Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Times

Photograph by Seth Townsend (not posed)

She was used. She knew this was true. Her boyfriend told her all his girlfriends were used, even the new ones. Somebody had taken them for a test drive. She could have taken herself for a test drive, for all he knew. He worked at the mall, at the Old Navy. She worked at Fuddruckers Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. The other days, she didn’t know what she did. She partied. She danced. She did lines off of toilet tops. She slept late and in the afternoon texted her boyfriend to come home and when he did she was like okay, let’s go out. Sometimes, late at night, in the parking lot outside the bar, she paced and smoked cigarettes and tried calling her father. He never answered.

Last Wednesday at work, when the shift was almost over, she told one of the gay waiters she had a lot of problems. He was like you? Perfect you? Name me one problem you have that’s not completely in your head. She couldn’t. She went out with everybody after work and smiled for all the Facebook pictures. Guys surrounded her like bluebottle flies over a picnic on a hot day in the city park. They were so funny. They bought her Cosmopolitans and Jagerbombs and touched her shoulder, lightly, when they leaned to her ear to tell her she was an exceptionally cool girl, a girl definitely worth getting to know. One of the bus boys had coke, really good coke, the kind not cut with baby laxative, the kind as clean and pure as the shit the Incas used to set out, he said, on important ceremonial occasions.

At dawn, she watched the bus boy’s chest rising and falling like an empire and she checked her cell phone and saw her boyfriend had left thirty-seven messages. She didn’t need to check them. He was right about her, had been since the beginning.

She wandered outside, in her underwear, into the bus boy’s raggedy back yard, and regarded the disease of daylight spreading over the dew. She sat on the wet grass and eased her bare back into the cold blades and stared through the trees at the sky. The sun would appear there eventually. Maybe she would be happy then.

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