heard about Giacci.”

“I know you heard about Giacci! Everyone and their dog’s heard about Giacci! And I bet you’re sorry too.”

“You look well.”

“Great.” I said. ”I need a coffee.” And with that, I aggressively walked to my front gate. I squeezed past it, but Kacey was so slender that she could walk right through. She was an objectively beautiful girl. She was the petite blonde type you see on the cover of beauty magazines. She, in my professional opinion, was also a heartless bitch.

The walk down to the cafe was predictably haunted by the trademark silence of two past lovers. It was a nice walk, too, and I hated that.

 

“So how’s life been treating you?” Kacey said as we joined the line of Friday afternoon coffee addicts.

“Well, Kacey, my best friend killed himself a month ago. So I’m peachy.”

“I’m sorry.”

Some would argue that I could have handled that situation with slightly more tact. That’s rather obviously ridiculous. The conversation was tainted with ceaseless pauses and awkward silences. I understand that that’s not unusual for people in our situation, but Kacey and I shared more silence than good conversation, even in our best days.

“Long black?” She politely asked.

“As always.” I impolitely responded.

“Some things never change.” She observe with a toothy smile. Look, she had a beautiful smile, even I couldn’t deny that. But it was cold. It lacked emotion, and more importantly it lacked purpose.

“Not nearly enough things.” I complained. That did a pretty good job of shutting her up for the time being.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“I think I’d rather just forget about it.”

And then the silence set in again. Kacey’s silence had the remarkable property of making you feel wholly unwelcome, even in your own home. It felt as though she was passing some form of judgement on you. Needless to say, I didn’t very much enjoy spending time with Kacey. Not anymore at least.

“So have you applied for uni yet?”

I had not. I had, in fact, completely forgotten about the very concept of university. It somewhat surprised me that Kacey would bring up applications because last I checked she was failing all her courses. Not that I could comment on that, the lack of assessment in the IB meant I was averaging 0 marks.

“Fuck.” I said simply, summarising my emotions in the briefest way possible.

“You know applications close next month.”

I did not know that. University had felt so completely unimportant in light of the events of the last 2 months. I was also just completely terrified of entering the real world. Though I had been told repeatedly that the adult world is in no way more ‘real’ than any of the previous worlds I’d inhabited, it still terrified me. Point being that I had gone out of my way to avoid any updates regarding university.

“What?” I said in response to Kacey staring blankly at me. I hadn’t realised that my train of thought had gotten so complex that I’d entirely forgotten about her original statement.

“Never mind.” She said with a proper smile. Still emotionless though.

We finally got our coffee, and we sat in the very corner of the cafe. I trapped myself against the seam where the two wall couches met. Kacey was drinking a mocha with 2 sugars. How was she still so skinny? I actually knew the answer to that question. Her sliming technique relied heavily on her index and middle fingers. I was a fan of this particular cafe. It featured terribly rustic decoration, and was adequately noisy. Our table didn’t have anywhere near the same vocal luxury.

“Kacey, what are you doing here?” I eventually said to break the silence.

“I thought you might need someone to talk to.”

“We were together for 2 years, Kacey. I know you well enough to be pretty damn sure you wouldn’t bother if it were only that.”

It is easy to accuse me of being prejudiced against Kacey. And it would be even easier for me to deny that accusation. But I knew Kacey, probably better than she knew herself. Such is the bittersweet result of being with someone for 2 years.

“Ed,” she said, “I don’t know what you want from me. One of our friends passed away. I didn’t want you to be alone.” She may have sounded honest, but I knew from experience that Kacey was not be trusted.

“Come on, I know there’s more.” I spat aggressively.

“What do you want me to say, Ed? That I miss you? That I’m here because I want to be with you? That I’m here because I’m sorry? Well, even if those things are true. That’s not why I’m here. I’m here because I love you, or loved you - whatever, and I want to make sure you’re alright.”

“I appreciate that you’re here, Kacey, I do. But don’t tell me it’s for me. I know what’s in your cold heart, and the only thing you want is warmth to thaw it.”

“What happened to you, Ed? Weren’t you filled with words and noises? Now you won’t let anyone get near. What is it you fear? You should go back to the days where we lived on a blood stained mattress in your basement. The Ed I knew wasn’t so spineless.” She barked. Then she left her double sugar mocha untouched, and went back to wherever she came from.

And I knew that she was right.

 



 

***



 

The holidays came and went without fanfare. I must admit that I spent the majority of my time basking in my own loneliness. But on the 23rd of July, Jared and Immy jumped me and pretty much stole my car (with me in it). The first Wednesday of my third term thus saw me revisiting Jared’s cylinder. I almost expected to find Giacci passed out beneath the pool table covered in a token blanket. That being said, winter was truly starting to set in - and the blanket may have been less token at that time of year.

We played King’s cup, and as a result, I got proper fucked up. I was laying on my back in Jared’s tiny garden when Immy spoke to me.

“What did it say?”

“What on earth are you on about?” I retorted. I wonder how many of those sounds actually came out as words.

“The voicemail. The one he left that night.”

“Voicemail?” I repeated. “Voicemail!” I exclaimed, suddenly understanding.

I threw my hand into my front pocket, and extracted my smartphone. I dialled the number for voicemail (incorrectly at first), and I heard his voice.

I heard his voice, and I wished I was sober. I heard his voice, and I felt his pain. I heard his voice, and I ran out of the house, and then I immediately ran back in because I remembered Annie Rose lives in Swanway and my thoughts vis-à-vis running there could be quite perfectly summarised in 2 words: fuck that.

“The keys!” I shouted into the house. Jared threw them at me.

“What did it say?” Immy asked once more. I didn’t have time to answer, I launched myself into Emmanuel, and floored it to get to Swanway as soon as possible.

 

I took my left shoe off and threw it at what I presumed was Annie’s bedroom window (based entirely on the fact I’d seen her run up the stairs when Myars invited me to dinner). The wooden sole made a horrible crash on impact, and I think it may have cracked the window slightly. It quickly became obvious that removing my shoe was not the best decision. The grass was wet and cold, and my grey sock was starting to feel like an ice pack. My attention was quickly drawn away from my cold feet to a head poking out of the now open window.

“Who’s out there?” I heard someone who definitely wasn’t Annie shout (it was Myars).

I swore under my breath and ran to the other side of the house. Three automatic lights were activated by my mad dash, which rather compromised my hiding place. I swore again, and made the decision to exit the premises. The wall was far easier to climb from the inside, and in no time I was sat against the exterior heavily panting.

“Fancy seeing you here.” Said someone who definitely was Annie, and who definitely was standing over me. She was holding an ice cream (probably vanilla) which seemed ridiculous to me given the weather. No snakeskin boots or ray-bans tonight, and no band t-shirt either. The blue jeans made an appearance though, matched with a white pajama top and converse. Apparel that made her prettier than a universe. There was a tightly packed grey plastic bag in her right hand, and I could just barely glimpse a packet of cigarettes and a bottle of Jack pressed against its transparent surface. That night I saw in her brown eyes a thin veneer of bravado that did a rather terrible job of hiding her insecurity. It was beautiful.

“Hey.” I said with a quick smile.

“Hey.” She replied. And I realised that that was the closest we’d ever been to real conversation.

“I think we need to talk.” I nervously played with the grass I was sat on. “Or whatever.”

“Cliche drama if I ever heard it.” She scorned with a fading smile.

“Agreed, but it does feel somewhat necessary.”

“Fine.” She admitted, and she collapsed next to me.

“Did you know?” I asked hesitantly. I doubt I actually wanted to know the answer to that question, and that goes for most of the other ones I asked her that night.

“Always. He wouldn’t stop talking about you.” She looked into the night and smiled.

“Why didn’t you ever say anything?”

“Because those were the rules, Ed.” She reminded me. “Nothing real.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I had failed to realise that the fact you got my best friend addicted to shooting up was too real for our conversation.”

“Look, Ed, I didn’t get your best friend addicted. Your best friend just got addicted.”

“Why did you give it to him?”

“He needed an escape.”

“No, I mean, why him and not me?”

“Oh, darlingheart, I just want what’s best for you.”

“Fuck you, Annie Rose, Annie Myars, whatever your name is. I miss him and I blame you for taking him away from me. No, I blame myself and I wish I could blame you. I can’t tell whether I’m lonely, happy or confused to be sitting here next to you. God, I just wish I could hate you. I wish you made me sick to my stomach. But every time I sit in my room or I hear a Third Eye Blind song I think of all those nights when you rested your head on my lap, looking up at the sky. And I’d run my fingers through your hair and we’d talk about how we we’re all broken, and lost, and fucked up. Just like everyone else. The nonsense of our profound discussions about who we were, and what we wanted keeps me up at night. And it's fucking shit because only now do I feel your lips, and they ache because I never knew. Because I loved you then like I love you now. Despite all those little moments where you pushed me away that you can't erase. Despite what I know now. I almost wish I was the one to leave this tired earth so that I didn’t have to know that you weren’t worth it. That way, at least, there would be no pain when I thought about the quiet nights on the beach when we were perfect.”

Fuck that felt good to say. I stared at the ground and felt about a hundred kilos lift from my shoulders. I finally looked up to her to see the moonlight tessellating on the ridges of her perfect face. I can’t remember if she was crying, but if she was - then it was the most beautiful lie I’ve ever seen. Those tears gave me a way in to what lay behind her thin facade.

“Say something, Annie, just something.” I pleaded. “I don’t care if you mean it, just say something.”

“Sometimes shit things happen to losers like us.”

“What does that even mean?: I protested. “Could you just not be cryptic for one second.”

“I never meant for any of this to happen.” She grimaced. “I never meant for it to be like this.”

In the moonlit silence I suddenly felt very sorry for Annie Rose. Her deistic aspirations collapsed and they viciously crushed her. In the rubble I saw Annie Myars as a human being. And I saw that just like everyone else, she was tragically unextraordinary.

“Why Rose?” I decided to ask.

“It was my parents’ name.” She replied calmly. “Not that I knew them, not really. I was too young.”

“What happened?”

“My dad ran a pharmacy, and I’ve heard my mum was one of the worst artists in Perth. I’ve seen some of her work, and that’s probably true. They’re dead now.”

“Holy shit.” I dropped.

 

She laughed.

 

“I’m kidding, that’s just a lie I tell to watch people cry.” She said with the eyes of someone who wasn’t lying.




 

She pulled a bottle of Jack Daniels from the grey plastic bag.

“Shall we medicate?” Annie asked.

“To fight the feeling.” I completed, grabbing the bottle and unscrewing the top.

“And so Mr. Edward finally gets it.” She beamed.

“It’s Taylor.” I replied mournfully. “Edward Taylor.”

“I don’t care.” She lied.

“Can I ask you something?”

“I swear to God, Edward, if you don’t stop pussyfooting around I will slap you.”

“Fine! Fine!” I moaned. “Why did you provide? I just wanted to know.”

“That sort of business has never really been my thing.” She confessed. “But he wanted it so bad, Ed. I just gave him a taste, and he wanted it so bad.”

“Okay.”

“Do you hate me?” She inquired in a moment of splendid weakness.

“No, I don't hate you, I don't think I've ever hated anyone. Except for Will Burns in middle school. That kid was a fucking cunt.” It was true, he was a cunt.

“It’s funny you say kid.” She remarked.

“Why?”

“Because you’re both grown up now.” She cackled.

“I disagree with the premise of that.” I countered, rather weakly. “But fine.”

“How do you mean?”

“I’m nowhere near being grown up.” I said with a swig of warm malt liquor.

“How do you tell if you are?” She pushed.

“I really wish you hadn’t asked that.”

“Is that so?”

“Well, yeah. Because there’s obviously no answer to that question. And the thing that terrifies me, I mean really terrifies me, is growing up. How do I know what I’m afraid of if I can’t tell what it is?”

“That’s a silly fear.” She laughed. God, I wished she’d never stop laughing.

“I would argue that it’s the only thing worth being afraid of.” I argued.

“No fucking way! Growing up is the only thing worth looking forward to.” She argued back.

“Well, it’s the only thing you actually can look forward to.”

“Clever.” She said dryly. “No, come on, listen.”

“Listening.”

“Stop interrupting!”

“Okay.”

“That counts as an interruption.” From thereon in I elected a strict code of silence. She snatched the Jack from my hands, and rose against the moonlight. “The truth is tomorrow will come, whether you want it to or not. But that’s not a bad thing because tomorrow will be amazing, even if it isn’t. Because, Ed, we could do anything! We could go to the big cities and build empires, we could build a cute little house in an East Coast state with some proper history, or we could be the pretty girls in magazines. All we have to do, Ed, is get there. All we have to do is grow up. And you’re doing it right now.”

Annie Rose stood in front of me, Jack Daniels in hand, a monument to her own mediocrity. Broke, bad, lost and irreparably innocent. I was swept away by her unsullied and infectious capacity for dreams. Annie Rose was so clearly the type of person who loved life as it happened. I, however, suffered from the need to eternally replay the past in my head to enjoy it. I probably still do. This was another moment that I wished would never end. But it did.

“You can speak now.” She said.

“Do I have to?”

“Obviously.” She giggled. Not quite as beautiful as the laugh, but beggars can’t be choosers.

“That sounds like the fairy tale kind of life I could get used to, Annie Rose.”

“Better hope we don’t turn to dust before we get there.”

“Hell yeah, we’ll make it out alive.”

She rested her head on my lap, and I met her gaze. The look in her eyes was timeless, forever locked in their amber gold. She had the kind of smile to which no photo can do justice. I was in love with Annie Rose because she was so shockingly unafraid. She suffered from an inoperable addiction to the white dust that trailed in the wake of her unmade future. All the while I was still waiting on years already gone. But who could blame her, and who could blame me. We were both running from different ghosts. Hers were past, mine were future.

“When you look at the stars, do you ever wonder what they want from you?” She said. I threw my eyes heavenward, and I asked myself what the fuck she was on about. There was, unfortunately, no answer written in the stars.

“Money. It’s got to be money.” I improvised. Her mouth twitched and she faked a smile.

“Why did you transfer to Swanway?” Annie asked, continuing her pattern of meaningless questions.

“I forget how much you know.”

“I do have the homefield advantage.”

“Quite literally.” I smirked. “The short answer to your question is bad breakup, rich parents.”  

“And the long answer?”

“Shitty friends, absent parents.”

“So you ran away.”

“I wouldn’t quite put it like that.”

“How would you put it?”

“It was more like a walk away.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re not allowed to do that!”

“Oh come on, Annie, you’ve been the most guilty of doing it!”
“But that was before you’d seen me cry.”

“The truth is, Annie Rose, I was done with Pastor’s. I was done with Manny Park and it’s super rich kids with inherited beachfront property. My girlfriend of the time was obviously done with me. And my parents’ refusal to acknowledge how much I miss them - even though they’re not gone, even though they don’t deserve it - pushed me over the edge.”

“So you decided to put their money to use.”

“Damn right I did.”

“You’re never going to find any peace.” She said, and she laughed that beautiful laugh into the night.

I stopped speaking because I wanted to keep the moment for as long as I could. The four right chords off the prettiest and saddest songs I knew were playing in my head. They could almost make me cry. We eventually stood up and fell off the sidewalk together. We were superheroes jumping from rooftop to rooftop, with our Walmart capes trying desperately to catch us. We were lost boys and pretty girls under dirty street lights dancing to the tune of Jaguars and BMWs passing by. Another generation of fuck ups waiting for tomorrow to be something better than we deserved. Or maybe just waiting for the day we’ll turn to dust.

 
 


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