I had nothing better to do, that’s what I’ll say, because ever since she came over the other day, thoughts of Chloe have been pervading my dreams, sneaking up on me, but now it’s my turn, so I got myself all prettied up today. I brushed and washed my hair, with strands in front and back of my ears, as usual, just being natural. Dressed in my boots, all crinkled up with no heels, my only skirt, of cotton and is light gray, and my Genesis tee shirt. I walk the few houses down the block, I have to turn once, on the left, and Chloe’s house is the light green one.
I knock on the door, and I stand there for some time, and then I knock again, still no answer, so I brush back a strand of hair and knock again, it takes a few seconds for her to answer the door. She’s two inches taller than Chloe, five foot with six inches, and the same, dirty, dark blond hair, one dark green eye, the other hazel.
“Lucy,” she smiled widely, with maternal, warm love from the bottom of her heart.
“Hi, Mrs. Giordano,” I greet her, and she welcomes me with a motion of her hand and opening the door wider.
“Oh, you call me by how you remember me, sweetie, its Becky, like always,” she smiles and gives me a hug, warm, big and loving. “Oh, sweetie, we’ve been so worried about you,” she says and lets go of me, a little, smiles again, and brushes my hair back again. “And here you are, our prayers answered,” these Italians.
“Yeah, um, is Chloe home?” I ask, looking away, to the side. This feels awkward, different, like eight months makes it feel so strange, but neither of us are strangers, at least, not me and Becky.
“Not yet, sweetie, but come with me into the kitchen, have some lunch,” she offers, and I follow. She has a spread of veggies on the counter, a lot of whole wheat crackers and bread, peanut butter, a thing of salt, bananas, mushrooms, cauliflower, cheese, tomatoes and potatoes. She’s a chef in her mean times. “Wow, you’re hungry, girlie,” she observes after I eat most of her food, raw.
“We don’t have food like this at home,” I confide, again. “Dad’s a red meat kind of guy, always.”
“Ha ha, yeah, he is. His meat and his sweets.”
“All of the necessities.” We start laughing at this, and then Becky tells me about how alcoholism runs in her family, on both sides, and she’s lucky she got away, and moved into her aunt’s house, who took her to live in Italy and France, rescuing her at the tender age of sixteen.
“I’m seventeen,” I tell her, still sitting on the counter, as if a year makes a difference.
“Still tender, like a little baby,” she tells me and then notices the sadness in my eyes, and steps forward. “Aw, sweetie, don’t worry, you’ll always be a baby to me,” and smiles sweetly as she wraps her arms around my waist, giving me a nice hug, a nice one that ends too soon.
When I look up, I see Chloe and J.J. standing in the doorway.
“Oh, hi,” I mutter under my breath, and then press my palms against the counter I’m sitting on, as if to make sure of that I’m not in mid air or about to fall. “I should go –“
“Nonsense,” Becky stops me. “Stay for dinner, sweetie, it’ll all be fine, right Christine?” She asks, calling Chloe by her real name.
“Yeah,” Chloe says, her voice sounding like she’s high, all far away in some peculiar universe, specially made for her, but her eyes are distinct and focused on me, as if to check that every single hair is in place. Chloe takes a step forward, smiles a little bit and says it again. “Yeah.”
She sounds like she’s from fucking Minnesota or something, saying that word over and over. Fargo.
It doesn’t take long for us to find refuge in the basement, where everything is, or in our definition, where the pool table is. We all grab our cues from the rack, and stay silent until J.J. breaks the game. Then the conversation starts, at a somewhat slow speed for Chloe, but it’s better than nothing, and at least Chloe and J.J. seem friends still, and that makes me happy, even though J.J. doesn’t address or talk to me at all during this time, she rarely ever talks, and when she does, it’s all monotone and monosyllables. She’s mono girl.
Oh, wait, no that was me.
It’s like that for the entire game, mostly. J.J. being silent and a prude as she beats our asses, someone has been practicing, or overdosing on time.
My eyelids close like a feather, soft as sound, as a lullaby, and behind them, I don’t feel my light blue eyes that make me look like an Aryan, I feel Matt’s, those deep, dark brown eyes and my hands flutter to my eyelids, letting my cue fall to the ground as I touch the side of my eye, checking for the glasses. I feel something cold, so that has to be them, and my hand touches the side of my head, brushing my hair.
The allusion fails, because Matt’s was softer.
The game still plays and we play into a second, and then Chloe’s older brother, who everyone calls Gino, even though his real name is Michael, and there’s his friend, Ian, who everyone calls Otto, then David, Dustin and Derek.
“Hey, if it isn’t the high schoolers,” Gino says, coming down the stairs, with his friends following, inhaling a cigarette drag after he says so.
“If it isn’t for the twenty one year old who still lives at home,” Chloe says, turning her back to him to shoot the ball.
“Fuck you,” he says, his hand grazing her hair, messing it up a little bit. He keeps walking, and Chloe flicks him off.
“We’re in a fucking game, ass wipe,” she tells him, but he just plops himself on the couch, and turns on the TV simultaneously.
“You can keep playing,” Derek tells us, smiling at me, and I know it’s just me. Derek is weird, he went to rehab for heroin twice, and then went cold turkey, and hasn’t touched it since, and the cold turkey was when he was fifteen. Yeah, I know, and he gets all of the girls, like Kylie Griffin, Jordan Anderson, and Tricia Halse, who are really the only beautiful, cool and yet unselfish girls at our school. He’s one lucky bastard.
“Okay,” I say, trying to respond to his eyes. Then I feel arms tugging at me from behind, and I instantly tense up, even though I know its Dustin. He kisses the side of my head, and hugs me tight.
“I’ve missed you,” he says, his head on my shoulder. “Don’t forget that I love you,” he reminds me and I want to smile, and I can feel my eyes becoming wet, and after he lets me go, I just leave, not bothering to say goodbye.
On my bed, at home, I do cry, and it seems like hours and hours until forever ends, and then I turn on my side, and realize it’s only nine o’clock. I want to cry some more, but all of my tears are dried, so I go to take a shower, where the world cries for me, and with my hair wet and in my gray crew neck and blue sweat pants, I lay on my bed listening to slow music, trying to cry, because just hiccupping and sobbing with no tears makes my chest feel heavier.
My mind races among a lot of things before I go to bed, how I first met Derek, through Jordan, because freshman year, when Jordan was a junior, she came up to me in lunch line, started talking and got my phone number, that day I went over to her house at seven on the dot, and we hung out, listening to The Clash and just talking, getting to know each other, she was really cool and really deep, and I felt like… a freshman around her, because what else was I?
She took me to a party that Friday night, I took Chloe with me, but J.J. had a basketball game, and didn’t want us to come because we embarrassed her, and because she had some football players, her practice buddies and these guys who were crushing on her to support her, and of course, they were all black.
Oh, and her parents.
We met Derek at that party, he wasn’t even throwing it, we just met him, he was putting together a blunt and we sat next to him, surrounding him and learning from him, and it was one interesting night, I think he’s the one guy Chloe never got with. I think she actually had respect for him.
I laugh myself to sleep in the end.