Mayhem Literary Journal is generously sponsored for 2019 by Te Whare Wananga o Waikato, The University of Waikato
issue 3

october 2015

issue 3 - october 2015

Kissing (or the tale of why you shouldn't be 'best friends' with a boy who is in love with you, ever. Let alone twice.) - Indigo Smith

2010

1. There was a blender and tequila. A lot of tequila. The cheap kind. And a drug.

We got the pill from a brick house on Edinburgh street. I don’t know what drug it was, but they’d been legal up until a month ago. And he said he’d tried it before.

It was in the top drawer of the big wooden dresser. The room I’d rented had been furnished: a double bed, a chest of drawers, a desk and pin-board for study.

I hadn’t put up my purple mosquito net, and the wardrobe had garbage bags of clothing I hadn’t bothered to hang. The walls were already plastered with images of BDSM-style fashion and photocopies of naked, water-colour fairies.

The pill had been old when I’d got it, and had melted and flattened in its little plastic bag like gum stuck to the underside of a table. I fiddled with it, pushing it around in the slippery ziplock pocket. We were outside, on the deck. I’d just ground a cigarette butt under the toe of my red stiletto.

“I don’t know. What’s it like?”

I’d been reassured. And I trusted him. He was my friend. The only one to come and visit after I’d left. “Like a brother,” I told my boyfriend. Us two would always discuss Fucking, and insult the other’s current partner.

“Quit bitching and do it,” he smiled.

I smiled back, and he pushed it between my lips. I washed it down with bitter slushy.

I asked him, “Can I kiss you?” And he shrugged.

We’d pulled the couch through the ranch slider, put it in the spotlight on the deck. I straddled him, and kissed him. 
“Is that how you always kiss?” he asked.

I felt my eyebrows furrow through the numb haze of booze.

“Use more tongue.”

I took it as a challenge, and lead him down the hallway.

The next morning there was ash floating in my glass of water, and stains on my sheets.


2012

2. There was a wine glass, broken at the stem, and a hole burnt in my new stockings. There was always weed at his house, the curtains pulled on one side so his mother wouldn’t see the bong from next door. Mostly, I got smashed on bubbly. I liked the way it gave me energy, and made everyone else much more fun.

Everyone saw how he looked at me. And touched my skin. Kissed my shoulders when he was too loose to stand.
When I’d just moved into the grey house with the four boys, he was the one I had texted the next morning. He’d replied, “Are you telling me you were raped?” It hadn’t occurred to me to call what had happened ‘rape’. It hadn’t occurred to me that that is exactly what happened.

I could text him, when I lived out of town. When I’d been up at least three times to check the doors were locked, the windows shut, the curtains overlapped so there was no gap, the lights off, the switches in the correct position. When any sound would shock me out of bed, when I couldn’t relax and had nightmares about that neighbour coming into my bedroom again. I could text him and he’d talk to me until I fell asleep.

He would hug me when I was drunk, tell me not to worry. Let me cry the big, wet tears that come when your whole body shakes. The tears that come when you’re terrified of the dark and think there’s evil in the shadows.

“Don’t walk at night, just because it’s happened before doesn’t mean it won’t happen again.”

He used to tell me he was my BEST friend, my only true friend. He would text me to remind me that he loved me, and talk me through my break up.

“You don’t need that guy.” He made me believe that one day the crack inside would stitch itself up.

The night he met the latest guy I was screwing, his eyes turned to stone. I saw his jaw clench and his eyes dart over the body of the blonde boy with the drug contacts and the black car.

“You’re a slut.”

I tried to not let it hurt, reasoned that the technical definition of ‘slut’ was someone who had a lot of sex. And I did, so he was right.

“Don’t tell me about these guys. I don’t wanna hear about it.”

I had thought it was just virgin envy. But then the night came when I was lonely, I’d had two bottles of Lindauer, and an affectionate hug turned into a clumsy, heated embrace. I kissed him back.

In the morning his freckles were pressed right up against my skin, and there was a text from my ex.

An open letter to an old friend - Indigo Smith

If you knew then what I know now...

You wouldn’t have cared so much about how you looked. You would have woken up in the morning thrown on some canvas sneakers, and pulled your wavy black hair into a French plait.

But you groan and swear and curse the four Woodies that you drunk the night before. You sit up in bed and think about how much you hate your life, how much everything sucks and you just want to leave.

You put on your fishnets and hooker-heels, pencil skirt and push-up bra, red lipstick and mascara.

Then you walk to school.

Across the field you stalk, weight thrown forward, back arched as your heels stab the ground.

You stomp down the corridor, burst into D4 and hurl your faux leather bag at the desk. No apologies for lateness, you swear about the sunrise.

You still think you’re smarter than anyone else, you think you can trick your boss that you’re vomiting from food poisoning, and fool your teachers that you missed the test because you had the flu.

If you knew then what I know now, you wouldn’t have written an essay on The Handmaid’s Tale and called a rape victim “pathetic.”

You feel like you’re stuck. You believe in Candace Bushnell’s Happily Ever After, where the women are:
beautiful and smart 
and mothers and powerful 
and rich and sexy 
and married and having an affair 
and the CEO of their own company,
and a size 6 
and fit enough to run a marathon
and wear bright lipstick and stiletto heels.

You wouldn’t have been a fashion student. You wouldn’t have been prescribed quetiapine, or fluoxetine. You wouldn’t have thrown your phone across the room because you didn’t like a text.

If you knew then what I know now…

You would never have cheated on your boyfriend.

You would have dumped him instead.

But you flirt with boys, and bask in male attention. Flick glances over your shoulder, and smirk through your bleach blonde hair. You swing your hips as you strut through school, and never have any female friends.

You read about Monroe’s magnetism, learn the history of Madonna and Gaultier, and misinterpret Vivienne Westwood’s claim that “fashion is about sex.”

You talk about fucking with your best mate as he hands you his cigarette. You fancy yourself as a femme fatale. You leave red marks around the filter, as you suck the thick smoke into your young lungs.

You text strangers and practice saying slutty things, remember what Cosmo said about ‘What Men Want.’

You try to start fights with your boyfriend because you’re so bored of doing the same thing. He’s broke, so whenever you go to McDonald’s and ask what he wants – “McChicken burger” – you order a hamburger Happy Meal, just to get him worked up. 

You laugh when he looks at you, with those blue eyes that are telling you to “grow up.”

You wouldn’t have been a temporary lesbian or a topless waitress. 

You wouldn’t have slept with your brother’s slut of a friend. 

If you knew then what I know now…

You would never have thrown a door against your mother’s face, letting the glass pane shatter against the woman who never cries. You would never have left her to dissolve onto the lino, into a puddle on the kitchen floor. 

But you do, you leave her alone, and go to the boy in the car with the bottle of wine.

When you fight, you declare just how independent you are. At the top of your lungs, standing on the cobblestones your voice rips through the grapevine, smashes into the sparrows on the wire, and knocks over the saplings that line the street. 

You scream the house down, shriek “I know what the fuck I’m doing.” 

You shout at your mother to “Stop! Stop parenting me.”

Your heart really hurts sometimes, when you think about how your sister said “I hate you.”

Sometimes you cry because everyone thinks you’re a bitch and you’re terrified that they might just be right. Your friends joke that you’re “really hot, but such a bitch that it’s not worth it.”

You can’t stand being around your brother because he shushes you, closes his eyes and blocks his ears. He laughs with your father after you’ve stormed down the hall in a whirl of tears. You slam doors with gale force winds.

But.

If you knew then what I know now…

You wouldn’t have met your short, sassy fashion friend, or your scarily intelligent fine arts friend. 

You wouldn’t have had the chance to be brave enough, proud that you told your father to fuck off.

You wouldn’t have begun listening to your mother when she said things like, “This too shall pass.”

You wouldn’t have learnt to be grateful, that change is inevitable. You wouldn’t have learnt that life is fluid. You wouldn’t have ended up at University,

and you sure as shit 
would not 
be writing 
this.

Contributor's Note

As an avid childhood reader with a librarian for a grandmother, Indigo Smith takes delight in everything word-related... although her grandmother may not take delight in the particular words published here.

 

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