Beauty, Fleeting Fast.
by Omi Salavea
This is a short story, one of many to come, that i wrote a while back. i would appreciate feedback on this. This is a story from back in the day, and a look at how i am the person i am today. Too bad the people that should read this, never will.
A Fleeting Glimpse of Beauty
This was my second day at the OceanFront, and already I despised ever moving to the area. Sitting outside on a Monday at 6:00 am, it was early, but the clouds had already begun to mourn some heartless tragedy hours ago. Drenched, waiting for the bus, miserable because the only dry thing I had was the smoke in my mouth, pouring in from a dampened cigarette. I was in the tenth grade (at the richest school in the area, Frank W. Cox, no less), hardcore and gothic in appearance. Smoking was just another way to have fewer friends.
I missed my old neighborhood. I didn't know why though. Chick's Beach was just as much a beach as the Oceanfront, though the Oceanfront was definitely more lively.
Maybe it was because I actually had a friend in Chick's Beach. But Monica and I had gotten into a horrible fight two weeks ago, and hadn't heard from her since. It didn't matter. I was lonely.
I got on the bus; gloomy despite its standard happy-sunshine faded paint. Not many students rode the bus, at least none that I though would talk to me. I sat down quietly, well, except for the sound of my wet vinyl skirt squeaking on the bus upholstery.
I placed my side-pack next to me and endured the ride to the second most hated place in the world, according to me.
School was dull and proved only to be another uncomfortable place to sleep. I got on the bus that afternoon in a hurry. Maybe my brother would want to wander the Strip with me, or we could call one of our old buds's to take us out to more familiar haunts.
I sat down in the back and set my still soggy side-pack next to me. Startling me, a bright, goofy face popped up from the seat in front of me. Her hair was strawberry and wildly cut, dewy, glistening eyes of strawberry leaves that would have brought her face out beautifully. Except the fact that an oversized band-aid/bandage was haphazardly stuck on her forehead, hiding no possible injury whatsoever.
"Excuse me, um, yeah, um, I was curious, but maybe, I was wondering, um, are you a witch? I know a lot of witches, and the way you speak, I thought, well, maybe, you were a witch".
This was Rose, and this was typical of Rose, apparently. Rose was crazy, I hadn't spoken a word to anyone on the bus. Ever.
"I'm sorry, you'll have to excuse Rose, her grandmother dropped her on her head, last week. But you do look like you’re into that whole witchcraft/Satanism scene".
Ben was so grungy in his faded green cords and holey "Dead" tee shirt that the lice infesting most hippies wouldn't pounce his way.
"If I were a practicing pagan, you're not gonna burn me on the cross, are you?” staring blankly at his well-matted and developed dreads.
"No, but we did notice that you've been awfully quiet, Ben and Rose are just trying to be friendly".
A flood of silky, long blond hair sat down next to me. She wore freckles as blush upon her cheeks, and eyes so sparkling hazel, I became entranced. Beauty's name was Devon, and I was stunned that beauty was trying to start a conversation with me.
Introductions went around, lead by Devon. Devon, Naomi, Ben, Alex, Rose, Summer. I answered questions in awe of her quick yet eloquent voice. She asked me if I would walk her home, five blocks from my house, six from the bus stop.
I stumbled in my chunky, platform heels those six blocks. I listened and agreed on her various points of view, and formed a partnership to start a poetry group. The sun was finally out, and as I walked home alone that day I felt the clouds smiling now while I skipped along their backs.
As the weeks progressed, we let the formalities of friendship set in. I met her mother; her sisters were rather scared of my appearance. She met my mother and my brother (Montana). My mom's girlfriend was scared of her blunt approach with people. We introduced what friends we had to each other and shared poetry, written work. Endlessly talked about everything, from appearance, to smoking, to sexuality, to life. She was virginal; I recently came out as Bisexual. She was curious, I was drooling. She listened to Classic Rock, which explained (to me) the red velvet bell-bottoms and lack of make-up. I listened to industrial and trance, which explained (to her) the six-ring bondage collar and vamp-red hair. We both lived in broken homes, and shared the pain of the experience. Her father was in jail, mine hated me. Her mother struggled with three kids, mine just moved in with Laura, a person I though better off sitting with Devons' father. With each other we found a haven, security from the world and painful struggles of our families.
Months passed like hours. I was oblivious to the world around me. I ignored the problems my brother encountered with the law, the apologetic phone calls of my father, the dying relationship between my mother and her unwelcome lover. I didn't want to think of the things that hurt, that normally kept me awake all night to write and splatter paint/ink onto my canvas covered bedroom walls. The only thoughts that washed my mind were the next time I walked Devon home, or getting the poetry club's work published. Things were not good in my life, and getting worse, but I only thought of the comforts I found in silky blond strands and long artistic hands.
February came, and for my birthday, my mother's girlfriend gave me a vase. It missed my face by three inches. According to her, it didn't matter whether it was my birthday, or Christ's, I was going to die if I didn't stay out of her business. Right then, her business was screaming and raging at my mother, huddled in the corner of our living room. She was taking what should have been Montana’s punishment. He was the one that found and flushed the 20 grams of white joy down the toilet earlier that afternoon, when mom and Laura were at work.
When she started chasing my brother out of the house and swinging his old n' worn baseball bat wildly in every direction, I fled. I ran without conscious thought, streetblocks disappeared with the heavy breaths I took.
Late in the evening, Sickened and afraid, unaware of where my brother maybe, aware that my mother had ultimately failed in providing an environment I could live in, regretting the lack of relationship betwixt my father and I. Frightened of what lurk in the alleys of the corners I turned, knowing my body would soon realize I hadn't eaten and the cold would soon sink into my bones. I decided to turn my steps, I ran to safety, the only haven I knew I had.
Later that night, after calling the police and reporting the incident at 319 35th street, reporting a minor out on his own (after curfew), and calling one of the few people that would be able to find him and take care of him (Curtis, a childhood friend), I realized it was midnight. At midnight, Devon sang "Happy Birthday", and "Sixteen Candles" in front of a small batch of chocolate cupcakes her mother woke up and made me.
I went to bed that night under a shower of gold strands in her arms. In sleep, tears from my eyes rolled down her small chest. That was the only night I ever shared emotional and physical intimacy with Devon, the only night I had shared emotionally with anyone.
"Is it like this, you know, like this, with everyone?", she asked.
"It depends, what do you mean, like this?"
"Like the world's stopped spinning, and it's just you and that person, lying in bed, and that's all there is", Running a hand down my neck, cupping one of my breasts, eyes glowing my way.
"I don’t know, It's the first time I've ever felt this way, but I hope it never ends".
Two smiles lit that night brighter than any star in the sky.
It's strange how things work out when you aren't there to witness it. Montana was found by the cops, and was taken to Curtis' house, where our father met him for the first time in a year. Laura was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct, but that was all. However, her probation officer gave my mother the necessary contact information should the "issue arise again". Not that my mother would ever call or do anything to endanger the one(s) she loved. Which I guess meant that her children were not a part of that circle. A few days later, Devon's mom got a job as a manager for one of the new tourist traps at the Oceanfront. A school friend of mine, John, got picked up by a small-time magazine for independent music and other writings, giving me hope for publishing our work and distributing it on a larger scale. It wasn’t as though things miraculously started to look up, but there were definitely fewer reasons for me to stay awake and staring at the walls.
March, the month of loss and Caesar's death, came in with chilling gusts of wind, snatching Devon with them as they left me, cold and empty. Losing her was sudden, unexpected, like the thunderstorms that came to chase us off the bus and down the streets to her home, or the 19th street Library. Hours, days were spent amongst bookshelves and chipped, scrawled upon library tables. Finding poetry organizations to submit works online, congratulating each other on competitions that we won. At night I'd walk her home, dying for a kiss, suffocating under meek disappointment of her shyness. Then again, I was too shy to tell her everything in my heart. I'd walk from 19th to 35th, the last half without her. Thinking of what it would be like to walk the whole way without her. I couldn’t imagine it. I couldn't bear to even ponder it.
Devon disappeared on a Tuesday morning. She wasn't on the bus and she didn’t answer her phone. I panicked. I showed up at the door of each of her classes, "Maybe she was late?", I thought. 2:45 p.m. hit, and the bus driver had barely hit her brakes, I was out of the yellow sunshine contraption and on my feet. Yet again, streetblocks became blurry and endless to my panting breaths. Tripping over leather bell-pantlegs, puddles, curbs, and people, running.
The door to her mother's apartment hung ajar. The place was trashed, well, what was left of the place. It looked like the important things in life, cash, clothes, maybe toiletries, were gone. Everything else resembled the chaos and destruction of your normal modern art exhibit. Furniture looked like an axe had been taken to it, after it had been thrown around the room a few times, of course. Devon's little sisters' room was a moshpit of teddy bears and little girl t-shirts. Devon's speakers, large as me, were kicked in and fallen through the entranceway of her bedroom. But her room was empty, as was the apartment.
The walls are what frightened me. On the wall, written in what appeared to be rotten condiments (that were currently spoiling from the ripped open fridge) was this:
"Rot in fucking hell, you won't find us, never will"
I knew whom the message was for; it had to be for her father. I could only guess what had happened, and my heart sank to the floor with me.
I collapsed in a broken chair, helpless. I cried so hard my contacts fell out. I knew it wasn't safe to be here. I wonder if the cops or maybe the landlord knew where they were. I sat there for hours, delusional, I thought maybe, maybe, she would come back. Come back and smile, and hold my face in her hands, and talk about what a lovely joke this all was, what fun it was to trash the place. I blacked out, lying in a splintered couch, amongst the ruins of my Babylon.
I stayed, in and out of delusional shock till 11:30 p.m., wandered into the engulfing darkness alone. I showed up cold and crazed at my friend Summer's house around 2 a.m., bearer of the awful news. Deciding to kill the messenger, I drank so hard I couldn't remember my name. Around Four, a stomach full of Darvocet, 2 Demerol, way too much vodka, I collapsed, not knowing who I was, where I was. But I couldn't forget her.
Three Days in the Hospital, followed by one week of daily meetings with a psychologist, followed by two empty weeks of acting out my duties of a living human passed like a glacier on flat land. She finally called. I held the phone in my clenched hand and savored the seventeen minutes I spent on the phone with her. Devon's father had gotten out of jail, early. He went to their house, though under restraining order. The cops had taken him away, but were only able to detain him for 24 hours. They had to get the hell out of there. She told me once they got to a place her mom could settle down in, she would write. She would try to call in four days, as it was hard to keep her sisters calm and help her mom manage everything right now. I agreed. I made her promise me they were all safe. I made her promise me that if they needed money, Montana and I would help. She assured me that they were ok, and if things were all right, she would visit me in a month. To this day, through searches, stamps, rumors, contacts, leads, I never heard from her again.
I grew up, I moved away from the Oceanfront. I've lived a larger part of life than most people around me. I have had many lovers and loves since then. I have suffered heartloss, heartache as well. But I still walk to 19th street alone, mourning my loss with the clouds behind me.