Story: Girl returns from Manhattan to her hometown to find boy next door to ask him to be with her, knowing that he will say no, but she has to ask in order to move on. He says yes.
Also, her skin fleck. Also Venice Beach compulsive musclemen doing push-ups on the sand at dawn.
She peels a fleck of skin from the back of her ankle and regrets it immediately. She examines the little piece of skin, it is like a tiny sea creature, a little worm, the color of butter, and moist.
What is happening is impossible but it just rolls along, is definitely happening. She enters a train and the doors shut, enclosing her. She is on her way to the airport. She has sublet her room in Chelsea to someone from craigslist, earning an extra $32 a day. She has brought her passport, her thyroid medication, and a few pieces of clothing in a backpack. She is wearing charcoal colored jeans, a red t-shirt, high top black adidas shell-toes, and a simple black leather jacket. In her pocket is a black bandana.
The train to the plane. On the plane she drops a valium under her tongue (she also brought some valium I guess?) and ties the bandana around her eyes to keep the sun out. Considering the word bandana, she falls into a sleep even before the plane lifts.
She wakes up in Chicago and walks to her connecting flight. On the plane, she drops another half valium under her tongue and falls asleep again before the planes lifts. She wakes up to the sound of scraping, no, the sound of the plane cutting through the sky. She thinks for a moment she has pissed herself, but she hasn’t, which is good, because she has no other pants. She gets up to pee, with every step relishing the small sharp pain of the missing fleck of skin on her ankle. She squats and pees and realizes there is slimy black blood drooling out of her vaginal opening. (Do we really need this?) She stuffs her underwear with paper towels. She returns to her seat and orders a Heineken. (Are we going to address her substance issues?) She sucks on the bottle until she falls asleep again. She wakes up as the plane is descending into golden beams, and is awake as the plane touches down softly and bounces up and down a few times, gently, before pulling to a stop.
The drugs have softened her, have made a bed inside her. She curls up into the bed inside of herself and rests for a moment. She jolts awake and tosses back an americano bought at starbucks. This is my personal end-of-the-world, she thinks, an enthusiastic visit to starbucks at LAX. There is semi-liquid matter oozing out of her clam, she plugs her hole with a tampon shaped like a bullet.
Into a cab. The tampon feels nice and hard inside her, a little something to do.
She tells the driver, Pacific Palisades, and pulls the notebook out of her bag to find the exact address. (Do people take cabs in Los Angeles? Are there even cabs in Los Angeles?) She finds the address, she had taken it down carefully from an old email in large letters with a green marker. 13808 Sparkles Road. But she cannot speak the words. She directs to driver to take her to Venice Beach instead.
The backpack is heavy now and her belly has turned itself inside out, from no food all day. She is a small, soft cloud with a shimmering knife of coffee buzzing through now. Los Angeles feels like eden that someone then shit concrete all over, but the eden is creeping through and will eventually win. Speaking of shit, she has to shit her brains out and does it at a starbucks. (Are you obsessed with Starbucks?)
She had over ten thousand dollars in her checking account which hadn’t ever happened before. She checked into a hotel with a nice sign over a tattoo shop. Imagine it, if instead of going where she was supposed to be going she just got a tattoo of his name, his dumb name, Charles, on her butt cheek. (Charles is not a dumb name, it’s a classic grandfathery name, go for Mike or Steve if you want to say it’s dumb. And why the sudden past tense?) Her heart swelled with the thought of it. Instead of a literal thing this could be like, a symbolic voyage. But no. She was already threaded with him, soaked with him.
It was a gesture she had to make.
Her name was Ray. (That is an unconvincing name and confusing genderwise, pick a normal girl name? Something kind of serious like Sophia? Francesca?) Back in New York Ray had a therapist who looked like she was constituted from very soft materials. The therapist had a very symmetrical face.
One time a doctor had told Ray, when Ray brought up how much she liked to pick the skin around her nails, that she was ‘kind of inviting infection.’
Anyway, Charlie. Something about how love is a disaster but at least in this case you were truly recognized. And how Charlie is unassailable in memory, but what of real modern life?
Dia Felix is a writer and filmmaker whose areas of intrigue and expertise include romantic pratfalls, spiritual totality, and celebrity obsession. Her first novel, Nochita, is forthcoming from City Lights/Sister Spit.