She told me once that she wanted to be the girl from that lame Hootie and the Blowfish song, Let Her Cry. It’s about some fucked up flake of a girl who essentially ruins the guy’s life. What a shit band. Never seen the lead singer without a peak cap on. Peak caps don’t go with cheesy American rock from the Nineties. They go with cricket.
One day someone told me she was a ‘hot mess’. A ‘hot mess’ is described as when one’s thoughts or appearance are in a state of disarray but they maintain an undeniable attractiveness or beauty. Her mess was ugly. Ugly and tiresome. I felt hot with shame when people discussed her with me. I didn’t hate her.
She was the same when we’d watch a film. It’d be about some crazy bitch, all waif-like and wearing bright dresses to balance out a boyish hair cut and spewing weird sentences like ‘I’m drowning in your sea of love because you won’t teach me to how swim’. Happy one minute, sad the next. Looking on dreamily into the sunset in one scene, then cutting herself in the shower. But always, always pursued by a bunch of spare-in-the-head guy characters who are captivated by her queer and irresponsible behaviour.
She glorified this insanity. And became it, even more so than usual. I calculated her reactions, her face lit up by the blue light of the television. Her eyes were wet and excited and she pursed her lips together, hard. Sometimes she would even flinch during the dialogue, like a sleeping dog when it thinks it is running in a dream. I think she knew I saw her and wanted to put on a show for attention.
I stopped sitting beside her, sitting down to these atrocities. I wasn’t going to devote my time to stories where adult men wander around doe-eyed under the spell of an aesthetically pleasing, dishonourable female lead. Men, wrapped around her little finger? It’s not real. I left her there on the sofa, making her animated expressions and emitting her stench of hopelessness. She was a gormless zombie. I went and did other things.
One day in summer she appeared wearing shorts, clearly wanting to make some kind of statement. I wasn’t ever going to ask, but she must have seen that my eyes were quickly distracted by the black bruises on her shins. True to form, she told me anyway ‘Sometimes I’ll walk into things on purpose so you can ask me if I’m okay’. She walked away, humming too loudly. Hootie and the sodding Blowfish.
The white rectangle of note paper stood out in the darkness as I walked through the main door. I’d seen it before, two weeks ago in the exact same spot. Barely legible.
Her pulse was weak, but she had one. Damn.
I buried my fingers deep in the too-familiar fleshy passage that was her throat. As the warm sick ran down my arm, I felt hate. She didn’t have the decency to write a new fucking note.
By Brodi Snook
Artwork by Georgia Flowers