by Elise Oddity
On the kitchen counter was a pair of angry-looking scissors; the plastic handles were thick and black, the blades narrow collections of light. Monika bought them to be her 'sewing scissors', but last night we chopped her hair with them, and dyed it for good measure.
"Usually a chick does this with her girlfriends," she told me. "We do our nails and shit. But I'd prefer that it's you, if that's okay."
I was the only one she knew in the city, and she was still too scared to look for anyone else was more like it. She simply didn't have any girlfriends here yet. But still, I didn't mind. She could find shelter in my hellhole of an apartment as long as she paid for the food she ate, and she could sleep on my mattress as long as she didn't try to fuck me. Though I did want her sometimes, and badly, enough of that went on when we were younger; it would've been too weird to start up again. We all know how one old habit leads to another and another…
And then you're done for.
Nonetheless, the two of us must have looked like some kind of hallucination when my brother came home that night. There was a floor-length mirror propped up against the wall, bright-blonde hair swept into one corner, empty bottles on the table and Monika, who's head was dripping with red dye.
Gabriel/Gabe/Gabby, my ambiguously-sexual and ever-cynical older brother, hated Monika's guts. Even so, he kept his mouth shut. He could see how she was right then, and what picking a fight would do to her.
"Whatever's left is mine," he said, gesturing to the bottles. "You two have had your fill."
Much later, when Monika's hair was to the cut and colour of her satisfaction she passed out on the floor; it wasn't that she was too drunk to make it to our bedroom (just a few metres away), just that she wasn't sober enough to care. Only then did Gabriel come out of the closet-turned-bedroom he'd retreated into.
"How long is she staying?" he demanded. "I thought it was supposed be only a few days."
"She's having trouble finding a place."
"I don't really care," said Gabby. Even without any particular emotion in his voice, his intent came clear across. "She has a week. Any more time with her here would be unhealthy for all of us."
"Why? Just because she's someone we used to know? This isn't me digging up the past, I'm just helping her out," I said.
Gabriel was at this point crouched beside her on the floor, investigating. Curiosity was the only temptation he could never resist. Though he didn't touch her, he stared at her intently.
"She hasn't changed," he told me. "She's still seventeen. I heard, you know; she can't even look in a mirror unless you're holding her hand. I don't want excuses for her right now. I except she's said otherwise to you, or will soon enough, but she's that one that'll be tearing you apart. That girl was deranged before you met her, despite whatever acts she's put on, and I know you don't want to hear it, but you can't fix her. She doesn't want you to fix her at all, Adam."
All of this put both of us into silence; I think Gabriel was a little shocked by it as well. The hands hanging uselessly at my sides started to fidget, and I began cleaning to appease them, to make it look like there was a reason I wasn't answering.
"I thought I should tell you," he said, moving away from her slumbering body now.
"Well, fuck you."
"You're better off."
In the morning, when I went through this situation for the twentieth time in my head, I decided I should have screamed, "And you're just as bad as she is!" I should've woken Monika, dragged her to the bedroom and had sex with her. It would've gotten it all out of my system at least. But I was silent then, gathering what bottles were empty in the corner without all the hair. I handicap myself that way – it's so damn hard for anything to actually survive the journey out of my mind and down to my mouth! My lips are paralyzed, so I fall back on glares and moody grumbles that Gabriel had deemed childish.
At my feet, Monika slumbered on, oblivious to the dye-stains on her forehead and the drool on her cheek. When she first came to me again, she seemed an entirely new person. But I was tired and the effect was wearing off. I wanted her to fuck me so I could hate her again and not feel bad about it, and not keep myself on edge with thoughts soaked in her.
This was not going to end well. But I was happy having her around, I guess.
"I'm going back out," Gabriel said finally. "Can't sleep."
"Party on, Wayne," I muttered, and my brother smirked at me. As charismatic as he was, my brother got anxious around people he didn't know and couldn't handle crowds. The hardest partying he'd be doing would be sketching people in bars, if he even got that far.
"This place better be clean when I get back," he said. "You should probably put away the scissors too, lest she wakes up before you do and gets ideas."
I didn't think she would do anything, but I hid the scissors in a drawer anyway, and then put the mirror in Gabriel's room before I crashed. The idea of leaving them out just to spite Gabriel, or just to live in just a little peril was tempting, but not enough. What memories I'd kept of us assured me of that. The fact that I could clearly see Monika with those angry and desperate-looking blades sticking out of her pale forearm, doubled over on our kitchen floor as she screamed for me, at me, and then pushed me away – and that I consider all this – was not at all surprising. Considering.
The fact that all things end, with your consent or not, was something Gabriel taught me to rely on when we were just kids. Watching Monika as she sank further and further down without reaching bottom, still struggling in loose ends so many years later; this made me feel motion sick. So maybe I was just tolerating her until the old habits to kick in, until she'd up and leave or we found a solution to slap on her like a band-aid and she wouldn't need me anymore. Either way, seeing it end seemed well worth the damage.