SiobhanSiobhan Fitzpatrick was a sixteen-year-old girl who had very particular tastes. She liked imported cheeses, beige coats, cigarettes, and burgundy lipstick. She disliked people with greasy hair, smelly things, and the beach in the summer. Siobhan started smoking cigarettes when she was thirteen. Nobody in her tight-knit family, or anyone else for that matter, had any idea that it was going on. Her father was a psychiatrist, a simple and stern man who insisted on overmedicating the children. Siobhan's mother was a frantic Irish homemaker. Her hobby was creating aromatic soap bars and selling them to the neighbors.
Siobhan hated the soaps and she hated medication.
In some ways she was slightly shocked at being the offspring of such delusional people. She spent her time in her bedroom, the single window wide open. She smoked her nights away, using the pot of geraniums on the fire escape as her ashtray.
Siobhan thought she was plain looking, as it were. She had straight brown hair that she had attempted to abuse many times in her youth, chopping off random chunks in an attempt to look less like her father. She had the unfortunate privilege of having muddy blue eyes, like dirty pond water, thanks to her mother. She had a petite nose and sharp, angular features. They did not match the rest of her body, which was almost shapeless (her mother often referred to her as the equivalent of a human paper doll). Siobhan looked in the mirror and saw an awkward teenager in the middle of developing into an even more awkward adult. In public, Siobhan tried to subdue her inner awkwardness by never speaking unless spoken to. She always looked angry as well as always looking sad.
Siobhan liked to tell herself she had no feelings, or no moral compass. Of course, this was just a simple way of attempting to convince herself that she was slightly different than the average angsty adolescent.
Her only friend was a vertically challenged Galician boy from upstairs; his name was Constancio and he was wonderful.
His parents worked at a museum dealing with Hispanic Art and Siobhan remembered her childhood mostly consisted of Constancio chasing her through the abandoned North Building, nearly knocking over priceless paintings and sculptures, not a care in the world.
These days when Siobhan and Constancio were together it was mainly a matter of nasty silences and failed small talk. Perhaps a shared satsuma, if the weather was nice.
These meetings would last just shy of an hour and at the end Siobhan would just tuck a strand of hair behind her ear and give him a look that said 'this is over'.
On Siobhan's seventeenth birthday, the family organized a party and invited Constancio and Siobhan's brother, Andrew. Andrew was eighteen and an idiot. He was obsessed with his physics teacher and wrote disgusting things about her in his journal (diary).
On this birthday a chocolate cake was ordered from the Chinese bakery on 148th and Broadway. This cake was covered in catastrophically corny flowers and hearts, and was emblazoned with "Happy Birthda Shavan!" Siobhan made no reaction to this, although she desperately wanted to. She shut up and ate the cake. It tasted like hard-boiled egg covered in caster sugar.
After the party, however, Siobhan had the experience of getting her wisdom teeth yanked out. For months her jaw had been aching and she hadn't figured out why it did until she stuck her finger to the back of her mouth and felt the pointy bits of her new teeth emerging. Distraught, she called her dentist and managed to make an appointment. Siobhan hoped that scheduling the appointment on her birthday would save her from a party, but her parents insisted.
As Siobhan walked to the dentist (four blocks away) she wondered what it would be liked to be under sedation. On the Internet, of course, she had seen videos (probably faked) of people acting nutty after getting teeth pulled out. It was amusing but she wasn't sure if it would be good for her. In any case, she told her mother to come pick her up afterwards.
When she got there, a regiment of oral surgeons shoved enormous pills down her throat, rubbed her arm, and got her on an IV drip of the sedative. After the dentist told her to close her eyes and put her hand in a fist, everything became cloudy. The small Asian woman told her to 'open her mouth, honey' and then everything went black.
When she came to, Siobhan was in a bleary room, with mustard yellow walls and a single light fixture on the ceiling. She could hear muffled sounds but nothing was very clear.
"Siobhan, are you all right?" her mother's voice jangled loudly like church bells in her brain. For a moment Siobhan had no idea what that meant.
"Yes…" Siobhan slurred. She raised her hands. They looked so pretty, twisting and turning in between themselves. Then she saw the light. Her mother's face was wavering in front of it. Siobhan pointed. "You're in there, mom…"
A deep, slow laugh responded, "But I'm right here!"
"Oh. So you are."
Siobhan looked in front of her. The surgeon, wobbling between being two surgeons and one surgeon, stood at the door. Siobhan used her free hand to try and push him back together.
"How many are you seeing of me, two or three?"
Laughter, again. What was so funny?
Going home was a blur. They came home in a taxi even though their house was so close. Siobhan felt dazed the entire time.
When she arrived home, feigning exhaustion, Siobhan went upstairs and locked her bedroom door. With bleary eyes and much trouble, she lit a cigarette and began to read the first few pages of the gift she received from Constancio, Pride and Prejudice. After getting a little over halfway through chapter one Siobhan closed the book and threw it across the room. Her eyes were having trouble focusing, still. It hit the opposite wall with a dull thump.
"Love..." She mused. "What is it good for? Nothing." Siobhan giggled maniacally for some reason. How deep, she thought to herself with a smile.
The early spring breeze blew through the window, putting her short hair in slight disarray. Siobhan shivered and reached for her beige peacoat, an unnecessarily expensive piece she found at a flea market. She found it hard to put her hand onto the coat itself. She missed many times. Eventually, she grabbed onto it and she put it on over the nightgown her mother had helped her slip on. A motorbike raced by, the light reflecting on her ceiling. She gasped a few seconds later. Her perception of things was so warped it took her a while to figure out what was going on. She gazed without much interest at the other buildings. Every time she looked out her window she hoped to find some sort of scandalous occurrence going on in the windows. In the ten years in which she lived in her building, she had yet to see anything.
As if her passive prayers were answered, a light on the eighth-floor apartment across the street turned on. Siobhan's attention was immediately drawn to the bright light directly in front of her. She stared and stared. A girl approached the window. She was wraithlike, with waist-length blonde hair. Her bones looked as if they were attempting to break free of her skin. She was wearing a black shirt and a pair of jeans. She stared out the window at something below her. Siobhan was unable to see what she was looking at. The girl moved to her bed, and Siobhan craned her neck to see more. Her cigarette was dropping ashes onto her sheets. Siobhan, at that moment, was too doped up and confused to notice (or care, for that matter.)
Siobhan had never seen this girl. She had stared into the eighth-floor window for years; it was directly in her line of sight. The girl was making her bed, with meticulous detail. She patted it down and smoothed the blanket to make sure it was flat. The pillows were perfectly placed on the bed so they looked "casually tossed". The girl straightened out all the things on her bedside table, then moved away from Siobhan's view. Siobhan wiggled her toes and looked away from the window for a moment, deeply fascinated with the movements of her toes. Then, she looked back. The girl was standing in front of the window again. She seemed to be looking at everything. Siobhan would usually take the time to wonder if the girl was leaving but for some reason her mind would not stray from the images she was seeing.
Suddenly, as if in a robotic, jerking dance, the girl began to remove her clothes, one piece at a time. She unclasped a necklace, removed a ring. Then she slowly removed her shirt. She seemed to contemplate tossing it on the ground, but decided against it. Instead, she moved away and folded it on the bed. She did the same with her jeans. Her shoes were tucked just beneath the bed. Siobhan's eyes were closing, but she willed them to stay open.
Siobhan was completely mesmerized, and the girl exited her room. Before Siobhan could close her window, however, the girl returned. For a fleeting moment Siobhan thought she should stop her nosy intrusion. The girl was wearing a white dress and fairy wings, like the ones of a child. She was barefoot. Tiptoeing to her bookshelf, the girl pulled out a book. Siobhan didn't have good enough eyesight to tell what it was. However, she could tell that it was by Austen judging by the cover, which was identical to her copy.
The girl said something. Something like 'Love, love, love.' She closed her eyes and opened the book. Pulling out a worn piece of paper, she set it on top of the perfect pile of clothes on the bed. Siobhan didn't know what was going on. Her brain's functions were too slow today. She wasn't used to it.
The girl, with some effort, opened her window. The fairy wings fluttered with every movement she made. The girl cautiously hoisted herself out the window and onto her fire escape. She stood on the fire escape and stared out at the city. The girl spread her arms and pretended she was flying. The light in her room was flickering.
Siobhan lost interest. She was so tired. She smashed her cigarette into the soil of the flower-pot and buried it among other butts. It was like a little cigarette graveyard. She drifted to sleep.
At eleven the next morning she woke up. The sunlight was filtering through the window and onto Siobhan's face. She realized that her mouth was swollen and in immense pain. She poked her cheeks and noted that they were puffy. She assumed that she must have looked like a chipmunk. For a moment she lay in bed, exhausted and headachey due to the dull thumping pain that was coming from just behind her molars. She suddenly sat up.
"The girl…!" Siobhan murmured. She pulled the shade away from the window and looked. She counted the floors on the opposite building: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight—Siobhan could see through the window of the other apartment. For a fleeting moment she cursed the human race for not having developed eyes with a zoom function. But then she noticed—the room was empty. No bed, no dresser, no bookshelf, no fairy girl. In fact, it was completely unfurnished. It looked like it was up for sale. With a dejected sigh, Siobhan dismissed the entire exciting thing as a dream.
As she sat in her room in silence, she couldn't help but think that the dull thumping in her head kind of sounded like someone speaking…repeating something. Four letters, she supposed. She lay back down in bed and rested her puffy cheek on the pillow. Siobhan Fitzgerald was a seventeen-year-old girl.