𝒾 𝓌𝒶𝓃𝓃𝒶 𝒷𝑒 𝒶 𝓇𝒾𝑜𝓉 𝑔𝓇𝓇𝓇𝓁 | 𝒸𝒶𝓂𝓅 𝓃𝒶𝓃𝑜 2020


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    𝐓𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬

    ɢᴇɴᴇʀᴀʟ ɪɴғᴏ | ᴄʜᴀʀᴀᴄᴛᴇʀs | ᴛʜᴇ ᴊᴏᴜʀɴᴇʏ | ᴄʜᴀᴘᴛᴇʀs

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  • 𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐈𝐧𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧

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    ᴍʏ ᴘʀᴏᴊᴇᴄᴛ ɪs x ᴍᴇᴇᴛs ʏ

    𝘼𝙡𝙡 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙣𝙤𝙣-𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙡-𝙗𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙠𝙙𝙤𝙬𝙣𝙨-𝙗𝙪𝙩-𝙩𝙤𝙩𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙮-𝙗𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙠𝙙𝙤𝙬𝙣𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝘾𝙖𝙩𝙘𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙄𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙍𝙮𝙚 𝙢𝙚𝙚𝙩𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙚𝙥𝙞𝙘 𝙧𝙤𝙖𝙙𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙥 𝙤𝙛 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙡𝙢𝙖 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙇𝙤𝙪𝙞𝙨𝙚 𝙞𝙛 𝙏 & 𝙇 𝙬𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙜𝙖𝙮 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙚𝙖𝙘𝙝 𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧. 𝙊𝙝, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙨𝙚𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙩𝙪𝙣𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙆𝙪𝙧𝙩 𝘾𝙤𝙗𝙖𝙞𝙣'𝙨 𝙨𝙘𝙧𝙖𝙜𝙜𝙡𝙮 𝙫𝙤𝙞𝙘𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙖𝙘𝙠𝙙𝙧𝙤𝙥 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙝𝙞𝙥𝙥𝙞𝙚 𝙚𝙧𝙖. 𝘿𝙞𝙙 𝙄 𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙛𝙖𝙘𝙚𝙘𝙡𝙖𝙞𝙢𝙨 𝙞𝙨 𝙏𝙞𝙢𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚́𝙚 𝘾𝙝𝙖𝙡𝙖𝙢𝙚𝙩*?* 𝙄 𝙛𝙚𝙚𝙡 𝙡𝙞𝙠𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙨𝙖𝙮𝙨 𝙖 𝙡𝙤𝙩 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙤𝙣 𝙞𝙩𝙨 𝙤𝙬𝙣.

    ɢᴇɴʀᴇ

    An LGBTQ+ romance, some historical-ish (if the '90s counts :)) fiction, road trip coming-of-age story

    sᴜᴍᴍᴀʀʏ

    The wild child of wilder children, Birdie Nirvana is the it-girl of the Seattle grunge scene of 1992. She’s out and proud, with her girlfriend, Jacqueline, by her side at every smoke-filled, greasy-haired, “vibin’” concert. Until Jac runs away post-blowup, and Nirvana’s best friends don’t know what to do with her. Until Nirvana (yes, she chose her middle name as a nickname because of a certain band) leaves too, in search of the girl she knows is the love of her life. Until another lonesome traveler questions her taste in cars, and now she’s more lost than before. If that was possible, considering she lost her map about two truck stops ago...

    Essentially: a spunky road-trip filled with self-discovery, realizing people (including yourself) aren't who you thought them to be, and lovin' yourself despite all the stupid sh*t you do!

    A tiny note: The general plot of this is going to feature Cash as the future love interest, and I just wanted to clear up a few things about that! This isn’t an anti-lesbian novel. It’s just a bisexual one! Birdie doesn’t discover her love for men in place of her love for women, she just realizes the transcendental quality of sexuality- that she can like women the majority of the time, but find the occasional man hot because she does! Her sexuality and what she finds attraction isn’t something she can control, and that’s what I wanted to discuss, especially from the perspective of someone who’s sure they’re 100% gay because lived at a time where bisexuality wasn’t as understood/accepted (even today, people from either side of the spectrum write off us bisexuals as being confused and unable to simply “decide” and define us by our current romantic partner). This is, ultimately, a novel about self-discovery even when you’re 100% sure of something because you’re always discovering something unique about yourself and evolving.


  • 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬

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    ᴄᴀsʜ ᴍᴀᴄᴀᴍʙʀᴀɪs

    Daredevil ❂ Particular ❂ Perverse ❂ A Fixer ❂ Sincere ❂ Ultra-Positive ❂ A Ray of Sunshine ❂ Bossy ❂ Verbal Maniac

    Sagittarius | December 21, 1973 | 19

    Personality

    Since Cash was 13, he’s wanted to be the rock everyone looked to. Not the center of attention- that’s different. He was always the one to fix things for his siblings, but it grew into this necessity to be the person people lean on. The calm of the storm. Borderline dad friend. Granted, sometimes he can be demanding and a little dictator-y (or at least according to Emmett, who doesn’t appreciate his older brother’s nagging), but Cash is always the one to “look on the bright side” (but he tries not to tell people this since, as Arabella explained to him, “it doesn’t really help, honey”). He’s irksome at first, but once you accept and get used to this part of him, Cash is a friend for life. Oftentimes, people are distant friends who come to him in times of crisis. He claims that operating as the school’s therapist essentially gives his life purpose. Some, like Arabella who always worried about her oldest son, worried this was a little much, but Cash isn’t one to listen to others. Except when he’s hurt them, then he’s all ears about how he can change, fix the situation, and make up for his idiocracy.

    However, all this doesn’t make Cash immune to his silly antics. He’s known to play a prank here and there with the intelligence tour-de-force that is Marley. He isn’t afraid to get caught, and this, according to him, makes him “freer than most will ever feel for a lifetime.” It’s only when he begins to affect others drastically that his conscience comes into play. It’s one thing to do something harmless, like pretend his house is haunted whilst having a sleepover, and it’s another to do something drastic, like when he scared a 10-year-old Daisy and all her friends with this little rumor. Despite the icky feeling that coats the bottom of his stomach, Cash can’t seem to stop himself from doing stupid things. He simply can’t consider the consequences beforehand.

    Background

    Cash’s parents weren’t a part of the alternative scene. In fact, they were straight-laced people who just got caught up with the cocaine epidemic facing the 1% when he and his little brother and sister were just kids. Or, to be more exact, he was 10 and they were 6. Still, they left plenty of money and an odd legacy for them to keep. Despite his positive attitude, it’s hard to say that Cash was a good parent alongside his aunt. She outshined everyone. Think Ms. Honey from Matilda, except so much sweeter. She was a big hugger, too, and it made everything ten times better. She didn’t get Cash’s discontent with his namesake nor his strange interest in becoming a drummer, but Arabella supported him through-and-through. Her passing last year hit Cash hard, and, given his siblings are well-taken care of by Arabella’s second husband and they’re well onto becoming adults now, he took to the road. Arabella talked constantly of her times with her friends’ rip off Merry Band of Pranksters, and he wanted to see America for himself (minus the numerous doses of acid she took and the ten thousand cartons of cigarettes smoked which probably led to her lung cancer). What was it about this experience that made Arabella who she was?

    Growing up the way he did, it’s easy to see why Cash found himself attached to the “wrong” crowd. Arabella didn’t push him off these interests, but he always heard the disapproving voice of his parents and made up their opinions based on a life they lived without the comprehension of death. It wasn’t until he met Marley that he began to feel his parents’ assumed disapproval fade. Being a year older than him, Marley’s the it-girl. Presumably a manic-pixie-dream-girl by most 90s standards, but it wasn’t like that. She didn’t change his life in some miraculous way, but she gave him a purpose. He was finally able to be there for someone and not feel like he was constantly fucking up. He couldn’t fix their parents’ deaths for Daisy and Emmett, but he could help hold back Marley’s hair every time she drank herself sick over Floyd, Jewel, and all her other numerous lovers. He could hug her when she came to Arabella’s because her father was being overly cruel once more. He could help her move out as soon as she turned 18, moving her into the grimiest apartment he’d ever seen. Perhaps that’s why when Marley called him, yelling her head off about how he couldn’t “just leave with no notice and skip your practical mother’s funeral,” he was surprised. Didn’t she understand after all these years that it was he who took care of her, and he left himself for later? Now was later.

    [Timothée Chalamet]


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    ʙɪʀᴅɪᴇ ɴɪʀᴠᴀɴᴀ ᴡɪʟsᴏɴ

    Insightful ❂ Stubborn ❂ A Drifter ❂ Neurotic AF ❂ Quick-Thinking ❂ Fast-Paced ❂ Laid-back ❂ Indifferent ❂ Held-Down By The Past

    Preferably called Nirvana, but most people don't abide by this.

    Libra | October 3rd, 1975 | 17

    Personality

    Raised with hippie inhibitions left Birdie with the mark of hippiedom: she’s easy movable- at least physically. She’s never been one to be held-down by conventional attachments, including material belongings or casual friends. However, her personal views can be said to be the exact opposite. She loves to argue and is known to talk miles a minute. That isn’t to say that she’s a good opponent. No, Birdie stumbles over her words and spews double entendres constantly. Still, she knows the time and places for such arguments, and she’s willing to “go for just about anything” when it comes to hanging out (except don’t mess with her and Kurt. If you so much as suggest doing something other than seeing Nirvana live).

    One could argue though that, beyond useless topics of conversation (i.e. Are rats Republicans, Dems, or Libertarians?) or things she’s wholeheartedly passionate about (i.e. Equality, representation, etc.), Birdie is pretty indifferent to most things. She doesn’t care much about what others think of her, but that doesn’t mean she won’t stand up for herself. She just won’t let it ruin her day.

    Background

    Birdie is the daughter of two, separate hippies that never caught on that it was the 1980s when she was conceived. For the first four years of her life, she lived in the middle of the woods. The smell of water-rotted wood and cannabis reminds her of her innocence and times before she realized how unnormal living in a tent was.
    That all changed once her mom and dad moved from the Oregonian woods to Seattle. There, they came face to face with the new hippie culture: punk. Her parents threw away the long, patch-work, quilt-like cottons for the coldness of spike, leather, and the needles of numerous tattoos. Of course, the whole 180 made Birdie the often target of bullies, whose parents told them not to attempt to understand the alternative ways of living, to instead shun away from any differences amongst people. Because of this, Birdie often only found friends with the other outcasts, ranging from the girl who smelled like cat piss to the boy whose parents immigrated from Mexico.

    On the weekends, her parents escaped to the local, underground clubs while Birdie was baby-sat by the punk fledglings that hung around her house because her parents are “just so cool, but you know that right?” Without Paola, her favorite babysitter and the prettiest alt girl she ever laid her eyes on, she would never have learned about STDs, tampons, and sexuality. Not that her parents didn’t care- they just assumed she must have already known. Paola was her closest friend until she left for the University of Berkeley (to which her parents told Paola to “raise hell and get thrown off-campus” as they had done when they, as teens, joined their fellow hippies 25+ years ago). Then, her closest friend became Santo Lopez, the aforementioned immigrant from Mexico, and they discovered their own way to embody their parents’ punk intuitions: grunge. Together, they manage freshman year together, and they’re there for the beginnings of it all. Before Cobain, Vedder, Staley, or Love- there was Green River. In the 90s, Santo and Birdie were the original stannies. Their friendship can be traced through the bars they illegally entered past 9 to witness music at what they called “its finest” (and don’t tell her otherwise. She bites) or the house parties they snuck into to hear Cobain croon for the first time and to sway to Mudhoney, however inappropriate that may seem. Or the miles they traveled to Olympia to witness the beginnings of Bikini Kill and other Riot Grrrl bands (Jac’s personal favorites).

    Here’s the update: Birdie is absolutely certain she’s strictly gay. She gets her first girlfriend, Jacqueline, and they’ve been attached at the hip ever since. Until they weren’t, and now Santo doesn’t know what to do with Birdie. Jacqueline has left, with little to no notice, and now Birdie is stuck at a stalemate. Something that was lined underneath throughout her entire life finally comes to the surface given her and Jac’s last fight before she disappeared. Now, Birdie’s looking for a reason to escape it all- especially if it means finding Jac in the process.

    [Rina Fukushi]


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    sᴀɴᴛᴏ ʟᴏ́ᴘᴇᴢ

    Cancer | July 3rd, 1975 | 17

    Pessimistic ❂ Over-caring ❂ Loyal ❂ Untidy ❂ Clumsy ❂ Compassionate ❂ Materialistic ❂ Confident

    Personality

    Despite never meeting Cash, Santo is the exact opposite of him in terms of brightness. He doesn’t believe the human race is capable of much other than self-destruction and disappointing others. However, despite this, he still tries to be a good person. Santo would go to jail for anyone as long as they had some form of connection to him. He isn’t afraid to admit his feelings for others, often proclaiming his love for his friends at the end of nearly every conversation longer than ten minutes. His goodbyes are hugs and a “love ya!” as he walks away. He’s known for his charity work, given he’s the president of Columbus High’s National Honor Society, and his ability to multitask. Santo is the guy you want when shit is going down, but also just to be lean on when the seas get rocky.

    This isn’t to say that Santo’s some acetic philanthropist. He’s not one to share his lunch unless it was for a kid who hasn’t eaten in a few days. Even then, he’d just buy the kid their own lunch. Despite relying on the kindness of others for a large part of his early life and making an effort to give back, Santo isn’t a push-over. He knows the value of a dollar, and he isn’t the one to share beyond a certain point. He keeps his eyes on the prize: getting into MIT. Perhaps it’s selfish of him, but he isn’t going to be dragged down by anybody- unless they really needed help, but he isn’t even willing to entertain such a thought.

    On top of this, Santo’s an odd mix of verbal clumsiness and walking around like he owns Columbus High. In some ways, he does. People ask him to join their clubs, to come to their parties, and to admire his battle jacket. In many ways, Santo’s physicality has made grunge the it-thing. Once he begins to talk, however, he’s in trouble. Not that he’s stumbling through every other word, but he can’t word things in the right way without writing things down first. At least not in public. This is perhaps why Santo doesn’t really talk unless he’s alone with someone. Hence the sullen, bad-boy aesthetic.

    Background

    Growing up with a single dad left an indelible mark on Santo. Has he ever pondered the existence of his mother? Of fucking course! Does that matter? No. She left with the wind and Santo’s thoughts. His father is the most whole-hearted person he knows, with Birdie coming in at a close second. The father-son duo still fights, but it’s easy to move past this with Santo’s three older brothers. More than likely, they’re the ones being more idiotic than he is, so he passes under the radar. Unfortunately, this bleeds into Santo’s remarkable achievements, including his acceptance into a Pre-College Scholars program that is certain to at least get him into the University of Washington. While his dad works normal hours at the local paper company, he’s usually distracted by Gabriele’s college football games, Jesus’ constant freeloading, or Eddie’s book signing. As the seeming cause for their mother’s departure, it’s hard for his brothers to connect, so it only makes sense that his father struggles too. As the only other kid actually living in the house, though, it’s mildly annoying to take second place.

    Since he hit high school, Santo’s been the hottest shit, whether he wants to admit it or not. He’s been working his ass off, yes, but it helps to be well-liked. Otherwise, his dreams might seem a little far-fetched. At least in his head. When he isn’t doing hours upon hours of homework, he’s with Birdie, probably moshing. Or, to Birdie’s dismay, bringing a helpless girl who doesn’t know the 1) rules and 2) safety hazards of hitting up a punk scene. Hell, even the numerous grunge shows in the occasional bar, banquet hall, or house Birdie drags him too aren’t completely free of the occasional alcohol-fueled blow-up. He’s explained he doesn’t like being the third wheel with her and Jac, but Birdie insists it isn’t like that. The girls just piss her off, and Jac has to keep Birdie from being the Den Mother the entire night.

    Despite their little tiffs here and there, Birdie and Santo are two peas in a pod. Since fifth grade, when they finally talked to each other instead of simply sitting in silence next to each other, they discovered the commonalities between their households. Both of their parents had been hippies and were now punks. It was hard to believe someone else shared the same backstory, given Santo was used to believing few people understood his background. As a third gen immigrant, people assume he’s hyper-aware of Mexican culture when that couldn’t be further from the truth. His father wasn’t a traditional person, and his grandparents had disowned his father decades before Santo was born. Yet, here was Birdie: another third gen immigrant with insatiable parents who didn’t give a fuck what anyone else thought. Granted, Santo’s father had toned down his look years ago, but he was no stranger to the insides of bars. His jacket, the one most people admire, was his father’s long before he stuck his homegrown patches onto it. Birdie and his friendship grew from this mutual understanding, and it only complicated itself from that common point. There’s little Birdie doesn’t tell Santo, and vice versa. Until she left with little to no warning.

    [Diego Tinoco]


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    ᴊᴀᴄǫᴜᴇʟɪɴᴇ ʟᴏʀᴅᴇ

    Taurus | May 15th, 1974 | 18

    Impulsive ❂ Balanced ❂ Lily-livered ❂ Free-spirited ❂ Book-smart ❂ Impatient ❂ Stable ❂ Progressive ❂ Kind

    Personality

    In Birdie’s eyes, Jac is the most hippie-ish girl she’s ever met despite never living in a commune. It’s hard to not think so when Jacqueline doesn’t care much for the hard details yet insists on social change when she randomly decides to come to school higher than a kite because she simply “felt like it,” and especially when she cites Theroux without actually having read the book completely. Despite these Jac-isms, she’s still highly lovable and adored by most. She’s the one who gets invited out to do things by the goths to the preppy girls. She’s a sweetheart, even if she can be a little indifferent to people’s suffering unless they tell her specifically what’s wrong. Jac isn’t one to pry, but it’s because she has a tendency not to notice. Or she does and simply doesn’t “want to fight right now” about it (Birdie’s gotten this on one too many occasions).

    However, Jacqueline is an ever-present figure, and she keeps her word because she finds it morally deplorable when someone doesn’t. To her, it’s a form of lying and lying is worse than murder (at least somewhat... in her head… she’d never tell someone that!). Still, even if you did lie to her, she probably wouldn’t bring it up. She’d simply quietly exit stage-left with little to no warning. Yet, while you have Jac in your good graces, she’s the sweetest. Most gentle. She’ll craft you a crown of dandelions, braid your hair into it, and give you a kind kiss on the cheek (this was, in fact, how Birdie met her). There’s not much Jac wouldn't do for someone if they asked. As long as they asked.

    |=Despite her inability to pick up on queues, Jacqueline has been on the Honor Roll since junior high. She’s dual-enrolled in classes at the community college and bound for NYU, her dream school. She isn’t one to dream of Ivy-League brogues and ties, but she enjoys indulging in her bountiful ambitions. Perhaps that’s why her disappearance is so=|shocking.

    Background

    |=Unlike everyone else in her little friend group, Jacqueline doesn’t have some deep-seated roots into the alternative subcultures of the 21st century. Instead, Jac forged her own roots, faking that her straight-laced mother who manages finances was actually involved in the hippie movement. She even lied and told her girlfriend her mom was at Woodstock, witnessing some of the greatest live acts of their generation. Her father is a part of a motorcycle club in California, but that’s also a lie too. Her father isn’t around because he never existed, or more accurately, he’s a random sperm donor. Jac has never revealed that her mother is one of the richest people in the county, much less a CEO. It helps that Jac hasn’t dressed in frills since 1985 when she insisted that she dressed herself. Her clothes that give her the hippie aesthetic some girls snigger and others admire all came from the local thrift haunts. One could argue that Jac has had a supremely simple life, but that’s far from the truth.
    She didn’t move to Seattle until freshman year, living in New York until her mom wanted to expand her ever-growing firm out west. Before that point, Jacqueline was ruthlessly bullied. She went to a private school where people assumed she was the scholarship kid, and if that wasn’t bad enough, she was brutally made fun of for not being said kid. She was a rarity, and she stuck out because of this. Ironically enough, she befriended the scholarship kid and they remained penpals ever since Jac moved. Still, as soon as she left St. Agnes Prep School, Jacqueline donned her hippie aesthetic, something she always sought after. Something about the way the hippies wooshed almost into and out of existence made her feel invincible, especially when she began to realize it was a whole community of people who wooshed, together. If only they still existed.

    Perhaps that’s why Jac and Birdie clicked right away. Jacqueline had come to her sexuality quite easily, fading into it the same way she’d sway to Joplin. Sure, it took her a while to get used to her and Santo’s scene and the music… she isn’t a fan, per se. However, she still found the community she’d always wanted. Sure, she’s ever the outsider, the rarity, when she comes dressed in her shawls and draping fabrics. But that’s not anything to be too concerned with when she’s got one of the greatest friends ever and a girlfriend who’s out and proud to be with her, right?

    Perhaps not because eventually, the heaviness of managing her mother’s expectations (which are perhaps a little over-demanding all things considering) got to her. Jac has fled the state, running to gods knows where (well they know, but Nirvana doesn’t). However, it can’t be only because of her mother, right? You are correct, kind reader. Prior to her fleeing, she and Birdie fought- big time. Perhaps that’s what brought to her attention the glaring reality: she hadn’t found her community. She’d found her girlfriend's, and Nirvana wasn’t going to be around forever. Better to leave than to be forgotten.

    [Kiana Lede]


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    ᴍᴀʀʟᴇʏ ᴄᴀʟᴛᴏɴ

    Scorpio | October 31st, 1976 | 20

    Authentic ❂ Self-assured ❂ Dependent ❂ Trustworthy ❂ Fickle ❂ Un-moving ❂ Determined ❂ Brave

    Personality

    The self-designated fashionista, Marley is convinced she’s going to bring the baroque art movement into the mainstream. However, this dream is amongst her plethora of different dreams and wildest aspirations. She’s unafraid to do what she needs to get where she needs to be, and she’ll often do things most people wouldn’t entertain because of this. She moved out without any financial assistance, she attends community college (praying she can get her grades up to transfer into NYU) on her own dime, and she’s created her own fashion brand, EKSTATICA, despite working out of her apartment with an ever-breaking sewing machine. She sells her printed tees at the concerts she attends with Cash and often gains commissions with a little bit of eyelash-batting and stubbornness.

    Yet, despite her apparent independence, she’s reliant upon her friends far too much. If Cash didn’t call her every morning, she’d be late to class. Marley will admit to her lack of self-motivation and reliance, but it’s hard to get her to change her ways. Why should she if the system is already working? It isn’t that she’s unmotivated; she’s just not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

    Background

    One could argue she's simply the female version of Santo for Cash, but really, Cash is her crutch. Cash is her go-to person for the never-ending drama in her life (from every partner she's ever had to her father's idiocracy, etc.). Growing up with a hard-working dad supporting her, her mother, and the growing child support and alimony he was legally prescribed to pay, Marley became fairly self-sufficient. That isn’t to say she didn’t have any siblings, but Taissa and Lilac chose their mother over their dad. Marley was old enough to make her own mind about it, fleeing her mother’s overbearing tones and avoiding the complaints that no doubt would come over supporting three little girls. Even when Marley wasn’t so little and worked at a motel, cleaning rooms at 14 just to continue to afford the supplemental tuition her parents afforded to give her “the best education around.” Her father, gentle with his words yet outspoken with his opinions, was the option she knew was best for her. That didn’t make telling the judge any easier though.

    It certainly didn’t erase all the drama that is her life. Her dad still disapproves of her, though primarily due to her sexuality and taste in “loud, sluttish music.” He used to be progressive, given his history, but he was one of the men who insisted that women’s place was in the kitchen. And never with another woman. Still, he isn’t one to neglect new ideas or kick her out because of who she is. Marley just has to deal with his constant pestering and the occasional blow-up. Her mother, on the other hand, hasn’t spoken to her in months after she found out.

    Her past, however, has bled into the present. Sure, she was well-liked once she left St. Agnes, but that “well-liked-ness” seeped into her drunken attitudes and romantic fantasies. Getting invited to parties is great and all until you realize you have an addictive personality when it’s too late. Surely enough, Marley lost her way and took a gap year which consisted of hangovers, losing two jobs, and plenty of one night stands. She even wrote them all down in a book until that felt too morbid. It isn’t that she believed what she was doing was wrong, but she knew it was just a string of people who made her feel good. Yet, they were never satisfying. At least not for longer than a few days. Some hung around, and she believed in love for a bit. Then, it would all fall apart and Marley’d be crying in Cash’s arms once more.

    [Elizabeth Gilles]


  • 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐉𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐲

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    {Here are some MAJOR spoilers to the overall plot/major events of the story, so unless you don't think you'll have the time to read the chapters of my Nano novel as I publish them/you don't mind spoilers tehehe, steer clear!}


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    ʙɪʀᴅɪᴇ's ᴊᴏᴜʀɴᴇʏ

    Seattle, WA. We begin with Birdie, Santo, and Jac at an early Nirvana concert, right on the precipice of the release of Nevermind, the album that will change the face of American teenage-dom but for now, no one knows that. For now, the band is fairly underground, and Birdie is ecstatic to see her favorite people that she’s never met, headbanging her heart out. Despite the protests of everyone around her (including the people who only know her from around the scene), she still insists upon being called Nirvana, even though everyone else finds it annoying and childish. Perhaps that could be called the start of the evening’s entertainment: the blow-up between Jacqueline and Birdie, with Santo mediating (and by meditating, he’s making out with his recent girlfriend until Jac proclaims “I’m leaving!” and the fight makes its way to the alley). Jac mentioned how the name was a bit silly, Birdie got upset, and then Jacqueline brought up how she can never make any criticism against Birdie or else “this bullshit happens.” A whole breakdown of their relationship ensues, and Jac breaks up with her in the parking lot, Santo witnessing it all. A few days passed before Birdie gets the gumption to brave seeing Jac’s face, more than likely stern and closed up tighter than a nun’s bra. Very un-Jac like. Yet, she arrives at Jac’s house to find her gone. Her mother refuses to tell her where she’s gone, having always been disagreeable to their relationship. Sure Jac’s gone to see her dad, Birdie takes her parents’ brown VW Bug and hits the road.

    San Francisco, CA. She’s in search of Jac’s dad. Instead, she finds her lover’s uncle (mother’s side, obviously), who explains the reality of Jacqueline’s dad: he’s a sperm donor. He questions why she’s here, looking for Jac. Doesn’t she know that she’s in New York, enrolling in NYU’s summer program and getting herself set up there, with a job and everything?
    Finally, with a sense of direction, Nirvana stops for some gas before driving all night and day until she gets to NYU. There, a curly-haired boy pops over, searching to be sociable. He offers to fill up her gas tank, pretending to be some sort of old-timey gas station attendant. He finally makes a joke about her car, referencing Ted Bundy, and asks if he caught a ride with her if she’d kill him. It’s in bad taste, but Birdie laughs anyways and asks if he’s really looking for a ride from a crazy girl like her. He explains how his car broke down once he reached the other side of the country, and he’s been trying to make money the past five days to get her fixed. He introduces himself as Cash and promises he isn’t a serial killer. Boom. They’re on the road. But not before Cash forces her to enjoy the beach for a few minutes, splashing in the water. Here, she calls Santo, who explains he already knows where she is. They have a little fight where he explains how inconvenient it is for him to have to worry about her amongst all the other things he’s trying to accomplish before the start of senior year. The adventure continues.

    Vegas, NV. Against her better judgment, Birdie allows Cash to drive. He makes a stop in Vegas and wakes Birdie up (who accidentally fell asleep given she drove for two days straight) to the blinding lights of the Strip. As expected, Birdie’s a little upset. She tries to pretend she isn’t, bringing up that she didn’t want to make any stops and encourages Cash to continue on. Instead, he parks the brown buggy and grabs Birdie out of the car. They spend the evening at a casino {name TBD} where Cash wins $500 off a slot machine. He takes her to the Bellagio Fountains, promising that he’ll use the money he won to make their newfound road trip special. Birdie humors him, but she’s blatantly uninterested and unable to blatantly hurt his feelings. When asked about it, she explains she’s just trying to find her girlfriend, that she isn’t looking for much other than a bit of company. Even then, she didn’t really want him to come with her, and she merely allowed Cash to come with her. He apologizes, and they leave Vegas in silence with Birdie driving, downing one 7-11 coffee after another. Cash sleeps with his back to her.

    Provo, UT. In an effort to cheer up a dejected Cash (and possibly to get him to forgive her), Birdie takes a pitstop to grab some ice cream. That’s when she learns Cash is lactose intolerant, but he warms up to the gesture, stealing a bite here and there of the two containers of ice cream Birdie now sucks down (at her propositioning, of course!). There’s little talking while the ice cream is being consumed, but after a while, Cash begins to answer Birdie’s questions about why he’s on the other side of the country. He explains his aunt, includes the story of Marley yelling at him over the phone, and his new-found love of hiking/mountain climbing. He also explains his new philosophy on life, the one his aunt inadvertently taught him and pushed him to explore. Birdie begins to pick up what he’s laying down, and they check into a motel- sleeping in separate beds of course, you animals!

    Yellowstone National Park, WY. Birdie reveals her secret obsession with Yellowstone since her 3rd grade project on Teddy Roosevelt. This, and Cash’s love of nature, sparks the detours he secretly takes, despite not learning from the first time he did that. However, this time, Birdie is a little more susceptive towards the gesture. The pair camp in Yellowstone with Cash’s dirtied tent and sleeping bag. Now, yes you filthy minds, they slept in the same bag. But no funny business! Kind of. If you count talking the entire night funny business, then yes. Birdie felt like she had cheated on Jac when she slept outside of the sleeping bag with a blanket her grandmother knitted for her parents’ car. Yet, their conversations are the type she hadn’t had with Jac in months. Not only that, they had a certain Cash pannash, a little spice that was only his creation, and Birdie enjoyed this notion. Not that she stopped enjoying the intrinsically Jac-ness that came with their conversations, but she felt awful about appreciating either at the same time.

    While also on their little trip into the wilderness, they explored the Upper Geyser Basin and Fountain Paint Pot. This is peak bonding, let me tell you! Cash pulls out a camera he stole from his aunt’s things, one she used on a similar roadtrip. He was almost out of film, but they made the most of it, including the picture of Birdie pretending to fart out Old Faithful and Cash miming the catching of a fish in the Silex Spring. There’s also one of Cash hugging Birdie, arm slung over lazily with an equally lethargic side-smile, and Birdie’s wearing a smile so bright you can see her coffee-stained teeth. The photo taken next features Birdie kissing his hair and Cash’s shocked face. This, too, Birdie feels is cheating when she’s done the same thing with Santo countless times. But she’s known Santo since she was a kid, not four days.
    Speaking of Santo, Birdie calls to tell him about her fantastic day while Santo’s had a shitty one. He received his May SAT test scores, and they aren’t what he needs to get into the University of Washington, much less his dream schools. He has to retake them ASAP, but he can’t afford to and his father simply “doesn’t understand why [he] can’t be like his brothers.” Yet, Birdie isn’t here because she’s too busy running after a girl who doesn’t love her anymore, and it pisses him off. He reveals he knew about Jac going to NYU. When questioned further about why he didn’t say something earlier, he proclaims that he thought she’d come home after discovering that Jac’s dad, who isn’t in Cali, didn’t know shit about where Jac is. He exclaims that he needs her, not some random guy she just met. This pisses Birdie off because she isn’t his “fucking therapist!” They argue back and forth until the payphone cuts them off. Birdie doesn’t have enough coins to call him back, and she’s not quite sure she wants to. Santo lied to her. Same with Jac.

    Before piling into the shit-brown buggy, Cash wraps Birdie into a hug, kissing the top of her hair this time. While they continue their adventure to New York, Cash asks her, “So… anything you wanna talk about?” with idk something probably about his eyebrows and the way they shift up in genuine concern and in an adorable way that Birdie finds surprisingly cute. Queue the internal bisexual screaming.

    Valentine, NE. Another Cash-induced stop. He forces Birdie to go to the Arthur Bowring Ranch State Historical Park with him. They get to ride horses, frolic through the grass, and re-enact that weird scene in Twilight that technically doesn’t exist yet because it’s 1992, but shh just don’t think about it too much (besides, they aren’t going to specifically reference it, but I will be making it the better version of that scene in my head). They end up having a picnic, and Cash makes a joke about Birdie being his valentine in Valentine, even though she doesn’t quite get it considering it’s June, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. It also makes her blush and queue more internal bisexual screaming. She starts to notice all the things that make Cash handsome and the qualities she didn’t appreciate in the same way with women, but she still appreciates them. There’s a lot of swooning-non-swooning and mild mental breakdowns. She doesn’t cry, not yet, but it’s a complicated thing to begin to reconcile what she thought was a straightforward existence. She likes women. She’d never had a crush on a guy or really found the ones at her school attractive, except for maybe Santo but that was because she saw him look janky and then get hot. The contrast was impressive, not the physicality itself. Hell, the only boy she’d ever thought was hot was Kurt. Otherwise, it was strictly Kathi Wilcox for her. Okay, maybe all of the members of Bikini Kill… and the Bratmobile… and L7… okay, so most women. Hence why she hadn’t considered men, at least not the few she’d ever thought were pretty, beautiful, etc. Now there’s this dude, sitting languidly beside her on the same blanket that smells faintly of Teen Spirit (pun intended), his deodorant when she didn’t even try to lay it on him. He’s just invaded every part of who she is and made her question everything.

    Naturally, this ends in a blow-up of epic proportions. She yells about how she’s just trying to find her girlfriend, the one she loves, and he’s distracting her. He brings up how she’s enjoyed every stop they’ve made, even the casino trip. Why can’t she just enjoy her time? Her girlfriend will be there. This is life. Birdie stalks off, yelling about how she’ll meet him at the Motel 6 that’s a mile or so up the road. She leaves Cash, going to the nearest payphone. There, she tries to call Jac’s mom, who doesn’t answer. Dejected, she drives around the town of Valentine for a while, listening to her copy of Nirvana’s songs, humming to Floyd the Barber. She ends up where they had their picnic, staring at the stars while the For Tammy Rae comes on. It’s their song, and Birdie breaks into tears. She curls into the fetal position, crying her heart out for the entirety of the song. Then, she gets up, brushing herself off, and goes to call Jac’s mom again. She leaves her a message, asking her to tell Jac she’s coming to see her at NYU.
    Returning to the Motel, she finds Cash asleep, back to the door. Message received, but rejected. She pulls up next to him, despite its twin size, and wraps an arm around him, tucking her head into his back. She tells him quietly, “You’re right. I’ll be here now and all that bull you spout.” Cash chuckles almost indiscernible, wrapping his hand around hers.

    Wichita, KS. This time, the stop is initiated by Birdie. When questioned why, she proclaims it is because she’s “always wanted to see the town Insert Name of A 1980s version of Twister is based on!” When Cash doesn’t understand the reference, she proceeds to avidly explain the entire plot of the movie, including the steamy romance between two fake actresses. “It’s a favorite of mine and totally peak lesbian cinema… kinda. We should watch it once this craziness is all over” comes out of Birdie’s mouth before she can fully comprehend her silly thought. There won’t be a next time. But before she can back up and explain herself, Cash simply whispers, “I’d like that.” End of conversation.

    The pair only spend a day in Wichita, hoping for a tornado to strike, but instead they spend most of their day “people-watching” (as Birdie calls it) in a local diner. They listen to shitty ‘50s tunes that sound more like the songs that are played at Christmas than at a restaurant, but they also get to talking. Cash asks her about Jac, and she explains the story of their meeting, her discovering her sexuality, and coming out. She neglects to mention the moments that she was flashing back to earlier. In fact, she ignores they exist altogether, without even meaning to. It isn’t until Cash goes “Huh… really?” The pair drop the conversation. We move onto more about Cash, or at least Birdie is filled in on what we, the audience, would know based on his travel-flashbacks. However, he reveals a lot about Arabella that we didn’t know. Major Bonding Moments.

    Elizabethtown, KY. On one of the hottest days to date, the pair take a detour to Elizabethtown, home of a godforsaken waterpark. However, they run into a problem quite quickly: they need bathing suits. With most of their money needed for motels, food, and coffee, they opt for the next best thing: shoplifting! They run into a Target, casually scooping up random bathing suits. They walk to the changing room, together, putting on the suits underneath. Queue the weirdness that is changing in a changing room together and realizing you just maybe might like dudes along with women. There’s some obvious sexual tension here, but they ignore it in favor of laughing at the stupid bathing suits they picked up. Cash’s has a pineapple on his ass while Birdie’s bikini has the words “Sun” and “Shine” across her breasts. They look ridiculous, but they can’t exactly go back to grab different one when they’re stealing them, so. They laugh for a bit more, getting a little touchy-feeling considering the room was unbearably hot two seconds ago. They’re purging the odd, uncomfortable, yet enjoyable feelings from before. Then Birdie walks out, throwing her shirt on and being discovered by the attendant. They have to run out of the store, Cash carrying their mix-matched shoes, losing a sock in the parking lot. Escaping without being caught by security, they finally reach the waterpark, ready to have the world’s most competitive breath-holding contest.

    After a day of fun, they add onto their list of crimes “completing the 24-hour challenge before YouTube was even a thing.” Cash and Birdie hangout in the waterpark past closing, splashing around in the wave pool that was hogged by all the old ladies and little kids before challenging each other to go down the tallest slide. They trudge up, discussing Birdie’s fight with Santo Cash never really got answers on. At the top, she gets cold feet, inviting Cash to go first. He tells her to stop being silly, scoops her up, and slides down with her. Of course, they detach from each other miserably, but they get a good laugh out of it despite the bruises they know are imminent.

    Drying themselves off, the parking lot lights and the moon become the only things illuminating each other. Birdie studies him, piecing together everything that makes Cash who he is, including the things she finds most beautiful about him. He jokes around, saying they should create a secret handshake since they’re partners in crime now. Birdie grabs his hand, acting as though she’s going to shake it, but instead she pulls him towards her, down to her height. Their lips touch, softly, before she becomes immersed and impassioned by him, touching his face, his hair, and everything else about him.

    |=Baltimore, MD.=Neither acknowledge the passionate kiss they shared, and there’s a little awkwardness settled over the car. Instead of trying to fix it, Cash takes Birdie's hand. They ride through Baltimore this way, though Birdie starts to talk about the things that are really bothering her. She also gives a very loud and ranty speech about how she isn’t one of those lesbian male fantasies. She just thinks she might also like men, but it’s a little more complicated than that. She kind of likes men, or at least she likes Cash, who’s a dude. Essentially, she gives an entire TedTalk on her sexuality and all the implications it has. Cash simply listens, giving her rapt attention. When she’s finally done, he tells her, “It doesn’t matter to me, Birdie. You’re who you are and I- everyone should accept that.” And then, after a beat, “Though it is nice to kiss you.” Playful shoulder punching ensues.

    At the motel they find, Birdie tries to take things one step further but we’re not giving you all the juicy bits right now. Cash stops her and they step outside, sitting on the balcony, while he explains that he doesn’t like feeling like he’s some secret little tryst. “And besides that, I’m not a douche. You have a girlfriend, and it isn’t fair to all three of us if we start acting dumber than we already have been.” This pisses Birdie off, and she goes to bed without speaking to him, taking all the covers for herself. However, she doesn’t sleep a wink. She thinks about her relationship with Jac the entire night, whether or not she’s a cheater if she was simply experimenting. But is it fair to Cash if he’s a little lab rat? Does Jac even want her? These are all questions she thinks to herself but doesn’t get answered. The sun rises and Birdie feels like the shittiest girlfriend in the world.

    Atlantic City, NJ.In an attempt to cheer up Birdie, Cash takes them to the Hard Rock hotel. He takes time to call Marley for the second time, and he hears the same female voice in the background from his call in Valentine. Marley explains the voice is “this fantastic girl I used to be friends with at St. Agnes.” Her voice is full of affection and the smack of lips on the cheek is heard in the background. Thinking nothing of it, he returns to lunch with a dejected Birdie who simply doesn’t want to converse as though she isn’t having a mental breakdown in front of him. Instead of Birdie bursting into dramatics, it’s Cash. He complains about her inability to grab life by the balls, accept what isn’t her decision and take control of the things that are. “We’re this close to New York, and you’re going back to Jacqueline with the same state of mind as the girl who forces everyone to call her Nirvana. Stop forcing people into these molds you want them to be. Be that person you want them to see you as. Stop fucking around and just be real, man. And eat your french fries and have a nice time!” Birdie calls him out for being hypocritical, and they get kicked out for being too loud.

    The fight continues in front of the hotel. They can’t seem to reconcile their differences, and he argues that she needs to see beyond her own fucking nose. “There’s more to life than Jac, who by the way, you don’t even seem to like that much. You don’t talk about her like she’s this beautiful girl who you met in freshman year. You’re not that person anymore, so stop trying to be!” Birdie argues back, but she stops to think while he rants on for a few more minutes. She begins to consider his point. She walks away from him, getting in the car. He yells about how she can’t just walk away, but she leans over, popping the door open for him. “You can convince me on the way to Jac.”

    New York University, NY.Finally! We reached it. Birdie stands in front of Jac’s supposed dorm room, staring up at the mountainous building. Cash pulls her in, exclaiming that he didn’t come this way for her to study architecture. They find her name in the directory, knock on her door, and Marley opens it. Cash is surprised, but he realizes quickly what’s happening and tries to tell Birdie it’s the wrong apartment. But not before Marley goes “Cash!” in the world’s happiest voice. “I didn’t know you were coming!” and hugs him. Birdie brushes him off, assuming the worst of Marley (and that she’s simply Jac’s roommate), and walks in to find a surprised Jac. They have a Western-style standoff. Jacqueline is in Birdie’s DIYed Bikini Kill shirt she made with the lyrics to “For Tammy Rae” on it. They don’t speak.

    Marley walks in, holding Cash’s hand, and interrupts the scene before her. “Who’s this, Jac?” Birdie makes eye contact with Marley and then Jacqueline. “So this is why you left without saying goodbye?” Jac’s face says it all, and Birdie moves to leave. She exclaims “It wasn’t like that. Or well, it was, but… will you just listen?” Somehow, the two sit on the sidewalk to the dorm, the smell of garbage tainting the moment of redemption for Jac, and she explains that Marley and she had been penpals for years, long before they had started dating. Jac fell in love with Birdie, just as much as she had, but Marley was always this call home to her. Birdie and Santo were still this little community she’d always wanted but never had. However, it wasn’t where she belonged. “You ever notice how I don’t headbang or mosh like you two? That’s cause I wasn’t actually there. Hell, half the time we were at a show for the past month, I was thinking about composing another letter to Marley.” She never cheated on Birdie; she just stopped loving her. It didn’t help that she didn't want to talk about the whole “I’m going to NYU early”-thing. She took the first excuse and left and didn’t look back.

    This is where Birdie comes clean too, realizing that she wasn't very happy either for the past few months. She was just better at lying to herself, desperate to keep things together for that she could pretend she'll always be happy. Marley comes down to talk to Jac about introduce herself, and Birdie tells her to tell Cash that "He was right."

    Now, you’re thinking “Well Cash and her get together?” Nope. He doesn’t show up to see Birdie off, who spends a few days in NYC to straighten things out with Jac. He’s seemingly off on another adventure, living out the life Arabella would have wanted him to. Birdie goes back to Santo, who is still pissed. He managed to fix his SAT score, but he isn’t happy with Birdie’s unexplained disappearance. “I needed you,” he explains when he finally gives in to talk to her with only a week left before school starts. “I know. I also had to be there for me, ya know?” and they makeup. Her parents grounded her for the last month of summer break, given she stole the car and only called a grand total of one time. She doesn’t hear anything about Cash until next summer.

    He shows up in Seattle, scouring the different haunts that seem to be more filled than ever with the hit-release of Nirvana’s nevermind. Eventually, he finds a kid from school who knows Santo, and through a tedious chain, he finds Birdie’s home address. He shows up, inviting her on their next big road trip. They drive away, not telling Santo or her parents (“I’ll tell them once we’re in New Mexico”), holding hands. In another flash-forward, we see that they continue this tradition for almost the entirety of their lives, even after their romantic relationship ends.


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    {The events of Cash's Journey are prior to the events of the novel. However, they're important to understanding his state as a character + why he and Birdie meet, so I thought I'd put his little destinations/maybe what he did there.}


    ᴄᴀsʜ's ᴊᴏᴜʀɴᴇʏ

    New York City, NY.

    Ramseur, NC.

    Louisville, KY.

    Sioux Falls, SD.

    El Paso, TX.

    Ute Mountain Reservation.

    Sawtooth National Forest, UT.

    San Francisco, CA.


  • 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬

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    ᴄʜᴀᴘᴛᴇʀ ᴏɴᴇ

    ᴄʜᴀᴘᴛᴇʀ ᴛᴡᴏ {placeholder}

    ᴄʜᴀᴘᴛᴇʀ ᴛʜʀᴇᴇ {placeholder}


  • 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐈: 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐎𝐧𝐞 𝐖𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐆𝐞𝐭𝐬 𝐓𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐬


    0_1585423152879_Screen Shot 2020-03-28 at 3.16.00 PM.jpg

    𝒲𝑜𝓊𝓁𝒹 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝒷𝑒𝓁𝒾𝑒𝓋𝑒 𝓂𝑒 𝓌𝒽𝑒𝓃 𝐼 𝒹𝑜 𝓎𝑜𝓊
    𝒴𝑜𝓊'𝓇𝑒 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓆𝓊𝑒𝑒𝓃 𝑜𝒻 𝓂𝓎 𝒽𝑒𝒶𝓇𝓉
    𝒫𝓁𝑒𝒶𝓈𝑒 𝒹𝑜𝓃'𝓉 𝒹𝑒𝒸𝑒𝒾𝓋𝑒 𝓂𝑒 𝓌𝒽𝑒𝓃 𝐼 𝒽𝓊𝓇𝓉 𝓎𝑜𝓊
    𝒥𝓊𝓈𝓉 𝒶𝒾𝓃'𝓉 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓌𝒶𝓎 𝒾𝓉 𝓈𝑒𝑒𝓂𝓈

    - Love Buzz by Nirvana

    . . . ❂ . . .

                Her teeth grace the air with an elegance I could never achieve, but it’s one that I admire and associate only with her. Her hand graces my bicep, exposed by my falling sweater, before draping it around my shoulder. 𝙐𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙗𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙨. As always, I couldn’t help but return her innocence, her openness. The bangles adorning her wrists crash into my shoulder, leaving a mark I wish could last forever. But she doesn’t notice how closely I grip her hand, pull it to my cheek as a keepsake. No, she’s too busy chatting up the bartender, convincing him of our twenties when Barney has seen us in here one too many times. Hell, he’s seen us at Columbus, smoking outside of the door that leads directly into the art room. He waved to us, but he’s willing to entertain Jac, even if it’s only for her face. And that smile! After a few more seconds of puppy-dog flashing, he gives in, relinquishing his precious Bud Light.

                “The liquid of the gods!” leaves my lips before she, Santo, and I knock cans together.

                Santo takes a glug, hands his beer to me, and says, “I’m gonna get in on the action before shit gets serious with Kurt. You guys wanna come with?”
    I shake my head, looking over to Jac, who’s playing with the ends of her braids, ignoring Santo’s request. “Nah, we’ll sit this one out.”

                He laughs before saying, “I don’t even know why I ask.” Donning a smirk, he looks to Jac. “You have a miraculous way of keeping our dear Birdie away from the bruises, blood, and immature glory of banging to Bratmobile.” Despite a seeming jab at Jac, he walks back to her, mumbles something about “just joking around,” and pulls her in for a bear hug.

                “Oh and Bird, can you keep an eye out for Selene?”

               I cock up an eyebrow, Bond-style. “Who in the 𝙛𝙪𝙘𝙠 is Selene?”

               “My date.” His eyebrows furrow as though this is the most obvious damn thing in the world. His voice takes on a slight shrill. 𝙒𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙮 𝙗𝙤𝙮.

                “Well don’t get an attitude, now. You act like she’s a regular appearance.” My hands adjust themselves on my hips, standing up a little taller. Smirking, I ask, “Where’d you meet her? Honor Society?”

                He glares back at me, flipping me off as he begins to walk away. Before joining the pit, he shouts, “Just make sure she doesn’t get knocked around, ‘kay?” That’s the last I hear of him before he’s lost in the crowd.

                “It’s Nirvana, by the way, you fuck!”

    . . . ❂ . . .

                I study the rim of my beer, looking into the abyss that I know the bottom of, but for a moment, I can convince myself it goes on forever and always. The sweat from the can line my hand, and deja-vu hits me. 𝙏𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙛𝙚𝙚𝙡𝙨 𝙡𝙞𝙠𝙚 𝙖 𝙡𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙮 𝙨𝙘𝙝𝙤𝙤𝙡 𝙙𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚. Replace the streamers with industrial lights, cafeteria tables with barstools and stained tabletops with cigarette holes burned into them as a memorial for an “unforgettable evening,” and of course, loaded punch with open containers of beer. Downing the rest of the can, I look over to Santo, who’s been united with his catch of the week. His hands rest on her hips, wrapping one arm around her ever so slightly. They’re swaying to Kurt’s gravelly voice, which punctuates the mood of the bar. Everyone is either headbanging or listening with tremendous intent. I used to be that person… 𝙖𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙬𝙤 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙖𝙜𝙤.

    𝐼'𝓁𝓁 𝓉𝒶𝓀𝑒 𝒶𝒹𝓋𝒶𝓃𝓉𝒶𝑔𝑒 𝓌𝒽𝒾𝓁𝑒
    𝒴𝑜𝓊 𝒽𝒶𝓃𝑔 𝓂𝑒 𝑜𝓊𝓉 𝓉𝑜 𝒹𝓇𝓎

                Turning over, I glide my hand into Jac’s, who’s still playing with the ends of her hair. I pull it towards my heart and tilt my head against the wall, using it at an axis point.

                “You know what I love about you?” I start, a little bleary-eyed.

                I’m telling you, I’d be a lousy drunk, given I’m a lightweight and all. While my grandmother is apparently the strongest drunk out there (40+ years of straight vodka and she can still pass a road test and use her kidneys), I get tipsy after a few sips. I set the can down, carrying her hand like a chic clutch or a security blanket. Standing up, using the wall for support once the dizziness hits, and I look into her eyes. They swim around, big swimming pools of lake water. Not the clear kind either- there’s dirt, algae, and golden crabs that move around with the slightest jolt of her pupils. God, you wish she looked at you like this. 𝙊𝙧 𝙖𝙩 𝙖𝙡𝙡. 𝙄 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙄 𝙙𝙤.

                “The way you’re so independently you, the way you just,” I stop, tucking her hair behind her ears. “You have such pretty eyes like they just speak about who you are, ya know?”

                Jac laughs, tucking the rest of her tawny hair behind her ears, leaving my hands nowhere to go but her cheeks. “No, I don’t. What about them?”

    𝐵𝓊𝓉 𝐼 𝒸𝒶𝓃'𝓉 𝓈𝑒𝑒 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝑒𝓋𝑒𝓇𝓎 𝓃𝒾𝑔𝒽𝓉
    𝒩𝑜 𝐼 𝒸𝒶𝓃'𝓉 𝓈𝑒𝑒 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝑒𝓋𝑒𝓇𝓎 𝓃𝒾𝑔𝒽𝓉

                “They’re just so… Did you know you have little bits of freckles?” I begin to glide along the bridge of her nose before boop-ing the tip. She moves her head, pointing an ear towards me to hear better.

    𝐹𝓇𝑒𝑒

                She takes my hand, intertwining her fingers with mine, revealing a bit of the glistening pearls she was flashing Barney earlier. “Yeah… what about them?”

    𝐼 𝒹𝑜 𝐼 𝒹𝑜

                “A few months ago, while you were sleeping at Santo’s house, ya know, when he had that party?” Jac nods. “Well, I sat there and counted every single one.” I smile, gazing up at her, moving in for the kiss. 𝙇𝙤𝙧𝙙 𝙄'𝙢 𝙖 𝙡𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙮 𝙙𝙧𝙪𝙣𝙠. “You wanna know how many you have?” I move my lips towards hers, breathing out the last words, undoubtedly spraying her with the smell of old gym socks.

    𝐼 𝒹𝑜 𝐼 𝒹𝑜

                She dons a cool expression, one I can’t read. “How many?”

                “42,” I whisper, settling my lips upon hers. “They’re like a subtle Pollock on your face.”

                The kiss ends quickly as the next song starts up. I try to cup her face, but she turns on me, resting her back against the wall. A poster for St. Patrick’s Day hangs beside her, illuminating her face in a green glow. “Can we just watch the show? He’s your favorite person in the whole world.” She looks down at her various bangles and beads, and it isn’t long before her dungarees become the ire of her affections.

    𝐿𝑜𝒶𝒹 𝓊𝓅 𝑜𝓃 𝑔𝓊𝓃𝓈, 𝒷𝓇𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝒻𝓇𝒾𝑒𝓃𝒹𝓈
    𝐼𝓉'𝓈 𝒻𝓊𝓃 𝓉𝑜 𝓁𝑜𝓈𝑒 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝓉𝑜 𝓅𝓇𝑒𝓉𝑒𝓃𝒹

                “Why can’t I kiss my girlfriend?” I move in front of her, blocking out the view of the shaggy blond with his fellow dark-haired hellions.

                She crosses her arms, looking up at me with heavy-lidded eyes, and her lips form a weird line, so thin I can’t even see them. “Come on, 𝘽𝙞𝙧𝙙𝙞𝙚. Can’t we just watch the show?” She punctuates my name like it’s a slur.

                “Why do you have to be this way?”

                “What way? If anyone’s being any ‘way’ (she throws up air quotes), it’s you.”

    𝒮𝒽𝑒'𝓈 𝑜𝓋𝑒𝓇-𝒷𝑜𝓇𝑒𝒹 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝓈𝑒𝓁𝒻-𝒶𝓈𝓈𝓊𝓇𝑒𝒹
    𝒪𝒽 𝓃𝑜, 𝐼 𝓀𝓃𝑜𝓌 𝒶 𝒹𝒾𝓇𝓉𝓎 𝓌𝑜𝓇𝒹

                Now, here’s where I get a little more upset than what’s necessary. Or at least what’s a normal amount of upset-ness for the crime. “What the fuck was up with that?”

                “What?” She dons an innocent-bystander look.

                “Come on, 𝙅𝙖𝙘. Stop being such a frigid bitch when your girlfriend is just trying to have a nice time.” I cross my arms, face warming more than the planet.

                The whirlpool lake of algae and seaweed narrows, a haze of thick eyelashes settling over her face. She pushes past me, bumping into Serena… Selena?, and knocking Santo into the wall.

    𝐻𝑒𝓁𝓁𝑜, 𝒽𝑒𝓁𝓁𝑜, 𝒽𝑒𝓁𝓁𝑜, 𝒽𝑜𝓌 𝓁𝑜𝓌
    𝐻𝑒𝓁𝓁𝑜, 𝒽𝑒𝓁𝓁𝑜, 𝒽𝑒𝓁𝓁𝑜, 𝒽𝑜𝓌 𝓁𝑜𝓌

                “Fuck you” is all that surpasses the din.

                Santo looks to me before yelling, “What the fuck did you do this time?”

    . . . ❂ . . .

                Santo’s latest victim abandons us at the parking lot, leaving him as the caboose to the absolute train wreck of an evening. I’m stuck in the center of a circle’s 20 feet diameter, though it isn’t long before Santo closes the gap and makes the line between the three of us a radius.

                “I can’t leave you alone for twenty minutes before you fuck something up, eh?”

                I sling my arm around his waist. You see, I’m one of those types who can’t really get through anything combative without either crying or needing a literal beacon of sanity, reason, and body warmth. Luckily, Santo is always a willing victim. “I don’t even know what I did this time…”

                “Oh it’s always something. She’ll probably tell me later.” He looks at the light that passes over our heads.

                “I should probably talk to her.” 𝙒𝙝𝙞𝙘𝙝 𝙨𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙𝙨 𝙖𝙗𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙖𝙨 𝙢𝙪𝙘𝙝 𝙛𝙪𝙣 𝙖𝙨 𝙚𝙭𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙢𝙮 𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙨 (𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙞𝙧 𝙫𝙖𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙙 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙬 𝙗𝙪𝙙𝙙𝙞𝙚𝙨 𝙬𝙝𝙤 𝙣𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙨𝙚𝙚𝙢 𝙩𝙤 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙝𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙨 𝙩𝙤 𝙜𝙤 𝙩𝙤) 𝙬𝙝𝙮 𝙄 𝙛𝙖𝙞𝙡𝙚𝙙 𝘼𝙋 𝘾𝙝𝙚𝙢𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙮. At least I don’t have to do both on the same day.

                He chuckles. “Ya think?” Removing my arm, he pushes me and shoos me along. He winks before adding, “I’ll be right behind you in case things go south.”

    . . . ❂ . . .

                “Hey…” I call out softly, closing the gap between us and touching her tawny shoulder that’s lined with the strap to her tank top. “Wait up.”

                She turns on me, jutting her hip out. “What?” Her brows furrow, and it’s cute how she tries to look furious.

                “Don’t be like that.” Still soft.

                “Oh! I thought I was a frigid bitch. I was just to appease you, darling.” 𝙋𝙚𝙧𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙨 𝙨𝙝𝙚 𝙞𝙨𝙣'𝙩 𝙩𝙧𝙮𝙞𝙣𝙜...

                “Jac, come on. Why can’t we just talk this out?” Remain soft.

                “I don’t know, Bird, maybe it’s cause you refuse to hear any criticism against you without turning cruel. Or maybe it’s the fact that you can’t just respect boundaries. Not everyone wants to make out when they go to a concert.” Santo’s becomes the receiving end of a dirty look from the dirty lake despite being a few feet away.

                I move to touch her, but Jac jolts away, hair whipping around. The sound of shuffling denim bound to chafe. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be that way.”

                “Well you are! How many times have we had this conversation?” She huffs, moving her hand to collect mine. “Look. You aren’t going to change, and neither am I. It’s better if this ends here.”

                I grab her hand tighter, her rings digging into my flesh. If you really wanna know about it, I’m a needy fucker. Attached doesn’t even begin to express it. It’s no wonder that even while we’re fighting, my heart pitter-patters. “Don’t be like that. I’ll change!” I examine her fingernails, with their growing stockpiles of grime under them. 𝙎𝙝𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙨 𝙞𝙩 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙨 𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙣'𝙩 𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙚. I meet her eyes. A hardness hits my voice. “We can work through it. What? It was just a little tiff about PDA. I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did, but I’m a little tipsy.” A beat, and the softness returns. “I’m sorry.”

                She rips her hand out, nicking me with her moonstone, and digs it into her hair, covering her elegant forehead. Her voice rises. “That’s the thing! You’re always full of excuses, telling me it isn’t one way when it is!” She backs away, stuffing her hands into her overalls, exposing her elbows. Her body fills with tension. “Just admit you were mean! You know how I feel about PDA, it’s no surprise I didn’t react well. God! You only hear the sound of your own damn voice.”

                “Well… you’re never open to new things! If I didn’t push you out of your comfort zone, you would have never done half the shit you love to do now. Hell, if it wasn’t for me, you would never be here! You woulda never heard of Kurt or Bikini Kill or any of it. You wouldn’t have Santo, Barney, or any of ‘em.” I take a breath. “Come on man, our first date was literally me smokin’ with you for the first time. Now, who’s the resident pot-head at school?”

                “I told you that I wanted to try those things. I- you know what. Never-fucking-mind.” She’s yelling now. “It’s over! You’re like talking to a wall. God!” She spins around, scuffling her hair. After a few seconds, she stops, squares her shoulders and balls the insides of her pockets once more. “It’s over, okay? We’re done.” No more haunted pools. With a brief cursory glance at Santo, she walks away. The street light highlights the curve of her back until she fades into complete obscurity.

                “You really fucked yourself this time.” Santo attaches himself to my hip, swinging an arm around me. He flashes me with eyes filled with pity. God, if you ever want to know something about me, I hate it when people do that. Act like they get what’s going on with you and act accordingly.

                I begin to walk in the opposite direction, tucked close to him, and say, “Eh. We just need a few hours to simmer down. We’ll be fine by tomorrow.”

                He looks at me with an eyebrow raised. “I guess it’s good you’re remaining optimistic.”

                “Trust me, Santo. Everything’s going to be fine.” He nods, refusing to look back at me again.

                I jab him in the side before beginning to sing, “Schlemiel!”

                Looking over at me with an uncertain smirk, he continues our after-show ritual, “Schlimazel!”

                And then, together: “Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

    . . . ❂ . . .

                Look, I’ll be honest with you, I can’t help but feel the impending sense of doom, even as I drown myself into another beer. There’s nothing to worry about, but Santo won’t shut up about the end of the world coinciding with the end of Birqueline (an asinine name he came up with about two minutes ago in the midst of our drunken and high ramblings).

                “You see, it’s all going downhill for y’all along with the rest of this god-forsaken planet. I mean. It’s no coincidence that Jac breaks up with you-

                “Which isn’t going to last more than a day,” I butt in.

                “Uh-huh, right. So, it’s no coincidence that she breaks up with you on the same day that greenhouse gases are reported at an all-time high. Just sayin’,” He finishes, taking another hit. I take the joint from him.

                “And… that’s enough for you, mister.”

                “Don’t ruin my fun.” His blurred eyes narrow, and his eyelashes shadow his face. “Not all of us can skip third period to make out with their girlfriend in the broom closet.” Smirking, he plucks it out of my hands.

                Taking another swig of his dad’s homemade beer, I glare at him. The moonlight streaking through the garage door window is the only source of light. As I shift in the woven lawn chair and tuck my legs into a criss-cross, the creaking fills up the thickening silence. He gives me a road-weary look with a hint of a smile remaining. My face probably isn’t very kind-hearted, whimsical, or any of the other forms he probably wants me to assume given our state.

                I retrieve the blunt once more, sticking it in my mouth. Settling in, I attempt to look like I’m a loan shark, hanging it out of my mouth like a cigar. “Well, ya see, sonny-boy, you really don’t know what I was doing during that time, do ya? No siree. Ya don’t! Don’t assume nothing now, or you’ll end up sleeping with the fishies.” I wink, take a puff, and pass it back to Santo.

                “You should go into acting, you goose.” His face becomes gooier and trickster. “I mean… you’re even able to convince yourself that Jac isn’t serious. That’s some serious skillzz, home skillet.”

                “You are far too drunk and high to comprehend what’s going on.”

                “Same could be said about you.” Looking me dead on, he ashes into the Mickey-Mouse coffee mug I bought for him when we were 12 and we went to Disneyland. It became our sacred ashtray sophomore year.

                I’ll tell you, being fully honest and all that, I’m getting uncomfortable. His gaze is becoming too much, and the way he reads me and has always read me made me just want to scream. I don’t, thankfully, but I feel like a mouse in one of those endless mazes, where you think that there’s an end but there isn’t one. Or maybe the other experiment where the mouse keeps getting shocked, but he gets food each time so he soldiers on. Yeah, that’s the better metaphor for conversing with Santo.

                I return his gaze. “Can we just have fun? Ya know, celebrate the end of the year and all that?” Another sip of beer and a few seconds of silence. If he could, he’d probably ponder this request with a white, fat cat in his lap and pipe hangin’ from his mouth.

                Finally, an “Of course!”

                “Thanks, man.” I crush the empty can, going for a three-pointer from my chair to the recycling bin. A few beats pass after I miss. “So. You hear anything about that program?”

                “Nah. I should get a call tomorrow though. They said they’d call by the 10th.”

                Sluggishly, I sloth over to the flightless can. I rub his shoulder as I pass, saying, “They’d be stupid not to give you the scholarship. I mean your PSAT scores alone…”

                “Yeah. I don’t know. They haven’t seen my SATs yet though, and that’s the next step.” He stares into the can’s opening like I did earlier. 𝙊𝙝! 𝙏𝙤 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙝𝙚𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙖𝙗𝙮𝙨𝙨. 𝙉𝙞𝙚𝙩𝙯𝙨𝙘𝙝𝙚 𝙬𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙘𝙧𝙮.

                Grabbing the mug from his as I walk back, I flop back into the chair and almost unsettle its footing. “Come on, no one actually believes in all that bullshit that standardized tests ‘demonstrate’ (air quotes, of course). They’re probably really understanding, ya know, given your background.”

                He cocks an eyebrow, a signature move that feels like a gun loading. Except maybe a gun full of smiles and laughs instead of blood, death, and guts. “My background? (again, air quotes, of fucking course.)”

                “Hello? Kid of a single dad, Mexican, A+ student, National Honor Society darling, all that. You getting a shabby (or even normal score, considering it’s Santo) score on the SAT wouldn’t be that much of a deal-breaker.” Fiddling with the ends of my shaggy sweater, I jump a little when he scoops up the mug and the joint.

                He chuckles a little, shaking his head. “I think you severely underestimate the competitiveness of the world, Bird.”

                I push myself to the front of my seat. “Oh come on! The world isn’t all black and white.”

                “Uh-huh.” He looks at the rafters, ashing once more. His face equally as gray as the bottom of the cup.

                “The world’s changing, at least a little bit. I mean I doubt that it’s ever going to be perfect and there’s a fuck-ton of problems, but. Look, you’re going places and there’s people out there who’ll help you get there.”

                “Maybe I want people to help me because I’m smart and not because I happen to be what some people call ‘disadvantaged.’”

                “It’s not like that! It’s just evening the the playing field, that’s all.”

                “My brothers were just fine with their brains and big britches. You don’t see them on a quest for affirmative action.”

                I stand up, placing my hands on my hips and swaying my XL sweater. “What about Eddie and Gabriele? They wouldn’t have made it without help either and no offense to Gabriele but he isn’t that smart.”

                “He’s also one of the best football players in the Seattle area so.”

                “Okay, touche. But still. Eddie stands by it.”

                “Eddie’s an award-winning novelist.”

                “Okay I wouldn’t qualify the Bestseller list for the Olympia Journal, but you still proved my point. He’s living proof that it works. How else would he have gotten into UC Berkeley?”

                Now he’s standing. “That’s not fair to blame affirmative action for all his achievements.”

                “No but it’s not like it isn’t working.”

                “Look. You asked to not talk about Jac, can we not discuss my future?” He pleads with his eyes, though his stance is still strained and tested like a rubber band.

                I flop back down. “Yeah. Of course. Sorry,” I whisper in a choppy, stop-go voice. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m awful at this. At expressing myself without fucking someone else over or fucking up what I want to say. By the look on Santo’s relieved face, I don’t know when to stop until someone asks. 𝙉𝙤 𝙬𝙤𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧 𝙄'𝙢 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙄'𝙢 𝙖𝙩 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙝𝙚𝙧.

                In thirty seconds, he downs another entire can. Gasping for air like an alcohol-soaked fish, he runs his hands through his hair. Resting his head on the worn back of his chair, letting it cradle his head, he sighs. “I wish we didn’t worry about the stupid things and didn’t care about the right things.”

                I’m tempted to give a “Hail, Mary!” or a “Cheers to that my friend,” but the silence feels too important to interrupt. Like it, too, has a voice, and it’d be rude to stop its delirious speech about the trials and tribulations of youth. You probably think I’m losing it.

                Once a minute or two passes, I sense the speech is over and it's ready to hear my testimony. “Maybe that’s what youth is for, ya know? Learning to know what’s the important stuff and what isn’t.”

                “And what happens when we don’t?”

    . . . ❂ . . .

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