But it Needs to be Real
So now, she said at the end of the party to you, let’s go die together.
She grabbed you by the hand and you both take the freight elevator all the way to the roof. All the night’s music and drink and drugs echo-thump-push with every passing floor.
You first met three hours ago.
She had been bleeding in a college bar. She said her cat scratched her, but you didn’t believe it. She was muttering about a movie she seen earlier in the night. You knew the actor personally; he’s kind of a dick. You told her so as she sipped a beer. She didn’t laugh, but told you that you were funny.
She had braided hair, something akin to a French socialite from the past. She chewed her gum to colored powder. You watched her swallow it.
Before you know it, you’re at some party far away, the last of your money drained from the Uber to get there. The driver was an old veteran with shaky hands. You asked him if he needed a drink and he told you to get the fuck out, walk the rest of the way. She laughed at that one, for sure. You weren’t trying to be funny that time.
The party was not a good one. Everyone was on the floor, staring at the television. But the television wasn’t on. Some burly guy on the couch spilled his beer all over himself, but didn’t move, just let it soak into his shirt. He started to talk about Ruby Ridge and the MOVE bombing and was saying all sorts of politically incorrect crap. That’s when you decided to get out of there. There was an unease that slithered all over you.
That’s when she came back to you with beer in coffee mugs. You asked her if anything else was in it and she said she really wasn’t sure. Adventure, she mumbled.
There must have been because she began talking in tongues, about all sorts of things – mysteries, theories, books she set on fire, people she hated and loved. You couldn’t stop her. You were the only two awake after a while. She kept refilling the mugs with beer and after about the fifth one, you told her that you had enough. You told her about your slithering unease and that it was time to go home.
She scowled and shook her head. No, I don’t think so, was all she said about it.
That’s when she took you to the elevator and went to the roof.
There was a shimmering of the city below. Stars, dark background, old architecture. You hated heights. You looked over at her and she dangled her Doc Martens over the edge. The braids in her hair were impeccable.
Come on, she said, let’s die together.
You told her that wasn’t a very good idea and that you needed to go home.
I don’t even know your name, she said.
You told her a fake one. You mentioned she looked like a French socialite.
Fuck that noise, she said, and held out her hand. You haven’t held a hand in years. Maybe this was the time. When there was a shimmering below, spotty figures looking upwards to see what idiots you were.
You told her you had to go. You just didn’t feel right anymore.
She sighed. And to think there for one minute, that you were real. That you were actually the most real thing about this whole night.
You told her that you were real.
She shook her head. No. You’re not.
Maybe you weren’t. Maybe you would never be and this would be the best way to uncover yourself. You asked her why she felt that way.
I don’t know. It just needs to be real. She looked at you with sad, huge eyes. I didn’t mean to say that about the dying stuff. I didn’t mean it.
You weren’t sure what to say, then. You just looked at your coffee mug. It felt dumb and clumsy in your hands all of a sudden. You felt just like one of the idiots below you.
Well, she said with a heavy, jagged sigh as the beer and smoke got caught in her lungs, thanks for the chat, I guess. You’re not like all of those other fucking clowns downstairs.
It was the way she said it to you. It was pure sincerity, a soft injection of actual emotion. Maybe it was the hair that made her akin to a French socialite. Whatever it was, before you knew it, you chucked the coffee mug as far as you could, and waited for the sound to hit some poor jackass in the head.
Thanks for being funny, she said, and held out her hand.
This time you took it, and like she wanted it to be, it was real.
Kevin Richard White’s fiction appears in such places as Grub Street, Hypertext, The Hunger, Barren Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, and Door Is A Jar, among others. He reads fiction for Quarterly West, Vestal Review and The Common. He lives in Pennsylvania.