Author's Note: Wow...it has been a long time since I have posted anything here. Some may remember me more for poetry than for fiction. This is just a tiny fraction (like 1/100ths) of a novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) at school in my Creative Writing class. It's not really supposed to be polished, but I have been going back over the segments and fixing them up nicely to post here. Enjoy, hopefully. heh.
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“You’re going to have to be a part of society sometime,” Jo told me as she stubbed out her cigarette on the side of the ashtray, “Everyone has to give into something eventually. Like capitalism, for instance-”
“I’m not talking about capitalism,” I sighed, but tried to mask it the best I could. I didn’t want to come off as frustrated, even if I was. Still, I continued, “Duh, everyone knows you can’t evade capitalism in America. Are you kidding?” I inhaled a mouth full of smoke, “It’s the basis of the entire fucking country! How the hell am I supposed to avoid it?” Exhale.
Jo didn’t answer. She just stared at the restaurant table’s speckled red wood. It was slow that night. Well, normally at 2am, all the business the little restaurant ever got was from hospital workers, police officers, or random night owls.
Her hands began to shake. Soon, she was reaching in her pocket to pull out a three-inch long cylindrical tube with a screw-off cap labeled ‘No-Doze’. She opened it and downed four white tablets without liquids. As she looked up at me, she cracked a nervous grin. When she spoke, her voice sounded like crunching gravel.
“I don’t feel like sleeping,” she explained.
I nodded weakly before looking outside the window where it was raining, turning the black-asphalt street into an ocean of shining oil. The streetlights reflected off of it dimly. I could hear Jo slurping her cup of coffee and setting down the mug on the table. I thought by then the pills would have already dissolved into a doughy white powder that stuck in her esophagus, and I secretly wanted to know what it felt like.
“What’s wrong, Noah?”
I looked up at Jo, who was staring at me with dilated pupils drowning out her natural eye color. I cleared my throat.
“Nothing. Nothing’s wrong,” I replied.
“Yes there is something wrong. Don’t lie to me. I see through you.”
No you don’t, Jo. No one can see through me. I don’t need to lie.
I didn’t say anything.
The surface underneath my body was hard and carpeted. I couldn’t recall too much of the night before at first, but then I remembered.
Jo was driving me to my apartment but had to drop me off half way there, because she couldn’t afford to buy gas to get the both of us home. So I walked alone for about twenty minutes. The rain had stopped, even though the city was soaked thoroughly. The closer I got to my apartment, the more the streetlights seemed to dim and flicker.
When I reached the complex, I took a good look from a distant standing position on the sidewalk in front. It stood in the 4am moonlight, displaying its rundown glory. I guess it is a typical cliché lower class apartment complex: bad neighborhood, not enough cops, drug dealing, junky-infested, peeling wallpaper, domestic abuse, stained carpet, yellowed tile. I guess I was no different from any of the so-called “scum” this city...well not just this city...America looks down upon.
I walked in through the main door and up the stairs, ignoring the smells of pot and cigarette smoke, vomit, heroin residue, alcohol, and something unidentifiable. I made it to the third landing, my apartment door on the right. I unlocked the door, walked inside to an un-welcomed coldness that had permeated the room. I locked the door behind me.
I guess I just fell on the carpet right there and slept, so waking up in the same exact spot was to be expected.
There was a morning-cold that clung to the apartment room like a child to its mother. Every morning-cold was like this, giving into consideration that the building had neither heat nor air conditioning. That within itself explains its cheap rental. It did at least come with a washing machine, fridge, and microwave. I guess cool and hot air was too much to ask for. No matter though.
I climbed to my feet, a symphony of cracks and pops coming from my bones as I walked over to the box heater plugged into a wall outlet. I switched the heater on, watching the dark coils lighten into a hot orange-red glow.
With that taken care of, I looked out the window by pushing the thick beige curtains aside. The sky was darkened with imminent rain as it has been for the past couple of days. The circular, busted, blue-framed clock nailed on the wall read almost 1pm. Almost.
Not to get into too much philosophical bullshit, I took notice that everything was always almost and never exact. I guess it could be the story of my life. Maybe the story is still being written, despite the feeling it had stopped long ago. The stop was partnered with a form of psychological-death, but perhaps some invisible Voodou priestess had conjured my psyche from the depths of hell. I hope otherwise.
With a live psyche, pain is real. I don’t think I could take anything ever feeling real again. No, I don’t want to talk about my past. No, I don’t want to converse about my “inner child” and how “mother didn’t care” or “daddy would hit me”. I don’t want to talk about my so-called “self-destructiveness”, apparently being this ticking bomb en route to obliteration. No. Why? Because I’m fucking tired.
Nothing ever changes.
I don’t see what the big deal is with me being an “artist”. So what if my family had better plans for me. I don’t want to hear them phoning me, saying things like, ‘Tara, if you don’t turn back now, you will never make a stable career for yourself.’ or ‘You still have time to change things, Tara, but it’s all up to you.’
Yeah-fucking-right it’s up to me. If it was truly up to me, they wouldn’t need to say anything.
I tried calling Noah, but I guess he was already on his way here. Now, I’m sitting here waiting, watching my mug of coffee as it cools. I couldn’t get a hold of him last night, so I assumed he was out at the diner with Jo. Noah and she always went there sometimes in the early-morning hours.
Ever since Jo was dumped by her boyfriend, she has been a nervous wreck, looking for identically miserable company. She must have found that in Noah. I never saw Noah as miserable, but everyone seems to see him differently. Some say he’s shy, mysterious, depressed, angry, quiet, stoned, or anything else along those lines.
I really don’t know if Noah is still on drugs or not, but I wouldn’t care if he was. Well, I would care in a sense that I wouldn’t want him to be hurt or dying, but it is his choice, right? It is up to him.
Who needs to be told that life is up to the person who is living it? If you are seeing, tasting, feeling, living, hearing, breathing, then you don’t need to be told. I guess there are broken individuals like Noah who come along, who are obviously different from any other person you met, but you could never quite pinpoint what it was that made them that way, and honestly, even if you did narrow it down, an explanation is not as powerful as the way the person makes you feel.
Noah makes a person feel understood in a society filled with misunderstanding. I think that is the reason why I love him. But people like Noah are incapable of love. I guess it is because they think realistically. Love is nonexistent.