by: Jennifer Patino
Cameron sat on her front porch smoking.
It was nearly 6 am.
She dialed Bonnie’s number and found herself unable to say anything after the sound of the beep.
She downed the last of her drink and figured it would be a good time to probably pass out right now since her head was feeling pretty shitty.
She didn’t even make it to her bed…..
* * *
The sound of the phone awoke her.
She grumbled at the thought of being face down in the doorway between her bedroom and her living room.
She walked the three steps to the phone and glanced at the clock as she answered it.
“Hello.” she sounded like a dying frog.
“Hey girl.” It was Bonnie.
There was a slight pause before Bonnie exclaimed, “Fuck him! Seriously. And why aren’t you at work?”
“I called off.”
“Maybe.” Cameron really didn’t think it was any of her business. She drank just as much as anyone else and especially when things got rough. Bonnie couldn’t be hypocritical about this one.
“Well, have you at least eaten?” she asked.
“Yeah.” Cameron lied.
She was on what she referred to as the “model diet.”
Water and cigarettes.
“Cammie, I’m coming over tonight.”
“That’s fine.” She said.
“Well, ok. Take it easy and don’t think about that dick. You’re better off.”
She nodded but then realized that was stupid because she was on the phone and Bonnie couldn’t see her.
She could though. She could see her matted reflection in the bathroom mirror.
“I will. See you tonight.” Cameron hung up the phone.
She showered for the sake of being able to cry in there. It felt good to her when her tears mixed with the water.
She put on an oversized sweater over a striped tank top and a pair of her jean capris. She didn’t even bother shaving. Who really gave a fuck anyway?
She lit a cigarette and realized it would be pointless to hang around here. A trip to the store was needed anyway. She was low on TP.
Among her many addictions, Cameron loved shopping. Most of it was pointless stuff and it was never too much at one time. It was something to do. It was something that she felt she owed to herself. It was the feeling of something brand new.
She drove through the dirty city to the nearest cheap general store.
Some drug dealer was outside and smiled at her. She smiled back but couldn’t figure out why she was so appealing, especially to guys like that.
Maybe her skinny figure implied that she might have wanted something from him, who knew?
Her signature short “punk” hair hardly implied that she’d be interested in a guy who had a grill and a pimped out Escalade.
Her black mascara and eyeliner to match didn’t either.
She wandered through the aisles aimlessly getting the essentials.
Toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, and some more makeup.
She had just discovered it when Carl left her.
He liked that she was “naturally beautiful.”
She only wore it for special occasions back then.
Now it was another story.
Pile it on like a clown hoping that it will make someone smile.
Maybe even her.
She liked makeup.
She liked being someone else.
The girl who checked her out gave her dirty looks but Cameron remained friendly. She figured it was because the guy outside was still looking at her.
Smoking his Black and Mild, watching her through the store window.
Cameron didn’t care and ignored him as he said “Hey, baby. What’s up?” as she walked to her car.
* * *
Cameron stood in front of the mirror experimenting with her new buys.
She liked the shimmery brown and green eyeshadows she bought.
She liked the new mascara. You could never have enough and it was all waterproof now.
She batted her eyelashes at herself and pretended she was Greta Garbo.
A song came to her then.
“I feel like Garbo in this late night grande hotel….”
But this was hardly a fancy hotel.
It was a shack practically and it was empty.
She couldn’t even smell him anymore.
Why the fuck did he have to call?
She replayed the message on her machine over and over again.
“Cameron. It’s me. Call me back. Let’s talk.” He left his number and then the beep signaled the next messages she had receieved that night.
They always come back, that’s what she told all her friends when they got dumped. Most of the time it was true.
Carl had left her without even saying goodbye practically.
Said relationships were too much about sacrifice and that he couldn’t handle them anymore.
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
That was nearly 9 months ago. She hadn’t even talked to him since that night. She begged him to let her prove him wrong. She didn’t feel she was sacrificing anything and felt horrible that he felt that way.
What the hell was he missing out on?
She never stood in his way and always encouraged him to follow his dreams.
“I care about you deeply. You made me who I am today.” He said.
“Then why do you sound like some bitter cynic who got screwed over?” she asked him.
“I’m not. I just know that right now I can’t do it. I’m sorry.”
That was it.
That was his goodbye.
Carl hated when people said “I can’t.”
Then there he was in all of his hypocritical glory.
Cameron snapped out of her daze to realize that the doorbell was ringing.
It couldn’t be Bonnie this early unless she had gotten off early.
She opened the door to see Carl standing there.
Time seemed to stand still.
“Hi.” he said.
“What?” Cameron didn’t know why she was so bitter. She just was.
“You never called me back.” he said.
“Listen, can I just get some of my stuff. I left a few books and things I’ve been missing.”
“It’s me your missing, Carl. Admit it.”
He sighed. “I’m not going to say either way.”
She opened the door slightly, letting him in.
He went straight to their bedroom.
No, it was hers now and she really didn’t even want him in it.
“Everything’s different.” He commented.
“No shit.” she said as she lit a cigarette.
“You wear makeup now?” He asked staring at her.
She just stared back.
“It looks….really nice…” he said. He meant it too. There was no sarcasm there.
He looked around as if confused. He didn’t even know what he was doing there really and she could tell.
“It’s under the bed.” she broke his train of thought.
“The box. Everything of you. It’s under the bed.”
She walked out into the living room and poured herself a nice Sailor Jerry rum on the rocks. She didn’t even add Ginger Ale anymore.
She could hear him shuffling through the box. He didn’t say anything but the energy of whatever he was thinking was booming loudly in her ears.
After a few minutes he came out carrying it.
“I guess I’ll just take the whole thing.”
“Leave me Whitman.” she said. “That’s all I ask.”
He nodded and set it on the table. The book was right on top as she had expected. It was the one memory he couldn’t have, reading it under the covers aloud to each other at night. She was claiming that one as hers.
He walked over to her and she tensed up.
“Can I hug you?” he asked her.
“What for?” she turned to him, tears in her eyes now.
“Because you look like you need it.”
“Not from you.” she said bitingly. He practically flinched.
He hugged her anyway and she hugged back never wanting to let him go. But she didn’t show it. She was too damn proud.
“I want to keep in touch.” He said. “Whenever you’re ready.”
She nodded and lit another cigarette.
“Until then, take it easy, Cammie. And remember that I love you.”
* * *
Bonnie was giggling over some story about her boss.
The weed was definitely settling in. She giggled a lot when she was high.
Cameron set her drink down and took a hit off of the joint that Bonnie passed to her.
She was glad for it, really. She didn’t want to wake up with another headache and no matter how much Cameron drank, weed would always ease any effects of it.
“You wear too much goddman makeup, girl!” Bonnie laughed.
“Shut up. I like it.”
Cameron never told Bonnie that Carl had been there.
She didn’t even want to believe it actually happened.
Just a bad dream.
The whole thing was.
Maybe she’d wake up and Carl would be next to her.
“Let’s go sit on the porch.” Bonnie suggested. “It’s a nice night.”
That porch was her best friend besides Bonnie and the booze these days.
The sky seemed to be a mauve color. It was really tripping her out.
As they smoked cigarettes, Cameron noticed the smoke rising against it.
“Purple haze.” She said out loud.
“What?” Bonnie giggled.
“Maybe this is what Hendrix was talking about.” Cameron pointed at the sky.
“Maybe.” Bonnie said but she breathed it all in just as Cameron did.
Although it was difficult at times, breathing was all that Cameron could do.
Because the truth of the matter was that you could be breathing without actually having to be alive…..