Martinez / The Masquerade
Open your eyes Alice in Wonderland.
The dawn breaks with your heart—but as the moon rises, she laughs.
As will you.
The first time Jeremiah and I had sex, I cried. I didn't cry because I thought it was romantic, beautiful, or amazing; just to clarify. I cried because I thought it would change things. I thought it would make us real.
It was disappointing.
I remember exactly what he said to me while he held me. He pushed himself up onto his elbow and leaned into my face. His brown hair brushed his eyebrow, and he got very quiet and studied me with his serious blue-grey eyes.
"Maybe you were wrong about me."
"Wrong about what, Jeremiah?"
He went quiet again and laid his head back on the pillow and stared at the ceiling.
But it wasn't nothing.
This time reminded me of that one, because I was crying again, but it was for a completely different reason. This time he was leaving.
"Maybe you were wrong about me." He was laying back against the pillow, arms behind his head, just like last time and I focused on the green pillowcase under his hair. I tried counting the stitches along the hem but gave up when he moved his arm so that his fingertips could catch my chin. He watched me and I watched everything else, until his sigh brought me to his gaze. I forced myself to repeat the lines, an actress in a scene that didn't make sense anymore.
"Wrong about what, Jeremiah?"
"Maybe I'm not the one that's fake."
With that, he pushed himself up off the bed and slowly gathered his clothes. He took his time, slipping his jeans over his boxers and fiddling with his belt. I thought he'd look back at me but he didn't. He picked his shirt up off the floor and slid it over his torso, hiding himself from me. He walked to the door and the sound of his footsteps were lost when it slammed behind him. I stared at it for a few seconds, my ears echoing with the sound of his leaving. Black and green graffiti crossed and weaved across the wood, moving with my gaze. For a moment I couldn't make sense of it but then the scrawl unwound and the pink letters mocked me.
I see you, Alice.
Nylons were not my allies. I sighed and pulled them up over my legs and stomach, watching how they darkened the skin and gently smoothed over my imperfections. You didn't have to worry about your legs looking shitty in nylons because they looked the same as anyone else who has ever worn nylons.
Nylons were a deep subject.
Or maybe I was obsessive.
I carefully picked through the clothes lying over my bed. I didn't have to look at them to know which ones I wanted, I only had to touch them. My fingers brushed over a starched cotton material and I grabbed the skirt and shimmied it up my hips, fighting the clasp at the back. The shirt was much the same. There was something about uniforms that distinguished them from any other material or outfit. They all felt reminiscent of sandpaper and sea salt.
I shook my head and grabbed the small clutch that I put my ID and car keys in during work. I attempted to pass the mirror on my way out, but vanity wouldn't have any of it. I could almost laugh at myself but it wasn't that funny. I looked like any other girl on the street, pretty and pink and all dressed up.
My reflection didn't answer.
"Hello and welcome to The Bean, my name is Allison, what can I get for you?" I repeated the mantra with forced enthusiasm and winced at the perky lilt in my voice. The bubbles came too easily for my peace of mind.
I'd been looking at the counter, not really paying attention to my guest when his voice startled me. Like every clichéd moment, I slowly raised my gaze to his and flinched when I met his eyes.
"Jeremiah, what are you doing here?"
"I come and see you everyday."
"It's not everyday."
"But it is, Ally-girl." His lips pulled to a smile and he leaned over the counter and pecked my cheek, just like always before heading to his usual table to study until I got off. I watched him go, half puzzled and more than a little irritated. Despite that, he looked good. He always did, today more so than usual. I'd suppose because I'd told my eyes not to expect the sight anymore.
Damn Jeremiah, I hated surprises.
The walk to the car was silent, as was the ride home. I felt awkward and angry but Jeremiah looked at ease. I thought about asking him what the hell he was doing. I also thought about hitting him for being so—Jeremiah. Both seemed out of place for the moment. So instead, I decided to wait. Instinct wasn't my best trait.
We pulled up to his house and he took my hand as we trudged up the flagstone walk. My eyes traveled over his knuckles and away before I decided to focus elsewhere. I glanced around idly, noticing some things for the first time. Like the yard.
Jeremiah's mom was an M.D. and she was proud of it. The yard was one of many perfect examples. We lived in Phoenix but her yard looked like something out of a "Better Homes and Gardens—in Wyoming" magazine. It was a little sick if you thought about it.
I mused about all of the dying trees down the road a bit and the scraggly grass, wondering what it would say to the stately grass and pompous roses bending over the walk. Probably something like: Let's throw down you water-sucking bitches. I laughed and Jeremiah looked back, eyebrow raised. I smiled and ran my thumb and forefinger over my lips, locking them and tossing the imaginary key at him. Don't ask, don't tell and I don't trust you anymore.
That is, if I ever trusted you at all.
But we were only talking about roses, weren't we? Tell that to the nylons.
I pushed the door and it closed with a soft click. I tipped my head back and thought about how to get back at Jeremiah. My tongue ran across my teeth and I closed my eyes in thought. My lips curved to a smirk when it came to me. Instinct may not have been my strong point—revenge, I was fairly good at.
I turned from the door and walked to him, stopping and tracing a finger down his shirt, following the line of his chest. I caught his lips. He was still for a moment before his lips moved under mine and his hands fell on my waist.
His breathing quickened and my smile widened. I nibbled on his ear for a moment and pulled away.
"I love you, Jeremiah," I whispered.
His lips turned and mimicked mine.
"I love you too."
"Love doesn't exist." I hissed and stepped back. I was glad I'd gone this route. Hitting him wouldn't have been as satisfying.
I walked to the door slowly and threw the lock.
"Don't mess with my head, Jeremiah."
And I left—laughing my way out.
People were such weird creatures. This was my main thought as I took another lick off of my ice cream cone. I watched them walk by going about their business just like every other day. What I found fascinating was that none of them paid me any attention. They had no idea they were being watched, judged and measured. Or maybe they didn't care.
That wasn't true.
A woman walked by and I noticed her smooth down her skirt over her legs and comb her fingers through her hair. She glanced around, idly, and continued on her way. She was the perfect example.
People were like looking glasses; different colors, different sides and they'd always try to show you their best angle, but you'd never see them all. That's why they cared. It's what they did.
And I saw it all, hiding in plain sight. Here in the ugly mall with its recycled air and plastic plants, worker drones and soccer moms, no one paid attention to the pretty little waitress and her ice cream cone. Because really, she was just like them so why bother?
I ran a finger over slender, nylon-clad legs.
My skirt rustled when I stood. I took the time to smooth it down and run my fingers through my hair. Patent-leather Mary Jane's clicked on a dark green tiled floor and the echoes laughed at us.
Just like them.
7 | Page
Seeing Alice—for what she really isn't.