We were roaming the streets on the first warm night of Spring in our t-shirts and jeans and the first skirts of the year. We were drunk and smoking and loving it.
"Look! Look!" Jen said. She was bent over picking up something in a shadow just off the sidewalk. "Look at this!"
She held it up, cradling it with both hands. It was dark and I was drunk and I couldn't see. I think I was still walking.
Someone said, "Oh my god. You just found that?"
"Yeah, it was sitting right there. What should we do?"
"Ask it a question," Sam said.
She ran under a street light and shook it, the Magic 8-ball that she found hiding in the shadow. Everyone huddled around her, taking turns.
"That's not how you play. Yes or no questions, only," Jen said.
"Here." She handed me the Magic 8-ball but all I could do is watch her lips form the word, 'here.' The way they kind of puckered while smiling, the corners turned upwards, her bright eyes, the matter-of-fact nod. "It's your turn!"
I took the toy and put it close to my ear as I shook. It sloshed and I shushed everyone and I made a big production out of it. I'm sure it was more annoying than anything. I whispered something to the Magic 8-ball.
"That's not how it works! You have to ask out loud." She said.
"This is important, Jen." I said, "I need a real answer."
This was true, I did need real answers. We all did and I thought for a second how this magic found us - Five desperate twenty somethings who needed an answer. A real answer to anything - We would have taken it.
I cheated, though. I didn't ask anything. I turned the 8-ball window side up, closed my eyes, looked toward the sky and waited.
"What's it say?" I asked.
Sam said, "Uhh… it says, Without a Doubt."
I handed him the 8-ball and pulled Jen in and kissed her hard under that orange street light. We had only just met an hour ago.
“This is utter bullshit," she said.
“You mean cow udders, or, maybe figuratively?" I said.
“Fuck you. That doesn't even make sense."
“Right," I said, “sorry."
She looked me up and down and smiled. It was always like this - wound tight and a little drunk. a cloudy forecast that never comes to fruition hiding in the prediction of thunder and lightning with some [unreadable] of high winds to clear the air or blow everything to bits. This idea of going on w/o a plan or [illegible] a glimmer of an idea puts us on edge. That, and the mochas. We'll always [turn page] have the mochas. Hot. Frozen. 140° low-fat, no whip. All fat, extra whip. whatever Low Cal. Wilford Brimley's night terror. We had them all and wanted more. Always hiding in our poor grammar, oversized headphones & loud devices with nothing to say, of significance, of course, back pedaling through our days, doing well by not really doing, but Hiding. Hiding was something we were good at. We loved that feeling of nearly getting caught but not being seen. The idea that you can be there. Be Right There for all the world to see but still be invisible. We were nothing special. Tall but not pretty. Thin but not toned, not strangely beautiful, but we were there, Always. Taking it in with little comment except within ourselves. Long-winded commentaries on the world's actors and bullshit around us. I latched onto her phrase, Udder Bullshit. What does that really mean? Bulls don't have udders. I've never seen a bull Hell, how would I even know? I cursive I have never seen a bull up close, let alone inspected its underside. For all I know, they do have udders, and Hell this shat bay maybe they shit out of them, maybe that's where we get our mocha. It's not cocoa in espresso. It doesn't come from a chocolate cow. It is just udder bullshit. You know what? I'll take it… That extra shot of expresso, please. Yes, I said expresso. One of the many things I get wrong just to annoy her. Ranking Neat Things That I Like is not up top of my list of Neat Things That I Like, but annoying her is right there near the top. Her pursed lips. The upskir wrinkle between her brow. The way she pulls and twists her hair. It is precious and beautiful, but not anything like her crying. God, I love that. Especially when it is my fault. (#1)
I was thinking today - I have a fancy phone, internet, messaging, all that. I [illegible] feel lost without it; cut-off from everything I deem important like knowing the time. Which is interesting and trite because there are, at this very moment (both as i write and years down the later as you read) there are a good # of people who have problems. Real problems & who are, not, or maybe by choice, so cut-off that they don't know what day it is, let alone time. Right now there is a baby being born to a mother who has a hell of a lot more to worry about than the date. That baby will never [turn page] have a birthday. And, will likely have enough Real problems that the lack of a birthday will not be much of a concern. And, here I am, worried if my phone has enough juice to last until I get home.
It did, even though I was later than usual. After plugging it in, I looked through the sliding glass door to the backyard. She was sitting, head thrown back, facing west[photo]. Her long hair up and messy. I waved. She shrugged and squinted. Barefoot with legs crossed at the calf. Her toes tapping to whatever was playing. Faded black sharpie on the bottom of her dirty left foot -
I am the boy
who can enjoy
The pool hadn't been touched since the day they found her mother at the bottom of it. The water was low with three years of tannic leaves at the bottom, strains of algae growing up the side and streaks of rust running off the ladder. The grass was dead or dying and choked with weeds and gumballs dropped by the American Sweetgum trees (liquidambar styraciflua) that dominated the subdivision.
“What's going on with you?" She asked as I stepped outside.
“I don't know what we accomplished, but I laughed so hard I fell down." I said, “So, there's that, I guess."
we are: tall thin not beautiful we are introverted we consume we think we produce nothing we are invisible
Evlyn (eavie) Rhehn
pretty, young women who go against the system in their own way. but what would matt's girlfriend, jen, say?
As we ducked out of the rain I exhaled and she rolled her eyes. The neighborhood was always quiet at night but tonight it was full of thunder and rain. My neck was on fire and I was standing and she was Standing. She seemed to be made of stars. Or, at least, more stars than most. Certainly more than me.
We shouted and ran to the next porch, singing and splashing with courage(? I'm not sure.) and contrived rage. That porch light was off and we held hands. We didn't know how much had changed and we couldn't have cared less because right then, right there, we were closer than we had ever been.
I pulled a plastic cup out of the trash and toasted, “Here's to you, darling" and tossed it over my right shoulder. I felt like this was meant to be. I was ready to waste away and to let the rain take us dOwN and ON & ON.
We ran into the street and I fell flat. She kneeled - her eyebrows were doing their job as the rain poured down her face. My knees were scraped and my arm was getting blue and yellow but my bones were good. She brought me up and made me forget.
I thought (right then and right there) she would ask if I came back for her, but instead -
“Let's go to the cemetery!"
And we ran. And then we were there.
The rain was gone and we laughed at the one star that shone between clouds not knowing if it was a star at all. My shoes squished. Hers were gone. We were close to her old house, now. She was thinking of her old pink bedroom while standing on a wet monument in bare feet under a black sky, coming clean.
“I didn't love you," she said.
“I've got a wondering soul," she said, “I've got nothing to give."
“COME ON!" She hopped down and we were running.
“I've got something to say." Her breath was short. “When I die I want 10 seconds to look back and know I've lived it right." We were running together and we hurdled a stone. “I know the mistakes I've made and how they each mark up my soul. Lord knows the mistakes I'll make. (We jumped another stone.) What will become of me? My soul?" We stopped and I bent over to catch my breath. She said, "God, I don't know."
And she flopped in the mud and she said, “I want you to be one of my mistakes. Right now." She pulled me to her. “If you feel it… What I'm feeling… Then come on!"
Her arms and legs were around me and a breeze blew and the trees rained down and we were salty and out of breath and then I was wearing her lipstick and her wet hair seemed longer and every movement sank us in the mud. Her neck smelled like candy & my favorite shirt was somehow gone & we were moving and sinking deeper.
The wind blew again and the trees filled my eyebrows with salty rain and she killed me with kisses and then It all somehow washed away and she ran. Fast.
I didn't get up for a long time. Maybe she said wandering soul.