[Throwback Thursday — originally published on March 14th, 2013]
“It’s just a fucking pillow!” Alex screamed as she threw half of the contents on her bed across the room. The tattered, naked ball of fluff had somehow managed to attack her during the night, and she woke up with the certainty that it was out to get her.
This had become a regular thing, the paranoia of someone or something conspiring against her. Actually, it’s been occurring ever since her first time.
Alex pushed that thought out of her head; she had more important things to worry about than if inanimate objects really were trying to kill her, or if she was just going crazy. It wouldn’t matter in a few minutes anyway.
This is how most of Alex’s mornings went, at least the mornings she woke up at home. The sun was too bright, the seagulls too loud, the headaches too painful. She would have a brief freak-out about something, a conversation with herself, then get down to business.
She got out her mini mirror and old-fashioned pill case from their hiding place in a hole in her headboard, picked a small baggie out of the pill case, and carefully poured out the white powdery contents onto the mirror.
She barely caught a glimpse of her reflection, but quickly turned her head to avoid making eye contact with herself at a time like this.
Getting back to the task at hand, panic set in as Alex couldn’t find her tenth of a straw, just long enough to keep her bleach blonde bangs from hitting the mirror.
Her straw for this purpose was always pink, just as the mirror was always rounded (and stolen), and the container (it wasn’t always a pill case) was antique and second-hand. Those sweet old ladies had no idea what would become of their precious heirlooms when they put them on display on sidewalks and yards and in garages, or brought them to high end consignment shops believing they would go to a good home.
Nor did Alex’s mother know just how well her “party straws” served their purpose. Alex made it a rule to never drink from pink straws, only stick them up her nostrils.
It should be easy to find, she thought, being so fluorescent and all. But those suckers had a way of disappearing, so she finally admitted defeat, assuming it had been one of the various things strewn about her floor after this morning’s episode, walked across the room to get a new straw and pair of scissors, and effortlessly cut the straw the exact same length as so many before.
It bummed her out to actually have to stand up before her ritual was complete, but that wouldn’t matter soon.
As she put one end of the pink straw to her nose, the other to the glass, and inhaled, the world became a better place. She looked at herself staring back at her, and this time was hit with a wave of confidence so powerful she had the urge to make love to herself right then and there.
But she had things to see and people to do, so she cleaned up her stuff and herself, grabbed a banana so her mother thought she was eating, and ran out the door.
She had gotten about two blocks away and was unpeeling the banana, thinking that it wasn’t ripe enough to eat anyway, as Xander pulled up in his ’69 Chevy Camaro. It used to be red, but he thought that drew more attention so he got it painted white. Though whoever he got to paint it didn’t do a very good job and some of the old crimson color was showing in a few places; it looked kind of like the car was bleeding.
Alex threw the banana on someone’s front lawn as she jumped into the car, ignoring the screaming of the woman kneeling in her garden who had been hit with the banana. It wouldn’t matter once they sped off anyway. She kissed Xander on his full, somewhat chapped lips, and leaned back to enjoy the lingering drip of numbness down her throat.
They talked, but it was hard to remember about what. Some days it was deep, meaning-of-life type stuff; others it was shallow, who’d-you-bang-last-night conversation; and others they more-so just grunted and moaned either in pure pleasure or agony, depending on their finances.
No matter what though, this was Alex’s favorite part of every day.
Xander was her best friend, and every other girl they knew was jealous of her spot in his life. They could easily have him for a night, but she had him forever.
He was the epitome of a cliché—you know, piercing blue eyes, jet black hair, washboard abs. He had every feature the fairytales and love stories described, and everyone always wanted to please him, and he knew exactly how to take advantage of that. His only downfall was how skinny he had become over the past few months, but the young girls in this small beach down seemed to be into that hollow look.
Alex had learned a lot from him in a short time, and had her own group of followers, but their main groupies were the slightly younger girls who worshipped both of them; wanting to be loved by Xander and wishing to be Alex. Every day they would meet their pawns at the boardwalk, promise to give them a taste if they brought back enough money.
While their minions begged strangers, embellishing whichever story they felt held the most promise for return—older people were told they were starving, younger couples that they needed train fare to get home—Alex and Xander would wait around people-watching, making up stories and lives of the people they saw, getting a kick out of life, then take off to take care of their own needs.
They rarely came back to give the girls their cut, that didn’t seem to matter anyway. For some reason the same girls were always there, day after day, eagerly ready to please them any way they could.
Today was no different than any other. Except it felt like it was. Every day felt like it was different, because every day was either perfect or miserable. Today was a perfect day, and Alex was sure it meant something.
After their time on the boardwalk, Alex and Xander drove down to the decrepit house in the middle of their small town, smiling the whole time. Once they scored, it was more car rides, walks down deserted paths, smiling and joking and music and love. They chased foxes, sang with birds, climbed mountains of sand and claimed them.
Others asked to join, invited them to parties, but daytime was for the two of them, and them alone. Their nights were always a blur, with so much smoke and pills and liquor and random one night stands, but their days were blissful.
As they left their usual spot at the little beach almost no one knew about, windows rolled down, music on the highest volume, Alex looked over at Xander and smiled. He took hold of her hand and said, “Everything’s perfect darling. This is what life’s about.”
A trickle of blood crept down Alex’s porcelain face, touching her lips and staining her nearly white hair.
She knew, at this point, what would become of them. This was the beginning of the end. It was simply hard for her to care.
With the wind in her face, drying where she had wiped the sticky truth away; the sweet salty smell of the world around her; the vibrations of the stereo running through her body, she knew that Xander had already come to this realization, he was just hiding it for her sake. And if he could hide it, so could she. It didn’t matter right now anyway.
Everything was perfect, at least for a little while longer.