Ji-Ji.Guerrera

Archive for June 2013

Monika stared at me with a taut grin stretched from ear to ear, her lips looking as if they were carved into her face. She was sprawled on a queen size bed, her body curled snake-like around the silky blood-colored sheets. She had on short jeans and a tube top, but they were hidden beneath the exorbitant cover. So she looked naked, practically, with only her pale skin revealed, her bare legs peaking out the side of the bed, the silk tucked underneath her white arms. White on red. Like a painting of a Grecian tragedy. Aphrodite on a bed of roses. The queen of thorns, the thorned queen.

“Come lay beside me,” she beamed.

I could hear the ripples gently tap the base of the yacht, the cool breeze and the silence that often accompanied dusk coming through. No one was manning the thing, it stood dead on the water, undulating with the current.

“Shouldn’t we get back now?” I queried.

I didn’t like that we were so far from shore. What if we got attacked by sharks or worse, a storm hit and we drowned. That was the thing I hated most about water. No matter how powerful of a swimmer you were, there was always a threat of drowning. I swallowed. My throat felt parched and leathery.

“Sit and relax,” she ordered. “Have a drink. Talk to me. You saw Mari at the harbor?”

I laughed and scooted onto the bed beside her, instantly forgetting my fears.

“She kept talking. I didn’t know how to shut her up.”

“What theorist was she on about—wait wait, let me guess—Bahktin.”

Monika said Bahktin with an exaggerated accent—emphasizing the “h” in this really guttural way, as if she were hoarking out the sound—all the while flipping her long red hair behind her shoulders with her chest perked out.

Maybe it was her accurate imitation of the pretentious arts student or that she seemed so comfortable and confident at that moment, all traces of any worry in her life eliminated from her features, her grin so effortless and smooth. Whatever it was, her blasé attitude, her calm, collected milieu made me feel at ease, careless, relaxed. I forgot my name then, forgot my shame at what I looked like and who I was. That was her effect: she made you feel important, singled out from the hoards of Torontonians. When she looked at me, I felt normal, human, de-shelled, unravelled, understood. I bent to her side and took her glass, downing her fruity wine, feeling a warmth spread through my nerves.

“Actually, uh, ‘The—Angel of—Progress’?”

She snapped her fingers. “Walter Benjamin. I should have known, she’s obsessed with that guy.”

“She wouldn’t stop talking ‘bout it.”

“Probably cause she had nothing to say really. Oh, she thinks she’s so smart, always going on about this theory that theory. Joke’s on her though, everyone thinks she’s hiding behind big words and textbook men. Dead white men. She knows nothing.”

“It’s her thing,” I said, feeling as if I had to defend Mari. “Can’t fault her for it. She’s worked hard on that scholar identity. And anyway, everyone’s got their niche. Their trademark of some sort. The thing they’d like people to see them as. Their very own identity”

“Everyone needs something, eh.”

She placed her empty glass on the table beside her and sunk further into the plush mattress. At that moment, something about her changed. Or maybe, that something was revealed to me. It felt as if the room got larger and she shrunk. How little she appeared, how much she change from just moments ago. Her head impressed itself onto the pillow. She bit her lower lip, her forehead wrinkling. She seemed forlorn, withdrawn into herself, her eyes deep in thought, gazing into the ether.

I wanted to hold her, searching her for any indication of what was wrong.

“What?” I finally demanded. “Talk to me.”

She looked at me, folded her arms across her chest and grinned a derisive grin. “I’m just thinking how nice it’d be to not feel so used for once. Wouldn’t it be nice? To be able to carve your own future. To say I wanna be a scholar and do just that.”

It took me a while to figure out that she was talking about herself.

“I don’t know. No one ever has that control though, to choose what they want in life. I think—well, I feel like for a lot of people it’s about convenience.”

“Mari isn’t a puppet,” she snapped, her brows scrunching to the center of her forehead,  her lips pouting. “She doesn’t have her brother controlling her. Sometimes I wish he died with, with my parents. He’s not my real brother y’know. I overheard my parents talking this one time. Mom cheated on dad with this Jewish guy. That’s why Miles has that Jew fro. He’s part Jew.”

She looked around the room, first at the flat sixty inch screen mounted on the wall before us, then at the gold lined picture frame above the glass window, perpendicular to where we sat, a translucent veil from the cool evening scenery. Once again, I was reminded of how far from shore and security we were, planted on pure water, rooted into Danger’s mouth.

“What really bugs me though is how fake I am. About everything. How stupid and fake I am. Why don’t I just—leave?” she spat, speaking more to herself.

“Aren’t you running now?”

“Yes. And look how far I’ve gone—in my brother’s yacht.”


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