“I wish I could say I liked him. I want even more to hate him, but I don’t. There’s just apathy. I don’t know how to fight that. I’m not sure you can. He’s just some mediocre little dipshit. Well, Great! I just started hating him in the middle of that sentence. Did you note the emotional little waver in my voice as I said mediocre? It really gave me away.”
“Christ, you can be hateful when you want to be. This isn’t your business. You don’t have to tell me this.”
Clara struggles to keep down a sneer, tightening her lips against her eyeteeth. “No, I have to say that the emperor wears no clothes. I have to say I see even if it doesn’t change anything. It matters and don’t act like it doesn’t. What doesn’t matter is your stupid skirt. The ugly red of it. It makes my eyes strain. I don’t know how, but it does. I guess it matches the bright colors of that childish shirt you have on. What? Is that supposed to be ironic or something? At least that sweater covers it up pretty well. Oh and nice job on that, too. Pitch black! Great for walking at night, ass. See? That doesn’t matter. It’s not my business.”
“Classy, you stupid bitch. And when did this other thing become your business? Huh!?”
“I guess it all started when we went to get beer together. He kept saying douchy shit and you kept just saying okayokay or fine like you just wanted to keep him from throwing a temper tantrum. You were those people. We were in a Marsh and you were those people. How trashy is that? And you enable him by doing that. He mouths off and you just say okay. Fuck you. And I was there and next to you and I was that friend who doesn’t say anything when they act like that in public and it made me that person. I like to think I control my image, but that fucktard and you had to be little childish cunts and ruin my night and the night of anyone else in that aisle. I asked Steve later and he said you guys do this all the time and that you get into stupid little fights over nothing and he ends up calling you a fat ass and you get all upset. Fuck you, again. Every time you go back to him after something like that you’re only saying that it was okay and that he can do it again. What the fuck is your problem? This is Tim and Carrie level shit and you noticed how shitty they were together and still you get caught up in the same thing. And it’s not like he’s great in any way. He has an okay at best profile, but from the front he just reminds me of a chipmunk. And he has those retarded earrings that every asshole who spouts urban slang like it’s going out of style wears. Very fitting as the slang he uses is a decade out of date at least. Mad and yo every two fucking seconds. I will say that his ability to turn those words into an endless string of inane questions and arbitrary statements was pretty fucking impressive though. And I know from what you told me that he has friends who go out with high schoolers and start parties where people huff. And he seems like he would totally have those friends. He is completely that guy. He probably does those things too. NO, LET ME FINISH. What I’m trying to say is that your boyfriend is a two bit loser who treats you like shit and you all but say thank you. That makes me think you’re daft or have no respect for yourself and either way I can’t respect you now. I liked knowing someone I thought was cool and eventually would call, wrong or no, my friend. But all of that’s gone in a single shitty weekend. I feel gyped. I guess that’s what I’m getting at. And if I seem cold it’s only because I think less of you.” Her friend makes a new attempt to speak, but this only seems to enrage Clara. “Why? Do you not think about your image? Do you fucking care what that looks like when you point to someone like that and say you want to be with him and have him represent what you believe to be your equal? How worthless and mediocre it makes you look. I don’t get it. Do you get off wallowing in shittiness? Do you? You must because otherwise you haven’t a thought in your fucking head. You dumb cunt. I have had more than enough of you. There is no us anymore. One of us cares about image and stupid, replaceable cunt isn’t the image I want.”
“Done? I’m trying not to cry. I’m tired, so tired. First, you spend most of the night talking shit about my friends, my friends that specifically invited you to their party despite your constant beratement. I’d tell them about it, but I think it’d break their hearts and I’m not mean enough to say everything I want. Secondly, you just made me feel like shit. I don’t care how negative you need to be or how you justify it, it isn’t right. You could say the same thing in a much nicer way, but I don’t think that’s what you want. You want to hurt me because you feel I hurt you. I get it, but I am not resigned to taking it. You are not going to this party with me. You were invited, but as my companion for the night. You have proven that you are not my companion, tonight or any other. You are not my friend. Don’t bother explaining yourself or calling me tomorrow. Goodbye.” Her heels dig in before twisting her around. She swings the door open as hard as she can. Clara follows.
Fog surrounds and, by sticking clammy to their skin, embarrasses them in a way that neither could explain if asked.
“Can I ask you a question? Just one. Just the one and that’ll be it. Come on.” Her friend tries to ignore her. “Yes? Is that silence consent? Okay, great! Well, did you meet him at a party or a rectal haberdasher? I always forget which.”
“Ew. Christ, what’s that?”
“Somewhere where one might procure an asshat.” The other girl had stopped briefly, but continues on with new resolve. Clara walks quickly after in the most disinterested way she can manage.
The girl comes to a bridge over the stream around the neighborhood of the party. Clara allows the bridge to be cobblestone for dramatic effect. The other stops in the middle and leans against the edge, peering into the brief remains of the day. Clara comes forward, amusing herself with the click of her heels on the stones beneath her.
“They’re Mormons. That isn’t a sin.”
“What a shitty choice of words.”
“They don’t deserve what you say about them. They’re too nice.”
“Sure, your friends are nice, but they’re fools. I hold people responsible for everything. I don’t bring it up if they don’t though. And who else throws parties where their isn’t drinking? I don’t drink, it’s nice. You do though. And I forgave you for it. Who’s to say I’m not capable of forgiving you for this?”
“You don’t forgive. You just forget so you can rediscover it and how sick and sad it makes you feel. And don’t talk about parties. You don’t drink, but even more you don’t party. You can’t let yourself. Remember that and don’t follow me. Neither of us will have a good night then. Though I think that may be just what you want.” Setting off once more.
“I’m going as I’m invited and it’s nice to show up to parties where you’re invited. I wouldn’t want to disappoint.”
What is it that changes in Clara’s vision, watching the girl walk away? The once ugly skirt changes with the light. It’s bright yet rich redness seems to bleed into the still, grey fog. Clara begins to think that it will be a shame to see its magic disappear when they leave the night for the interior of the party. She had never seen any color seem so saturated in real life.
Clara looks beyond the pastel colors of the homemade streamers and through the window. A trick of the dying light makes the whole world peach for a brief glimmering moment. Maybe it’s this, or maybe Clara is just feeling kind, but as she turns back around and sees her friend with closed eyes, peaceful in its concentration face and flowing black hair whipping wildly around as she dances, Clara forgives her. She forgets her hatred of dancing to see her friend lost to the music, her face not apologizing for its ugliness for once. She is herself and with friends.
Clara picks up a freshly made cookie from among the other homemade party foods and crepe paper decorations, and finds that she has never tasted anything so perfectly sweet. And as-UGH!-she spits out the saccharine brown mush into a neon napkin from the table. She rubs inside her mouth with her tongue in an attempt to wash away the sickening sweetness of it. Sweeping her tongue in the back of her gums she finds and spits out a crinkled and blackish brown bit of mush that must be a raisin, but she cannot convince herself that it is anything but an old larva filled beetle that had crawled into the cookie dough before being marinated and cooked in and with its young.