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Everything posted by writeandleft

  1. noah

    this is amazing and hell yeah I think he'd adore it!!!!!!
  2. biting into a crisp strawberry is what I imagine heaven feels like

  3. *hi, what am I even doing anymore, the beginning is literally just poorly written exposition, why did I feel the need to have a school d a n c e, Jade is wonderful I love them skjdfbdshkahfj, Alya deserves so much but look what I'm giving her, hoo boy wait till part 5,, what have I done,,,* Jade picks up her friend Dani and the beginning of the night is just a vivid blur. We arrive at the school and meet up with Jackson, Theo, and Daniel, who are Jade and Dani’s friends. They rush me through introductions and the three guys all crack smiles at us. Theo gravitates towards Dani. Jackson gravitates towards Jade. And Daniel, well, he shrugs and grabs my arm and pulls me towards the dance floor, excited. I laugh and stumble away, putting my hands up. “Oh no,” I say. “I really don't dance.” I don't even know this guy. This should be embarrassing, and it is, but I'm grinning, nonetheless. “Now you do!” Daniel exclaims, and drags me onto the floor. The music is pounding, people look sweaty, but this excites me so I go along with it. “Well, I've tried before but completely failed. So…” I laugh, and Daniel shakes his head. “Then you've been doing it wrong,” he says as he pushes dark hair out of his eyes. “Dancing is like living. You just…” he rubs the back of his neck. “Actually I don't know where I was going with that metaphor at all.” “Do what you want, and if anyone judges you that’s their problem?” I supply, giggling, and Daniel puts his hand up for a high five. I give it to him, looking down at my feet and blushing. “Exactly. And unless you go around breaking any laws, you're good.” He jumps out of the way as a dancing couple almost bumps into him from behind. “Alright, name a dance move. Anything you can think of.” “Um…” I look around. Everyone's just, I don't know, moving. Effortlessly. They hear the music and move their hips and legs and arms in some way and somehow it looks good. “God, I don't know.” “C’mon,” Daniel encourages me. “Anything -- don't even think about the music that's playing now. Just the most absurd thing that comes to mind.” I shake my head, and just say, “I don’t know, the, uh, the Macarena.” Daniel laughs. “Perfect. Alright.” He cocks his head, listens to the music for a couple seconds, and then cracks his knuckles and starts to do a freaking speed Macarena to this fast pop song that's playing. It’s ridiculous, he’s ridiculous, and I am laughing my ass off and so is he and it’s great. I applaud when he finishes. “Beautiful! Flawless!” He stops and bows exaggeratedly. “That better not be sarcastic, ‘cause I don't want anyone judging the way I live my life or dance my Macarena.” “Oh trust me,” I reply, “I'm not judging. Dance your dance any way you want.” “Ya know what,” Daniel says to me, smiling, “I like you, Alya. Jade has good taste in friends.” “Yes they do,” I respond, looking at him, and he grins. “I'm glad you guys think so,” says a voice from behind, before Jade appears and squishes me in a brief hug. “Hey,” Daniel says. “I was just teaching Alya how to dance.” He winks at me. “He was teaching me how to live,” I say, and he laughs. “To the fullest.” Jade looks at me. “Well now that you know how, wanna dance?” “Why not?” I say, not knowing what I'm doing but wanting to anyway. The night dissolves into a colorful blur of exhilaration, movement, laughter, and flashing rainbow lights. Jade is wearing a flowy short sleeved dress that's navy blue. The bodice has vertical white stripes, while the skirt is covered in a shimmery material that flutters when she walks and -- oh God -- when she dances -- She is a goddamn angel. I seriously can't imagine what it must be like to be that confident; to be able to dance like nobody's watching even in a crowd full of your peers, to turn and move and swirl and glide and still have a massive grin on your face. She is completely in her element and I am completely out of mine, yet I enjoyed every second I spent in front of her dancing with our eyes squeezed shut and the drumbeats throbbing inside our chests and shooting red lipped smiles at each other every now and then. Her hair is dark rich golden, catching in the flashing light, dulling in the darkness; her lashes are black, her lips a deep rose, her smile blinding and her laughter coming so freely. I envy her with frightening intensity for a split second -- and then I tell myself to shut up. This is just a high school dance, it's the beginning of the year, I'm not going to let myself get drunk on wishful thinking. After who knows how long of clumsily, idiotically dancing my bursting heart out, Jade takes a break to go dance with and talk to her other friends. I push down an unwarranted rush of bitterness (jealousy) and scold myself for feeling that way before leaving the dance floor and heading into the adjacent cafeteria, where all the food is. I take this...triple chocolate chip chocolate cookie thing that looks like it's probably my entire weekly calorie count but tastes like heaven, so, no regrets. Then Dani appears and calls my name. “Hey,” I reply, approaching the place where they are sitting. She pops a gumball into her mouth, rolls it between her teeth, then bites down. “You having fun?” “Yeah,” I say. “You?” “Ha,” she laughs, and crosses her legs. “I hate dancing, it makes me self conscious, and all my friends are out there.” She gestures to the door into the gym turned dance floor. “But yes, I am having fun. Honestly sitting here getting fat is great.” I laugh and sit down next to her. “You should come out and dance,” I find myself saying. I don't know why. “We can find Jade and Daniel and...I don't know where Theo and Jackson are. I haven't seen them all night actually.” “Eh,” she responds. “I'll come out eventually. Theo promised me a slow dance, and that's different. I'll see you guys.” “Alright.” I can't help but wonder if Dani and Theo are...a thing, like, a couple. But I don't ask. I hardly know this girl. I'd probably make it awkward. Dani and I sit in silence for a moment. I look down at my hands and twist a ring around on my finger, hyper aware of myself. Just before the silence grows too long, though, the doors from the gym burst open and I turn to look -- it's Jade, along with the three guys. They're all flushed and laughing, stumbling in behind one another. Theo pushes Jackson and he pushes him back and they're cracking up and smiling ear to ear. Jade smiles brightly. “Hi, you two,” she says looking at me, something bold and clear like affection in her ocean eyes. “You --” she starts, then coughs. “You guys look so pretty. I mean I said that to you earlier, but.” “Still true?” Dani says, raising an eyebrow, amused. “Always,” Jade says, and she looks at me. I smile tentatively. “You too, I mean, all of you look great.” Dani smooths out her large, spreading skirt. “Why thank you. Do you know how much this cost? I would wear this shit at my own wedding. Seriously.” It is a beautiful dress -- white, with a seafoam green bodice. It complements her dark hair nicely. “I love it,” Jade says. “I’d wear that at my wedding, too,” Theo says and pretends to curtsy. Jackson claps him on the back and he stumbles comically. “Maybe not. I don’t think the bride and groom can wear the same thing if they’re gonna marry each other,” he says, and Daniel lets out a loud “ohhhh!” at that. Jade starts laughing. And Theo and Dani -- well, they both turn bright, bright red and look away, embarrassed. Now I’ll just take a wild guess: they’re not together, but they are absolutely mad for each other. Everyone is laughing and joking in the cafeteria for a while. I just kind of sit back and observe -- socializing, not my strong suit, but in a bigger group like this I sometimes like to just listen. Dani maintains that she will not go in to dance, so we all sit with her to keep her company for a bit, but then the Cotton Eye Joe comes on in the gym and the guys go wild and we have to go. Eventually the inevitable happens -- a slow dance. It’s nearing the end of the night. I should have seen this coming, and now I don’t know what to do. It would basically be too good to be true if Jade asked me to dance. Even just as a friend thing. I might pass out from shock and happiness and maybe anxiety. But I know that isn’t going to happen, so I just kind of stand to the side and watch everyone get people to dance with. Theo takes Dani out onto the floor, and she’s a much better dancer than she claims to be. Daniel gets snatched up by some random girl who walks up and asks him. He turns around and mouths “wish me luck” at me and Jade before the two of them disappear into the mass of students. Then something happens that hurts more than it should. I hate myself for being jealous, because I feel selfish and conceited and idiotic, but when Jackson taps Jade on the shoulder and says smoothly, “Wanna dance?” I feel sick to my stomach. And when Jade says, “sure, why not,” I actually feel like I might throw up. Shit. Shit shit shit shit Jade is dancing with Jackson? She turns around to look at me right before they are swallowed by the crowded dance floor, and I can just barely manage a smile. But I do, I smile at her, and then she turns back around in a split second and disappears. Occasionally, I catch glimpses of them dancing. Looking perfect. Looking actually like a couple. Him in his shirt and tie and her in her dress that swirls and shimmers. Her, with her smiling lipsticked mouth and shining hair, laughing at something he says. I don’t know what I expected for this slow dance but...it definitely wasn’t...that. I want to cry. And then I want to cry even more because I realize just how pathetic I am for wanting to cry in the first place. I’m just standing there on the side of the dance floor, trying to hold myself together, while all these couples are dancing. Whether they be actually romantic or just friends, they’re all dancing and dancing and dancing and I’m alone on the sidelines trying to keep a neutral expression on my face. Eventually it’s too much and I escape to the nearest bathroom. Bathrooms are safe. As long as no one comes in, I can hide myself in a stall and have a breakdown and no one will ever know. When I get myself together, there’s no way anyone will be able to tell if I was shitting or if I was bawling my eyes out. Y’know, that’s...probably the only merit of public bathrooms. And of course, knowing my shitty luck, people come in almost as soon as I close the stall door. Two people, to be precise. Judging by what I can see of their shoes, it’s a girl and a guy. Why -- oh, no. Sloppy -- wet -- quiet muffled moaning -- While they’re making out against the graffitied up wall, I am sitting on the toilet seat with the lid pulled down and my legs pulled up and trying not to breathe so they won’t hear me and trying not to cry because there could not be a worse time in the world to be on the verge of falling apart. This might be the longest two and a half minutes of my life. At least by the time they pull apart, say a few things I can’t quite hear, and then slip out of the bathroom, I have forgotten much of my pathetic need to cry and I’m on the road to being alright. And by the sound of the pounding music out in the gym, the slow dance is over. I’ll go back out now. I’m fine. I’m fine. You’ll be fine, Alya, just get your shit together and get back out there and show Jade that you are beautiful and strong and worthy. You are amazing. Get out there and freaking slay. … … … “Never have I ever. Who's in?” “Oh, definitely,” Theo says. “Dani, you got any beer?” She laughs. “Nope. The strongest thing parents drink is oversteeped tea. They don't allow alcohol in the house ‘cause I'm not 21 yet, sorry.” “Too bad,” he replies. “Anyone sneak anything to the dance ?” The room is silent except for the music playing from Dani’s phone. No one fesses up to anything. Jade starts giggling. Theo laughs. “Okay, so either y’all are actually good, law abiding people, or you drank it all at the dance.” … … … Theo swirls his punch around in the cup a little as he thinks. “Uh, never have I ever...had sex.” He takes a drink, negating the statement. “That escalated quickly,” I mutter, and Jade laughs. To my surprise, Theo, Jackson, and Dani all take drinks. Not Daniel. Not me. Not -- Then so does Jade. My mind starts whirling, wondering, curious, then guilty. I don’t even know what to think. This shouldn’t come as a surprise -- I feel kind of numb. “Woo,” Theo whistles. “Four outta six. I won’t ask. Jade’s turn.” “Never have I ever...uh...had a crush on a guy.” Her, Dani and I all raise our cups and sip. “Cheers,” I say. The three guys on the floor roll their eyes. Jackson laughs. “Never have I ever,” Dani continues, “had a crush on a girl. Haha.” All three guys toast and drink, as we did. I lean back into the couch and take a discreet sip of mine as well, not really wanting anyone to see. Daniel does, though. He mouths a playful, oh, really? at me and then smiles, turning back to face forward again. Okay. Jade takes a drink, too. My heart quickens annoyingly. I tell it to shut the hell up. Well, Dani, you’re the only one. I can see it written on Daniel’s face. He doesn’t say anything, though, to my surprise and gratitude. … … … Jade sits across from me, fiddling with the buttons on his jacket. He’s wearing a navy blue and white striped shirt underneath, with jeans and those cherry red Chuck Taylors. I smile a little, unconsciously, just looking at him. He’s honestly adorable. We’re quiet for a bit, but Jade looks like he wants to say something. So I wait. “Hey, Alya,” he starts, and I nod to say I’m listening. “Saturday night, right, after the dance when we were all at Dani’s house.” “That was fun,” I say lightly, but Jade looks a little uneasy. “Um. During never have I ever. You said -- I mean you didn’t say, but you drank, I mean when Dani said she’s never had a crush on a girl. You -- you drank --” Jade cuts off when he sees my darkening face. “Shit. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have brought that up.” “You shouldn’t have,” I say quietly, and take a deep breath in. “Just...don’t talk about it, please, don’t. Just forget about it.” Jade looks helpless. He does look really, really, sorry, but I’m angry for some reason. So I keep my head down and focus on a little, hardly visible stain in the tablecloth. Goddammit, why did I even have to take a drink then? Why couldn’t I have just lied? “You should’ve -- could’ve told me, before, I mean obviously I’m okay with that kind of thing, Alya.” Again, I take a breath, almost furious. Why? Why am I furious? I resist the urge to curse, just barely, when I explode, “I know you’re okay with that, of course you are! What do you think I see you as?” Jade flinches a little and sets his jaw, looking pretty angry too, and I have just enough time to think what have I started before he counters, “You tell me everything. You couldn’t have told me that?” Incredulous, speechless, I throw my hands up. “What does that even mean? Am I not allowed to keep secrets from you -- did we make some agreement I’m not aware of that says I can’t have privacy? And what about you, does that apply to you? Because I don’t recall you ever telling me you’ve had sex before.” No -- wait -- I need to take that back. Bad choice. Bad choice. Jade’s face crumbles into something angry and somehow profoundly sad. “We’re seniors in high school, Alya,” he whispers, and I really, really need to hide my face before I start crying. I’m going to cry. God, why do I always do this? I put my head in my hands to shield my face from his view and mumble, “I’m sorry.” “Me too,” he says, but none of the tension in his voice has dissipated. “Look, I’m really sorry too, I shouldn’t have gotten so worked up over you liking...some girl, I mean that’s probably over, right? I’m an idiot. I’m sorry.” There’s something sour in Jade’s voice, something I can’t quite put a name to. I just know that I really, really hate it. I hate myself for causing this, I hate that he’s in pain. I just hate it. But wasn’t something like this inevitable, I mean, our friendship can’t just be perfect forever, and I should have known that. I should have known that sometimes people who care about each other fight. And then they fix it, the wounds heal, and it’s okay again. I need to make this right. Because we’re not going to lose what we have over something as stupid and trivial as this. “It’s fine,” I say, even though we both know it’s not. Not yet. I take my head out of my hands so we can talk this out like actual human beings, not scream across the table at each other like some kind of immature fifth graders. I look him in his eyes. He looks me right in mine. I think we both see each other somewhere in there. Jade inhales deeply and finally starts to speak. “Okay, I had sex with a guy somewhere during the first half of my junior year. We were dating. I liked him, he liked me, you know the drill. So we went out for a few months and I found myself getting attached, as one does. Then one time after a date, he took me home. He did what he wanted with me, and then he broke up with me. That very same night. Didn’t even try to dull the blow. I guess I was stupid enough to think that he took our relationship seriously. But that was the end of that.” Oh. A thousand possible replies are running through my head, and I don’t know what to say, so I just choke out an “I’m sorry” and hope that Jade doesn’t notice my voice cracking. I am really sorry, more than I could ever say, because how stupid of me was it to bring that up when I knew nothing? “It’s okay,” Jade says, tension prominent in his voice. I shake my head. “No, it’s not. You know it’s not. I’m such an idiot.” “Look,” he starts, catching my gaze again. “I’m mad still. But I’m not mad at you. Does that make any sense?” His eyes are pleading and sad. I nod. “Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. ‘Cause me too.” “I’m just kind of mad...at the world, you know,” Jade says, and laughs kind of sadly. “Me too.” That's all I can really say at this point. “I’m really sorry for bringing up...that thing. I’m really sorry for starting this, I’m kind of an asshole.” “No, look, honestly it was my fault. Okay? I wish I’d never gotten angry.” “Sometimes it’s good to be angry. And plus, I deserved it.” I look down at my hands, thinking. I’m mad at the world. Furious. Done with its shit. Everything is so confusing and big compared to me. There are people out there like Jade's dad who hates them for bigoted, stupid reasons and their ex-boyfriend who didn’t give their feelings a second thought. There are such terrible people out there. I just hate it so much sometimes. So much. And I just want to give someone a good punch in the face and a drop kick off a cliff and take all my pent up anger out on the undeserving because the deserving are too frightening to deal with. But. There are still people like Jade, who put up with the assholes and push through, and people like Dani and Theo and Daniel who are just kind and quirky and dancing and and falling in love and appreciating the speed Macarena and fruit punch moments. People who go to cheesy tourist attractions and roll down car windows and take photos at night and sparkle like the stars. People who wear flowing dresses to high school dances and eat too much candy and move like clumsy angels and blush when they make eye contact and joke around and live the way they dance. Those are the people worth living for, worth fighting for. And living for them makes the nighttime feel a million times brighter.
  4. infinite sky excerpts part 1!!!

    *these are my favorite excerpts from the first couple chapters of my nano novel, infinite sky!! basically it's about a girl named Alya (senior in high school) who has social anxiety and family angst and depression and questioning sexuality crap and just generally a lot of things against her. and her parents are divorced and both very distant. but then she meets Jade (genderfluid, pronouns change depending on whether they're fem/masc/nb identifying) and the two kinda just connect, becoming friends over the summer and then starting school with this blooming friendship between them. eventually Alya falls in love with Jade. in the midst of this a bunch of other crap is going on in her life and my novel is mostly composed of her internal rants soooo have fun I guess :)) I'm gonna post more excerpts but for now here's the beginning, In Which Everything Is Going Perfectly and none of the aforementioned angst really crops up yet. haha enjoy* School's the one thing I look forward to. On the last day of my junior year, I was already wishing twelfth grade would start. My summers drag past in boredom and solitude, for the most part, until finally it's over. School means routine and organization. School means waking up every morning with a purpose. School means books and math and science and music and fixed answers. But most importantly, as of this year, school means Jade. Jade is the first person to really, truly care. And I mean that. My dad is distant, always has been -- there were no dad jokes or road trips or movie marathons when I was younger. My mom is even more so, in both a physical and emotional sense. She moved as far away as she could get while still keeping her job. And when it comes to friends, I’ve never been good. It’s always shy, stumbling, awkward words and long silences. When jr. high school started up, I was pretty much doomed and all my “friends” found better people to hang out with. And yet. Somehow, a wonderful person like Jade saw the good in me, saw how I say the things I wish I could tell them with my smile and my eyes. Somehow they saw me for who I wish I could be and accepted that as who I am now. There’s a few things one should know about Jade from the very start. They are genderfluid, which means they switch from male to female to anything else from day to day, sometimes by the hour. It suits them, the unpredictability and uniqueness of it, graceful and elegant and inimitable. Jade is a summer storm, refreshing and sudden and energetic in the most quietly beautiful sort of way. They moved here from further south in the state -- Arizona, we live in Arizona. This place has gorgeous sweeping deserts painted in beige and rust and cobalt. This place is home to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and yet a lot of people take it for granted. I’ve seen it snow here even in sweltering heat -- because the upper atmosphere temperature is so much colder than what we feel on the ground. It’s enchanting. Really. Our state is enchanting and I don’t think many people realize that. Jade used to live further south, and their family had to move for work or something. Typical. Isn’t that always how it goes? Life revolving around a parent’s job? My own dad is hardly seen during the day because he’s buried in his office; meanwhile, my mom would probably be halfway across the country by now if her work didn’t keep her tied to this area. I don’t know much else about Jade’s family besides that. They have married parents and a twenty four year old brother who’s engaged. He has an apartment a couple miles away. I think he’s a teacher. The last thing one should know about Jade is that they are a contradiction. They are bursting with energy and yet so full of peace; a tornado of serenity. I love it. … A little bit of the unfamiliarity fell away that day, when I realized that no matter feminine, masculine, or otherwise, Jade will always be Jade and no one else. They'll always be my Shakespeare quoting, golden haired, quicksilver souled best friend, who I love to death and always will. Even though their identity changes every day, sometimes by the hour, they never seen like different people. They're just...Jade. I think that despite their unpredictable ways, they’re more together than I am -- Jade knows exactly who they are. That's a lot more than I can say for myself. … He climbs onto the bus and slides gracefully into the seat next to me -- if the word “gracefully” can be applied to any prosaic situation, this might be it. Or am I stupidly romanticizing anything Jade does? Am I too obsessed with his...beautiful Jade-ness? Or maybe that’s not a bad thing. I really hope it isn’t. “Hey Alya!” I beam at him. “Hi. Excited for senior year?” “Guess so,” Jade says, smiling back at me. “How are you?” I push a strand of hair out of my eyes. “Alright,” I reply, truthfully. “You? I was stuck at home with my dad all weekend, and he was locked up in his office and wanted nothing to do with me. How was yours?” He half sighs, half laughs. “Sorry. Ben came to visit with his girlfriend, Angelina, I told you that, right?” I nod. “Yeah, I really missed him. But guess what?” “What?” I say, feeling giddy from the elated look painting Jade’s face. “I’m going to have a sister in law!” His face breaks into a grin and so does mine. “Oh my God, they finally got engaged?” I exclaim, if a bit redundantly, and Jade nods. For everyone else on the bus, it's a little too early in the morning to be this awake, this excited. But Jade doesn't follow the laws of the universe. He never really has, and I think it's just magnificent. “It's about time!” I say, laughing, and he follows suit. “It's been five years now. They're both twenty four, can you believe that? He asked just last Thursday. The wedding’s gonna be in October, I think.” I look down at my lap, blushing for some reason. “That’s awesome. Say congrats for me.” “Thanks.” He braces a hand on the seat in front of us as the bus turns a corner. “I'm so happy for them. They're so in love with each other, it's beautiful.” And for some reason, this makes me blush even harder. Like always, though, I smile, and he knows exactly what I'm thinking. The stuff that shoots through my head and I can't say, the stuff I overanalyze to the point where it's too late to speak. It's cheesy but -- he knows me better than I know myself. It's like he speaks the language that is me. Shy smiles, tentative grins and awkward heys. Sudden quiet and overanalyzed responses. They okay stuff, the normal stuff, but most importantly the ugly stuff. The distances and silences that stem from irrational anxiety and overthinking. I see it in his face, right now, that he knows just what I mean to say. Even if I don't. Sometimes I simply marvel at us. Having a good friend is rare enough for me, let alone a best friend, let alone...what I have with Jade. We've only known each other for a few weeks but it feels like we have years of friendship. “Angelina wants me to be the flower girl,” Jade says suddenly, and it's so absurd right now that we both start giggling hysterically, and for a minute I don’t know if we’ll ever stop. … Jade and I exchange hurried goodbyes. So suddenly I’m alone in this giant swarming crowd of students, and the warm September air feels cold, and I’m left with the echo of a laugh and a glimpse of a retreating back and a memory I’ll play over in my head a million times today. To anyone else, that conversation would have been ordinary. Forgettable, maybe. But to me, it’s a glowing treasure I’ll hold close to my chest until I see Jade again. I didn't screw up. I didn't stutter. I wasn't too awkward. (Did Jade think I was?) Shut up. I'm fine. We are fine. I did it. I did it. I’m smiling at the ground as I walk into the school building. Why do the some of the smallest things make me happy now, like that short conversation, when I can go weeks feeling generally miserable? Why do I feel like my chest is about to burst when I talk to Jade even when that familiar clench is still there? I don’t know what this contradiction is, but I quite like it.
  5. infinite sky excerpts part 3

    *here’s some more of this trash that no one really asked for but I’m gonna finish what I started!! um more aimless rambling of plot happens and more angst and crap but also some random snippets of Alya/Jade conversation just cause I think they’re cute. Anyway it’s messy and unorganized and stuff but here ya are* Jade stumbles into me on tired legs. “You good?” I say, half amused. Rubbing their eyes, Jade glances at me with a look that says I am about to fall asleep on my feet. “Weekend morning me is not good,” they reply dryly. “Weekend morning me would sell my soul for an extra ten minutes of sleep.” … … ... So they’re what’s keeping me right? Them, and hot caffeinated coffee, and and as much sleep as I can get with this ton of homework I suddenly have. Whatever. So on Monday, after school, I just want to find Jade at the bus stop and talk to them and forget everything for a bit, all the stress and pressure of school. I want to find that dreamlike surreality again that I found on Saturday. That peace and sense of belonging to something, I guess. Then I want to go home and maybe sleep and eat something, because God am I starving. Those hopes...kind of go down the drain when I’m walking towards my bus at the end of the day, searching the crowd of jostling students for the only person I really feel like seeing right now, and who walks up to me but Kyra. With Caroline by her side, as always. “Hi, Alya,” she says. “Car and I wanna ask you something.” She pulls me out of the crowd, away from my bus, away from where Jade will be. I bite my lip. “Hey,” I say, sounding indifferent and a bit uninterested, which is what I was going for. “We’re going out tonight,” Caroline says, absentmindedly twirling a piece of flashing hair around one finger. “We wanna know if you’ll come with us.” “There might be a few other people coming too. We’re gonna go see a movie.” Kyra crosses her arms and I fidget. “So what do you think?” Quite honestly, I don’t know what to say. It’s not like I have other plans. It’s not like I can just say...no. I can’t use homework as an excuse, that’s too predictable, I can’t say I’m sick, God, what do I do? What do I do? “Sure,” I say nervously, attempting a smile. “I...that sounds fun. Should I, like, meet you somewhere?” Caroline and Kyra share a look. I don’t know what it means. “The theater,” Kyra replies simply. “Outside in front, at eight? See ya, then.” “See ya,” Caroline echoes. “See ya,” I mumble. I don’t know if they heard me or not but it doesn’t matter because they’re already walking away, silent. There’s only one movie theater close to here, so I know what they’re talking about. But that’s the least of my worries -- shit, what have I gotten myself into? I don’t want to hang out with them. Ever. I want to go home tonight and take a long, hot shower and soak in silence. I want to make myself dinner and eat it up in my room and watch some shitty ‘80s comedy or something. I’m just not in the mood for Kyra and Caroline, my best friends turned disgusting underachievers, to suddenly be acting interested in me after all this time. The three years of jr. high school, we were okay. But it was starting. I was inadvertently distancing myself from them because I’m just shit in social situations, while they were both reforming themselves completely. Slowly. And not for the better, definitely not. Of course, that was followed by three more years of high school in which I have been basically totally isolated. It has been, essentially, seven years. Why now? Why did they choose now to basically re-introduce themselves to me, and maybe even try to rebuild our old friendship? Why the hell did they wait all this time? I don’t even want what they’re giving me. I don’t want to start over, I just wish it was all over and done with. Well, Jade’s on the bus when I get there of course. They’re bright as always, and it lifts my mood. It’s only tonight, I tell myself. It’s only tonight and then I can just act uninterested and never have to go out somewhere with my ex best friends again. And plus -- it’s a movie. So I won’t have to make conversation that much. That single thought allows me to relax about a hundred and ten percent. So I get home. I do take a long shower. I do eat, and finish my homework. And by five of eight, I’m dressed again and getting in my car with my wallet, my phone, and a butterfly the size of a wooly mammoth fluttering around in my stomach. Why am I anxious about this? It’s stupid, so stupid, I really hate myself sometimes. I step on the gas, I make my way to the theater. I get there a little after eight. And when I get out of my car, there must be about ten people waiting together. Two guys are sprawled out on a bench smoking. There’s another one, standing, with his arm protectively wrapped around Caroline’s shoulders. Kyra’s talking with some other girls, and they keep cackling at some story she’s telling. I recognize one of them from orchestra at school. She’s got a cigarette too -- keeps tilting her head back and blowing the smoke up and into the darkening purple sky. I quietly say hi to Caroline as I walk towards the group. Her boyfriend gives me a weird, condescending look, so I pull out my phone and pretend to check a nonexistent text or something and just hide my face. After another girl appears and hugs just about everyone, we go inside. Everyone’s talking and laughing and going crazy and it’s driving me insane and I can’t help but think, if I were to turn around right now and get in my car and leave, would any of these people notice? “Hey Alya.” Kyra has noticed me, apparently. “Hey,” I say awkwardly. Always awkwardly. Can’t I just do something normal for once? “Um.” She seems to be searching for a conversation topic, too. “Are you going to the dance on Saturday?” she finally asks me, and at first I don’t know what she’s talking about. “The dance?” I say idiotically. Kyra nods slowly. “Yeah. The dance. It’s supposed to be an all school thing. Huge. Like, celebrating the start of the year or something.” “Though who knows why we’d want to do that,” I say, rubbing the back of my neck with one hand, and Kyra laughs. So do I, halfheartedly. “Yeah, I remember seeing a poster for it...a while ago. I guess I’ll go,” I continue, and she smiles a little at me. It’s kind of pained and awkward. Like she wants to talk to me but doesn’t know how -- I know the feeling. Really, I do. In front of us, Caroline and a bunch of the others are laughing obnoxiously over some obscene joke. Kyra looks over her shoulder at them and then back to me, as if she feels bad for wanting to rejoin her...actual friends. I can’t blame her. “I’ll see you there then I guess. Well, I’d better go get the tickets. I promised Car I’d buy hers for her...uh, do you want me to buy yours too? ‘Cause I can --” “No, no, that’s fine,” I say, fumbling for my wallet. “Thanks though.” Kyra looks relieved. She turns away and melds with the others in front of me, relaxing. Someone tells a joke. She shoots something back, witty and flirtatious. Everyone laughs. One of the guys slides his hand onto her waist and she pushes him away, feigning disgust, but her eyes betray a mischievous and lusty glimmer. She’s back in her element -- people. Swarming groups, hordes of people, gossiping, talking, joking, laughing, shouting, cursing, smoking, drinking, touching, moving, overwhelming people. Everything I hate. I’m left wondering again why I’m here. And why Kyra and Caroline even invited me. But before I know it, I’ve bought the movie ticket and I’m following the mass of rowdy seventeen and eighteen year olds whose smell of smoke is mixing strangely with that of the buttered popcorn they sell here. It’s all just..too much, and I want to leave, but I paid for my ticket and now I’m gonna enjoy this movie, whatever it’s about. Then I’ll go. And this will be done with and I’ll make sure never to go out anywhere with these people again, because frankly, I hate this. The movie ends up being some superhero shit where the handsome and unrealistically ripped protagonist has to save the world from some super villain genius guy with a predictable weakness and a fondness for overused one liners. Of course there’s a love interest, too -- the helpless girl who’s practically busting out of her shirt on top of having a waist the width of my hand. It’s honestly trash, but the group seems to enjoy it. The guys whoop every time the blonde girl gets a flattering angle. One of the girls actually gasped when the hero was in a precarious spot and the tension was high. And during the makeout scene between superhero and personality-less blonde, Caroline’s boyfriend leans towards her and sticks his tongue in her mouth. So they’re kissing next sloppily to me, and there’s the noises and visual of the movie, and all this just makes we want to get up and walk out of the theater. I feel like an absolute freaking idiot, just sitting there with my popcorn and scowling into the darkness. I want to sink into the goddamn patterned movie theater floor and never be seen again. When it’s finally over, I’m so ready to get the hell out of there. I don’t want to see Kyra, not when she looks at me in that sort of condescending way she has, and I don’t want to see Caroline, not when all she cares about is her nameless boyfriend’s hand on her ass and they can’t keep their mouths apart for two seconds. They invited me here and obviously regretted it. I bet they realized that all the things we used to have in common are long gone. I swear, they are both enigmas. For so many years we skirted around each other, trying not to dredge up the past or make things awkward. And now suddenly they want to start over? No. Maybe if they were still the same girls I knew in fifth grade. But now, to be brutally honest, I don’t like them. I don’t want to spend time with them only to make nervous conversation and say things out of obligation and watch them make out with boys from our English class in darkened movie theaters. I don’t want to. I want the old them, and that’s not going to happen, so I want nothing. Nothing’s fine. It worked for me for three years, actually. Nothing at all, from anyone. But now -- senior year, now is different, because I have Jade. I’m not all alone. I’m not. So, thinking about Jade who is also an enigma but really the better kind, I trash my half full popcorn container and don’t bother to tell Kyra and Caroline that I’m leaving. They see me go, but they don’t care. And I don’t care either. I think at this point, we know it’s all over. And we’re all quite glad and relieved that it is. … … … On Tuesday, Jade and I talked about going to the dance together. They said they were planning on inviting me, along with some other friends -- there were, I think, three guys and a girl. I forget their names. Jade said that they had hung out before and that they were becoming close with a couple of them. I’m still their best friend -- probably always will be, they said. That made me blush fiercely as I returned the sentiment. I racked my brain for Shakespeare quotes, because that’s our thing and plus he always said things better than I could, and one surfaced. One sweet, heartfelt quote surfaced, from The Tempest, and I said it without really thinking beforehand. I said, “‘I would not wish any companion in the world but you.’” Jade stopped in running a hand through their hair, just froze, and then pulled me into a tight hug that left us both giggling and breathless. “Ditto,” they said after we both calmed down, and that only spurred another bout of laughter. … … … “Hey,” I say eventually, because I don’t want this to be an awkward thing. “So, tonight, I’m gonna see my mom again. I guess we’re doing this dinner thing every Thursday.” Jade glances to me. “Oh, I hope it goes well.” “Thanks. I...I don’t really know what we’ll talk about,” I confess, looking down at my lap. “I mean, what do I even have to say to her?” Jade looks a little lost. It seems like his thoughts are still somewhere else. But, he smiles at me and says, “I’m sure it’ll be fine. No matter what happens. She obviously wants to see you, it’s just a matter of whether or not you want to see her. And you do, right?” I fidget awkwardly in my seat. “I don’t know.” I really don’t. “I get that,” Jade says softly. ‘“Good luck.” I frown a little, wondering if i’m being annoying. “Thanks. I -- I’m sorry about all this, I mean I don’t know why I’m telling you --” “Hey!” Jade turns to me. “It’s fine. Really. I mean, tell me anything.” He grins lopsidedly and pushes an errant strand of hair out of his face. “Thanks,” I say. “For that.” He smiles at me, and I think it’s possibly the most beautiful thing on this earth. The rest of the bus ride passes in silence between us. … … … My mom nods, a vacant smile and an actually somewhere else expression plastered on her face. “That’s good. Wonderful.” I wonder what’s so interesting inside her head. “Yeah,” I reply. Because that’s the easiest thing to say. That’s the detached affirmation that comes so effortlessly to my lips, the filler that usually comes accompanied by a weak laugh, something like that. The only word I really know how to say and how to deal with. God, am I pathetic. “Do you have photos of her?” My mom puts her fork down on her plate with a too loud clank and finally looks at me. Really looks at me -- and I wonder if I preferred it when she was mentally somewhere else. I break her gaze, internally fighting a war. Do I correct her use of pronouns or let her live in ignorance -- ignorance it is because yes, I’m shy around my own mom. Yes, these dinners make me anxious as shit (and it’s only the second one) but I keep coming, coming to sit and eat and try to talk about neutral things. It’s like our terrible summer dinners used to be -- except now, my dad’s not here to alleviate some of the one on one conversation induced tension. “I have pictures on my phone, but it’s in my car,” I say, and she frowns a little. “Oh. Alright, you can get it when we’re finished our meal.” And we do just that in complete silence. I hurry outside after she takes my empty plate, quickly unlock my car and grab my phone. Why am I even doing this? I pull up a photo anyway. It’s my favorite of the two of us -- a selfie of Jade and me from near the end of summer -- we’re sitting in the grass in their front yard, wearing old t-shirts and trashy shorts, with paint splattered all over our clothes and legs and arms and even a smear of blue on Jade’s cheek. I have some yellow in my hair, too. I remember when that happened. Between us proudly stands Jade’s bike. It’s painted to look like Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Both of us are grinning, ear to ear. I smile, reenter the house, and show the picture to my mom. “That’s Jade,” I say redundantly. “That was during the summer, when we painted their bike.” “I didn’t know you were artistic.” “Jade is.” I look down at my feet and laugh a little. “I mostly mixed the paint colors, picked music to play, and...we both sang along badly. It was fun. And whenever someone compliments the bike, Jade always says that I helped, even though I was kind of just...moral support.” My mom smiles a little. It feels good. “I was always the artsy one, out of my friends,” she says to me really quietly. My head jerks up. She’s staring off into space again. “I always loved our school art classes...always got A’s...none of my friends understood it, really. Why I loved it so much. They were all either athletic or musical types.” My mom shrugs and shakes her head. “Anyway I painted most of the walls in this house when I moved it. Tore out all the ugly wallpaper and got to work.” I nod my head and try to look interested, because I am, I really am, but this is just so damn awkward. “Even when it’s just a solid color,” she continues, “I love the feeling of painting. It’s very relaxing. Calming.” I nod again and say, “Yeah.” Because what else is there? I’m really at a loss here. I can’t think of a single freaking thing to say. “So,” my mom says, “What are you doing this week? Do you have any plans with your friends, anything with Jade?” “Uh, on Saturday, there’s a dance at school. For the beginning of the year.” “Oh, that sounds exciting. I hope you have fun.” My mom pauses, coughs, and then continues. “Anything else?” I fidget a little where I'm standing. “Um, well. You know Point Imperial at the canyon? I'm going to take Jade there tomorrow night. They've never seen it. And that's my favorite spot, so, y’know. It's beautiful.” My mom’s face brightens. “Point Imperial, that's where we used to go, me and you and your dad. Every summer, am I right?” I remember -- of course I remember. How could I forget? So I smile and reply, “Yeah. And he got a camera the first year and was learning how to use it, so every time we went, the pictures would always come out better.” “Right,” my mom, says, laughing, her eyes crinkling around the edges. “I remember that.” She looks back at me, eyes glittering. “I have one of the photos,” she says. “One of the ones of us. Over here.” She leads me to the other side of the kitchen and I follow her. There’s something on the counter there that I didn’t see the first time I came here -- a picture, framed. The frame is simple, delicate silvery material, so the photo really stands out. It’s me and my mom, in all our contrasting features, but somehow looking the same. My hair is wild as always, and dark, while hers is light and thin. My face is rounder, hers is more slim. But when I put all of that aside, I realize we both have the same expression on our faces. We’ve got the same sparkle in our eyes. We just look...content. The canyon is behind us, wide and sweeping and gorgeously lit by golden rays of sun slanting through picturesque cotton candy clouds. My dad took the photo, I’m starting to remember now, how he posed us, took his sweet time getting the perfect angle, and then finally snapped the photo. But then -- we had to redo it because my hair blew right into my face and we started laughing so hard. He kept that one too, anyway. It’s kind of surprising that my mom has this photo framed and here, in plain view. That she wants to remember me -- us together -- in this moment, this bright moment when time stopped and our fleeting happiness was captured by my dad’s camera. Anyone who walks into this house and takes the time to look around will see this photo, I know it now. Did she do this on purpose? Does she really cherish this fragment, this shard of golden past so much that she would frame it in silver and put it on display? Apparently, and I don’t know how to feel about that. I suddenly want to ask her. I want to ask her everything. About everyone who has walked in here and asked about it, seen it. Or even wondered who I am. I want to know about my mom’s friends, the ones she still has from when I still knew her and the ones she’s made since then and the ones who came and went during all those years that I never knew and never will. I want to know what she thinks of that photo, and how she describes it to all those friends I’ve never met. Does she point out the sunlight in the background, filtering through sugar spun clouds and creating intangible dancing patterns on the canyon behind us? Does she tell them how it wavered and moved and how I tried to trace it with my finger, stretching over the guardrail with hand outstretched as she held onto my waist and laughed? Why does she keep it? I want to know more than anything. But I don't ask. Of course I don't, I'm too shy and awkward and stupid so I stay silent. Why does it always go like this? I used to be able to tell my mom anything -- no, scratch that -- I could tell the old her anything. It's different now. I know we can never go back, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing. There are so many unspoken questions on my tongue, but I don’t say them. I choose not to. Because why should I try to get to know my mom now, when she didn’t reciprocate for all those years after the divorce? We had been close, really close, it’s striking what happened. The thing about the divorce was that it was very sudden. My dad sat me down one day and told me that he and my mom didn’t love each other anymore, so they were going to end the marriage, and it was all that simple. He acted as if it should be so easy for me to understand. I asked him if that meant they didn’t love me anymore, and he backtracked quickly, saying, “No, no, of course we still love you. We always will, Alya.” I didn’t believe him. I was stupid and moody and torn up over the suddenness of it, the lack of warning. Not to mention the fact that jr. high school had just begun. Not to mention, I don’t know, the painful fact that my two closest friends had just become completely different people and wanted nothing more to do with me. So I was becoming a third wheel in my own friend group, I was learning how to navigate an entirely new school full of confusing new teachers and classes and subjects, I was stuck in the middle of a fractured family, and I was trying not to implode from this thing called anxiety which suddenly wanted to invade my brain and take over my life. There were no more sleepovers and late-night whispering and Hairspray sing alongs. There were no more family Grand Canyon trips. And on top of all this, I would come home every night with double the amount of homework I used to have and double the amount of stress too. So I took it out on my parents, basically -- because who else was there to get mad at? I stopped talking to my dad. He grew accustomed to that. I stopped calling my mom. She was too caught up in moving out that she didn’t care. And by the time all the messy divorce shit was over and done with, I had changed, I was a completely different person, and my parents couldn’t reform their relationships with me if they tried because I just wouldn’t let them. But then again, they didn’t try. So my dad locked himself away in his office every day. My mom eventually bought a new house. And the only time I actually had the chance to have a civilized conversation with either of them was over awkward dinners that happened once a year, in the summer. Once a year? Really? I mean, we might as well just stop, just cut all ties. But no. For some reason my parents insisted, and still insist, on getting together like that. I hate it. It only ever reminds me of how everything went to shit so quickly and without any warning. It never does any good. At those dinners, my mom never really tried. She never tried to get to know me beyond my classes in school and my grades and seeing if her pathetic daughter had made any friends yet. So why should I try now? Why? What would that accomplish? So you’re finally interested in my life. Well maybe you’re too late. Maybe it took you a little too long to actually care -- and guess what, I don’t. Not anymore, at least. I can’t let myself care. And honestly, if feels really, really good to be bitter, so I’ll just stay silent. I won’t answer your stupid questions. I won’t engage in your stupid conversation. I’ll just say what I have to, tell you I’d better be getting home, there’s homework I need to do -- even though I finished it long before I came here. I’m angry. I’m also an idiot. Maybe I’ll come back in a week but only because I have to. … … … The canyon which I've seen so many times, in pictures, on maps, and in person, is drenched in thick, rich aubergine and indigo. Inky black shadows drown some of the ridges while others are outlined in ethereal silver moonlight. I'm speechless, frozen to the spot, and even though this sight should be familiar, I'm just as dumbstruck now as I was the first time I saw it in person. Jade is in awe by the massive sight before us too, so surreal. It looks like an oil painting, with bold, vivid brushstrokes combining into something overwhelming. I feel like I should say something to break the silence but my mind has gone blank. She takes a photo on her Polaroid, then another. The pictures slide out and she puts them in her back pocket. It felt normal every other time I came here to look down at the canyon. But now I'm slowly unraveling. I couldn't for the life of me say why, but it's like all my senses are heightened and suddenly the air is sharp and clean and the view is in technicolor and wind is trying to push me to the ground, and it hurts. I'm just so aware of myself, and Jade beside me, and the short distance between us -- I feel so small. So, so small in this vast universe. ... ... … “I love the language. My favorite word,” she muses, “is toujours. I think it's melodic.” It seems like she’s already thought this out. “It's beautiful. What does it mean?” Jade looks up at the shining crescent moon and exhales. “It means ‘always,’ forever. Eternal...like this. The canyon, the river. The infinite sky. The faraway stars. You and me. Something that'll last forever, even when no one’s there to measure time anymore.” Jade glances at me. “Things like love, you know? Things that don't ever die, things as old as the universe and maybe even older.” My heart’s pounding a mile a minute and I feel exhilarated, like I just ran a marathon. Jade always does this to me, and I just nod mutely, awestruck. Until I met them, I thought people only said poetic, intelligent things in novels and movies. I think Jade’s the only exception. They speak like they’re reading flawlessly from a script, knowing just what to say in practically every situation and making it effortlessly magnificent. I've never been good with words -- writing or speaking. Never mind learning a foreign language when English is already hard enough. Jade said her favorite of all the ones she'd tried is French. I haven't done much in that area, but I know I prefer Jade’s enchanting, lyrical English to anything else. I turn my head up to the stars. They're so clear here. “What do you think of Point Imperial?” I say lamely, because I can't think of any way to match Jade. It feels stupid as soon as it leaves my mouth, and I blush fiercely. At least it's dark, so maybe she won't see. She finally looks away from the canyon and focuses her blue eyed gaze on me. “The most peerless piece of earth, I think, that e’er the sun shone bright on,’” she says smoothly, eyes bright. “Thank you, Alya.” Recognizing the quote, I quietly say, “The Winter’s Tale,” and she smiles. Her gaze fixes on my eyes, and for a moment the air doesn't feel so cold anymore, the wind isn't so biting. For a moment I'm wrapped in the warm melody of her voice and it feels like nothing can ever make me cold again. I snap back to reality as soon as I notice that her cheeks are red and she's shaking slightly. Wordlessly, I shrug off my sweatshirt and give it to her -- I'll manage in a long sleeve tee. She smiles, seeming to know that if she tries to protest, I'll insist. “Thanks.” I smile a bit shyly. I think she knows I've always been better with actions than words. We look out at the canyon for a long time. I start getting that feeling again that I'm small, insignificant, just a speck in the universe -- but it's okay. Because I am. It's only when I blow on my quivering hands and wrap my arms around my waist that Jade looks back, a sort of warm affection in her eyes. Her hands are pink and trembling too. She laughs quietly and pulls me into a sudden embrace, and we're both kind of shaking and our skin is freezing where we touch but it's alright. Because now we're hugging in front of the Grand Canyon in the middle of the night, when it's dark and colorful and mysterious and chilly. When it feels like we’re the only two people in the world and we might as well be, for all I care. There are so many things I wish I could say right now. Like so many times before, I'm thinking too much, and now my lips won't work and I start to get that tight, anxious feeling in my chest -- but Jade reads everything from my eyes and smiles. I'm feeling a bit warmer. I think we both are -- so she drapes my sweatshirt around my shoulders again and we start to walk back to my car in silence. My thoughts are swirling in the quiet. They all revolve around Jade. She's glowing next to me, beautiful and alive, all shining elegance. I can’t get my mind off the way she talks, moves, walks, sparkles under the light of millions of stars, and -- Shit, I think I'm in love.
  6. *hey it’s me with my crappy writing again. I don’t even know why I’m doing this. and before you can silently reprimand me for the insane level of cheese in these parts alone, I know it’s cliche, I know I suck at dialogue, yada yada. but here ya go. this is so big but idk I guess you’ll be able to sort of understand the storyline?? it seems really rushed and forced and random I guess but that might be because I tried to take out the parts with the worst writing. e n j o y...* ***tw: self harm mention, transphobia and homophobia mention*** Everything is going well. Jade, school. First period, math, was good. But as soon as I walk into English, I notice something: my two ex best friends. Uh...can I panic now? Kyra, the brunette, is defined by her bright blue eyes and the excessive amount of dark eyeshadow surrounding them. It makes her look much paler than she already is. Caroline has small, drab brown eyes. Her average face, however, is made up for by the shining saffron hair she ties into a proud ponytail every day. It’s perfectly straight and almost down to her waist; a shifting sheet of pale rose gold. We used to be so close, all of us. No one ever had to third wheel. I remember back in jr. high school when Kyra had braces and tiny boobs and Caroline’s hair was always split at the ends. None of us wore makeup because we agreed it must be annoying to do every day. At many of our sleepovers, we watched Hairspray on Kyra’s TV and belted along with “You Can’t Stop the Beat” because it was our favorite and we knew all the words. Things were so much simpler then. It was movies and books and graphic tees with bad puns on them. It was messing up each other’s hair and laughing our ugly laughs and stressing over pimples on picture day. I wasn’t caught up inside my head all the time back then, Caroline was still in her “I hate boys” stage, and Kyra planned every kind of adventure for our weekends because we just had this sort of unspoken love. We were innocent. Things were simple. It was beautiful. Now they’re here, raising flirtatious, filled in eyebrows at every cute guy in the room. They’re different people. It almost frightens me, and my chest tightens, because what did I miss? When did they become...this? And why? It strikes me that we’ve changed -- all three of us. But I don’t think that’s a good thing in any of our cases. Certainly not theirs. Certainly not mine. … At the end of the period, when I’m putting my things back into my backpack, Kyra and Caroline approach me again. I don’t know why they’re so determined to talk to me, but it’s not like I can just walk away. I don’t want to be rude. “Hey Alya. We haven’t seen you in so long.” “Hi,” I say weakly. Kyra’s flashing cerulean eyes flicker down to the ground. “Y’know.” Caroline this time. “Thanks for being in our group, I guess. You’re really good at English.” She doesn’t know that the highest grade I’ve gotten on an essay is a low B, but I’ll let her believe whatever she assumes. “Thanks.” “What class do you have next?” Kyra asks, and I can't help but be surprised. They're actually being friendly to me. They're actually trying. The question is, are they trying again? Do they really want a new start? “I have orchestra,” I say, lifting my viola case a little awkwardly. That's stupid, they've obviously already seen it. The bell rings, and I jump. Caroline gives me a half wave, saying, “See you, I guess,” and they turn left out of the classroom. I go right. So after all this time, after years of being alone, I'm finally noticed by them again. But why do I feel like I don't want to be? … ... … My dad works for an advertising company. You’d never guess it, but he’s the guy who pitches ideas and comes up with funny, alliterative slogans for products no one’s ever heard of before. I've seen a lot of the things he's done, and they're actually pretty good. Sometimes it's hard to believe that that writer and my dad are the same man. When I get home after school’s over, he's in his office, like always. I've seen the inside of that room and it's -- well, it's chaos. His desk sits in the middle of it all, a big, heavy, mahogany thing that really doesn't seem to belong in our house. It's like a centerpiece to the madness; carved and dark and serious. He keeps it sparkling clean and never lets a speck of paint touch it. Around it there are pencils, paper, pens, sketchbooks, paint brushes, charcoal, and basically every other imaginable art supply. Everything is strewn about as if a robber came during the night and ransacked the place. His walls are covered, too, taped with rough drafts, second drafts, outlines, and sketches. They're all plastered on there at least three sheets deep -- I think if I were to tear it all off, the entire coat of paint would come with it. He doesn't let me in, though. He says there's a sort of manic organization to it. Maybe he knows where everything is, maybe it makes sense to him. I don’t know. Anyway, he's in his office when I get home. The house is silent. As if I’ve been doing this every day, I fall easily into my after school routine, doing any homework (none today), emptying my backpack, and then taking a short shower. As soon as I step out of the steamy bathroom, however, my dad starts yelling at me from downstairs. “Alya! I need to talk to you!” I pause, startled, and draw the towel tighter around me. I ask warily, “About what?” “It’s...your mom. Come down.” He sounds nervous, bothered. I don’t want him to pin his irritation on me, so I throw on some mismatched pajamas and race downstairs. Standing outside his closed office door, I start, “What do you need to --” His door creaks open with a wailing screech and I cringe. “She’s on the phone. She wants to talk to you.” I take the phone from his outstretched hand, catching only a glimpse of the room’s interior: a vivid blur of primary colors, centered by the spotless desk my dad is standing in front of. His dark face is drawn and worried, black eyebrows slanted in thought, lips a taught line. The door closes before I can see more. I look down at the phone in my hand and bring it to my ear. This shouldn't be daunting, and yet my throat is dry and closing up and I feel like I want to run away. “Hi.” My voice shakes a bit, why does my voice shake? “Alya,” says my mom, with a false air of cheeriness. I know it’s fake. I’ve learned what fake sounds like. “How are you, sweetie?” Sweetie. She still wants to call me that? Why does she think she has the right? “I’m fine.” Fine. Why do I always lie and say fine? Why is it always “fine” and “good” that come out of my mouth, even when I’m really just the opposite? “That’s...good,” my mom says awkwardly. “How’s school so far? Do you like it?” “Today was the first day,” I reply, wondering why she won’t just get to the point. She’s not one to call just to chat. There’s a pause for a couple seconds. I don’t breathe. “Oh. Your dad didn’t say anything about that.” “I don’t think he cares,” I respond bluntly, because at this point it doesn’t matter if I’m delicate or not. Her opinion just isn’t relevant anymore. “Oh.” She clears her throat. “But...I do. I do care.” I bite back a “yeah, right,” and wait for her to keep going. “Look, Alya,” she starts, and I roll my eyes even though she can't see. “I...haven't seen you a lot, except during the summer once. I'd like to talk with you more, see you…” she trails off, wary. In a way, she sounds almost childlike, scared that I'll turn her down. I don't know what to think. My mom’s always been independent; she was born in Arizona and has longed to move elsewhere for so long. I don't know why she suddenly wants to see me. Being essentially absent from my life for all of jr. high school plus the past three years, we hardly know each other at all. Suddenly I feel bad for acting bitter towards her. And for some incomprehensible reason, I say, “Okay.” Laughing a little, her distorted voice sounds relieved. She replies, “Good. Your dad said you could come over for dinner tonight. I'll see you, Alya.” She hangs up on me. I start to question why I ever accepted. … … … My mom appears at the other end of the front hallway and we both freeze. Still. Strangers, strangers who for some reason want to see each other, make things right...is that what she wants? (Is that what I want?) I take a deep breath and face my mom. She looks absolutely nothing like me -- all pale features, with blonde hair and green eyes and a splash of freckles across her nose. I inherited most of my dad’s looks. Dark hair, dark eyes, and a sort of coffee with two creams skin tone. My hair is kinky and wild, cut to shoulder length, while my mom’s is simple and thin and light, just like the rest of her. I have her nose, though; small and slender as opposed to my dad’s wide one. My parents are basically polar opposites. Looking back six years, to when they were still together, it’s almost hard to picture the past. I can only faintly remember the time when I still had a “normal” family. When my parents were still in love. “Hi, Alya,” she says, smiling, and motions for me to come closer. I do. The kitchen’s behind her -- it looks as if she’s already set out plates. It’s at this moment that I realize, I’m not even hungry. … ... … We finish eating and my mom takes my plate. As she places them in the sink, the clatter seems obscenely loud in the still air. We’ve been silent for so long. I fidget, uncomfortable. My mom -- to my surprise -- reaches into a black purse that’s on the table and produces a single cigarette. “Alya, sweetie, you don’t smoke, do you?” she asks offhandedly, and I worry that she’s going to try to get me addicted. “No, I don’t.” She holds it between her teeth and lights it. “Good,” she says. “It’s bad for your health.” I follow her outside and we sit next to each other on the front steps in silence. She takes a long drag and I realize that I don’t even know why I’m still here. My mom lights a new cigarette at one point. It’s very, very late when I leave. … ... … Jade and I share excited smiles the entire bus ride home. We're going out tomorrow -- this weekend, we've planned a sort of weekend-outing-road trip thing that probably hasn’t been planned all that well but has me crazily excited anyway. It's just the two of us. We packed lightly for Saturday night, just clothes and phones and money and some other little things. I left a note for my dad this morning saying that I wouldn't be back until Sunday morning, but I don't really care if he finds it or not. This whirlwind of exhilaration that being with Jade brings kind of distorts my sense of responsibility; things that I would normally stress over don't matter that much. I can't decide if this is entirely a good thing. I despise my stupid anxiety, though, so for the tonight and tomorrow, I'm going to try my hardest to let go. That's always easier said than done for me. But with Jade...the sun gets a little brighter, the sky a little more vivid. And I finally feel wanted. … Friday night passes as slowly as possible, and when morning finally comes, I am slinging my bag over my shoulder and jogging down the street to Jade’s house. Last minute, irrational anxiety is burned away by adrenaline -- and I'm glad. Before I know it, they are slamming down on the gas and we are flying over the road, windows rolled down to their limits and wind whipping my hair every which way. I close my eyes and just feel the wild crash of air, in my bones and my body and in the pale indigo sky above us. Everything is beautiful. I hear Jade laughing next to me, so I turn my head to look -- they’re gorgeous, warm tumbling waves backlit by the golden sun and blue eyes flashing. Eyes on the road and on me at the same time, they are drinking it all in, breathing Arizona, feeling the world. I adore this. There’s music playing on the radio in the car -- it’s one of those songs that just screams road trip. I sort of prefer the roar of the wind to anything, though; it’s hard to explain, but this moment just seems eternal and glorious all on its own. I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else right now. That thought reminds me of my junior year for some reason. As I stare out the window, I try to recall what I might have been doing on this day a year ago. Studying, reading, sleeping, working -- if someone had told me then that I’d be racing down a country road with hair blowing across my eyes in the passenger seat of a ‘78 Volvo and experiencing possibly the most perfect moment of my life, I’d have laughed. Jade starts singing along with the radio. Realizing I know the song, I join in, beaming so wide it must look idiotic. I don’t give a damn. A forever that still wasn’t long enough later, we pull into a parking spot at the Four Corners Park. I’m breathless and exhilarated and for some reason, I can’t look Jade in the eye. They smile, lock their car, grab my hand, and we start towards the monument. It doesn’t strike me until later, however, that to any passerby, we must look like a couple. All I’m really focused on at the moment is the green of the trees, the soft cotton candy clouds, and the warmth of Jade’s hand in mine. It’s just so wonderful; any worries or doubts or sadness I’ve had in the past feel so far away. I only wish they’d go away for good. If I could live the rest of my life just travelling the state, no, the world with Jade, I’d be content. Content is such a beautiful, beautiful daydream -- I have bursts of happiness sometimes, like right now. But in the long run I haven’t been so lucky. Cheer up, Alya. Live in the present. Find joy in the little things, like Jade’s soft fingers brushing against your own, like the clouds turning a dusty pink in the sun, like the trees swaying gracefully in the light breeze. Today is a perfect day; make the most of it. … ... … Our day has been so wonderful so far; I don't think anything could go wrong. It starts to get much warmer approaching midday. I don’t think much of it, until we’re almost finished our lunch and I feel my arms sticking to the insides of my jacket sleeves -- ew. Unthinking, I pull off my jacket and tie it around my waist. It feels so much better to be wearing short sleeves; I sigh contentedly as a cool breeze rushes over my arms and tickles the back of my neck. This is perfection. Jade and I wander around in the town, taking photos and pointing out interesting things like the flower box outside a boutique, or the artsy chalkboard displaying a cafe’s soup du jour, or the tree that is knotted and gnarled in some twistedly gorgeous way. But of course, not everything can be perfect. I’m too stupid to realize that this day is too good to be true. My jacket is still tied around my waist, so my arms are bare. Caught up in myself, in the day, I haven’t noticed this at all. Jade does. Jade sees my bare arms: smooth light brown skin on the right; and on the left, zigzagging pink scars of every length. Scars that still bring back specific memories. Scars that I put there. Of course. ...Of course. Shit. They are all there, and Jade most definitely saw them. I don’t know what made them look at my arm. I don’t know. But -- “Alya,” they say suddenly, alarm and concern pinching at the edges of their voice. They stop walking and look from my arm to my face to my arm then back to my face. “Do you -- are you --is that --” For once, they are at a loss for words. I stepped back and instinctively covered my arm with my other hand, but that only drew their eyes to it again. “Nothing,” I mumble “it’s nothing.” It’s obviously something. Jade seemed to get their words back, to some extent at least. “Alya, I’m worried about you. You can tell me whatever you need to -- if you don’t want to talk, that’s alright,” they add, “but I’m -- I’m worried.” “It's okay,” I mumble, humiliated. “It's over.” Suddenly the sky doesn't seem so brilliantly blue anymore. After a couple seconds, Jade bites their lip and looks me right in the eye. “Okay. Look, why don't we go to our hotel room, rest for a bit. We've been walking around all day.” They put a tentative hand on my shoulder. “If you want to talk we can.” They just leave it at that. … When we get to our hotel room, I immediately put down my bag, step into the bathroom, wash off my makeup and get in the shower. The water is a thin, hardly adequate stream, but it’s hot and feels good anyway. I stand under it for a long time. Jade probably thinks I’m stalling before I have to face them. I probably am. I stare blankly down at my arm as water runs in rivulets across the thin scars. The reality of the situation is finally setting in, slowly and painfully. Jade wasn't supposed to know this. No one was. No one ever was. I’m an idiot to think I could keep this hidden forever. If I ever wanted to get close to people, form friendships, relationships...well, it was inevitable. If I ever wanted to fall in love and pursue something, I couldn’t have just kept this in the shadows. It’s there both physically and emotionally. It never really will go away and anyone who gets close to me will have to see my ugly side sooner or later. So I swallow my emotions, put on some pajamas and a sweatshirt, and go back out to talk to my friend. … ... … For a little bit after our awkward exchange we're just quiet, listening to cars beeping and moving outside, birds singing, wind rustling yellow leaved trees. This isn't how I pictured our day ending, not at all, but it's okay. I'm beginning to realize that it's okay. It gets me thinking a little. About the past, when I cut. The thing is, it excited me, in a dangerous sort of way. Because sometimes I just needed to...to stop existing I guess. I just need a break sometimes. A break from life. And there in that sharp, concentrated pain, I could just fade away for a bit. I could stop existing and then come right back when I’m maybe feeling a little better. I know, I'm selfish as hell, it's not good for me. I know. I knew -- but I couldn't stop. But eventually I forced myself to. I ignored the pull of the razor in that empty, beat up pencil case under my bed and tried so, so hard to take care of myself. Then Jade came along, and I wanted -- want -- to exist a lot more. There’s reason, now, to stay away from that case, besides just my eroding resolve. I have this light in my life who is motivation to be better, for their sake and mine. And now because I swore to them I’d stay away -- I have a promise to keep. ... ... … Frowning, Jade asks, “Do you want to see her more? It sounds like she wants to get to know you.” “No --” I say instinctively, then cut myself off. “I mean...I don’t know.” Once these words come out of my mouth, I begin to realize the truth in them. Honestly, I don’t know how to feel about my mom and...whoever she’s become. I hardly know her anymore. I guess I’m curious, in some sort of way, though; I’m bitter and yet I have this want to see her again. It confuses me. She confuses me. I confuse me. Jade is like my rock in the middle of this tempest. “Hey,” Jade says, softly. “I'm glad you felt that you could tell me all this. I never want to force anything out of you, but I want you to know that whatever happens, I'm here.” They shift their position on the bed and look up at me. “I...I know what it's like to be distant from a parent. It sucks, it really does.” I'm not breathing. I've always just assumed that Jade has a perfect family. I don't really know why “When...when I came out. As genderfluid. It was actually just last year.” Jade swallows visibly, and I nod, encouraging. I never knew how long they’d been out, but it had never really mattered, I guess. They're themself now. And that's all that I really ever needed. Taking a deep breath, they continue. “My mom was cool with it. I had told my brother a little bit about how I was...confused, a couple months before. But my dad...he's not really...approving of that kind of thing. Y’know, there's always those kinds of people. You really can't get away from them. But I had never expected him to be one of them. It had never come up, surprisingly, in any of our conversations...stuff on the news...that kind of thing. But it turns out he's pretty transphobic, homophobic, and all that. You'd never guess -- he's not vocal about it. When I came out to him, though, he...he kind of...flipped. Verbally, I mean, he wasn't violent, but…” Jade glances quickly away from me, but not before I see unshed tears quivering in their eyes. Silently, I take their hand, not knowing what to do. “I used to be so close to him. And now he ignores me, or makes stupid...stupid, insensitive comments. The worst part, though, was when he’d...he just calls me his daughter, and I --” Suddenly Jade chokes on their words and starts to cry. It’s all I can do to take their limp form in my arms and whisper comforts that are probably empty. If I had to guess, I’d say that they’ve never actually let themselves cry over this. So I only hold on tighter. “It’s okay,” I whisper, even though we both know it’s not. “It’s gonna be okay.” Jade takes a shaky breath and mumbles into my shoulder, “I’m so sorry -- I didn’t mean to make all this about me --” “Shh,” I say quietly. “I know. I know.” “I just wanted to -- to show you that I understand. I’m not perfect either --” “I know.” And really, I’m beginning to see that. I think I used to idolize Jade; I assumed that they were perfect in every way possible and could never be at fault. I wondered how someone as put together as them could see any virtue in someone like me. But everyone, no matter how beautiful or handsome or kind or funny they seem to be on the outside, everyone has shortcomings and weak spots and insecurities. The people who are another person’s idea of a perfect student or an amazing friend could be the ones whose families are falling apart, whose resolves are being eroded by crippling self hate, whose lives are consumed by depression. Jade isn’t perfect. I’m far from it too. And now that we both see that in each other, it makes life a little less confusing. I feel a little safer. Our imperfections are what make us human. Beautiful, strange, compassionate, flawed, abstract, emotional, quirky, bold, luminescent; human. I see that. I do, I really do; my trouble is that I just can’t seem to believe it would ever apply to me. I hug Jade tighter. They’ve stopped crying, but we hold on anyway, as if one of us letting go would cause the other to fly into a million intangible pieces. We fall asleep just like that.
  7. I am SO so sO happyyyyy right now holy frick

    my therapist finally decided to switch from behavior mod to talk based therapy and I. just fghjnbvghmbhj !!!!!! yyyyes !!!!!!!!!!! so. much. stress. has been taken of my shoulders I feel Free

  8. hello humans, I had a Thought and opinions would be appreciated??

    sO I did nanowrimo 2017 and I "won" (!!!) but my novel was kind of trash. I guess it was just an outlet for me to vent because the main character was loosely based off of me (okay, in some aspects, not loosely at all. but anyway.)

    since slamming my laptop shut after finishing on november 31 and letting out a long, long breath, I didn't even open the document again until 2018. and when I did I just read it over and didn't do any editing. BUT there were some parts that I liked, so,,, I thought about posting my favorite excerpts on here, idk, for the heck of it?? because my novel is probably never gonna see the light of day?? but. would anyone care?

    ((is this a good idea, plz, I need validation))

    1. queenie_flower


      Um, im always a fan of people posting fiction here bc I like reading it for my own validation that I found a group of Good Writers, and 10/10 please do that, I’m already psyched even though I have no clue what it’s about


      also I totally get it with the character thing. I have one of them, too. Her name’s India and she’s cooler than I’ll ever be but we have the same mannerisms and thought process so...

    2. writeandleft


      yeah, the main character's called Alya and it's in first person so a lot of her internal monologues are literally just...my exact feelings. about a lot of emotional crap. the story is mostly a romance (here, it's me writing Alya the ending I wish I could have, haha) but it has elements of family struggles/some death/just a lot of angst in general.

      also I'm just totally in love with the second-to-main-character, Jade?? they're the love interest but also so much more than that?? I feel like my writing didn't do them justice but :/

      time to find excerpts!!

  9. Just a dream

    I love this imagery!!! it's so beautiful!!!
  10. chrysalis

    wow. I feel this really hard. like, scarily hard. and it's so perfectly written too <33
  11. dust bunny

    ahhh I love this this too omg I love the double meaning in the word "lie" (did you intend that?) yess this is 1. relateable and 2. beautifully written omg sar you should post more
  12. funny childhood stories

    WAIT I THOUGHT HE WAS A GIRL YOU NEVER TOLD ME -- (I guess he was really good at crossdressing then, thanks for this piece of information)
  13. school's closed? God Has Smiled upon my non-homework-doing self

    1. Short_comedian


      My school's district closed. For rain.

  14. whyyyyy do people insist to be screaming and chanting and setting off fireworks after the super bowl...I know the win was big but is it bigger than my need for sleep??

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. thepensword


      uh because one group of men beat up another group of men and stole a weirdly shaped ball from them and that's obviously the most important thing. DUH.

    3. drowntown


      ALSO i saw a fucking video of the halftime show and it was so funny it was like dead silent except for the fake fans by the stage 

      but yayy men inflicting brain damage on one another amirite

    4. writeandleft


      *oprah voice* you get a concussion! you get a concussion! you

  15. her perfume smells like petrichor

    @bluebird ahh thank you sm! the seasons thing was just what I was going for too :D
  16. her perfume smells like petrichor

    *so a few days ago I woke up in the middle of the night, wrote down these first two lines, went back to bed, and then completely forgot about it until recently. when I found it...this happened. something seems kinda off about it though and I would appreciate critique so so sooo much!!!* the sunspot pupils in those stained-glass windows to her soul contract in the sudden daylight yellow alights on shining olive skin black lashes flutter in sweet song-filled summer wind that smells like strawberries and blooming brightening honeysuckle leaves turn golden and so does her smile wide and gorgeous unreserved as the overlapping whispers of northern breeze that bring change and a promising chill anticipation hangs suspended in her gaze a silver wire-delicate moon backed by velvet affection now snow falls as gently as her embrace in the ice-weathered air adorning her rich curls a crystal tiara or a million winking stars she ponders the coldness of loss and of love’s thawing exterior when seated by a lazy orange hearth cheeks blazing rouge and hot teartracks drying the sky looks like an ocean again and her perfume smells like petrichor forest orchestras wake up the world and her topaz eyes soften in warm wise sunlight the earth is a sleeping goddess rubbing her eyes and stretching languidly awakening at last in the light
  17. This Right Here

    wow those last to lines are so powerful! I really like this!!
  18. ametrine

    this is sooo beautiful omg
  19. Exquisite Corpse February 2018

    there's a world of mystery in your eyes where crackling ocean veins pump the lifeblood of green-teal seas
  20. me trying to write anything, ever, literally anything slightly poetic:

    so...there's a...a girl...she's pretty...yes very very beautiful...and here let me describe her *ocean* eyes in great detail whilst telling you the many ways in which her *golden* hair shines in the sun...ohh and did I forget to surround her with vague nature imagery cause ya know that's always good and let's add some gENERIC SIMILES WHILE WE'RE AT IT, most likely comparing her r a d i a n t inner and outer beauty to The Wonderful World Around Us, and by the way did I mention NATURE yet and is this? enough?? line breaks????

    1. sar


      anything vaguely edgy and/or woke that i try to write sounds like a terrible rupi kaur poem-


      her wild


      and free




      is wild

      and free


      just like



      she is wild (and free)

    2. writeandleft
  21. Exquisite Corpse February 2018

    it's harsh and triangular, brash juniper and low-lit jagged angles
  22. Exquisite Corpse, January Edition

    we fell apart, a split-second collision and explosion that lasted a million years and here in the dark, sunbright after images gone, I have little more to say than goodbye. (((should this be the end??)))
  23. letter to an ex-best friend

    dear you I know we never said a proper goodbye and I’m sorry. I guess these kinds of things don’t work that way. dear you I don’t know you anymore. I don’t really want to, but I miss who you used to be, that girl who knew me better than I knew myself, that girl who brought out the bolder side of me. I know I always brought out the softer side of you. dear you we were polar opposites, we still are, and that became our downfall. I thought I’d be planning your wedding when we grew up, I thought we’d cry when we left for different colleges and call each other every night and share an apartment after we graduated. now we barely exchange hellos. dear you I know there’s no getting back what we had, so best wishes from the girl you used to know. I hope your life is as wonderful as the visions we had in your basement after dark, wrapped up in a sleeping bag and comfortable future fantasies popcorn on the floor and you hidden beneath a mountain of pillows and giggles. dear you I know we never said a proper goodbye so here it is.