Authors: Monica James
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Coming of Age, #Family Saga, #Sagas
To Daniel... na na nah na nah. I heart you...even though you drive me crazy.
Up, Up and Away
adies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned off the Fasten Seat Belt sign, and you may now move around the cabin.
In a few moments, the flight attendants will be passing around the cabin to offer you hot or cold beverages. Alcoholic drinks are also available at a nominal charge. Also, we will be screening our inflight movie. Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight. Thank you.”
Glancing at the reflection staring back at me from the window, I wonder is this how others see me? A girl, whose eyes are too big for her melancholy face. A girl, whose frame, is so small her feet barely reach the sticky floor. A girl, that laughs at everyone’s jokes, even when she doesn't see the point of laughing at mindless nothingness. A girl, whose heart has been crushed, chewed on, spat out, set on fire-and put on repeat just for fun. Wow, when did I get so serious?
Oh that's right, probably around the time when my stupid boyfriend told me with his stupid blue eyes that he no longer sees a future with me. And stupid me stares dumbfounded, thinking this is some sick joke right? And surely he must be kidding when he leaves me standing in the bar, getting inappropriately touched by stupid strangers pushing me out of their way to get to their destination: the stupid bar!
Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
I replay our last moments over and over and the impact is still the same. I still ache. And I'm not sure if it'll ever stop.
“I don't love you anymore Ava.”
I stare speechless, I've surely misunderstood him. However, judging by that cold look, I know I have heard him correctly.
“What do you mean? How can you just stop loving someone?” I reply after finally finding my voice.
“It happens all the time.” That’s it? That’s all he has to offer me.
“Yeah to other people but not to us.” This cannot be happening, I’m surely dreaming. How can he be so calm, while I am dying inside?
He gives me a carefree shrug. After four years of dating he's going to end it with a simple shrug and a lame ass explanation. He's got to be joking right. This person who looks like my boyfriend clearly isn’t him. My boyfriend of four years would never stand in front of me so distantly, breaking my heart into a million tiny pieces.
He leans down to give me a quick, cold dismissive kiss on the forehead. “Goodbye Ava.”
“Goodbye? What! You're doing this now? Here?” I ask stunned looking around our surroundings. “In a karaoke bar? You're not coming home with me to try and sort this out.”
“I don't know what coming home with you would achieve. There is nothing to sort out. I can't be with someone who has no life goals.” He is so matter of fact. His perfect face with his perfect hair just insulted me in a not so perfect manner.
No life goals. Is he serious? I had life goals, but I gave them up for him, because I love him. “But...” I stutter.
He cuts me off before I can finish pleading with him to change his mind.
“Go home and forget we ever existed.” That’s it. They’re his parting words. He turns his back on me, walking away so easily, like I never mattered to him, while I feel like I'm about to die.
I stare around the fluorescent lit bar in a catatonic stupor questioning what just happened. He just broke up with me, in a freakin’ karaoke bar! I am drowning in endless tears and I am afraid they will never stop.
I vaguely hear a song in the background, being sung by a happy patron. It’s Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ and I can’t help but crumble listening to the lyrics. The irony of life has just slapped me silly as I feel like ‘I died a hundred times.’
The memory is still so fresh and I wonder how did I get here? Well I have seventeen hours and twenty minutes of hell to endure, and by hell I am referring to myself being piled into a plane full of screaming kids, whining teenagers and sullen faced adults. I look at the crying baby, propped over his mother’s shoulder in front of me. He is staring wide eyed and confused as to where he is. You and I both, kid. His mother is rubbing his little back consoling him that everything will be okay. I wish someone would give me the same confirmation that everything will in fact be okay. This is hell.
But the worse part of that hell is being trapped with me, with my brain and my thoughts, with nowhere to go. No escape. No place to run or hide or cry or oh God help me, I raise my hand quickly alerting an attendant to my seat.
"What can I get you Miss?" She asks offhandedly whilst eye fucking a man two rows in front of me. Gee, lady can you be more obvious? Why does this lady cake on so much makeup? I look around the aircraft; they all seem to be wearing thick layers of gunk like fake is the new black. But what would I know. I am no fashion guru. I hardly wear any makeup, and when I do it is light and natural. Only on the rare occasions when I did go all out with the foundation, mascara and eye shadow it was because I knew he liked it. He liked it when I dressed up for him, dressed like all the wives and girlfriends of the hotshots he strived to become. I did a lot of things to please him. Too bad he never returned the favor.
"Um Miss, what can I get you?" Oh shit, there I go again to a happy place where stupid blue eyes and I never met. I vaguely hear a throat clearing, man that's annoying.
Oh that's right.
"Um sorry I’ll have a lemon, lime and bitter." Then his stupid blue eyes make yet another unwanted appearance and I recall it was his favorite drink. And now I realize I HATE that drink, just as much as I hate his stupid blue eyes. Before I look
like a total moron I correct myself. "Sorry, can I please make that vodka."
"With?" the talking Barbie asks abruptly.
"With?" I reply confused, as I don't speak Barbie.
She sees my confusion and asks, "With what Miss? Raspberry? Orange juice?" Motioning with her hands to imply there is an endless list of beverages that would accompany my vodka. I stare once again at my sad, deflated reflection in the window, wow I look like death. Correction, death run over by a steamroller.
"Just the vodka thanks. Make it a double." She walks off unimpressed by my obvious alcoholism at 7.30am. Hey lady, don't judge me, you'd also be drowning your sorrows if you had your heart ripped to teeny tiny pieces only hours earlier.
Yeah...this was going to be a lonnnng flight.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have started our descent in preparation for landing, please make sure your tray tables are up and your seats are in their full upright position. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins. Please turn off all electronic devices until we are safely parked at the gate. The flight attendants are currently passing around the cabin to pick up any remaining cups and glasses."
Jolting me out of a semi coma I look down at my tray sleepily, holy crap, I didn't drink all that did I? Looking at the array of plastic cups, I sigh, yup I did. Hands up who's a big fat pathetic loser! Barbie flight attendant clears her throat for the thousandth time; she really needs to get that checked out.
"Your rubbish please Miss." The word rubbish really implying, “give me the proof of your raging alcoholism and get the fuck off my plane, as I need to remove my makeup with a chisel!" I hand her my numerous empty cups shamefully. Thank God I never have to hear the word Miss come out of her mouth ever again! Man, it just grates on my nerves, along with the rest of the world.
"Welcome to Los Angeles where the local time is 9.00am. On behalf of your crew, we thank you for flying with us today. We hope you have a great day in the lovely city that never sleeps."
Looks like me and the lovely city that never sleeps will be best friends. After an eternity of people shuffling off the plane, I finally set foot on home soil. I have been living in Singapore with HIM for over a year, following him to pursue his dream of becoming a corporate hotshot at a multimillion dollar globally recognized company.
I will not think about him. I will not think about him, I repeat my mantra. I am home now. Goodbye big blue eyes, goodbye laugh that made me smile every time, goodbye sculptured six pack ugh! Goddamned goodbye already! And good riddance!
I am lost in thought after a grueling flight and just want to collapse into a heap and hibernate for a week.
"Ava!" I hear very faintly as I look around the very crowded LAX. "Ava!" I then see a bouncing chestnut head; pushing her way through the crowd like her 5'5” frame can wrestle any man in her path to welcome her best friend home. Sadly it looks like my hibernating is to be put on hiatus for the time being.
"Ava! Oh my God!" she shrieks charging into me whilst laughing, wrapping her tiny tattooed arms around my neck. I awkwardly hug her back as my hands are full carrying my luggage. I have missed my best friend dearly, but I know I will dread her next sentence. Why does my best friend have to be so nosey? Let’s face facts; if she wasn’t nosey, then she wouldn’t be my Veronica. This is one of the many reasons why I love this girl to the stars and back.
"Ah Ava, not that I am overly concerned, but aren't you traveling a little light?" I cock my eyebrow, playing dumb. Maybe if I pretend like he never existed, she will stop with the questions I am so not ready to answer. Of course I am mistaken.
Laughing she looks behind me, then back at me. “Looks like I’m going to have to be blunt. Where is your annoying, egotistical boyfriend Harper?"
Oh man, even his name is stupid!
"Um, well about that...” I falter uncomfortably. You'd think I could tell my best friend of ten years that my boyfriend, who I left my home for, travelling to a foreign country for, has dumped my ass forty-eight hours ago.
Shit, word vomit is coming oh dear God not now. Swallowing and sighing I give her the best explanation I can after a taxing plane ride, doused with a double dose of vodka.”He's not coming."
She stares at me frowning, and then her mouth forms a prefect "O.” Yup she gets it. It didn't take her long. This is why I love this girl; she can read me without words. However, the death mask I'm currently wearing might be a dead giveaway as to why the asshole Harper is not with me.
She opens her mouth to ask me a million and one questions which I do not want to answer. Before I get quizzed, I hold up a finger to silence her. "V, seriously I just want to go home. I promise to tell you all about it when I'm not in tear soaked, vodka stained clothes".
V nods understanding that my story is not one to be shared in a noisy, crowded airport. She grabs my bag and throws it over her shoulder, offering me a smile that’s worth a million words... Fuck I love this woman.
No Place Like Home
ooking at the familiar streets I sigh, contented for the first time in forever. V looks over, chewing on the corner of her lip. Oh God, here she goes. It's been, looking at my watch, six minutes and thirty-five seconds, that's a record for little Miss Nosey Pants. She chews her lip ring anxiously while brushing strands of hair that have escaped her pigtails behind her pierced ears.
"Sooo...” she asks, looking over at me apprehensively.
And here goes with the inquisition.
“I know you probably don't want to talk about it, but dude you look like shit."
"Gee thanks, good to see you're in fine form today," I reply my navy converse absentmindedly tapping the floor. I really don’t want to talk about this. I had enough thinking time on the plane to last me a lifetime.
"I mean that in a good way babe. Well not really, but I just meant you look upset and sad and angry and um… kind of homicidal. I’m worried that’s all. What kind of best friend would I be if I wasn’t concerned?"
Even after the shitty few days I've had, my best friend knows how to make me feel better. I knew this conversation had to take place but now, I really wasn’t ready to share. Would I ever be?
"Hello? Earth to Ava!" she yells, snapping me into reality.
Shit what was she saying? I know if I don’t spill the beans, V won’t let this go and I have no energy to argue with her.
"V, look Harper is a jerk, he's a lying manipulative ass who can fall off the face of this earth and I would thank the stars another asshole has been eradicated from this world so he can no longer hurt, betray or break ones heart in a bar, a fucking karaoke bar I might add, as he tells his loyal partner of four years he no longer loves her and can’t be with someone who has no life goals and leaves her staring at his receding form whilst she drowns in her tears surrounded by people singing Amy Winehouse off key!!" I take a deep breath. Oh God, there it was, word vomit.
V takes a minute to digest my ramblings. All of a sudden I see her face turn a deep shade of red. Uh-oh, she’s about to explode.
"I take it you’re not talking in the rhetorical sense. That motherfucker! I always hated his ass, but now…now I want him skinned and barbequed filet mignon style!"
I let out a tiny chuckle at my friend’s reaction. V is a firecracker. She may be slender but she is far from fragile. I've seen a grown man cower in fear when a famous ‘Veronica Donovan Death Stare’ was shot his way. I look at my best friend, taking in her beautiful appearance. She hasn't changed much over the past year. Her long chestnut hair is tied into two messy pigtails and loose tendrils frame her heart-shaped face. Her striking green eyes are forever bright, always ready for the next adventure. She has added a second set of studs in her ears, which compliment her existent piercings in her nose and lip.
"So Harper did that to you? What does he mean he no longer sees a future with you? You moved to Singapore to support his future and he feeds you that bullshit! I didn’t think it was possible, but I actually hate him more than ever." V has calmed down enough to construct a sentence without it involving too much profanity.
"Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe he woke up one day and turned into a giant ass,” I answer miserably because I seriously did not see this coming.
V peers over at me, sees my glum expression and lets another string of profanities rip. "No honey he was always a jackass, you were just too blinded by love. Well, you are better off without him. Why out of 100,000 sperm was he the one that got there first?! He is a good for nothing, sonofabitch dog!” she yells honking her horn to emphasis her frustration. I take it back; she’s just as angry as before.
I frown and bite my lip to stop myself from crying. I feel so lost and alone and I think revisiting my decision to hibernate for a week is a fantastic idea.
V notices my misery and calms down trying to make me feel better. “Hey babe, don’t beat yourself up okay. Men are all asses in their own way; I heard it was in their DNA or something.” She laughs hysterically at her own joke slapping the steering wheel in delight.
I let out a soft chuckle; it's either that or cry... again.
I stare at my reflection in the window as I vaguely here V talking about trivial topics to try and steer my mind off Harper.
My reflection looks no better from when I saw it last, I still look lost and abandoned. I lean my head back and close my eyes wondering when will this pain go away?
"Thanks for letting me stay here. I honestly cannot face my parents right now. The whole ‘I told you so’ speech I can do without."
V smiles happily while making up the spare bed for me. Her home is a modest two bedroom studio apartment in California. V is blessed with brains as well as beauty. She runs and is co-owner of a tattoo studio "Ink of Queens" downtown. I am so proud of V; her life could have taken a destructive turn when her parents were killed in a car accident when she was twelve. She went to live with her Aunt Mary who just happened to be our next door neighbor. Mary treated V like her own child, and I believe her influence on V’s life is the reason my friend has such a good head on her shoulders.
So when V and I met, we were two very awkward shy teenagers with a love for big hair bands and tacky romance films- goes without saying we were BFF!
"So enough about me, tell me about Lucas," I coo teasing V about her new lover. He hasn’t been given the official boyfriend title just yet. Poor guy didn't realize what he was getting himself into when he said hello to my little friend.
Tugging on her silver bracelets she beams. "Oh Ava. He. Is. The. One. I just know it this time."
"Uh ha," I murmur whilst unpacking my underwear into the top drawer.
“Oh shush you, he is. When you meet him tonight you'll know exactly what I mean."
"Huh? What? Tonight? Where am I exactly meeting Mr. Multiple orgasmic pants?" I tease. We may not have been living in the same country, but that didn’t stop my friend from spilling all the nasty details of her sex life. God bless her honesty.
"Passengers of Ego," she replies like I should know what that means. I cock my eyebrow at her with a ‘have you lost your mind’ look.
She giggles. "Lucas' band silly. They are playing 'Little Sisters' tonight."
Looking at the wall clock she squeals. "Oh my God, I cannot wait for you to meet him. He gives me a tickle."
"I'm sure he does." I laugh, teasing my now blushing best friend.
"Oh shush you. You’re going to have so much fun tonight!"
"Yeah I really don't think that's a great idea," I reply squashing my t shirts into the dresser. Man, did I really pack this much crap?
"And why not?" V asks hands on hips unimpressed with my response.
"Um, are we really going to start this?" I sigh, too tired to talk. I look over at the bed and picture myself snuggled under the covers. Judging by the irate look on V’s face, me snuggling won’t be happening anytime soon.
"Yeah why the hell not, I'm all ears," demands V. Obviously someone has a bee in her bonnet today.
"Cause V I'm in no mood to make meaningless conversations with people I will never see again. And I really do not want strangers to be rubbing up on me in heat, hoping to score with the damsel in clear distress." Raising my hand in the air, I sarcastically add, “in case you're wondering I'm that damsel in distress!"
"Ava you need to take a chill pill. No one will be rubbing up against you as you so elegantly put, unless you want them to. And judging by how uptight you are, some inappropriate rubbing is exactly what you need!"
I stare open mouthed. Oh no she didn't! Before I can rebuke, she laughs that musical laugh that automatically warrants forgiveness from me. I'm a sucker, I know.
"Babe look, what Harper did to you, it sucks, and I get it. But I knew this would happen eventually," she shrugs like it’s common knowledge, while I stare shell shocked.
"You what?" I ask dumbfounded. Am I blinded by some unseen 'Harper is a douche smoke screen?'
"Harper has always been an asshole Ava. You were just blinded by his bullshit. I hated him from the first moment you guys met. I wish we never went to that party where he sweet talked you into dancing with him, because we wouldn’t be having this conversation if we had just stayed home and watched Brad Pitt like we were supposed to. You were oblivious to his controlling streak Ava. I tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen. Love is blind and all that crap. Harper is the past Ava; you came home to start afresh without that muppet in a meat suit!"
I laugh hysterically as my friend is on a rampage. Veronica never ceases to amaze me with her analogies. And no matter how politically incorrect they are, they seem to fit perfectly.
"So you’re going to unpack and unwind and maybe have a nap because the bags under your eyes are damn well frightening.” I cringe at her comment because I know she is right, but she ignores me and continues. “Once you’re well rested and looking less corpse-like, you are totally going to go put on those gorgeous second skin black jeans that make that butt look bootylicious, that red and white stripy sailor girl top thing that reveals just enough cleavage and your dancing shoes. Cause my girl we are going to paint this town red-Veronica Donovan style!"
I smile, never shocked at her bossiness. We are in for an interesting night but I am still unsure.
V senses my apprehension as I chew away at my lip nervously. “Don't be giving me that look Ms. Thompson. You're going and that's final.”
There is no point arguing with her because I would be just wasting my breath. She kisses the top of my head and sweeps out of my room to give me a minute to process everything that's just happened.
I collapse onto the queen bed and spread my arms out wide. My tiny arms and legs barely reach the edge of the mattress, and I feel like I am swimming in sheets and blankets. It feels nice and comforting and I wish I could stay hidden for the next week or... month.
What am I going to do now? I jumped onto the plane without giving my future a second thought. But now that I'm here, that future is pending for a decision.
I count the glow in the dark stars on my ceiling, wishing I was faceless just like them. I remember reading a quote that strikes a chord with me as I am studying the illuminated stars: “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."
At the moment I’d give anything to land anywhere, on the proviso that I’m free of this ache.
I can smell the rich coffee aroma V is percolating from the kitchen downstairs and I can hear her shuffling around, banging doors preparing crockery for our coffee. I decide going down there is better than sulking up here.
In the words of Clarke Gable: “I never laugh until I have my coffee.” I'm hoping he's right.
Although, I think it's going to take a lot more than a cup of coffee to make me laugh again.