She Dims the StarsBy: Amber L. Johnson
Who is Audrey Byrd?
Ask her ex-best friend, Cline Somers, and he’ll tell you that she’s the girl who inexplicably stopped talking to him when they were fifteen years old, leaving him with nothing but questions and bitterness for the better part of the next six years.
Ask his roommate, Elliot Clark, and he would say that Audrey is the enigmatic girl who randomly showed up outside a window one day and turned his whole world upside down in a matter of moments.
Ask Audrey herself and she’ll tell you that she has no idea who she is, because her entire life is a lie. However, the older she gets the more she needs answers about who she really is.
What she discovers is a tangled web of secrets better left in the dark.
Some truths do more harm than good.
To the ones who see the light in the darkness.
No matter how small the beam may be.
I'm restless. Things are calling me away.
My hair is being pulled by the stars again.
- Anais Nin
I hate that skirt.
I’ve hated that skirt since the first day we met. She was wearing it and I swear that’s what I was staring at and not her face. But she caught me looking, and instead of telling her how ugly it was, I ended up getting her a drink and then partially carrying her back to my dorm where she proceeded to pass out. I, being the gentleman that I am, took off the ugly plaid thing and put her to bed. I left her a note, reassuring her that I hadn’t touched her, and she was more than welcome to the Gatorade my roommate and I had in the fridge.
Then I fell asleep in my ratty desk chair, and I guess, maybe, I figured I’d wake up to her screaming about being in a strange bed only halfdressed. But instead, I was startled awake by her poking me in the forehead. She’d stolen a pair of my pants and was holding that pleated atrocity in her hand while she handed over her number and asked me to call her sometime.
And now that she’s broken up with me, she’s dancing in the middle of a circle of guys. In that ugly-ass skirt.
It’s an affront to the year we were together.
It’s the final middle finger; the last fuck you to our dead relationship.
I wish I had burned it.
I’m too caught up in my hatred of yellow and orange plaid that I don’t hear the voice in time to sidestep whoever it is that’s trying to squeeze between me and the sticky tiki bar I’m leaning against. When I turn too quickly, all I see is a flash of pink hair and two arms flying toward my face. I’m quick, though, and before this pushy person can make it all the way to the floor, I’ve got her by the waist and am hauling her up, smashed against my chest, face to face with her face full of hair.
The strands begin to fall away and dark eyes emerge, squinted and leering as she wheezes out a barely audible, “Thanks.”
“No problem.” I start to let the stranger go, but she presses in closer, her mouth angled toward my left ear.
“I can’t feel my lips. Can you?”
I pull back a bit, my attention on her mouth as she presses her lips together and then apart a couple of times, like she’s testing her theory.
“I’m not wasted, so I can feel my lips just fine.”
She grins, and suddenly her hands are on either side of my face, and her eyes are in direct alignment with my own. “I didn’t ask that. I asked if you could feel my lips.” Before I can even come back with an answer, she’s kissing me as hard as she can, gripping the back of my neck. Her tongue tastes like fruit, and she scrapes her teeth along my bottom lip when she lets go. Pushing up on her toes, she speaks into my ear again. “Let’s run away.”
I’m so caught off guard that the words are stuck in my throat, and I gently push her back to appraise just how drunk this girl is. But the way her eyebrow is raised and her lips are pursed leads me to believe she’s not half as bad off as she was pretending to be. Her nose wrinkles a little as she tilts her head and sighs.
“You just cost me five bucks.”
“Five bucks if you kiss me. Ten, if you say you’ll leave with me. Now how am I going to buy the next round?” She shrugs and pats my cheek before dipping below my elbow and disappearing into the crowd.
I stare for way too long, trying to pinpoint where she’s going to emerge in the sea of bodies. But she never does. And for one fleeting moment, I forget that I’ve just been dumped.
My plans for the summer had not included sitting in my roommate’s car for a four-hour drive so we could stay at his mom’s house for a couple days. He planned to do his laundry and grab some old furniture she’s offered to give us for our apartment. Our couch has a distinct odor, and she won’t visit because of it. I don’t mind the smell at all. Probably for that very reason.