small teeth

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
no sweet dream

Submitted: May 25, 2019

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Submitted: May 25, 2019

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Tala waits patiently for the guards to buzz her out of the gates. Well, she waits as patiently as she’s able, anyway. She licks her tongue over her split bottom lip, hoisting her backpack higher up onto her shoulder.

She gives Guard Jenkins a pretty little smile, dropping it exactly once she’s outside the gate. Then she turns around, putting her middle finger up and sticking out her tongue. When Jenkins looks like he’s going to chase her, she laughs and starts running.

There’s no one to pick her up from Rockwell Reform Preparatory—informally called Rockhell, which isn’t particularly creative as far as Tala’s concerned, so once she stops running, she starts walking.

She stops at the first shitty truckstop she sees, picking up smokes, a cup of coffee, and two crullers. As she’s paying, the clerk says, “Hey, pretty girl, give us a smile.”

“Fuck off. Got nothing to smile about, prick.” She flips him off, rolling her eyes.

“Cunt.”

“Oh. You noticed.” She quirks a brow, grabs her purchases, and leaves the store.

She sucks down the coffee while walking backwards down the two-lane highway, thumb pointing out. She gets a ride a half-hour later, when she’s one cruller and two cigarettes deep, having thrown her coffee cup onto the side of the road.

Tala leans into the window after the car slows, sussing out the situation before opening the door. The driver is an older blonde woman who looks kind of like Debbie Harry, so Tala shrugs and opens the door, tossing her bag into the footwell.

“Oh, hon. Where you going?”

“The city, I guess, or as far as you’ll take me.”

She nods, putting the car into gear and pulling away from the side of the road. “You look like you could use a hot meal and a shower.”

More like I could use a mom, Tala thinks, but she stays silent for a moment.

“Hey, go ahead and open up the glove compartment. I keep bags of like—essentials, sundries in there, for people who need ‘em. Printed up a list of shelters in the area.”

Tala blinks, rubbing her tongue over her split bottom lip like a habit that won’t go away. Eventually she leads forward and does as suggested.

Three hours later, she’s camped out at a women and children’s shelter, sitting with her bag on her back and her knees pulled to her chest. She knows how to turn it on when she needs to, and she thinks the puppy-dog frown and the split lip helped her cause a bit, but fuck if she’s going to stay longer than she needs to.

Since old habits die hard—Tala knows this, as she has a lot of them—she still says the Angel of God prayer before going to sleep.

 

Four days later, she has a job as a barback and a semi-stable, short-term spot in a hostel. The day before her job starts, she wanders around the nearest public library until she gets hungry again, fingers itching for a cigarette.

Her hips have gone waspish, thin, partly from loss of appetite at Rockwell and partly from infuriation at having to inhabit a body. She heads to a nearby bodega, sucking down three cigarettes in quick succession.

She walks around, pulling her hair up tight onto the top of her head, airing off the back of her neck. She’s tempted to redo the undercut she had when she first got to Rockwell, hating the feeling of sweat falling down her back.

The guy behind the counter watches her the whole time she walks around, and she can hardly blame the guy. She buys a bag of chips and a coffee, knowing that her stash of money will run out shortly. She sighs, going back to her hostel to take a nap. After stashing her shit in a locker, she chugs the coffee and forgets to eat entirely.

That night, she finds the dingiest punk club in her area of the city, pretending she shouldn’t have to show an ID. She’s clearly not old enough to be anywhere near the entrance of the club, but a fierce walk and a cold bitch face have both gotten Tala pretty far in life.

But they’re also the things that have knocked her back.

She nurses a single beer for a while, eyeing the crowd until the second band of the night takes the stage. Then she moves towards the speakers, throwing her hands into the air as the bass pumps into her sunken chest.

She grabs another beer before the set is over, watching the lead singer drop to her knees and wrap the mic cord around her neck from her own spot at the bar. The band’s nothing spectacular, but the lead singer has a dynamism that Tala can’t pinpoint, even as she humps the stage and cackles.

Tala wanders back through the crowd, throwing elbows at people trying to shove her around. She catches the singer’s eye as she catapults to her feet, mic still wrapped tight around her neck. Tala licks at the split in her lower lip, smirking.

The singer throws her body backwards, nearly knocking into the bass player, who ducks out of the way. When they right themselves, Tala is still staring.

She stays until the band starts breaking down their equipment, pointedly eyeing up the singer before leaving through the side door. She leans against the wall by a dumpster, smoking a few cigarettes and looking at the night sky.

It’s no surprise whatsoever when the singer joins after a while. She puts her hands on her hips, scoffing slightly. Tala rakes her eyes up and down, taking in the sight of a girl in leather pants and a filthy white crop top.

Again, she licks her lower lip.

“You know, they say those things’ll kill you.”

Tala shrugs. “That’s the plan.” She moves to offer up the pack to the singer. “I’m Tala. I liked the gig.”

“Anna.” She takes the pack, extracting a smoke and leaning in to light it from Tala’s burning on. Taking a drag, she leans back. “Thanks. We’re pretty new to the scene, but it’s been a laugh. I write most of our songs, actually. Gotta keep a record of the rubble, yeah? Send a message to the next generation.”

“The next generation? How even old are you?”

Anna ashes her cigarette. “Old enough to know better. Old enough to know you’re not old enough to be here.”

Tala swallows. “And? Are you either?”

Instead of answering, she shrugs.

 

They fuck at Anna’s place, because Tala is renting a four-person hostel room, and Anna at least has a futon that is semi-private.

She wakes up with Anna snaked around her midsection, arms tight. Tala snorts, kissing Anna’ forehead before disentangling herself so she can piss and get a cigarette.

When she comes back, Anna is mostly awake, stretching. “Thought maybe did an Irish good-bye.”

“Not that kind of girl.” Tala knee-walks across the lumpy mattress, cigarette in one hand.

“Oh?”

She shakes her head. “Not remotely Irish.”

Anna snorts, holding out a hand for the cigarette. Tala hands it over, falling back into Anna’ embrace. “What are you up to today?”

“I start my new job later, barbacking.”

“Sick.” She finishes the cigarette. “So. Breakfast?”

They walk to a diner across the street, and by the time they’re done, Tala has a new number in her five-year-old flip phone.

 

As Anna punched her number into the phone, she laughed a bit. “This phone is shady as hell. It’s like having a beeper in the 80s.”

“Meaning?”

“Only drug dealers had that shit, and you can’t tell me any different.”

Tala raised a brow, saying nothing.

“Yeah, yeah. Keep your secrets.”

She laughed, taking the phone back from Anna.

“Text me, yeah? If that thing can even manage it.”

“Roger that.” Tala saluted.

Anna wrapped an arm around Tala’s neck, reeling her in. “Have a good first day.”

 

They text periodically for the next few days, until Tala can show up at the band’s next gig. She’s still not entirely sure what their band’s name is, but Anna extends an invite regardless. This show is a riot even compared to the first one, all spilled drinks and a screaming crowd. Anna is in her element, climbing onto a speaker before lifting her skirt to flash everyone a glimpse of her red panties. She shoots Tala an air-kiss through the crowd, jumping down into a barrel-roll.

Anna makes sure Tala’s drinks are comped. When the band’s done playing, Anna leaps from the short stage and makes a beeline straight for Tala at the bar. She swoops her into a hug, planting a messy, red-lipped kiss on her cheek.

They break down the equipment together, and Tala gets to meet Anna’ bandmates. They’re a motley bunch, and Tala notes that the drummer Harry is wearing two headscarves around her long curly hair. The guitarist Namie is a beautiful blonde mess of a thing, dressed like a mix of a slutty hippie and a hoodrat. The bassist Lee is all soulful looks and slow consideration, wearing just a sports bra and baggy jeans over chunky Tims.

Tala’s not sure if she feels overdressed or underdressed in one of the few outfits that still fit her after Rockwell—a gray tank over a pair of black skinnies, braless, with a studded leather jacket.

Anna perhaps outshines them all, in a short black skirt and a shirt that just says nightmare across the tits. She’s sweaty from the show and from breaking down their equipment, and Tala thinks she smells amazing.

They load everything into Lee’s van, and she leaves with Namie. Harry heads off to meet up with her girlfriend, a dancer at a nearby club whose shift doesn’t end til three.

Tala lights a cigarette as she and Anna walk back to her apartment. “So, are like. All your friends really gay?”

Anna laughs, moving to take the cigarette from Tala’s hand. “Queer, yeah. Was that not apparent from the, uh, everything about me?”

“I dunno.” She shrugs. “It’s nice.” She runs a hand over the back of her neck, which she buzzed two days prior. It feels nice. The sensation is grounding. “My parents sent me to reform school when I came out. So.”

“Fuck.” Anna drops the smoke, stomping it out beneath her foot before grabbing Tala’s hand and bringing it to her chest. “I’m sorry, I had—no idea.”

“Nah, I mean, they were fine when they thought I was only into really nice Pakistani boys, but you bring home a girl once and suddenly everything’s a trashcan-fire.” Tala sighs, clutching at Anna’ hand.

“That’s what found families are for, right?” Anna kisses Tala’s knuckles. “Namnie moved in with Lee after escaping an abusive relationship. She was on the streets for awhile, before that. I met Harry at a support group for people who’d been coerced into gay-conversion programs. We find our people.”

Tala furrows her brows. “You don’t—sound angry.”

“Of course, I’m angry. Who else is gonna be if not me?” She snorts. “Writing my wreckage, right?”

 

They turn a corner, swinging their joined hands between their bodies. Tala sighs, looking up into the night sky.

“Fucking dykes,” she hears from the left, and she looks up to see two guys snickering at them.

She gives Anna a look, who shakes her head. Tala licks her split bottom lip and grins, dropping Anna’ hand. She bum-rushes them without a further thought, knocking one against the wall with her elbow before shoving against the other’s shoulders.

Tala quickly realizes they’re drunk as they trip over their own feet, tumbling against one another. She starts laughing before she hears sirens at their backs, and she turns to look at Anna.

“Run.”

Tala gives each guy a kick to the knees before turning around to book it away with Anna, who’s not laughing quite as much as Tala is. They grasp hands again and make it back to Anna’ apartment without getting arrested, but it’s probably a near thing.

They make it up the stairs before Anna rounds on her. “Yo, what the fuck?”

“I’m angry! Somebody should be!”

“That’s—you’re like five-four and one-hundred pounds soaking wet. They could have creamed you.”

Tala shrugs, licking her bottom lip. “Calculated risk.”

“Just buy mace like the rest of us,” Anna responds, rolling her eyes. “You need an outlet for all this goddam rage.”

 

Two weeks later, Tala performs her first gig with their band. Harry counts out the percussive rhythm of their first song while Lee and Namie nod at one another, and Tala watches Anna about to jump off the stage. She still doesn’t know if they have a name or not, but her lip’s healed and she’s grinning so hard she might just explode with it.


© Copyright 2020 S Pinkerton. All rights reserved.

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