Track One – BFF (Best Frenemies Forever)
By: Jady Davis
“God, why am I so melodramatic?” Abigail whined, staring at her shopping compatriot.
Her mirror image stared back at her, and she didn’t like what she saw. They were in Gypsy Blush, a store full of cupcake dresses, bodycon leather and fingerless gloves. They had the poshest vintage t-shirts, and everything people who lived in the 80’s and 90’s hate about their era. But hipsters loved kitsch out of a time machine, and Abigail wished she could buy something spectacularly pop-queen-esque from the storefront. Instead, she wore a tacky last-season dress, in purple and ruffles. Usually, Abigail wouldn’t be caught dead taking this monstrosity of a dress off a wooden hanger, but there was something special about Gypsy Blush, something enchanting. Antique dressers grew from the floor to ceiling, like white vines attaching to an ancient villa. The dressers paraded the hypnotizing merchandise, while Whos, Sneetches, and even a Lorax, seemed to run about through the puddles of rainbows and mazes of glitter. In the center of the store couches laid about waiting for Abigail to try on those new Jeffrey Campbell shoes. The stores unique scent, pumped in through the central air, transported guests to a lollipop forest tended by Oompa Loompas.
Abigail sighed and turned around, mourning her chubby assets. The dress looked far better on the long-legged sale’s rack mannequin.
Truthfully, it would have looked better on anyone else. Abigail wasn’t fat. Abigail wasn’t skinny. Her hair was medium length and medium brown, just like her skin. Just like her: Medium. Her face was exceptional, but nothing like what she thought it should be. She was as in between as 17 can get, in a headspace greater than the universe, where teenagers live.
“I wish I could afford the red dress. It was everything Abigail loved: leather, tulle, and stretchy ponte with cut outs and ruffles, fitted tailoring in all the right places. But the red dress in the whimsical, Dr. Seuss window was $350. Abigail had much more to spend than your average 17-year- old, $75. But in a midrange designer store, $75 got you a purple cupcake dress from a year ago, fit for a person who was far from in between. How could something so close feel so far away? A lot of things had been feeling like this lately.
“Tough,” said Lolly, “Just get a set of gloves.” But this was no consolation to Abigail; Lolly knew that the purple dress would look amazing on her long, lean silhouette. Abigail knew it too. But Lolly barely had $20 dollars and that was for the “really good” fast food restaurant next door, putting the gaudy dress out of her price range.
Lolly was both Columbian and Black, a freakin’ exotic Barbie Doll. Her long ebony black hair was in thick perfect curls, the kind of hair you wish you could chop off and wear. The smell of coconuts and exotic flowers emanated from the long strands as if it was the natural scent her hair gave off. Abigail’s dad always told her biracial doesn’t mean prettier, but he also said that it was a God given lottery for people who end up getting the best features of both races.
“I already have three sets of gloves and nothing to wear them with. I’ll just get a shooting star handbag. Looks fetch,” said Abigail, looking away.
They walked out of Gypsy Blush and into BurgrDreams, a diner with patchy pink walls and scratched up green and white checkered floors, and for the finishing touch, scattered feathers from boas. Waitresses, who were over-the-top drag queens in sky high heels, clicked back and forth trampling pink, blue, and glitter feathers, which shed from their boas at an alarming rate. Delicious mouthwatering food delivered by drag queens was the restaurants signature. Abigail’s parents wouldn’t approve of drag queen service, but she didn’t care. Abigail was not her mom or dad. Just herself. While the restaurant was small, quaint was not quite the word for it. Newer residents had been gentrifying the inner city on this side of town block by block. The gentrifiers loved quaint.
Designer stores had popped up all around BurgrDreams. Investors have tried to buy it out repeatedly, but the store owner would not sell it. The only thing keeping BurgrDreams in business was the rainbow bun. The bread was flaky and fluffy: semi- dense and filling, all the things bread should be. Abigail looked around at the stopgap against further gentrification. She spotted a faux Lady Gaga and a long whitish blonde braided Daenerys from Game of Thrones.
“What you want, doll?” Abigail looked up at a black Marilyn Monroe with old Hollywood blonde hair from root to tip. She wore something that looked like a bootleg Halloween costume from The Seven Year Itch and heels to match. Good shoes were all that mattered anyway. Defying history was admirable, and all Abigail could think about were Marilyn’s perfect eyebrows.
“Honey? The order.” Marilyn tapped her dagger-like nails on the order sheet.
“Oh. Sorry. A hamburger with cheddar and a rainbow bun, please,” Abigail said.
“Ooo, daring,” Marylin said, scribbling on her paper pad with her pen, which was covered in bright pink feathers, and matched the boa wound around her neck.
Abigail was not concerned about number Blue #2 food color poisoning. She was more concerned about her holier-than-thou home that would hang her for the sin of taking part in a queer activity. Abigail used to ask for most of her life if she was adopted. She even raised her hand in class when her teacher asked everybody in first grade. She always dreamed that she was a princess from a far-away land or some celebrity’s illegitimate. When it started making her mother cry, she stopped asking, but she always knew there was more than Gypsy Blush or the BurgrDreams way across town. There was superstardom.
“You’ve been staring off for five minutes.” Lolly laughs. “You’re thinking about him.”
“Not right now…” Abigail pulled herself back to the present. Lolly stared at her in disbelief. “No, I’m not.”
“Nu uh, you want him. Jon! Oh Jon!” Lolly made kissy sounds. She did not care about anyone watching. Not now, not ever. Abigail wished she was just as fierce. Lolly stood up, like she was going to make a cheeky announcement.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Abigail Clemmons desperately wants to –”
“Shh!” Abigail tugged hard on Lolly, forcing her to sit down.
Lolly turned around and her mouth dropped when she looked out the window. Abigail turned to see what had caught her friend’s attention. Jon was walking with a group of friends right past them. His mid length curly blonde hair swayed as he walked. He wore navy blue tennis shoes with checkered shoe laces and tight skinny jeans – His butt was beautiful, and so was his flawless pale white skin.
Abigail didn’t think he was aware of her existence, but he was. He’d known Abigail since pre-school. Even though many things had changed, like his golden crown of popularity, he thought she was cool, and “so hot”, and partly so because she hadn’t realized it just yet. Jon was a college freshman, last year’s homecoming king, and also “so hot”, but he realized it.
“Uh. I’m so hungry. I wanna die,” Abigail said, trying to change the topic from Jon to food.
“Don’t die. Eat!” Lolly shoved the rainbow burger, which Marylin had just sat on the table, at Abigail.
The burger was as good as it looked, if color had a taste. And at BurgrDreams, color did have a taste: the taste of a peck on the lips in the warm summer rain, with the smell of fresh barbeque in the air, new and inviting. Abigail wanted to put her meal on her profile page, but her family…So Lolly did instead.
“So, there’s this thing called an umbilical cord,” Lolly said while posting the big, gloriously delicious rainbow burger. It smelled like beefy cheesy perfection and looked like an installation in the Smithsonian.
“Shut up.” Abigail could not stand when Lolly made jokes about her family. Abigail knew it was just because Lolly was jealous of her close family. While Lolly had the freedom to do what she wanted, it was because no one really cared.
Once the meal was paid for, the girls made their way back home, mostly in silence. The friends lived next to one another, Lolly with the smallest house on the street, and Abigail with the largest. The exotic Latina waltzed down the slated path through her front yard to mediocrity and Abigail began her shuffle a few feet in the other direction into her 4,500 square foot home.
Abigail turned around, “Wait!” blurted Abigail, as Lolly sighed. “I have to ask you something…important. You promise to tell the truth?” Abigail looked past her friend, nervously.
“Nothing but the truth, so help me God. Spit it out.”
“I’ve heard rumors,” Abigail’s voice turned to a whisper. She fidgeted with her finger nails.
“Rumors of what, friend?” Abigail knew that rumors made Lolly happy and sort of miserable at the same time.
“That you and Jon had a thing…last year?” Abigail didn’t know why she ended the statement in a question.
“I dunno,” Lolly paused for a minute. How can you not know if you were a thing with someone? “I guess, but it’s over. Don’t worry.” Lolly continued her waltz and Abigail stood frozen like a statue, but not from the sudden news of Lolly and Jon, which barely registered in her brain.
Her head was hurting, but not in a migraine sort of way, but more like she ate too much ice cream and her brain was freezing right at the center, creeping up more and more. Abigail had this sensation all the time these days. Mostly, when she was sad, angry, or tired. But sometimes, just because…there seemed no rhyme or reason. Perhaps it was just high school stress.
Abigail stumbled a little as she started walking again.
It’s just stress, right? Abigail stared blankly at the trees across from her house. They led down to rocks beside a quiet stream. A million thoughts ran through Abigail’s mind too fast about Lolly, Jon, and life. She could feel the buzz and hear the sounds of a train car miles away. It was excruciating.
Lolly turned around just before she opens the door to her commonplace house to see Abigail struggling. “Eat a salad. Stop devouring all that food dye and meat.” She pouted her lips and clicked the door shut, locking a latch.
Lolly’s voice snapped Abigail out of the trance, and tears flowed like streams of despair. Maybe it is my bad diet choices…
But these feelings and symptoms had been getting worse, which perplexed her and troubled her mind, but she couldn’t tell anybody. She couldn’t even admit it to herself. But, something was not normal.
Disclaimer: If you or someone else is experiencing symptoms always call 911 immediately.