Muse

I saw you with him that night at the bar, drinking cold beer. You were in a purple hourglass bustier almost hidden in a kimono cardigan and a cabaret high waist shorts with matching corset heels. I noticed the marks on your face where he must have hit you. Again. I could see past the make-up. Seriously, why do you keep up with the pretense?

I was playing pool with the guys but you were more worth my while. You are my very own Harlequin doll, as fragile as secondhand smoke and I'm your steampunk Lolita, dressed in pinstripe biker jeans and lace crochet top concealed in a crimson military jacket, my snowy white hair tied in mermaid tail braids. Together, we belong into the arms of midnight.

Smile, darling. What's wrong? Why are you crying when I'm singing this song? Dance, my sweet. Come on. Don't be shy and sing along. Let's play slow seduction with guitar riffs and falsettos. Let's take a sip of bordeaux moscato in mason jar mugs and capture fireflies inside tea cups.

I still remember when we used to hang around that old parking lot, learning how to do tricks with a skateboard. You were so cheerful and carefree then. Your smile picture-perfect, frozen in a time when all we had to worry about were studying for SATs and finishing our essays for English class. Our favorite was art class where we were both assigned to paint a mural to cover up all the graffiti in the school gymnasium. Even with all the paint smeared on your coveralls and your long wavy auburn hair a tangled mess, you were still beautiful.

That was before your parents' hasty divorce, before your younger brother OD'd on heroin, before the hassle of hospital check-ups because your mom had Rai Stage II Leukemia. Before you met Damien. That summer, everything changed. You started to get really busy, even neglecting our painting class that almost without fail, we always went to.

Since you were pushing me away and ignoring my existence, I began to immerse myself with music, playing back-up vocals for the local ska band Mariposa. I would listen to reggae rock tunes and write lyrics the whole day. If only I could turn back time, I would rewind it to that moment when we were only twelve. We went to a butterfly sanctuary on a school field trip. That night, you tied a white ribbon on my finger and we made a pinky swear to be best friends forever. You suddenly gave me a kiss on the lips. It was just a smack but the feeling got buried inside my head for years.

That night, at the bar, I abandoned my band mates at the pool table and went to your side of the bar.

"Damien hit you again.", I muttered angrily. It was more of a statement than a question.

"Cielo, it's not what you think. I accidentally fell down a couple of steps of the stairs at home.", Lorraine explained lamely.

I looked at Damien's smug face, waiting for a reaction. He didn't even acknowledge my presence.

I grabbed Lorraine's hands and hastily went towards the exit. "Come on. Let's get out of here."

We ran in the rain and didn't stop, laughing and crying at the same time. The heel from one of her stilettos got broken. "You should really dump Damien, Lori." I told her when we arrived at the old parking lot. "He doesn't deserve you." I added. She nodded, shivering. "I know, Ci." We were silent for a while, overwhelmed and trying to take it all in. Her face was inches from mine. She raised a finger and we made another pinky swear. "Best friends?", she asked. "Forever.", I answered.

Smile, darling. What's wrong? Why are you crying when I'm singing this song? Dance, my sweet. Come on. Don't be shy and sing along. There is something about you that I can't quite place. Is it your angelic face that is the muse of this serenade?