Home > All the Rage(9)

All the Rage(9)
T.M. Frazier

“Have you heard from Cody?” my mother asked, continuing without waiting for me to answer. “His mother says he’s doing great at Brown and that he has a girlfriend. She says it’s pretty serious and that they are sharing an apartment after the next semester ends. It is so sad you two aren’t close anymore.”

Well Moe, what really happened was that I left my best friend in the middle of the night after we’d had sex and jumped on the back of a bike driven by a biker named Smoke, who was kind of my mentor.

I waited for the feeling. That pit-of-your-stomach thing people say happens when they get jealous or upset over someone else’s happiness.

Nothing.

“He deserves to be happy,” I said, which was both saying nothing and everything all at once. As much as I needed my freedom, Cody deserved to be happy. Thankfully, my mother didn’t push.

“What about boys over there?” my dad shouted. “Anyone catch your eye?”

My mother chimed in immediately. “Or, you know, we would not care if you brought a girl home. Love is love, as they say,” my mom sang, sounding very rehearsed.

“I’m not a lesbian, Moeder,” I stated flatly, although sometimes I thought it would have been better if I were. An attraction to anyone would be much easier than trying to explain or lie about having an attraction to absolutely no one.

“No, no, of course you’re not. See, Thomas? I told you she wasn’t a lesbian,” my mother said to my dad, as if the idea was all his. I knew better. “Although, it’s still okay if you are. I mean were.”

I adjusted my ponytail, tightening the elastic at the base and waving off the long blonde strands that always attached themselves to my fingers and everything else my hair came into even the briefest contact with. “I just haven’t had time to meet anyone and you guys know that moving away was about finding me, not finding someone else. I’m young and not in a rush,” I said, recalling the billboard for a cruise line where I’d gotten that line from.

I could almost hear their relief through the phone, not because I wasn’t gay, my parents really wouldn’t care either way, as they’ve told me a million times. No, their relief was because I was living my life and because I knew they were always listening for traces of the preteen girl in my voice, in my actions. The one with anger issues who was morbidly curious. The one who left her closet doors open at night, hoping the monsters would come out and take her home with them. The one who hadn’t yet learned the art of the lie.

Or the art of the kill.

Half the time I think they went along with the shit I fed them, not because they necessarily believed me, but because it was just easier.

Every time I spoke to my parents, which was daily, it only proved to me that leaving was the best decision for all of us. There was no pain in their voices anymore. Their previous worries about my mental state had been reduced to the worry any parent would have being separated from their child. I liked that kind of worry better than the kind that constantly asked the questions. Is she going to hurt someone? Is she going to hurt herself? Why doesn’t she FEEL like other people feel? Not to mention that the one-girl show I was now actively participating in was way better than being dragged from doctor to doctor.

No matter what I was going through, no matter the looks or the arguments or the constant evaluations, I never blamed my parents for who I was or what I’d become. They were never the problem. They were loving and kind and gave me everything I’d ever wanted. Except the freedom to be me. To explore the things I’d had to keep hidden and buried around them. To hone my skills. To pursue a life outside “the norm.”

“You don’t know how happy that makes us, Mijn Zoeteken,” Mom said. “Hopefully you’re not working too much and have had a chance to explore the city. Is Paris as amazing as you thought it would be? Is is better than Denmark?” The alarm on my phone dinged in my ear indicating it was time. I lay back in the tall grass. Holding the phone with one hand, I squeezed the metal triangle on the detonator with the other. Within seconds, the ground beneath me rumbled and shook as the building less than half a mile away exploded into the night. I watched in wonderment as the sky above me lit up with bursts of fiery shrapnel better than any Fourth of July fireworks show.

The aftermath of my work floated down from the sky and I watched in quiet reverence. What I did was more than just work.

It was fucking art.

Lost in my thoughts, I almost forgot about the phone to my ear until Mom cleared her throat. The ground gave off one last death rattle, indicating the building had fallen. Plumes of orange smoke billowed into the night above me, blurring the stars in false grey clouds.

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