I feel startled, still walking and not even knowing where to go with Jamie, let alone share him with a stranger. I’m not really a friend person, because they’re just so easy to lose and before I could even make my way to the plane to fly to Jamie, I ended up having a massive argument with my friend and that’s how we departed, so even talking to a stranger seems very out of place. I don’t have much to think in the short space I’m given and I’m not even sure what to say.
“He’s just getting cold feet.” I say shortly and soon enough I hear a lighter and I guess she’s smoking inside, but soon enough I hear a window being yanked open. I wonder how does she even look, if she’s wearing any makeup at all and what else is going on in her mind. I look around and wonder if I should actually just stop somewhere and let this conversation unravel further. I hear an excited noise, she seems to be far more entertained by my whole story rather than her own.
“How come? Come on, tell me, Alison.” She continues talking with her French accent sliding up and down. I can barely talk to myself in my head, how am I supposed to talk to someone else? I just sigh and I can feel her tense up lightly from my reluctancy to speak.
“I moved in with him, but we’re still not an item.” I mumble, watching the cars pass and making my way under some huge window display of some charity shop as I occasionally look behind me to see the last season’s Topshop already on the mannequins. I guess someone clearly didn’t enjoy the previous season. I take a deep breath, it would be just like venting to a shrink I guess. Plus when else will I get the chance of a stranger calling me and we both get to vent on our boyfriends who got cold feet? “It’s like no matter how much I try. Well, I try to try. I mean, I can’t really go on and tell him to kiss me or anything-”
“He doesn’t touch me at all.” I interrupt her fast just to pick up from her concerns and it feels embarrassing and I feel as if I’m stuck in some middle school romance and I realize how much wrong I’ve decided by moving in with a guy who hasn’t touched me yet. I rub my eye, realizing I’ve got some eye shadow on. I take the phone away and mumble a curse, poking the back of my hand’s blue tint. I could be dead if I were luckier. I go on. “I moved in and we act like a couple, but nothing is official and he really wanted me over. True, he told me that when drunk, but don’t you tell the truth when you’re drunk or when it’s six a.m. or so? Wouldn’t both things be the double?”
“I guess.” The woman says and seems to be eager to listen to me, but hears my pause and picks up where she’s left off. “But that is so strange that you’ve never slept with him. I would have gone crazy by now. I mean don’t you want him-”
I feel myself go red. My early twenties are a disaster.
“Of course I do, but there’s nothing I can do.” I swallow. “Maybe he’s in the right... I’m not too sexy. I mean, I am sexual, but I’m-”
And I look at the long mirror in the charity shop which should appeal to anyone who tries to check out their appearance. I can’t even wear skirts, I just feel so wrong in them and I feel like I could peel off my skin when I wear one. It just feels so terribly wrong. Even growing out my hair seemed wrong but I grew into it, allow it to cover my shoulders slowly.
“Oh, honey, I’m sure you’re sexy. It’s really he who is the problem and you’ve moved in with him...” I can hear her thinking and another flick of the lighter, maybe her cigarette went out. It’s not too windy today or she could just be playing with it, I always have a pen in my hand, doodling as I talk to people if I’m not walking and I wonder what’s Jamie doing now, that I left him completely and with the phone in his hand. “He is very strange. Is there a reason he is acting this way?”
“He had a rough break up.” I say, sighing and pulling my hair strand by strand. “I don’t want to talk about it, it’s not for me to tell. I just know how ugly it was. I’m guessing he’s just overwhelmed by it and having another girl in the house could be doing this to him.”
It’s just me guessing and wishful thinking, the more I think the more I presume.
“Sounds like it. Such a mess. Well, if he’s anything like my ex... You’ve got a long way to go darling.” She laughs sadly. Then we both hold a pause. It’s as if we’ve ranted enough, if this were Samaritans we would’ve hang the phone completely and I would’ve never gotten a proper reply but instead some sympathy and getting told to find the energy within me instead of dabbling onto someone else’s. She seems to be thinking as well. “I’m Valentine.”
I’m pulling strand by strand watching my hair-
I catch myself pulling strand by strand. I can’t mutter an excuse, instead she starts talking even further.
“If he was my Jamie, well, he’s not mine anymore, it would’ve been worse, I’m sure he wouldn’t even have had kissed you, he would just let you linger. He’s awful when he’s depressed. I haven’t mentioned that yet. He just sulks on days to end, allowing no ray of light to seep through.” I look at the mess of my hair and I want her to keep talking. ‘She cheated on Jamie’ seems to show up in flashing lights in my head and I don’t know how she had even gotten my number by accident and I feel as if Jamie’s depression latched onto me for a brief second and I’m left alone trying to entertain myself with his ex-girlfriend.
“Well...” I speak in long pauses now, pulling more hair. “At least you’re not with him. Maybe that’s a good thing?”
Yeah, then I have Jamie all for myself then. I don’t know how to proceed, but I keep thinking of her with a nearing head ache as I start walking again and the signal shouldn’t be as good now, but I can’t help but wonder how the other side sounds, from the cheater and this feels like finding out another side of Jamie. It’s just a phone call is what I just tell myself and that’s all there is.
“Maybe.” She exhales very loudly. “But I do miss him. Not enough to get him back, but he crosses my mind far too often not to miss.”
I see that I had found some sad streak and to Valentine talking to a stranger is better than someone who she knows.
I actually sat and wrote this down in two sittings, my first being around 100 words and then I just locked myself in a room with headphones and kept writing. It was easier a bit before halfway through and thankfully I've been really feeling it, so I kind of want to keep pushing it and publishing every 3 days as usual :) Don't worry I'll still be posting the animal, I just want to have stories as well and stimulus to keep writing viciously.
I felt a bit weird coming back to writing from a female perspective and having a very female centric story, since I'm not female and it was kind of digging out thoughts which I might've had when I identified as female and kind of observation really. As an odd inspiration I decided to watch Ghost World, which will make as much as sense as Jamie saying that Jamaican music helped him to do Doing It To Death.
I kind of always remember Topshop in second hand stores, charity stores and whatnot, just because I would check them out, specifically the one which inspired me to do Used Lighter.
Just recalling Alison's shyness really kind of was a driving force for this chapter and there's this gifset of her hiding with her cardi or something which also was in the back of my mind.
I struggled whether I wanted Alison to be more female or androgynous in this story and decided to have fun and go female here, at least, I think so. Alison seems pretty ambiguous to me.
About Samaritans I was with my therapist and I was just in awe that they gave advice back, because whenever I'd feel bad I'd call Samaritans, yeah, I still do that but I haven't since I got a therapist and I've been better thankfully, so that's where the sudden awe comes from.
I hope you enjoyed it and thank you so so much