Arts and CultureNew ShitSan Francisco

Fog City Summer pt. 4 – Fiction

Fog City Summer

Part 4
a San Francisco Romance

Excerpt from a Novel by

Genie Cartier

Read Part 3

Last time: Djuna and Julian have a lovely day together at the People’s Music Festival, but Djuna senses trouble ahead when she spots one of Scott’s friends, Naya.

 

 

Djuna and Julian squeezed out of the crowd back onto the trail, laughing and sweating from dancing. Julian had never really had a good time dancing before. Djuna’s uninhibited movements made him feel unrestrained, and he had found himself wildly jumping and shaking his shoulders, not his usual self-conscious shuffle.

“Where to next?” he asked.

 

He couldn’t care less whether they ever got to where they were going. He reached for her hand again, and found that it was ready for him.

“I can smell the bacon wrapped hot dogs, so they must be close,” Julian eventually said.

Djuna followed Julian this time, as he weaved through the agglomerations of day-drunk hipsters towards the smell. His forearms tightened as he held her hand, leading her through the crowd. She hadn’t noticed it before, the way he moved. Like someone who had navigated forests and dirt paths since childhood; an earthy, natural grace. In another time or place he might have been the town carpenter, crafting canoes out of whole tree trunks.

“I found it,” he said, and she shook out of her rustic fantasy.

They looked at each other triumphantly, equally excited that there were only two people in line ahead of them.

“These guys are efficient,” Djuna said.

“Well, they do it all year round, don’t they? I always see them by the 16th street station.”

“Yeah, they pop up all over the place. Also, you’ll see them outside bars in the Castro and Mission. marie-cartierThey’ll just pull up after midnight to sell them to drunk people.”

“What a brilliant business model.”

They headed hot-dog-in-hand to the stage.

The perimeter of the stage was filled with old greying leather jacketqs with studs sewn on sloppily and light patched-up jeans with tears in the knees. Long-haired men stood cross-armed in their black t-shirts with various illegible band names engulfed in flames or in rune-like fonts, a sea of Joey Ramones.

“Well, this is different,” Julian said.

Naya would never come to see this band, Djuna thought. Neither would Scott. She smiled.

Woton started right on time, and for once she was glad they didn’t get a seat closer to the front, simply due to the volume of the music. They were just close enough to see the long-haired, head-banging guitarist in between green mohawks in the crowd without their ear drums exploding. Their music was generically metal with a dash of punk, but their stage presence was fantastic. They didn’t even really release records that she knew of, just played live shows. They wore elaborate corpse paint, and were often known to set fire to things onstage.

“I can smell the bacon wrapped hot dogs, so they must be close,” Julian eventually said.

The fog was floating in already and it was starting to get windy.

Julian noticed Djuna shivering, and shuffled his hands up and down her arms.

“You can’t see much, can you?” he said.

“The curse of being short,” she said.

“Do you want to sit on my shoulders?”

“Um, actually, I need to go to the bathroom. I’ve been trying to avoid it all day because—well, you’ve seen the bathrooms—but… can you stay right here so I can find you again?”

“Do you think you’ll actually be able to find me? Why don’t I just come with you?”

“I don’t want you to have to miss anything.”

“I don’t care. I can hold your backpack for you.”

“Oh. Well, ok.”

Djuna knew exactly what kind of catty comment Henry would have made about how nice Julian was. Henry always said the word like it was a dirty rag he was holding away from his face. Djuna realized at that moment that probably neither she nor Henry had dated a nice guy because it made them feel like they weren’t nice. Nice people made Henry and Djuna see themselves for who they really were: secretive, self-destructive, and cold. Djuna never had to think about her own flaws when she was with Scott. She had always comfortably stayed the victim, the nice one giving a troubled soul a chance at redemption. It made her sick to think of it now; how stupid her fantasy of Scott was.

They shouldered their way out of the crowd until they reached fresh, wet air. It felt like a drink of ice water after a long bike ride.

The restroom line was now a small disorganized clump facing a row of green port-o-potties. Djuna and Julian moseyed to the back of the clump, and she turned and smiled apologetically.

“Thanks for waiting with me,” she said. Her eyes were wide, her skin glowing from the cold, her nose and cheeks a little pink.

“Of course,” he said.

“Look,” she said. “I have to be honest. There’s something that’s been really bugging me.”

Julian’s head immediately went haywire with things that could have gone wrong, things he had said that she might have misinterpreted, various scenarios and things she might say: You’re too nice. You’re just not my type. I actually already have a boyfriend. I’m actually still in love with my scary football-player-looking ex-boyfriend.

“What’s wrong?” he said, trying to keep the nervous quiver out of his voice.

“When we were at Mickey Mao earlier, I spotted this girl—an old friend of my ex-boyfriend’s. It made me worry that maybe he’s here somewhere. It’s been kind of bothering me ever since.”

 

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Julian felt relieved, and then newly anxious. She must mean the ex-boyfriend he had “met” the other night. Scary football-player-looking ex-boyfriend.

“Oh,” he said. “Do you want to leave?”

“No. No, I don’t think so, I just… wanted you to know that, I guess.”

Julian seemed to take that information pretty calmly. Considering Scott’s behavior towards him, she had perhaps expected a bit more of a reaction. But then sometimes it seemed to take men longer to process things.

They stood in silence until Djuna reached the front of the line. Julian quietly held her backpack while she took a deep breath, then entered the plastic green box of hell. She burst out after spending the absolute minimum amount of time possible inside and let out the breath with a gasp. The girl after her in line looked as if she were approaching Mount Doom as she went in.

“That bad?” Julian said.

“Not the worst I’ve seen. Freudian Slip is playing at this same stage, so I guess we can just go back to our old spot.”

He smiled and nodded, and a little of the rope winding up in her stomach slackened.

 

 

Djuna never had to think about her own flaws when she was with Scott. She had always comfortably stayed the victim, the nice one giving a troubled soul a chance at redemption.

 

They made their way once again through the now thinning crowd of leather jackets to a point where they could see the stage. Djuna looked back, and saw the fog crawling through the trees. The sky above them was still blue, but would slowly dissolve to white. She felt a warmth from the evaporated water that would soon give way to cold wetness. Julian was very quiet.

They walked towards the stage, leather jackets coming towards them, red flannel and feathers walking with them. The changing of the crowd. She wanted to point this out to Julian, but he seemed like he didn’t want to talk. They found a place where they could sit on an upraised tree root and just barely see the stage from the side. The bushes were full of people chattering, like a tree full of birds.

Suddenly, among a sea of earth tones, an alarming strip of turquoise appeared. Djuna turned away, hoping she had been seeing things and was just being paranoid. She wasn’t. Naya’s long legs were marching their way right in Djuna’s direction.

As she approached, Djuna noticed something different about her. Her face looked—she didn’t want to say ugly, because nothing about Naya’s appearance could be deemed ugly—but it looked crumpled somehow. Not displaying her usual expression of self-importance. Djuna squinted to better see what it was, but in doing so, accidentally looked Naya in the eyes. She immediately looked away, hoping Naya somehow hadn’t recognized her, or chose to not acknowledge her. No such luck. Naya had definitely seen her and was now coming straight towards her. She had a pained expression on her face.

“Djuna! Hey! Djuna!”

Djuna looked at Julian, who seemed confused. She didn’t have time to explain before Naya was standing right in front of them.

“Hey Naya,” Djuna said. She expected a backhanded compliment, as was customary with their interactions, but instead Naya hugged her, kept hugging her like one would a very old friend who’s just gotten off an airplane. Djuna eventually had to go limp to make it stop.

“Are you ok?” she said.

Naya brushed her perfectly messy hair away from her eyes. Her face revealed that something was indeed wrong, but nothing about the rest of her appearance would have given it away.

“Girl, I have had a day you wouldn’t believe!” Naya said, as if they were at some kind of horrible brunch where close friends chatted about their problems over mimosas. Djuna often indulged in such a brunch with Henry, but with Naya it would be her own personal form of hell. She shuddered, imagining listening to Naya complain about annoying soap opera-y problems. What do I do about all these men who want to date me? If only I wasn’t so pretty!

“What happened?” Djuna asked obligatorily, glancing at Julian. He still looked confused.

“Well, as you’ve probably heard through the grapevine by now, Scott and I have been kind of, you know taking our friendship to a new place.”

Why would Djuna have heard that? She did everything she could to stay away from both of them.

“Not exactly dating per se,” Naya continued. “But you know, we’re not just friends anymore.”

They were sleeping together, in other words. Djuna thought she would feel more hurt by this revelation, but instead just felt repulsed by the image of it. While she contemplated this, Naya had been going on about their sex life in unnecessarily explicit detail.

“Like, I’ve never felt that, you know? He’s so raw and intense, I mean, well you know, right sister?” Naya giggled.

We are not friends, Djuna’s brain was screaming. Why are you telling me this?

marie-cartierJulian had put together by now that this was the friend that Djuna had referred to earlier. The turquoise-clad, bronze-skinned Barbie doll had still neglected to introduce herself or acknowledge his presence, despite his clearly being associated with Djuna, but he had a feeling she generally didn’t have the most polished etiquette, considering that within five minutes of her appearance he had already heard all about the satisfaction of her sexual fantasies.

Despite this, Julian was not at all shocked by the cosmopolitan amazon. Having lived in Brooklyn, he had frequently come across both women and men who would talk at length about what most people would consider extremely private topics upon first meeting him. He was, however, somewhat surprised by Djuna’s interaction with her. While Djuna had earlier told him that she had planned on avoiding this woman, they now appeared to be chatting like old friends. Well, the Barbie doll was chatting. Djuna was listening. But Julian had expected her to find some excuse to leave by now, and instead she seemed to be absorbing every word. Was she waiting for him to rescue her, so to speak? He found himself unable to think of an excuse. That seemed silly. There could be a million excuses. He just couldn’t think of a way to make it seem natural.

He tuned back into the conversation just as Naya’s story was taking a turn.

“I mean, I liked it when he tied me to the bed and stuff like that, but he started to become actually violent sometimes. And, like, jealous, even though we’re not even really dating. Like, this one time he threw my crystal candelabra at the wall because I told him he was too drunk to drive home, and like, that was a nice candelabra? I got it at Pier One; that place is expensive? I mean, I didn’t actually buy it, this guy I used to date who was really high up at Google did, but still, I was kinda planning on returning it for the cash if I couldn’t make my rent this month? Anyway, like, we had this huge fight and I was like my friend fucks Mickey Mao when he’s in town, she can get us into the VIP section at the music fest and like, I’m going. And he’s like no you’re not, you’re not going to go fuck some roadie—like, as if I would, I would obviously go home with the bass player, everyone knows that—and so we got into this huge fight, but like whatever, I went anyway, obviously cause here I am, but he totally came too and now he’s stalking me!”

“Scott is here?” Djuna said. She had somehow known it all along, but the confirmation still made her stomach churn with vomitous unease.

“Yeah! He found me and started totally yelling at me, but I escaped into the crowd so, like, he couldn’t find me, and that’s when I found you, and I was like at least June’s here—”

“Djuna.”

“—at least Djuna’s here so, like, I don’t have to be alone in this.”

“What happened to your friend?”

Naya rolled her eyes as if it was obvious where she was. “With Mickey. Actually Mickey and the drummer if you know what I mean.”

“Right.”

What wonderfully supportive friends Naya must have. That’s when it occurred to Djuna that Naya probably didn’t have real friends at all. She probably didn’t even know what friendship actually was, which is why she was suddenly acting like they were BFFs. Djuna’s degree of friendship with Naya was probably the same as all of Naya’s other friends. She almost felt bad for her until she remembered that this was the girl who had just slept with her ex-boyfriend, told her all about it, and then essentially led a raging maniacal version of him straight to her and the guy she was hoping to have a new start with.

Naya finally took a breath from her seemingly endless monologue and used it to light a cigarette. She had already smelled of sickly sweet perfume, and the addition of tobacco was nearly unbearable.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said.

Djuna sensed that Naya had expected her to come up with a solution, or at least sympathize vocally in some way. Djuna refused to do the latter, but mentally tackled the former. At least in the sense that she tried to think of a way to get out of this situation without having to interact with Scott. And especially without making Julian completely disgusted by her.

She turned to Julian. “I’m sorry,” she said.

He wasn’t precisely sure what she was apologizing for, but he smiled sympathetically anyway, hoping it would offer some kind of support. Despite his desire to help Djuna, he did find himself wishing he could throw his hands up and walk away from the whole thing. This was mainly influenced, understandably, by the fact that he did not want any further confrontation with Scott, especially one that could turn violent. Julian had been in fights as a little boy, usually playful ones, but Scott probably had forty pounds on him, and likely years of experience tackling. Julian’s lean muscle was no match in this scenario. Moreover, Julian guessed that Djuna was not the type who expected or appreciated men “defending her honor.” He instead hoped, for the sake of his body and for the sake of her mind, that she would verbally tear Scott to shreds if he confronted her.

Hipster Barbie was still chattering on meaninglessly to Djuna, while looking over her shoulder every couple of seconds, as if she suspected a raging bull would leap out of the bushes and gut her at any moment. Julian considered this image for a minute.

“Why don’t we just go?” he said.

Naya looked over at Julian for the first time. Djuna saw her expression shift from her initial who the fuck are you to wait, you’re totally hot or perhaps simply you are an acceptable human of the male gender who I can manipulate into fighting my battles for me.

“Naya, this is Julian. Julian, this is Naya.” Djuna said without any modulation in her tone. “And I think that’s a good idea. I don’t really see any reason to stay here any longer.”

“Well, I was supposed to meet up with my friend Tiara—”

“Why don’t you do that, then?” Djuna said. Naya did not seem to detect any of her exasperation.

“—but Tiara is friends with Bianca who knows the drummer from Freudian Slip, so they’re probably at the VIP over there, but they always bring this other girl whose name is also Bianca along and I used to sleep with her boyfriend so, like, she is totally jealous and hates me, so I can’t…”

This went on for a minute or two. Djuna and Julian looked at each other.

“We’re going to go,” Djuna said conclusively. “If you want to come with us, you can.”

Naya looked at her with her usual condescending stare. As if Djuna was a peasant inviting the queen to a barn dance.

Astoundingly, Naya said: “Yeah, ok.”

Naya stood uselessly next to them looking at her phone as they packed up all their belongings, then headed towards the edge of the park. The cold fog now obscured the air, and it was clear the transition into night had begun. Naya was clearly shivering in her skimpy dress, her arms wrapped around her thin waist, shoulders hunched. Djuna couldn’t help but smirk a little.

marie-cartier

When they reached the edge of the festival, they encountered an obstacle in the form of a thick stream of people walking in either direction. Julian took Djuna’s hand and attempted to push through, their heads down. They reached the opposite side, and Djuna expected to see Naya appear behind them, probably complaining about someone stepping on her shoe, but she was not anywhere in sight.

Julian stood on his toes, trying to see if he could find her in the crowd. Instead, he heard her. They looked at each other, trying to decide what to do.

“Well… he found her. Should we just go?” Julian said.

“It’s just that… he’s such a different person when he’s drinking. And he does get violent sometimes.”

“Ok, let’s just make sure she’s okay.”

He was a little annoyed that Djuna even wanted to bother helping this obviously awful person, especially if it would lead to another confrontation with Scary Ex-Boyfriend. Why even put them in that position? They could leave now and let the two of them work it out themselves. But Djuna obviously had some reason to be concerned about Naya’s safety, so for the moment he gave her the benefit of the doubt.

They followed the sound of Naya screaming her lungs dry, chords matched by a red-faced Scott, appropriately gripping a glass bottle with a brown bag around it. He almost looked like a cartoon of a drunk person. He was just missing the “XXX” printed on the side of the bottle.

Djuna tried to grab Naya’s arm to pull her away, hoping they could just get her to leave and be done with it, but she was too angry, and kept wriggling free. Scott then noticed her, and there was a moment of silence.

“Djuna?” he said, slurring as usual. “Are you friends with this girl now?”

This set Naya off into another flurry of insults. Meanwhile Scott was saying “All the time, I’m trying to get you two to be friends, and now is when you’re gonna take her side? Whathefu—”

There were so many words scrolling through Djuna’s head that she felt robbed of them entirely. All the things she had wanted to say to him for months and months were jumbling together. As Naya and Scott simultaneously sprayed nonsense at each other like political pundits, Djuna turned around to see Julian with a worried look on his face.

“Djuna, why don’t we just go?” he said under his breath. “They might not even notice at this point.”

Scott seemed to have lost interest in Naya’s ravings, and was now tugging on Djuna’s arm.

“Hey,” he said remarkably calmly, “look, I just need to talk to you. I just need a moment to talk to you. Can I talk to her? Can I talk to her?”

These last questions were directed at an overwhelmed-looking Julian. He didn’t say anything. Djuna felt herself being pulled away from him, lingering on his eyes. Like rivers. Scott’s face was now in front of hers. She was watching his mouth move but she couldn’t hear anything, just a flat ringing. Julian was somewhere behind her, in the crowd, as was Naya, whose voice was still chattering in the background. Djuna tried to concentrate on what Scott was saying to her.

“I’m sorry, but Naya just drives me crazy—she won’t stop talking ever. I don’t want to listen to her anymore, I just want to listen to you, just you. You and your stories. I want to go to sleep next to you again, every night, in our bed. Djuna, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry about what I did, it will never ever happen again, I was so stupid. I do want to stop drinking– I know it makes me crazy. Djuna, are you listening, can you hear me? I want us to be back together again. I don’t know who that guy is, but you can’t have known him long. Please, Djuna—”

She tuned in and out, trying to look around her for Julian, but he seemed to have disappeared in the crowd. Naya’s voice was no longer audible. Scott’s hands were on her shoulders, directing her body towards him.

“Listen to me,” he was saying “Don’t be stupid. We belong together.”

Julian couldn’t see Djuna through the crowd anymore. One of the shows must have been ending, and an increasing number of people cut in front of the space he had purposely left between Scott and himself. Naya was still going on about Scott, but he had stopped listening entirely. He was only thinking about Djuna. Had she gone off with him? Why didn’t she just walk away? The only logical answer was the one he couldn’t stand to think about. That despite her apparent resistance, some part of her still wanted to be with Scott. Djuna would never truly belong with Julian. Scott possessed her. Or rather, she was possessed by him. And until he was exorcised, she could never really be with anyone else. And even then—being with her would be like trying to embrace fog.

 

“It’s just that… he’s such a different person when he’s drinking. And he does get violent sometimes.”

He considered just heading home, but the guilt of leaving her with an angry potentially violent alcoholic trumped his desire to retreat, and so he pushed through the crowd until he found Scott, holding Djuna’s shoulders, talking, as she stared at him blankly. She looked like a ragdoll.

“Do you want to leave?” she heard Julian say. She turned her head away from Scott for the first time in a few minutes.

“Yes,” she uttered gutterally.

“Who the fuck are you?” Scott barked at him. “This is between me and her.” He was slurring a bit, but keeping it together enough to focus on his goal.

Julian seemed remarkably calm. “I’m the one who just asked her if she wants to leave, and she said yes.”

Scott only grew angrier at Julian’s civility. “You think you know what she wants?”

“No, I think she knows what she wants.”

“You don’t know anything about her. Or me. So fuck off.”

He nudged Julian’s shoulder with the hand that wasn’t holding the bottle. Djuna didn’t quite understand what happened next. Julian must have reacted very suddenly to being touched and tried to slap Scott’s hand away, which Scott took as an opportunity to hit him in the face. At least that’s what she assumed happened. Julian was suddenly pulling himself up off the grass, holding his cheek. There were more words that she didn’t hear.

She was holding Julian’s hand as he led her through the crowd, away from Scott throwing his hands up and yelling after her, past Naya’s high pitched complaints, through the brush, under the trees, and onto the street. They were on 19th avenue, brightly lit with headlights rushing by. Djuna’s eyes were blurred, from tears or fog. She gripped his hand, Julian guiding her across the street, through the avenues until they turned down 11th and were inside his little garage cave.

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Julian watched Djuna sit down on the rug, the same place she had sat cross-legged the first time she had come to his apartment. His cheek was red and throbbing.

“Would you like some tea?” he asked.

“Tea would be nice,” she said.

She looked shell-shocked and exhausted. But then, so was he. He put the kettle on the stove. Then he went to his drawers and pulled out some pajamas.

“Here,” he said, handing them to her. “You’ll be more comfortable in this.”

“You don’t mind if I stay the night?” she said.

“Of course not.” But maybe he did mind. He was upset with her, but she had been through a lot today too. It didn’t feel right to start an argument.

He tried to smile, but it must have looked half-hearted or pained, because she said “I don’t have to, I could just hop on the N…”

“Don’t worry about it. We both need to rest, I think. It’s been a long day. Mandarin orange spice?”

“Sure.”

He watched the kettle, as if it were necessary for him to stare intently at it in order for it to work. Djuna was so silent that with his back turned it was as if she wasn’t there at all. Except that he could sense her breathing, long slow uneasy breaths. He had no idea what to say to her. No, it was up to her to say something to him. His mother had always told him never to fish for apologies, or feel that you are better or more deserving than anyone else. She would tell him to just be a gentleman, no matter what. He had done his best to adhere to that thus far, but he could feel the anger rising through his ribcage.

The kettle made a high-pitched shriek, and Djuna looked up at Julian’s back. He removed it from the stove and it stopped whining as he poured the steamy water into two identical mugs. She could smell the orange spice of the tea as he finally turned around and handed one to her.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

He sat across from her on the rug, holding a bag of frozen peas to his face, setting his tea down in front of him. Djuna tried to sip her tea and burned her tongue.

She laughed defeatedly. “I do that every time. I always sip my tea when it’s too hot and I always burn my tongue.”

Julian smiled. “Maybe you should try to learn from experience.”

So many words on the tip of her tongue held on like brambles, refused to pass the barrier of her lips. Julian had been such good company these past few days—there was an ease to being with him that made everything else seem less harsh. She would hate to lose that, but had a feeling she already had.

The silence was tense, and Julian almost couldn’t stand it, but tolerated it out of principal. He blew on the surface of his tea, tested it, and put it back down. Was she formulating words or simply avoiding them? His mind assembled questions over and over again. Why didn’t she just walk away from Scott, after what he did to her? Why even be with him in the first place? Sure he may have seemed mysterious and dark… But wasn’t that what drew Julian, in turn, to Djuna? The mystery of her? The touch of darkness? Perhaps the same things had attracted him to Djuna as Djuna to Scott. Maybe he and Djuna weren’t so different.

Her tea was finally cool enough to drink, but she could feel the scar of the burn with every sip. It warmed her cold insides.

“I think it might be best if I go home,” she said.

Julian nodded. “Ok.”

“I just—your bed is small and we both really need our sleep.”

“I’ll call you a cab,” he said.

“That’s ok, it’s only 9—I’ll just take the N.”

“Whatever you want,” he said.

She walked up to the counter and put her mug down. “Thank you for the tea.”

He shrugged.

She put her bag over her shoulders and pursed her lips. “Well, I guess I’ll head to the stop, then.”

“Ok.”

She reached out to touch his swollen cheek, but he flinched and moved away. “I’m so sorry,” she said.

He looked down. “I guess I just don’t get it.”

“Don’t get what?”

“Why you couldn’t just leave.”

“I told you, I was worried about Naya.”

He nodded, his head still down. He wouldn’t look at her. She could see that his jaw was tight. “I just– I don’t know, Djuna. Maybe you just need to think about it. You know, think about what you want. And I’m not sure that I should be involved in that process.”

That last comment stung her straight in the gut. So he didn’t want to deal with her bullshit. Who would?

Julian’s mind was fuzzy. What did he just say to her? He didn’t want her to go. But he did at the same time, so he could think. He searched her face for answers and found none. Even now, she looked beautiful to him, her hair mussed and disorderly, the circles forming under her eyes, the dirt on her clothes, leaves stuck in the laces of her shoes.

She lingered for a few moments, unsure of how to say goodbye, whether to try to hug him, or kiss him, or just walk out the door without any physical contact. Just tell me to stay. Please just tell me you want me to stay and we’ll talk about it. But it felt so final, the way he said I’m not sure that I should be involved in that process. Was he saying that he didn’t want to be involved with her at all?

She looked him in the eyes, finally, those green eyes that stood out from his sun-touched skin, and thought she saw a gleam of the same reluctance to part, but he didn’t say anything about it, didn’t ask her to stay. He just opened the door for her. Alright, I get it.

As Julian opened the door, he made a decision: if she calls me in the next week and tells me she’s done with Scott, she wants to start over, then I’ll forgive everything. I’ll give her a week. She looked at him a last time, and stepped through the door silently. He locked it behind her. Then he went over to his counter and took the tea bag out of her cup, threw it in the trash. He wanted to smash the cup. But instead he took it to the sink, washed it, and put it back in the mostly empty cupboard where he kept his two mugs, one bowl and three plates.

 

He wouldn’t look at her. She could see that his jaw was tight. “I just– I don’t know, Djuna. Maybe you just need to think about it. You know, think about what you want. And I’m not sure that I should be involved in that process.”

Djuna stood, freezing, at the bus stop with many other festival-goers. After a while she hardly felt the cold anymore, and a numbness took over. Her teeth still chattered, but she barely noticed.

She pulled out her phone, which had been on silent for most of the festival. 12 missed calls from Scott. And two text messages.

The first one read: I know I seem crazy, but I just want to talk. Please give me a chance.

The second one read: PS You were right about Naya all along. She is the worst.

That one made Djuna smile. She walked from Van Ness station along Hayes, passing closed shops and full sports bars, through clouds of tobacco and weed, dodging young drunk people in red and gold. Luckily, she lived on a quieter block. She could remember when this street was the ghetto, the earthquake-damaged freeway looming over it like a bridge or tunnel under which homeless people slept. Now it was filled with boutiques and trendy bars, and people with no memory of what it used to be, no memory of how anything in the City used to be.

She couldn’t wait to slump into her soft warm bed, and as soon as she did, she took out her phone and called Henry.

“Yes, darling?” he answered.

“When are you getting back?”

“Tomorrow. What’s wrong?”

“I fucked it up. I fucked it all up. And I’m not even totally sure how, I just—Scott—”

“Scott? I thought you were with coffee guy?”

“I was, and then Scott showed up, and he hit him and I didn’t handle it well at all. I fucked it all up. And now he’s done with me.”

“Oh, honey. I’ll come over tomorrow as soon as I get back, ok? Just hold tight. I’ll bring ice-cream.”

She couldn’t answer, she just made a whimpering sound, and Henry said “Ok, I’ll see you soon. Bye.”

Maybe you just need to think about it. You know, think about what you want.

She fell asleep in her clothes, waking at 3am with a crick in her neck, at which point she lazily put on pajamas and curled up like a fetus in the soft cavity of her bed.

 


Genie-Cartier-writer

Genie Cartier is a San Francisco native from the Haight Ashbury. Yes, her parents were hippies. In addition to writing, she is also a local circus performer & is regularly
featured in Literary Foolery, as well as occasional appearances with Hubba Hubba Revue, and Crescent Moon Theater. She co-hosts Poets Upstairs on the second Sunday of every month at Overland Books.
Artwork by Marie Cartier.

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