Dane tapped away on her laptop, making the most of her brain cells before the block sets in again. She wasn't ready to cop out on her current story now, seeing that she made a pact with herself on the earlier stages of her work.
To write about other people was hard. Making it historically accurate was harder.
What even made me set the plot in 1949? She thought.
Nevertheless, Dane made it a goal to keep the story running—she wanted it to be a series—until she decides to end it all. She already had an ultimate ending in mind, but she has to keep it in the back for a long while.
A knock on the door disrupted her train of thought, and the strings of ideas were completely severed. This frustrated her since she can't have the same string again. She turned to the door, knowing who was on the other side. Dane didn't want to stand up, but she was no longer capable of writing more. With repressed curses and a disgruntled sigh, she told her invaders to come in.
It was Tin-tin and Franco. Tin-tin, a petite brown-skinned girl with glasses that dominated half her face, was beaming at Dane as if she had something to say that she couldn't hold in for much longer. Franco, Dane's fair-skinned, taller and older friend, was the same. Dane could only roll her eyes at her housemates.
"Hey Dane, we're off to a club," Franco said. "Wanna tag along?"
"No, thanks, I'm good," Dane said dismissively.
"Come on...it's gonna be fun..." Tin-tin interjected with a sly smile.
Dane tapped away, unaware of two pairs of hands reaching out behind her. The next thing she knew, she was dragged from her seat.
"Hey! I could at least put some pants on!" was all she could say after that.
Three years of living with them have been a mix of highs and lows for Dane. They all had their share of pet peeves with each other, such as Franco's unnecessary splurges on designer items that would make him broke for the next two weeks, Tin-tin's tendency to lose one job after the other for offensive behavior, or Dane's laziness with the house chores. The rent-to-own apartment they were living in was registered under Franco's name, and the trio agreed to chip in equal shares for the rent and utility bills. As for the basic necessities, they agreed on a turn-based approach, with Franco as the first, Dane second, and Tin-tin the last.
However, Tin-tin's unemployment shifted the divisions, and the two had to adjust. They were frustrated with it at first, but Franco couldn't bring himself to kick Tin-tin out since she was a close friend and a big help around the house—a field which Dane couldn't seem to shine in.
Franco, on the other hand, is a very extravagant spender. It came to the point that Dane had to hold his credit card to keep him from buying another music album from abroad so he could pay his share of the rent. There was the other time where he spent two-thirds of his commission pay from his article on the local paper, and the remaining third had to be stolen and hidden by Dane. Other than that, Franco made sure he and his housemates were living comfortably in their apartment.
Dane had issues as well. She often skipped on house chores, goes out in ungodly hours of the night, and has a short temper. But on her good days, Dane can be relied on for almost anything from house repairs to fixing the Wi-Fi modem. She also looks out for her housemates as if they were her own family, although she doesn't show it that much.
That day was one of Dane's "slightly good days"—the kind where she has nothing to worry about except what to add to her stories or what she should read next...and a good number of dark thoughts. She was trying to forget, hence the long hours in front of her laptop. Sometimes, the approach would work, sometimes it doesn't, and it spirals Dane into a vortex of regret and frustration. The last time she had this kind of day was back when she had just realized that she wasn't straight.
They arrived at the nightclub, which was already packed with people. The three managed to get seats at the bar, where Franco ordered vodka shots for each of them. Dane slumped on the counter in irritation.
"Seriously, Dane," Tin-tin told her. "You can't stay in your room the whole time!"
"Gee, you're so right," Dane said scornfully.
Dane looked away from the bar and turned to the crowd behind them. There were a few tables close to the dance floor, and Dane lazily glanced here and there to fend away her bad mood. Her eyes then landed on a table just across them, and she was taken aback at what she saw.
Standing at the table was a girl about the same age as her, with long hair that Dane guessed was dark brown and skin as white as cream. At first Dane thought she was wearing contact lenses, because the irises were of a different color. But when the girl scratched her eyes for a bit, Dane confirmed that she probably had hazel eyes.
Hazel. Hell, it could've been blue.
The girl wore a yellow blouse underneath a black blazer, and a pendant hung around her neck. Dane kept her eyes on the girl for quite a while, until Tin-tin noticed that she was staring somewhere.
Tin-tin turned her head to where Dane was staring. "Hey what're you even looking at—ooh."
Tin-tin deemed the girl pretty, then she turned to Dane with a sly grin. She almost laughed when she saw Dane's fazed expression.
"She's pretty, isn't she?" Tin-tin asked teasingly.
"W-what?" Dane sputtered, turning to Tin-tin with wide eyes.
Tin-tin turned to Franco. "Hot girl with black blazer, solo at the tables," she told him.
Franco shifted his seat to take a look at the girl, ignoring Dane's protest. He, too, was impressed at the girl.
"She's got stuff, Dane," Franco commented. "And her collarbone...wow. You'll have a grand time planting hickeys on that since you're a sucker for collarbones."
"What?" Dane blurted out, hot flashes reaching her cheeks.
The vodka shots arrived, and Tin-tin took one.
"Ask her out, I dare you," Tin-tin told Dane.
Dane glared at her. "How am I supposed to do that? I can't just go over there!"
Tin-tin put down her shot glass and glared back.
"Listen," she said sternly, as if she was revealing Dane's ultimate destiny. "Walk over there. And converse. Like a normal person. You got this."
Before Dane could refuse, the two had already shoved her away. They sent her off with words of encouragement, and Dane started walking, thinking why she was even consenting to her friends' shenanigans. But Dane decided it was best to get things over with so that they'll eventually leave her be.
The crowd was getting thicker by the minute, and Dane had a hard time looking for the girl. She squeezed through the throng of inebriated "self-entitled scumbags who waste their parents' money instead of doing something productive"—that was what she called most of them at that moment—and managed to get through without pissing off any of them.
Her efforts were in vain after all, since when she at last reached the table, the girl was gone. Dane felt her heart sink, but this rang an alarm in her head.
Who is she anyway? She's just some girl with...nice collarbones—
Dane shook her head, begrudgingly agreeing with Franco's comment about her weakness for exposed collarbones. She left the table and made her way back to her friends, this time walking at the sidelines instead of squeezing through the crowd again. Franco and Tin-tin were expecting her with eager eyes, as if they were waiting for their Christmas presents to be opened.
"So?" Tin-tin asked with a smile.
"She's gone," Dane said nonchalantly, hoping that Tin-tin wouldn't notice the slight frustration she was holding.
Apparently, Tin-tin never noticed, as she began to show utter disappointment with how it turned out. She then quieted down and walked back to the bar with Dane and Franco.
"Let's just drink the disappointment away, eh Dane?" she said.
"I'm not drinking, one of us has to be sober behind the wheel," Dane told her. "And I'm not disappointed. You are."
Tin-tin laughed. "Okay, you got me," she admitted. "But here's the thing—that was an opportunity."
Dane looked at her questioningly. "For what? Opportunity for what?"
"Meet someone new?"
Tin-tin sighed as she picked up her shot glass. "Look, Franco and I have been thinking," she began. "It's been quite a while since 'The Incident', and you're using your job to forget—"
"Are you kidding me?" Dane roared, cutting Tin-tin off.
Anger rushed up Dane's head at that moment, realizing that her friends had hit a spot that shouldn't be tampered with.
"Did you seriously think that is going to help me?" Dane continued, this time her voice had raised another level. "That asking a random girl out of the blue is the best thing to do?
"I appreciate that you want to do something about it," Dane said, her voice now toning down. "But this...this is something I have to do on my own."
Franco, who was silent the whole time, cleared his throat.
"How selfish of you," he began. "If you think you have to do this alone, what makes me and Tin-tin then? Spectators? You may think that we're forcing you to move on, but we aren't. It's been almost a year since 'it' happened, and you still can't pull yourself together. You may not show it that much, but we can see through you. We want to help you, so don't shut us out."
Dane was quiet, realizing that Franco and Tin-tin actually had good intentions. She looked down on her glass and sighed.
"I guess I shouldn't keep my problems to myself, then," Dane said.
Tin-tin placed a hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry, Dane. We got your back."
But at that night, it was the other way around. After a few hours (and two bottles of vodka), Tin-tin and Franco had their sobriety hanging by the thread. Tin-tin was getting more obnoxious, spitting profanities here and there as she spun outrageous tales of former racist co-workers and kiss-ass supervisors. Franco was close to completely losing it as he laughed maniacally at Tin-tin's stories. Dane was trying her best to keep her composure, but deep inside, she was cringing and fervently wishing that the ground would swallow her up.
Dane looked at her phone to check the time. It was close to two in the morning, and she had to go to work. With a huff, she stood up from her seat and picked Tin-tin up, hoisting her as if carrying a basin by the waist. Franco followed Dane out of the club, and Tin-tin was hollering about how she only had a few drinks. Dane threw Tin-tin at the back of the car and helped Franco in his seat at the front. Dane took her place at the wheel and started the engine.
"Thanks for not drinking, Dane," Franco said groggily. "Or we wouldn't be able to go home."
"Once you picked up that first shot of vodka, I knew I had to take the wheels, so, you're welcome," Dane said.
Franco chuckled. "Gee, Dane. What are we going to do without you?"
Probably lie down at the gutter because you're too drunk to move, Dane thought to herself.
Santa Monica Dream was playing on the car's speaker as she maneuvered the wheel. Tin-tin and Franco were already fast asleep in their seats, and Dane knew she had to prepare remedies for the next morning's hangover.
She was about to change the song on the player when she noticed a motorcycle beside their car. Dane casually turned to see who the rider was, but she was not prepared to know who it was.
The rider may have worn a helmet and a pair of riding goggles, but the pendant tumbling on the rider's chest was good enough for Dane to confirm who the rider was.
It was the girl from the night club, who mysteriously disappeared when Dane was making her way towards her table.
I can't just honk at her. Shit, what do I do? Dane turned to Franco, who was sleeping like a baby. Just when I needed help...these two are flat-out drunk.
The motorcycle was inching away from the car, and Dane knew it was too late to make a move. She watched as the motorcycle gained speed and went ahead of them. The motorcycle disappeared in the horizon, and Dane leaned back in resignation.
I guess it wasn't meant to be.