“Aunt, I’m back!” I yelled.
I heard her scurry out of the kitchen. She stood in the doorway with a wide “O” shape in her mouth.
“Where have you been?!”
“Oh. I was out.”
“You took my car!”
“Yeah, I don’t have one Tracy. I had to use yours.”
“What on God’s green earth have you been doing?”
“Just exploring. This place is... beautiful.”
I lied. Though, it was a pretty place, but I had been out all night drunk.
“Exploring? All night? I was worried sick!”
Certain things that were happening led me to suspect that she had never raised children before. She was believing it.
“Yeah. Sorry. It’s just... I didn’t think you would care so much.”
“Oh, of course I care! You’re my niece aren’t you?”
I realized I knew nothing about this woman. I could pick up on certain things. She had never had children, but the pictures in her house told me she was once married. She didn’t know what to do in the event of a missing child, that was clear. Also, I realized she was gullible.
“Sorry, it’s just, well, things have been rough. I just needed some air.”
I might as well get something out of it.
“Oh, honey, you can always talk to me!”
“I.. I just guess I’m a little bit homesick, is all.”
“Yes. Don’t worry, things will get better. Trust me. Soon it’ll be just like home here, I promise.”
“Could I... maybe... borrow a little money?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I really don’t have any money to spare! Oh, you poor child!”
She looked like she was about to cry. The poor old lady. She was trying so hard. Her gray hair was stuck in clumps to her forehead from persperation, and her old wrinkled lips and blue eyes quivered.
I didn’t get anything out of it, either. Now I just felt bad. I felt like I was making an old lady cry for no reason. If I was getting money out of it at least I could justify it somehow. I gave her a hug to comfort her. She sniffed.
“Is that alcohol?”
Her body went rigid, and she stood up straight with her arms folded across her chest.
“No! Alcohol can kill you! Why would you even suspect...?!”
“Sorry, dear. I guess I’m not very used to this. Here. Come in the other room.”
She took me by the hand, and dragged me into the kitchen.
“This, Ida, is Juliet.”
A small girl who looked about thirteen was sitting at the table. She had short blonde hair that was cut in a boy style, bright blue eyes, and bright red lipstick on. She wore a white tank top, and had large breasts for someone of thirteen. Her natural hair color was brown, and she had about an inch of regrowth for the three inches of blonde that stood spiked up in her scalp. She had on tan cut-off cargo pants, and sandals. On her wrists were dozens of bracelets, most were made of cloth, but a few had beads on them and were metal.
Aunt Tracy went on.
“She’s your age, and she lives just down the street.” Oh great, my aunt was making me friends. Oh brother. “She was the one who came over and fed Charlie while I was in New York with you. She just came to get her money.”
Oh. Maybe my aunt wasn’t trying to set me up with someone. Maybe she wasn’t all bad.
“Oh, well, hi Juliet.”
“Hi Ida. I really like your hair.”
“Oh, thanks, it’s naturally blonde.”
“Mine’s naturally brown! That’s funny.”
She had a small little voice that sounded like a mouse. Actually, this poor girl was a mouse. She was so little and quiet. I could tell she could be one of those people who sat in a room, and no one would ever know that they’re there.
“Yeah, I’m trying to get my hair darker, and you’re trying to get yours lighter. I guess that is funny.”
I decided I would try to be nice to her. What would be wrong with a friend?
“So, you’re from New York?”
Her voice was so high-pitched it almost hurt my ears.
“Oh, that’s cool. I’ve always wanted to go to New York and see the sights out there!”
“Yeah, there’s some pretty neat stuff out there. But I had to move here because my dad killed my aunt.”
“IDA!” Aunt Tracy screamed.
“Well, he did!”
“That is not appropriate!”
“I’m not going to just ignore it! It happened!”
People were funny. When there was a sore subject, it was invisible. It didn’t happen. I didn’t understand how people could just sit there and pretend something didn’t happen.
Juliet watched us quietly while we fought.
“Juliet! Let’s go in the other room!”
I took her by the arm and used her as a way to get away from my aunt. I led her all the way to the guest bedroom, where I was staying, and slammed the door behind us.
“Thank you for getting me out of that!”
“Yeah, well, sort of. She’s not here, so I’m safe from bickering.”
“Uh, yeah. Ha.”
“So what’s this place like?”
“Oh, I’m sure it’s nothing like New York.”
“It’s a nice place.”
“Yeah? How so?”
“Well. We’ve got a nice school.”
“Yeah. We’ve got a whole ocean.”
“I guess that’s true.”
“Yeah.” she started laughing like a sick woman. I could tell she was nervous. The poor little girl was probably like me. She didn’t have friends. I decided to make her feel a little welcome.
“I really love your hair length, Juliet, it look super pretty on you.”
“Really? Thanks!” she started to blush. “I really like your eyebrow peircing.”
“This? Ha! I wish I had dark eyebrows. It looks like I have a random peircing above my eye, the way my eyebrows are.”
“They are pretty light.”
“Yeah. Sometimes I draw them one, but that takes too much effort. Then there’s always the possibility that I mess up. Trust me, it sucks to try and wash out of your eyebrows.”
“I know right! They should just make makeup that’s actually removable for once!”
“I know! I mean, they have makeup remover, and you can always use petroleum jelly, but it never works just right!”
“Right? Tell me about it!”
“Yeah, but if they made it easily removable, it’d probably smear loads easier.”
“Oh... that’s true.”
Her quiet little mouse voice made me have to listen intently just to hear her.
“So, you live just down the street, huh?”
“Cool. Maybe I can come over some time.”
Her eyes lit up with excitement, and she blushed wildly.
“Yeah. That’d be fun!”
“You know, Juliet, you’re a pretty cool kid.”
I was speaking the truth. Back in New York, I had friends, but they weren’t people I related to. They were just other people who did drugs like me. That was all the connection we had. Drugs. Things were different with Juliet. They were new. I could actually talk to her. It gave me a warm feeling, and I found myself blushing.
“Thanks. You’re really cool, too! Maybe I can give you a ride to school, since you don’t have a car.”
“Yeah. That’ll be fun next year.”
She gave me a bewildered look, but it quickly changed.
“Oh, duh! School gets out in a week! I feel so stupid!”
Again she was laughing wildy. I gave a little fake laugh along with her.
“Yeah. Well, it was really nice meeting you.”
The truth was, it was.
“You too. Actually, I’ve got to get home soon.”
“Um... I’ll see you soon?”
“Yeah, see you soon.”
She left my room, and I watched out the window as she left.
Juliet was something. She was a mouse. She was a tiny little girl. She was my age. She was a teenager. She was a person. She was a friend. A good friend, at that. I had just met her, but I felt like I wanted to know her. I wanted to be her friend, and I wanted her to be impressed by me. She liked my dreadlocks, so they would stay. Maybe I could be really funny and make tons of jokes.
Even though Juliet was here, there wasn’t much to comfort me. I was still alone. In all seriousness, Juliet was just a person. She would live. She would make a mistake. She would die. Death. Death was eternal. Not like friendship and love. No, those things were only temporary.
Sadly, Juliet was just a person. I stuck my head out the window, and was greeted by the city sounds. Cars driving off in the distance made me feel like I wasn’t alone, yet this was the most alone I had ever been. Back home I at least knew people. Here I knew Juliet and Aunt Tracy, and I was just meeting the both of them.
Today was Sunday, I would see Juliet after school. Maybe. Maybe not. If I worked up the courage to end things, I would. Until then, I was just waiting. The morning sky overflowed with daylight, but I could still see it’s imperfections. The world was one giant imperfection. It was a repulsive pimple in the solar system, filled with it’s hate and stupidity. People killing each other. Killing their sisters. Raping. Stealing. People who were so gullible like my aunt, and people who just wanted a friend like Juliet and me. The world was one giant work in progress. Or, maybe we had already reached our high point long ago. When there wasn’t things that were heating up the planet, and killing it’s life forms. People knew about global warming, but because they assumed it wasn’t going to happen in their generation, why bother? People knew that slaves were human beings, but because the slaves weren’t them, why bother? People knew that the Native American’s owned the land, but because we wanted it, and they clearly weren’t us, why bother? The world was truly an imperfection. It was a failed experiment. Now, it was our history, yet we were still facing the problems of human stupidity. Naivety. Today, there were still rapists and stealers. The world still had people who were racist, or homophobic. We were still in wars and we were still fighting for the wrong reasons. Everywhere. Had we not learned from the past. Or because others weren’t us, did we just not care?
I crawled back into the room, and laid down on the bed. Suddenly, I was tired. Who wanted to live on a world full of all of this? Who? Probably the rich. They had money. They had a family. One who cared. They weren’t raised where I was raised. They had something to live for.
I closed my eyes, and crawled under the covers. Then, I waited.