Friday, January 31, 2014

A Little Bit Dramatic by Emily Ever

Tuesday, May 1st 4:03 pm

“Stephanie, get up!” Tommy shouted.

NO!” I shouted back. The force of my negative rocked me so hard my back had the chance to re-experience the hot, smelly asphalt digging into my skin.

I knew no part of what I was doing was sane, but I also 100% didn't give a fuck. I loved him and he was not going to leave me.

“You are so completely unbalanced!” he yelled from out the window of his Ford F-150.

The neighbors were all watching, nosy bastards, as I prostrated myself right there in front of the shiny chrome grill of his truck. I could smell the exhaust and pretty much every gross thing that had touched this section of blacktop, but it only made me more determined.

I could suffer for my love.

“It wasn't me!” I screamed at the cloudless sky. I knew he could hear me because he scoffed in disgust and revved the engine.

He could run me over for all I cared. I would die for my love for him and then he would know the truth.

“I'm leaving now, Stephanie!” Tommy called, his white tank top gleaming in the midday sun against his tan shoulders.

“You can't leave!” I cried, desperate for him to understand. It was so TV Movie to say my twin sister did it, but what if it was true? “You haven't even tried to listen!”

“Why don't you try to not be such a ho-bag?” he bellowed over the roar of the V-6 engine. “Then I'll try listening, mmmmkay?”

He revved the engine again as I felt a pathetic denial bubble up out of me: “You can't do this!” I shouted, balling my hands into fists against the hot pavement.

“Watch me, skank!” he yelled, throwing the truck into reverse and knocking over my parent's trash cans in an effort to reposition his truck. Before I could even roll back in his way, he sped off down the street, the beer cans in his truck bed making an extra clatter as he went.

I felt the miserable sobs welling up from a place deep inside me and into my constricted throat. I lay there and let the tears just leak out onto the pavement until my bones ached from the hard rock under me and I was sure all the neighbors had gone back into their houses.

All of the neighbors with any shred of human decency, that is.

“That was the most pitiful display I've ever seen,” Steve said as he leaned against the magnolia tree at the end of the driveway, his stupid hipster jeans gleaming turquoise in the sunlight.

“Poor Stephanie Barnes, dumped in front of her own house by Tommy 'Look Ma, No Hands' Franklyn,” he said, shaking his head slowly. “Maybe if you wait there long enough, the garbage man can come by and dump you, too.”

Shut the fuck up, Steve,” I said, flinging my middle finger in his general direction.

Saturday, June 30th 12:15 pm

I tilted my head to the side so the giant pimple-turned-open-sore on my chin (A.K.A. the Scourge of my Adolescence) was just out of the frame, and carefully moved my thumb to press the tiny picture button on the screen.

During the two second delay between the button push and the picture-taking, something moved in my peripheral vision which I couldn't see through the flash.

Then the picture came up on the screen of my phone – Steve's dopey cross-eyed face next to my awkward, open-mouthed side-eye. The Scourge of my Adolescence was front and center.

“Goddammit, Steve!” I shouted, shoving him off the counter he'd jumped up on to photo bomb me. I glanced towards the door to the kitchens quickly to make sure my parents hadn't seen me just physically assault a customer.

“You know, on the internet they say taking selfies is a cry for help,” he said, jumping up on one of the stools next to counter, seemingly unaffected by the fall. “Especially if you are sending them to Tommy 'Keg Stand' Franklyn,” he continued, making a face I assumed was supposed to be an imitation of Tommy's crooked-tooth smile.

I rolled my eyes at him, and deleted the picture from my phone. No one needed evidence that'd happened. Besides, I never looked good in pictures.

I responded without looking up from my phone. “Fuck Tommy 'the Shithead' Franklyn,” and his ability to tell me and Sarah apart in grainy YouTube videos, I thought, putting my phone away.

“What are you doing here?” I asked, planting my hands on my hips like Wonder Woman. I read on the internet that standing like this ten minutes a day can improve your mood. “Don't you have a church to desecrate?” I asked.

“I already hit all the ones in walking distance. Wanna give me a ride?” he asked, putting one arm on the counter and giving me what I'm sure, in his dorky brain, he thought was a charming smile.

“I'm working,” I said, alluding to the fact that I was clearly behind the counter in my parent's popsicle shop, which they made me work every weekend because they were horrible people.

“Hello! Welcome to the Popsicle Spot!” my dad called as he came in from the kitchens. “What can we do for you?” he asked Steve, giving me a look like he knew I hadn't been perfectly polite to this customer.

I mean, there was no way he could know my exact level of politeness. He was just guessing. Most of the time, I'm fucking delightful.

“Actually,” Steve started as he fished through his backpack. “I was wondering if I could put up a flier on your board.” He gestured to the community news cork board we had on the far wall. The paper he held in his hand was slightly rumpled, but clearly had a guitar on the front. “It's for a concert.”

“Of course!” my dad said, smiling so broadly you could see all his teeth. “You know, I used to be in a band when I was your age.”

I literally couldn't roll my eyes hard enough as they went off in their little musician babble-talk. I went to sit on the other side of the shop, behind the counter and near the door, counting down the minutes until I would be released from my popsicle hell.

“Thank you, Mr. Barnes!” Steve called as he headed out the door, my dad giving him an indulgent smile and a wave.

As Steve passed me, he gave me that stupid smile again.

“So, a rain check on the tri-county church desecration, then?” he asked. I flipped him the bird from behind my phone and he slipped out the door, laughing.


Thursday, July 9th 1:45pm

“UUGGggh,” Courtney said, rolling her eyes at my computer. “These guys are so overrated.”

I just nodded, because to engage Courtney in this kind of discussion was to admit defeat ahead of time. Courtney would say kittens were overrated if she thought it would make her look cool.

“I don't know why we're listening to this when we could be listening to Megavox,” she said.

“We're listening to this because you gave me this CD last week and said I had to listen to it,” I said, watching people walk by the large windows of the Popsicle Spot. “And who is Megavox?”

I immediately regretted asking as Courtney's eyes lit up with triumphant glee.

I'm not surprised you haven't heard of them,” she said, smiling grossly. “They're really underground. They're the best post-punk, post-dubstep band out right now.”

I was giving her a look, but she was ignoring me. We'd been friends a long time.

Most people haven't heard of them because they're just too real for mainstream,” she continued without prompting from me, because she knew she wasn't going to get it. “They only play places that are completely vegan.” Courtney emphasized this by crunching loudly on her non-fat, gluten-free, black bean chips.

Who is going to hear of a band who only plays completely vegan places?” I asked, annoyed. “There's like, two places that qualify in the entire state.” I eyed her bag of chips but didn't tell her to put them away because my parents were upstairs in the office and probably wouldn't see.

It's not about the fame, Stephanie,” Courtney said, drawing my name out to three syllables. “It's about the music.”

That's bullshit,” I said, crossing my arms. “If it was about the music,” I did a sarcastic quote gesture with my fingers, “then they wouldn't be so goddamn picky about where they played.”

Sarah!” My mom called from upstairs. “Sarah, is that you?”

Courtney froze like she'd just seen a snake, her diet coke halfway to her mouth.

It's just Courtney, Mom,” I called back, annoyed to the point where I would now call it anger. “Sarah isn't back yet.”

Courtney cast a quick glance over her shoulder like she expected my sister to come waltzing in the door with a chainsaw and crazy in her eyes. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and tried to pretend Courtney wasn't there for a second.

Anyway,” Courtney said, making me open my eyes again. She seemed to have recovered from her fear, though she was still eyeing the door. “You wouldn't understand. I don't consume bits of other sentient beings -”

Are you vegan, Courtney?” asked Steve, who'd somehow managed to open the door without making the bells chime. “I haven't heard you talk about it in, like, five seconds.”

Oh my god, I can't believe you are allowed in here,” Courtney said, sneering at Steve and his skinny jeans. “Shouldn't there be a law against hipsters?” she asked. I thought that was pretty rich coming from her.

My phone chimed from the counter where it was lying and we all glanced at it.

Who's it from?” Courtney asked, her hands balled into fists in front of her like she was trying to be a cute boxer. “Is it from Josh?” she asked, all pretense of nonchalance forgotten.

Josh McKay?” Steve asked, trying to get a glance at my phone before I swiped it off the table. “How is he texting you? Can he spell?”

Mom! I'm home!” I heard Sarah call from the back, interrupting us. I think it was the clomp of Sarah's motorcycle boots that finally sent Courtney scurrying out the door with fake excuses. Like if she was in the same room, the crazy sex-tape cooties would attach themselves to her.

You're not going to send him selfies, are you?” Steve asked dropping his backpack on the ground and putting his hands on his hips like he was a teacher who was disappointed in me.

How is that any of your fucking business?” I asked. He shrugged and picked his backpack up off the floor, leaving a stack of fliers for his band on the counter.

It's just that a picture will never do you justice, because you have the kind of beauty that moves,” Steve said, swinging open the door and waltzing out.

Stop using Ani DiFranco to hit on girls,” I told him as he left. “It's not cute.”


Sunday, October 16th 11:30 am

“Stephanie! We have customers!” my mom called back to me. I looked up from the glowing screen of the store's tablet and saw her leaning through the door and giving me an exaggerated motion that could only be translates as What the hell are you doing?

I was sitting in the dark, windowless industrial kitchen we had in the back of the Popsicle Spot, and I could feel the light from the screen lit up my face creepily. I hadn't even noticed when the cooks left and turned out the lights behind them.

“I'll be right out mom, I'm almost finished,” I told her. She smiled indulgently and shook her head as she went back out front.

I don't know why I was so excited about this play list, except that no one ever has a good Halloween lineup. It's all Monster Mash and Purple People Eater, which aren't really songs as much as they are audio viruses.

This year, I'd had divine intervention in the form of my dad's old Tom Waits CDs.

Tom Fucking Waits.

The chain-over-gravel voice started pouring through the speakers and I couldn't help smiling to myself.

“Not really popsicle eating music, is it?” my mother asked no one in particular when I came out front. I ignored her.

Outside I saw a flash of pink and distantly caught the 8-bit strains of Pop Goes the Weasel from out the open door. I pressed my lips into a thin line and tried to pretend I hadn't seen it.

Ever since he'd gotten that job two months ago, Steve passed by our shop in his flaming pink ice cream truck at least once a day just to piss me off. Sometimes, he would even sit in the parking lot across the street, infecting the world with his audio diseases.

Like anyone would ever choose his shitty, pre-packaged ice-cardboard over my parent's gourmet popsicles.

Everyone stared at him when he did it, and he acted like he didn't care. Sometimes, I think he actually believes he'll steal away some of our customers.

He came by again, and was stuck at the light right outside the shop. I glared fixedly at the passenger-side window, in the Wonder Woman stance, even though he probably couldn't see me.

“He's been coming by a lot lately,” my mother said, waggling her eyebrows at me like this was some elaborate attempt at flirting.

But I knew the truth: he was trying to annoy me to death.


Wednesday, November 24th 5:02 pm

I heard them in the alley, huddled together and cackling like cartoon characters.

But the first thing I saw was that fucking truck – the Regurgitated Cotton Candy Pink van with a megaphone mounted on top. Thank god it was silent.

“Quick, he'll be back in, like, two seconds,” one of them said. I knew it was Marshal by the way he lisped his way through the word 'seconds'.

When I fully rounded the corner into the alley, I could see the back of his head and Rick's profile, bent close together.

“What the shit are you two doing?” I asked, wondering what fresh fuckery was this. If even one of them had their dick out, I swear to god, I was going to call the cops.

I stopped about ten feet away from the two of them and the back of the van, but I needed to eventually get around them to reach to the large trashcans behind the Spot. The plastic trash bags in my hands were getting heavy and smelled strongly of almost-soured milk.

“Go away, Steph, we're going to mess up this faggot's gay-mobile,” Rick said. He only glanced at me briefly before he went back to watching the entrances to the alley. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a can of black spray paint, which he started to shake.

“This is my parent's property, douche bag,” I said. “They could get sued for this.” That probably wasn't true, but I still felt the need to stop this from happening. Frozen Desert Seller's Code?

“Shut up, no they won't. Stop being such a girl,” Marshal said.

Which was just the goddamn limit. I watched as my small supply of fucks withered up and died inside me. I had no more left to give.

The trash bags hit the both of them at the same time, their black, plasticky, sour smelling mass blocking the idiots from view for a couple seconds.

“I am a girl, Mar-shal!” I shouted, kicking them both in the shins and any other place I could reach before they could properly recover. “And I am fucking telling you to get your ass off my parent's property before I call the cops!” My voice did that thing I hate when it winds itself up to a hysterical pitch.

Marshal looked panicked and glanced towards the mouth of the alley like the coward I knew he was, but Rick squared his shoulders at me like he forgot who my sister was.

“Steph, stop being a pain in the ass. You're not going to call the cops on us. If we get arrested, there will be no one to play with your boyfriend tonight at the gig,” Rick said, smirking.

He was right, the asshole. Josh couldn't play without his band mates. But that didn't mean I was down for the count.

As Rick turned back to the van with a smug smile and the spray can, I had an idea.

“If you touch one molecule of that van, I will tell Josh about how you groped me in the mosh pit last weekend,” I said, pointing an accusing finger at him.

Rick's smug smile slid right off his face to splatter on the floor. He'd gone a little pale.

“Looks like a party back here,” came a voice from behind me at the other end of the alley.

I swung around and turned on Steve like he'd just insulted one of my play lists.

“And you!” I said, index finger inches from his face. “Don't park your fucking pedo van on my parent's property!”

I don't really know why I was mad, but now that I was, everyone was going to hear about it.

“Your sister said I could,” Steve said, arms up in the air like I was holding a gun on him.

“Yeah, well, I know you're new around here, fag,” Rick laughed, “but everyone knows better than to listen to Psycho Sa--”

Rick didn't get to finish the rest of his sentence because my fist connected with his throat and he made a choking sound instead.

I wanted to pound him into the pavement; to scratch out his eyes and pull off his eyebrows and make him drink the three gallons of sour milk mom had just thrown out.

But I didn't get any closer because fucking Steve caught me mid-air before I even got a single eyebrow hair.

Marshal and Rick made a mad stumble around us to the exit, glancing back over their shoulder as I screamed every curse I knew at them.

“She's just as crazy as her sister!” I heard Marshal yell as he rounded the corner out of the alley at a run.

Steve still had me in his grip and I could smell his aftershave.

Put me the fuck down!I said/shrieked. I wasn't crying. It must have started raining or something.

He let me go and I stalked off towards the end of the alley without looking back at him, those bags of garbage could live in that alley forever for all I cared.

Thanks for saving my van, Steph!” Steve called after me, to which I responded with a middle finger waved over my shoulder.


Friday, January 14th 7:19pm

It's raining.

I watched the murky sky and probably freezing rain from behind the windows of the Popsicle Spot where I sat, alone, on a Friday night.

It's not like hard managing a popsicle shop no one goes to in the winter, it's just the principal of the thing.

I'm young and alive and shouldn't be chained down on a Friday night – someone should make it illegal.

Plus, the PA system was down, so I couldn't even play music. I had to listen to the sound of my youth draining away slowly as I aged.

And just like that, my night was ten times worse, because who should come in but Steve of the Pink Creeper Van.

“Oh my god,” I say, looking up at the ceiling and hoping he and his hipster glasses won't be there when I looked down again. “Fuck. Off. Steve.”

“Hello, purveyor of fine frozen treats!” Steve said grandly. “I am here to sample your wares.”

“And I'm not allowed to sell to idiots,” I said, taking in his guitar strapped across his back and his shaggy haircut.

“Oh, poor Josh McKay,” Steve said with false sympathy, “Does he know he's not allowed in here?”

“Josh McKay is a god,” I said with the conviction of a true believer. “And you wouldn't catch him dead playing in such a dorky band.” I glanced meaningfully at the stack of fliers he had in his hand. I mean, who was going to see the fliers in the Popsicle Spot? It was the dead of winter.

“It's funny, you're mouth is moving, but it's Courtney's narrow-minded snobbery coming out there,” Steve said, leaning towards me as though he was going to study an interesting phenomenon.

He looked around wildly. “Where's the curtain? You can tell me: is she controlling you with her mind?” he asked wiggling his fingers at me dramatically.

I let out a huge sigh and glanced at my phone to see how much longer I would have to endure this. Did all of the times I was nice to customers when I didn't want to be mean I could murder Steve now and it would all even out?

“Besides, Josh McKay isn't in such a good band because he couldn't play his way out of a nursery rhyme,” Steve continued, sliding into one of the stools by the counter.

“That's not true!” I said, offended. “I've seen him play guitar, and he's fantastic.”

Ah! You've seen him play, but did you actually hear him?” Steve asked.

“I mean... does it matter?” I asked smiling as I remembered the way his biceps bunched and how his fingers moved across the strings.

“Posing with a guitar and playing a guitar are two different thing,” Steve said, and he would have continued, but the bell over the door rang out and a woman with three little girls came in.

I hoisted up my fake Customer Service Smile and took their order, doling out the appropriate popsicles. The oldest girl, maybe eight years old, insisted on paying with her mother's money.

The family sat down at one of the tables off to the right side, and I turned back to Steve, who was still there for some reason.

“Are you going to buy anything?” I asked, my Customer Service Smile as sarcastic as I could make it.

He glanced over at the family and got this look on his face like he should have a light bulb over his shaggy head. I knew he'd just decided to be a jackass.

“I've come to serenade your customers with the songs of their choice,” he said with a large gesture, turning to face the family and swinging the guitar over his shoulder in a singe movement. This weird quality came into his face, like he'd just switched himself on. He smiled and the whole room seemed to lighten, like he had light bulbs instead of teeth.

“How about some Katy Perry?” he asked the little girls, who squealed and clapped their hands.

Before I could even threaten to dig his eyes out with a popsicle stick, he'd launched into an improvised version of 'Teenage Dream.' The little girls were up on their feet, screeching like banshees and bopping their little heads to the music.

The woman and I shared a look, and though I meant it to be sarcastic, my face probably looked exactly like hers: unaccountably amused. The girls were dancing so seriously with their popsicles, even I had to laugh eventually, though I withstood for a good minute.

Just in case I still wanted to yell at him, Steve went directly into a rendition of 'The One that Got Away,' weaving between his three little fangirls.

As he played, people came in from the murky mess outside to see what all the noise was about. In the space of about three songs, I had a shop full of dancing, popsicle-eating customers rocking out to acoustic pop songs.

I happened to catch his eye, sometime later, in the middle of a rendition of Taylor Swift's 'Mean' and I could see the triumphant smile on his stupid face.

There would be no living with him now.


Saturday, February 20th 4:03 am

The night air stung, bitter and cold, over my skin as I took deep breathes of it into my lungs.

If anger equaled raw destructive power, there wouldn't be a single building left standing in this town. I would have ripped the roof off the high school, where Josh had asked me out for the first time; I would have upended Jennifer Bower's pool, where he'd kissed me in front of everyone; I would definitely have reduced the fucking movie theater to a pile of dust.

The cold wind cut right through my pathetic wrap as I walked as fast as my three inch heels would allow past the closed downtown shops.

I wouldn't let myself mince my way back home, so I was walking full swing – one ass-cheek at a time – and I'd already gotten a couple of honks from guys returning home from the Senior Bonfire. My middle finger was getting a work out tonight. This morning. Whatever.

I walked past the closed Popsicle Spot, wishing I hadn't left my purse in Josh's truck. I could've just spent the night on the cot in the office upstairs.

I stopped for a moment and considered breaking in, but didn't want this humiliating night to be compounded by police involvement. So, I kept walking.

I heard the Pedo Van coming up behind me before I saw it. I knew it was that stupid van because the sound of the transmission had become so familiar to me, I could have picked it out of an audio line-up.

Steve drove along side me for a couple feet, the window of the cab down, letting all the freezing wind into his cab. I didn't look at him because I really couldn't take him being a jackass right now.

Or worse, being sympathetic.

“Nice night for it,” he called out the window. When I finally looked at him, it was only to glare.

“Hey, could you do me a favor?” he asked. I ratcheted my glare up a couple notches. He could not possibly think this was a good time to ask me to do something for him.

“This van has been acting a little funky,” he said, gesturing over his shoulder with his thumb. “I think it'll drive better if there's a person in the passenger seat. You know, kind of a counter-balance.”

I actually stopped walking, I was glaring at him so hard.

“What the fuck are you talking about?” I asked, crossing my arms over my chest. He'd stopped moving and the night was filled with the soft chugging of the pink monstrosity before me.

“I just need your help until I get back home. I don't think the van will make it otherwise,” he said.

I knew what he was doing, and I found it inexplicably cute, god dammit. Normally, my angry is like napalm: it sticks to everything and burns. But everything I threw at him, it just kept on sliding off.

“I don't take rides from strangers, Steve,” I said, “and you're pretty fucking strange.”

“You don't even have to be in the van all the way to my house, I can drop you off at yours,” he said, his face creased in lines of worry for his fake-ass van problems.

I was shaking my head and looking down because I couldn't hide the smile on my face.

“Come ooon,” he said in a wheedling tone. “None of the cool kids are doing it.”

With a laugh I couldn't suppress, I spun around and stalked to the back of the van, jerking open the right side of the door. I climbed through boxes and freezers until finally squeegeed myself into the front seat, pulling the extra fabric of my dress after me.

“Ahh, this is much better,” Steve said as he drove off and pretended to test the steering of the van. “Much more balanced.” He shot my his dorky Aren't I Cute? Smile, and I turned my head before he saw me smile back.

“So, I guess you heard what happened,” I said because there was no way he hadn't. Even the handful of home schooled kids would know by noon tomorrow. This town wasn't that big.

“All I heard was that Josh McKay threw a fit at the Senior Bonfire,” he said warily, like he wasn't sure he should admit to knowledge of our public spat.

“He broke up with me,” I said, not feeling a way about it at the moment.

“Uhh...” Steve was, for once in his god-forsaken life, at a loss for words.

“In front of everyone. He's such a drama queen,” I said, hoping one day I would be able to look back at this and be as over it as I was pretending to be.

“Why did he break up with you, if you don't mind me asking?” Steve asked, keeping one eye on me cautiously.

“Probably because I kicked him in the balls,” I said, a vindictive smile spreading like butter across my face.

Steve let out a bark of surprised laughter.

“Why did you kick him in the balls?” he asked.

“He seemed to think I was kidding when I said I wasn't like my sister,” I said darkly. There was silence in the van for a moment while I felt the anger building again inside of me.

Was this going to be a thing, now? Guys dating me because I looked like the girl who had a mental breakdown and posted a sex tape on YouTube? I crossed my arms in front of me angrily.

“What happened after the yelling?” Steve asked a couple minutes later. We were driving directly towards the lightening sky.

“A lot of stuff,” I said, non-committal. There was a long pause. I should probably elaborate, I thought. In the interest of full disclosure.

“I may be wanted by the police,” I continued finally, tilting my head back onto the headrest and watching him with one eye. His smile widened as he kept his eyes on the road.

“That's okay,” he said as we drove off into the sunrise.

Emily Ever is a LEGIT writer with an unfortunate case of wanderlust. Her current blog, all about being an unemployed writer, can be found here. Her blogs from the various countries she's lived in can be found here: (Saudi Arabia, Korea, and India). Follow her on twitter here: @CreateAsI_Speak


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