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Posts Tagged ‘experimental fiction’

29. JULIETTE: You’re Ruining My Life

uliette had just taken the final cut when her mother burst into the bathroom.

“Oh!” Cora said, like it was all a big accident. “Sorry. We need to get a lock….”

It was only then that her mother seemed to focus.

“What the hell have you done to your hair?”

Juliette shrugged, like it was no big deal. Like she hadn’t been standing there working on it for the past four hours.

“I’m cutting it. And I just made it a little darker. And straightened it.”

“Jesus, Juliette.” Cora came closer, her face contorted, and lifted one of Juliette’s new black spikes. “Your beautiful long wavy hair. Why on earth would you do this?”

“It was time for a change,” Juliette said, all nonchalant. “Isn’t that what you keep telling me? That I have to be open to change, to new experiences? Well, here I am.”

Now her mother’s eyes were moving down her body.

“What is that you’re wearing?”

“It’s cool. I bought it at the thrift store.”

It was an idea she and Darrell had cooked up, standing behind the bleachers during lunch period. Since he was stuck wearing his stupid Malcolm X suit, she was going to start dressing exactly like him. See if they could start some kind of crazy fad together. She’d found this suit in a little boy’s size, made for a kid’s confirmation or graduation or something like that, for $2 at the church thrift store, which had vintage clothes people would pay hundreds of Euros for in Paris. In fact, just as soon as Juliette could scrape the money together, she was going to buy up a bunch of stuff from there and ship it to Hugo to resell for her. Then she’d use the money to get herself a ticket back to Paris and out of this hellhole forever.

“You look ridiculous,” Cora said. “You look like PeeWee Herman or something.”

“PeeWee….you don’t know what you’re talking about,” Juliette said, pushing past her mother and going to retrieve her backpack. “I’ve got to go to school now.”

“You can’t go to school looking like that.”

“I’m going.”

“Don’t you need a ride?”

“I can walk.”

Darrell walked. In fact, she had to hurry to meet him on their designated corner, out of site of both their houses.

Was he really a murderer? Juliette found that hard to believe, but she liked it that everyone else thought so. Today, she was going to take a picture of the two of them in their weird matching outfits, with her new haircut, and send it to Hugo. See what he did about that.

“You’re breaking my heart,” said Cora.

“Yeah,” said Juliette, “well, you’re ruining my life.”

Read Juliette’s side of the story.

Peek inside Juliette’s Secret Diary.

15. LaTONYA: The Mistake

ressing hard on the knots in the pink shoulders of the woman down from Memphis, LaTonya let her mind wander to what lay ahead. The minute this session was over — she stole a glance at the clock: in exactly 17 minutes — she had to rush out the door and drive to the college, then drive like a bat out of hell back for her tutoring session with George.

Should she cancel tonight? She should really go home, make dinner for Darrell, get that boy back on the right track. Remembering how she’d slapped him this morning, she felt guilt and remorse wash over her.

“Ow!” the Memphis woman yelped.

“Sorry, sweetheart,” LaTonya said. They always said they wanted it firm, but when it came down to it, they just wanted to be petted.

The MCats were less than a month away now. She really needed this lesson with George. There was only one night in the week when they were both available and the office at the spa was free for them to use. It had to be tonight.

She’d call Darrell, right after this session and again after her class, check in and make sure he was all right.

The woman from Memphis tipped ungenerously but LaTonya barely registered that. Things that would have crushed her a few years ago didn’t matter anymore. All she cared about now was getting Darrell out of high school in one piece, and getting herself into medical school.

She had worked so long and hard for this, taking years to get through the local community college when Darrell was younger, and then driving more than an hour each way to work on her bachelor’s, deciding she wanted to be a doctor, the grinding amount of studying to get ready for the tests while she finished up her degree. No time to waste, at her age.

She listened to the recording of the last class as she drove to college, then taped the evening’s lecture as she took notes, doubling up because she was so distracted. Darrell was fine, he’d assured her. He’d cook himself some pasta. Yeah, he was studying, not just playing XBox — trust DaShawn to pull that foolishness out of a hat for his little brother at Christmas.

Had anyone seen Darrell near the fire, LaTonya worried, hardly conscious of the words her hand was writing. Were the police looking for him now? At her house?

Under her desk, she checked her phone for messages, texts, but everything was clear.

Then, in the parking lot, before she drove back to town for her lesson with George, she called Darrell and he didn’t pick up. She waited a few minutes, called again, and then texted him. Sometimes he wouldn’t pick up the phone, but he always checked his texts. She dialed her son’s cell phone, then the home phone, but there was no answer at either.

13. JAMIE: Kissing the Toad

ive me another hit.”

Jamie held out his hand, expecting someone would put a pipe into it. But his fingers just hung there, empty.

“That’s it, man,” said Donnie, the guy whose mother owned the cabin.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” said the red-headed guy, Travis. “There’s got to be something else here, somewhere.”

Travis, whose eyes were looking as red as his hair, hopped up from the torn black leatherette couch and began pawing through the litter of plastic soda bottles and unbleached coffee filters, baggies and empty cold medicine packages, hunting down an overlooked kernel of crank they’d been cooking up in the kitchen, or bud of marijuana they’d been growing out the back door. The longer he searched, the more agitated he grew, flinging the filters up in the air, scattering the soda bottles across the floor.

“Chill, dude,” Jamie said.

This was why he wanted to keep his crank consumption under control. He was doing pretty well at it too; he was proud of himself for that. It was probably because he was far more intelligent than your average meth head. He remembered half these tweakers from kindergarten. They were stupid then, running around in circles until they fell on the floor, just like Travis there.

“What are we gonna do?” said Travis.

“I’m gonna go see DaShawn,” said Donnie. Donnie’s mom thought it was nice that Donnie brought his friends up there to hunt and fish. Said she was glad the place was getting some use, now that she’d moved down to Mobile. “Anybody coming?”

“I’ll go with you,” said Tiff, who danced down at the Go Go with Taryn. Wait a minute: Where was Taryn? She’d never shown up — was that last night? The night before? It was hard to keep it straight.

Jamie should get out of here too. Go see what had happened to Taryn. Check in on the old man. Change shirts.

Plus, he had the nagging feeling he was forgetting something else. Something important. What was it? He cycled again through the list of possibilities: Taryn, Dad, cats….

Ah, fuck it. If it was important enough, someone else would do it.