Smile, Cherry, Smile
I hated her, and I'd never even spoken to her. Without even realizing it, I had started to see her as some sort of angel. I had started to fell in love with her.
Rated for: coarse language, sexual themes and situations, and mature themes.
The first time I saw her, she was wearing a down-to-earth blue dress, sitting outside a coffee house with a latte in one hand and a book in the other. A man, tall, dark and handsome, was standing next to her, and said something that made her laugh. I wouldn't have noticed her if not for that laugh. It was the laugh of a person who was genuinely amused, the smile of a person who was truly happy, content with life.
It pissed me off to no end. Shut up you stupid, happy, hippy! I wanted to scream. Stop laughing! What gives you the right to be happy? But, I kept my mouth shut, at the time, at least.
After that, I began to notice her everywhere. She was always smiling; grin so wide that her eyes were squinty and narrow and I couldn't tell the color of her eyes. She always wore the most unusual clothes, had too many ear piercings to count, and was up to her elbows in jewelry, but I could not, for the life of me, figure out why I always found her in the most grungy places. A woman dressed like her should have been rich, so why wasn't she in art galleries, drinking fine wine, talking politics with men with perfect teeth?
I hated her, and I'd never even spoken to her. I hated how she was always smiling, always happy. It wasn't normal for someone to be that happy. I thought: she must be the happiest person in the world.
She sat down next to me at a bar one night, her skin glistening with sweat, all dolled up in a black and red salsa dress, lips painted black, smiling like she'd just had the greatest dance of her life.
"Hey, hon, can I get a strawberry daiquiri? Virgin?"
The barkeep laughed loudly. "Hahaha, a virgin drink? Sure, doll, sure!"
I kept my head down, my eyes shadowed by bangs. "Why?" I asked quietly.
I hadn't expected her to actually hear me, but she turned her head, smiling. "Pardon?"
"Why are you always so damn happy?" I was bursting now, my voice getting steadily louder. "Always smiling, that same, stupid, fucking, goddamn smile! What makes you so happy? This world is a shit-hole, so why are you happy? What gives you the right to be so fucking happy?"
Her smile slowly melted from her cheeks and she frowned. I'd never seen anyone who actually looked pretty while frowning. Her eyes were as warm as her smile.
She didn't speak; her date hugged her from behind and spoke for her.
"Back off, punk! Go bitch someplace else instead of ruining someone else's good time! Maybe you'll end up lucky tonight and find some drunk faggot willing to suck your cock for you. Then again, you could just go jump off a bridge and save us all some trouble!" the man leaned down and pressed his mouth against her neck. "Come on, babe."
She didn't move, though, her eyes still locked on me. The corner of her mouth twitched and curled upwards in a small smile. It was a different smile though, because she was smiling at me, and I found I couldn't hate it.
Her date pulled her away, me scowling after them. She glanced back at me once more before the crowd swallowed her. I gritted my teeth and kicked the barstool over violently. I dug around in my pockets for change to pay for my drink, but stopped when I felt the barkeeper's meaty hand on my arm.
"The smiling lady paid for yer drink, kid. Get on outta here."
I was too stunned to move for a few seconds. Finally, I tore my arm free and stomped out of the club. The rain was pouring down buckets. Who the hell does she think she is! I fumed. I didn't even see her slip the bartender any money. I kicked over a trash bin. "I don't need your fucking charity, bitch!" I screamed.
"Shut the fuck up!" A man's voice yelled from the alley. I looked up to see the owner of the voice, pants down, nailing some pretty face with a blue dress into the brick wall of the alley.
I was suddenly struck with the thought of that being me banging her into the wall, her smiling mouth wide, forming a perfect "O," skirts bunched up around her hips. The man and woman changed their positioning, so that she was knelt on the ground, palms in the dirt, ass in the air.
"You gonna just stand there and watch, or what, kid?" The man grunted.
My manhood was straining against my jeans. I slid them, boxers and all, off my hips and stood in front of the woman with the pretty face. "Suck it." I ordered. She made no protest and guided me into her mouth dutifully. I closed my eyes and knotted my hands in her hair, imagining a very different woman on her knees, sucking my dick and smiling.
Pretty face was no amateur, and I pulled my pants up as soon as I'd shot my load down her throat. I walked off without a word, and the couple remained in the alley, fucking like they were actors in a porno. I thought about the smiling woman, whose name I didn't even know. What the fuck was I thinking, imagining doing that with her? Her date had been a rude asshole, she deserved better. But what did that make me? I certainly wasn't better than her jackass of a date, I was worse. I was trash.
I popped a cigarette and tried, unsuccessfully, to light it. The rain kept the flame from catching. In the end, I just stood outside my apartment building with an unlit cigarette in my mouth, soaked through.
This world? It's not so great. It's a rotting pit of maggots. I don't think I've ever understood why people are always trying to "save" it. Why should I donate my hard-earned cash to some home-less shelter when I know they're just going to use it to buy liquor and get shit-faced? I'm keeping my cash so that I can get shit-faced. Boo hoo, some monkeys are going to go extinct; yeah, but why the hell should I care about a bunch of dumb animals?
Ah, maybe I shouldn't say that, humans are just as stupid, if not more so. I just sat and watched the sun rise from my windowsill. Everything was yellow-ish orange, like a peach. There's too much color in the world, it's tiring.
I don't believe in god. There's too much crap going on in the world for there to be a god, or at least one that cares. If there really was a god, then I want to know why the fuck he lets people starve to death, be raped, etcetera. If there's a god, then why did he let humanity rot to this point? They all deserve to die. Even me.
But… I thought, not her. She doesn't belong here; she belongs in paradise. Without even realizing it, I had started to see her as some sort of angel. I had started to fall in love with her.
It wasn't even noon yet, but I tipped back the bottle anyway and drank deeply, wiping the dribble from the corners of my mouth with the back of my hand. It was very hot; the streets shimmered like bodies of water. The people walking by were sharks that would sooner use you to their own benefit than befriend you.
I put a fresh cigarette to my mouth and fumbled around for my lighter.
"Need a light?"
Then, there she was.
She pulled out a little matchbook and struck one, bringing it to my lips. Her hand caressed my chin. The match was dropped and hissed out in a small puddle. I stared at her from behind my bangs, my eyes drawn to her ever-present smile. Her lips were neon pink today, her curved body clad in something green and beaded and decidedly East Indian. She looked like some sort of gypsy or genie.
She offered me her arm. "Mind taking a walk with me?" I barely registered the words, but I linked arms with her anyway. She was clad in all her usual jewelry. The bracelets and rings had left green bands on her arms and fingers. She had a number of small freckles under her nose and on her chin that made her smiling mouth look dirty.
"So, what's your name, anyway?" It was she who broke the silence. I jumped a little at the sound of her voice and looked away, my cheeks warm.
"Jedrek," I responded tartly. My tongue messed with my Monroe. "Ah, what… what's your name?"
Her smile never wavered. "Sorry, Jedrek, I can't tell you that."
I wasn't sure what to say. "Oh…"
She kept talking. "I like to take walks through the park in the middle of the night, and I love pistachio ice cream. I go dancing every chance I get, but I tend to dance too much and end up sore the next morning. I didn't go to college, but…"
I stared at her as she spoke about herself, bewildered. She didn't seem to mind my staring, going on about the things she liked and the things she hated. Had I been more aware of what was going on between the two of us, I would have paid more attention, but as it was, very little of what she told me stuck to my brain.
We ended up at an overpass, watching the countless cars speed by. I hunched over the railing, not looking at her, staring at the roofs of the vehicles owned by stupid, ignorant people with perfect lives. I could feel her squinty gaze on me as she leaned back on her elbows. Her wrap-around skirt was caught in the wind, showing far too much leg.
"What are you thinking about?" she asked.
I snorted. What a girl. "Jumping," only half-true. I was also thinking about those legs of hers. Thinking of ripping that skirt from her body and ravaging her senseless. But, jumping was a strong thought in my mind; what was I, a disgusting insect, doing standing next to such a pure creature?
She turned to me, laughing. "Suicide? Hahaha! Aren't you selfish! You really think dying will make things better? Maybe you'll be magically happy with none of the burden you have now?" that ever-present smile was still on her face as she mocked me. I wanted nothing more than to wipe it off with my fist. That grin softened suddenly, her eyes opening to look at me more clearly.
"Alive or dead, you're still insignificant. I'm insignificant! You're just one little grain of sand on a long, pacific island beach. If you disappear, really, no one's going to give a damn! Look at you, moaning and sobbing about how bad life is, like you matter! Maybe not out loud, but I can see it, in your eyes. If that old lady down the street dies tomorrow, are you going to go to her funeral?"
She reached toward me and took the cigarette hanging from my limp lips. She put it in her mouth and took a long, slow drag. "You wouldn't. So why the fuck would you expect anyone to come to yours?" she turned away and leaned over the railing, death stick held between her fingers.
I snarled. She hit the nail on the head, and I hated her for it. "If I'm so insignificant, then why the fuck are you here talking to me?"
Her smile morphed into a smirk. "Why, indeed. Why did I pick you when I've got a dozen other guys looking at me the same way you do, thinking about doing the same dirty things to me?" I flinched and felt myself bubbling with jealousy toward those unknown, other males.
"Why, indeed," she murmured, taking another drag. "Rush hour traffic is right down there. If you're going to jump, I ain't gonna stop you. But I'll tell you this because if I don't, it's going to bug me for a long time afterward. Whether you step forward into death or backward to continue with your insignificant little life, nothing's going to get better. The world isn't going to change to make you happy. You've got to make the change yourself. So stop your bitching and just do it already."
My cigarette was flung from her fingers, sailing through the air and down to the streets below. She grinned at me full-force, white teeth glinting in the sun. "See ya!"
She left then, hair caught chaotically in the breeze, a slight skip in her step. I didn't call her back, or chase after her demanding explanations. Somehow, it seemed a fitting end for our meeting, my perfect picture of her smashed to pieces. Not so angelic after all.
I looked down at the cars below, took a deep breath… and stepped back. The pavement didn't seem quite so gray. The bottle of liquor still clenched in my hand slipped free and clattered against the concrete. I started at the sound and glared at the offending object. I huffed and shoved my hands in my pockets, pulling out a new cigarette and lighter. The wind blew my hair out of my face. The air smelled like spilt gasoline. For a long moment, the world was nothing but me and the cigarette on my lips.
It was another week before I saw her. I walked out of the local café with a black coffee in my hand, unlit cigarette and war story in the other.
"Jedrek!" she was there, smiling as sweetly and warmly as ever. Her latte was on the table next to her, newspaper folded on her lap. She was wearing grey.
"Hey," I greeted softly. I set my coffee on her table to adjust my shirt collar. My eyes strayed to her breasts. I smirked. "How much for a hug?" I asked, pointing to the Free Hug pin on her blouse.
She laughed and stood. "They're free for today only! Lucky you, any other time, I charge a nickel per embrace!" Her arms found their way around me, squeezing tightly. Her nose was pressing firmly into my shoulder.
"That's a good hug," I told her, mouth caressing the shell of her ear, "But how much is a kiss?"
She pulled away, forefinger pressed to her chin thoughtfully. "Kisses, hmm? Normally I'd charge twenty bucks, but for you-mm!"
I didn't let her finish, shutting up those smiling, chatterbox lips with my chapped pair. I half-expected her to struggle, but she melted instead. She tasted bitter, like a kid who'd eaten grass
She was speechless for a few moments after I broke the kiss, grinning stupidly. I smirked back.
"You never did tell me your name."
She snapped out of it then and laughed loudly. "Chelsea, babe, but Cherry; call me Cherry!"
If you caught that the names of the characters used here are also in my story "Secondhand Sidekick," then kudos to you. EDIT: The Jedrek in that story and the Jedrek in this story are one and the same, though I don't know that I'll ever write anything that delves into how he got from here to there. END EDIT. I knew right from the beginning that I wanted my smiling woman to be named after a fruit, and Cherry fit her best: sweet and red with multiple uses (cherry pie, cherry ice cream, cherry juice, the list goes on), but with a hard, unappealing pit in the middle that you have to either spit out or swallow with the rest of it, because, unlike a peach or something, you can't eat around it.
Read, review, and all that jazz,