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(A description of what I'm doing is here.)
8810 / 29661 words. 30% done!
Colleen gave me the number of the tattoo chick, as promised, and she even managed to hand it over with barely a cracked smile. And of course, now that I actually had the number in my hand, I began to feel the reality of what I wanted. I'd talked to people with tattoos before, and according to them, they hurt. Plus, I had no idea what I wanted to get, or where. What could I emblazon on my person that would be a true, accurate representation of who I am? Something I'd want on my skin forever? Maybe I'd made a huge mistake. Maybe I didn't really need a tattoo to own my "it" after all.
I stuck the card with the tattoo artist's number in my pocket and tried to forget about it. So far, Colleen was the only person who knew about my tattoo aspirations, so if I backed out, I only had her wrath to endure.
Which is of course when I heard "Hey, Mads, Colleen says you're getting a tattoo?" from over my shoulder.
"Hey, Sheena." Fantastic. If Sheena knew, the whole school knew. It's not because Sheena's a busybody or a gossip or anything like that, it's just that she loves to be in everyone's business and make sure everyone knows it. Which I guess kind of makes her a gossip. But she's really sweet about it. I didn't confirm or deny the tattoo thing.
"That's incredible. You know, my brother just got one on his foot? Said it hurt like a bitch. Do you know what you're gonna get?"
I shrugged. "I haven't really thought of that yet."
"Well, you better think of something before they get you in that chair, right?" She gave me a light shoulder punch. "You going to Miriam's party tomorrow?"
"Yeah, are you?"
"I don't know," Sheena said, sucking in a sharp breath of air, as if fueling up to tell me her life story. "It's the same day as this sailboat thing my mom's taking us on, and we'll be back home by then and everything, but I'm worried I might be exhausted. Have you ever gone sailing?"
I shook my head. I'm not much of an outdoors, commune with nature sort of person.
"It takes a lot out of you. Hey, what did you think of their set last weekend? Didn't Brian's sound editing just take it to this whole new level?"
Oh yeah. I'd forgotten that Sheena was on again with Brian, Interrobang Widdershins' new laptop player. Laptopist? Laptoper? I'm surprised she didn't hear about my most shameful ditching of the whole event.
"Nope, I actually, uh, missed that show."
"Really?" Sheena seemed surprised. "You never miss one of Miri's shows! Was everything okay?"
Way to stick me right back in my hole of shame, Sheena. Thanks endlessly. "No, I just...something came up."
"Okay, well, I gotta get to class, but you should really catch them next time!" She bounded off. It kills me how she said "I gotta get to class" as if I were the one holding her up and not the other way around.
I still didn't have anything to give Miriam for her birthday. Honestly, after seeing Bret's finely crafted artwork, I felt like anything I got for her would be shit in comparison. Luckily, Colleen and I were going shopping after school. Since Miriam was talking to us again, we'd had to come up with an excuse to not invite her along, which probably tipped her off to what we were doing. I really hope she's not going to use how long we waited to go gift shopping as an excuse to ignore us again.
** ** **
"How about this?" Colleen held up a t-shirt with a rather gruesome picture of roadkill on it.
"Really?" I said, raising an eyebrow.
"What? She likes all that blood and death stuff, doesn't she?"
I pulled the t-shirt out of her hands. "Miri doesn't wear roadkill shirts. She likes pretty things."
"Ohhhhhhhh," Colleen nodded, browsing the racks. "So she likes more pretty depictions of blood and death?"
"Yeah. Like this." I held up bottle of perfume shaped like a coffin with gold vines wrapped around it. The scent was called "Black Wisteria." "Except this stuff is forty bucks and I don't forty bucks love Miri. But you get the idea."
Colleen nodded. "Hmm. So maybe we should stick to the death socks?"
"Do you remember when we used to make each other all of our presents?" Colleen asked, as she picked up and put down several gift possibilities.
"Yeah, but we were, like, five, and also we didn't have our own money."
"Right, but it always seemed so much more personal. Like we put thought into it."
"So why didn't you make Miri's gift? Is that what you want to do?"
Colleen shrugged. "I don't know, I don't really have the time to make her anything. Plus I'm not creative when it comes to black lace. But just picking something up that she could have bought for herself...I don't know."
I rubbed her head, messing up her hair. "Awww, Colleen, are you getting all weepy for the old days, when things were simple?"
"Shut up," she said, swatting my hand away. "Maybe, okay? What do you care, Miss Tattoo?"
I wondered how long it would be before she brought that up. She eyed me, waiting for me to say something.
"You're not having second thoughts, are you?" She prodded.
"No, I just haven't decided what I want yet. What about this?" I held up a red and black striped necktie with a silver fleur de lis overlay prints. Colleen snatched it away.
"You're just trying to change the subject."
"Give that back. It's only ten bucks and I could totally see Miri in it."
"Really? Well then I'll get it for her. Thanks!" She held it away from my reach.
"Damn it, Colleen, I found it, give it back!"
Colleen waved the tie around behind her, holding me back. "Not until you admit you're having second thoughts about the whole tattoo thing."
Sometimes I really hated her. What difference did it make to Colleen what I admitted or didn't admit? I just wanted to get a gift for Miriam and go home. I struggled some more, but Colleen was stronger.
"Ugh, fine, I'm having second thoughts, are you freaking happy now?"
She smiled sweetly at me and handed me the tie. "Yes!"
We did some more shopping in silence, and then she asked, "So why are you changing your mind?"
"I'm not changing my mind, I'm just a little nervous is all."
"Are you afraid of the big, scary needle?" She taunted.
"A little, okay?"
"And you don't even know what you want to get."
I snapped. "Look, Colleen, what is your deal? Why can't you just lay off about it? It's my thing anyway, I can change my mind if I want to."
"Geez, okay. You were just so gung ho about it before." She picked up a black tiara with diamond rhinestones and lined in black feathers. "This?"
"Up to you. I don't see Miri doing the princess thing, but maybe she'd wear it at shows."
Colleen checked the price tag. "Eight bucks. Sold. You ready to go?"
"More than you know."
** ** **
One of the things I love about Miriam is her inability to throw a boring party. Her parents are fairly well to do, they have a fairly decent stack of cash to their name. So number one, her house is one of those large, open, dreamy things that you fantasize about someday living in and inviting all of your movie star friends to. Number two, she knows how to cater. I don't know if she actually makes all of the snacks she provides at her shindigs, but she certainly lays out a good spread. I only mention this because it's where I spend most of my time, planted firmly by the chips and dips. And rolls of bread, meat, cheese and who knows what else. I love those little rolls. I feel so exotic when I eat them.
I suppose it could be argued that number three, she doesn't skip on the decorations and number four, since she has all those musician friends, the tunes are always pretty kickin'. But I'm going to stick with the food. Right on for the food!
"Hey, Mads!" Miriam squealed upon opening the front door to me. She looked intesely costumed as always, layers upon layers of bright and black mixed expertly on each other. Her makeup caked heavily, yet beautifully, making her look like she had been born with silver swirls in the corners of her eyes. "Presents go over there, and everyone's hanging out in the living room. Oh, and Wake's here." She winked at me, shutting the door behind me. My stomach involuntarily rolled over itself. Stupid stomach. I hadn't seen Wake since the whole bumping into him, four word incident. I put my gift on the table Miriam had indicated, then carefully sidestepped the living room in favor of the snacks.
I loaded up my plate slowly, because I never really know how to handle myself at parties. I always feel like everyone else got an instruction manual the day before, and they've spent the last twenty-four hours prepping themselves for optimum party behavior. Once my plate had no more room on it, and its flimsy paper structure began to bend under the weight of all of my selections, I made my way to the living room to join everyone else.
I spotted Wake right away. It's involuntary with me. I never intend to search him out. It's like my eyes have some kind of radar and always go straight to him. It makes me feel a little skeevy, to be honest. I scaned the room for someone else I know besides Miriam, but Colleen wasn't here yet, and the rest of the people belonged to Miriam's goth and musician crowd. Cue typical out of place feeling.
Do you ever people watch? You know, just sit back in a corner and observe what's going on? I heard a lot of writers and actors do it to get a better feel for how different people act in their natural habitat or whatever. I do it because I'm too scared to get out there and be watched myself. If I'm in the background, no one's watching me. I can slip into the shadows and watch without participating, being there without actually being there. So that's where I defaulted myself, with my huge plate of appetizers, content to be the silent observer until Colleen showed up, or the cake came out.
Or anyway, that was my plan. Until I heard a, "Hi, I'm Alec."
I jumped, nearly choking on a pepperoni stick. "What?"
"Alec." The boy held out his hand, presumably for me to shake. I appraised him. He fit the musician mold more than the goth, though he had aspects of both in his scruffy attire. His hair posessed the ever infuriating hanging in front of the eyes thing, and again I found myself wishing I could just shove it behind the ear. But at least it wasn't dyed black. It was a dirty blond, and not terribly greasy. He wore an Alice Cooper t-shirt that had clearly seen better days, and hung loosely over his skinny frame. I realized I didn't recognize him from school.
"Uh, hi," I said, offering my hand for a shake. His firm grip startled me. I'd taken him for a limp fish kind of guy.
"Do you, uh, have a name, too?" He prompted.
"Right, yes. Madeline."
"Madeline. Nice to meet you."
I nodded and gave a pathetic smile. I tried to focus intently on my cheese and crackers, but Alec kept talking.
"I saw you over here, you know, alone, and I thought I'd come say hi."
More nodding from me, and a weak "Hi!"
Alec looked just as bewildered as I felt. He pointed to my huge plate. "Good eats?"
This sucked. I just wanted him to go away. I'd been perfectly happy not interacting with anyone, why'd he have to come over and ruin it by being polite?
"You, uh, go to Cambryn?" he asked.
I nodded. Again. I felt like a damn bobblehead.
"Yeah, that's where Miriam goes, too."
I fought the urge to give a condescending "No duh."