A Story by Natalie

Just a beginning, but I have an idea where it's going.



There are times when I wonder who I am. I look in the mirror, and the person I see is a stranger to me.  Her face is the shadow of elegance, but her eyes are black. Empty, it would seem.  A minefield, millions of tiny shards of broken glass that still reflect who I thought I was going to be. They glitter and shine. You could call it beauty, if you didn’t look too closely. �" Jacelyn Renee DeWalt (1980-2012)


Jacey takes me to the most beautiful places.  I swim in a sea of splendorous sequins and voluptuous velvet.  Fairies in fishnets stand on pillars of stone. Antique mirrors looming under neon lights cast strange shadows under hollowed eyes admiring their own art.  Their bodies are the canvases. Everyone sparkles with sweat. Paint. Piercings. And leather. Lots and lots of leather.

“I can’t believe you brought me here.”

                “You could’ve stayed home.”

                “I like to know what you’re getting into,” I tell her. Glancing at the crowd I add, “Maybe I shouldn’t ask.”

                “Would you lighten up?” Jacey snaps  open her lipstick and runs it around her mouth until it looks like a target, “It’s just a club. No demons lurking in the shadows. Just people.”

                I snort, “Drunk people.”


                “Immoral people,” I nod my head toward the crowd that has half-mooned around platform stage, all glazed eyes and inked up flesh. They are just the voyeurs. The stage is filled with bodies. Industrial dance music pounds down from the speakers so loud it has long since strummed the rhythm of my heart and is now distorting my senses. “Probably drug addicts and God knows what else. What’s the draw for you, Jace? Why do you come here?’

                “To feel alive. Maybe you should try it.”




Edgar has always been flighty;  never knew if he wanted in or out. When we first had the little pet flap installed, he spent the first week sneaking inside on tenuous paws and darting back out again moments later with ears jet back and a scramble of claws on linoleum.

                They say pets are a lot like their owners.

                “Your cat is tearing up the sofa,” I say sternly.

                Jacey isn’t listening. She’s painting her nails some unholy shade of purple and singing Paparazzi by Lady Gaga.  An energy drink and a bag of chips sit open on the tv tray that has become her permanent clutter station, although they might’ve been there for days. Jacey’s not much for picking up after herself. I grit my teeth and wait for her to respond, no longer feeling a trace of guilt for having left her at that club last night.  She must drop a trail of bread crumbs from the apartment because she always seems to find her way back. Her hair is a matted ball of yarn hanging down her back, partially covering her tattoo. Droplets of purple polish mark the trail across her knee from bottle to finger. Not two feet away, a lean bodied tabby is furiously ribboning the side of my couch.

Fighting the urge to slap the side of her head, I instead clear my throat and train my voice mimic that of our mother, “Jacelyn Renee!”

                One brow raised, Jacey pursed her normally full lips into a thin line. A wordless challenge.

                “Your cat?”

                She reaches over the pile of discarded clothing and magazines to flick Edgar A. Poe on the nose.  He scurries around the corner, tipping the tv tray with his back feet as he disappeared.  She catches the bottle of polish expertly, but the food winds up on the floor.

                “Why don’t you get him declawed?” I ask, eyeing the mess.

                She shrugs and goes back to her nails.

                “I’m serious. Don’t ignore me.”

                “Don’t you know that’s inhumane? How would you like it if I surgically ripped out your fingernails?”

“I’ll show you ‘inhumane’ if he doesn’t quit destroying my furniture. ”

“He’s just a cat, Emmy.”

“I was talking about you.”

“Oh, ha ha.” Her tone is dry, “Fine, but it’s going to cost like fifty bucks.”

“Are you going to clean that up?”

“Clean what up?”

Exasperated, I spread my hands out and burst, “Your Doritos! The puddle of red dye number five that is seeping further into my beige carpeting as we speak!”

Jacey looks inquisitively at the floor, studying the specimen of cause and effect in seeming appreciation its uniqueness. She frowns, “My nails are wet.”

I scrub at the stain with spray on spot remover with Jacey’s legs arched over me like a bridge while she does her toe nails. She smells like day-old sex and cotton candy body spritz.

Jacey is everything I hate without ever knowing why. She is a burbling fountain of emotion with no logical thought at its source. She does as she pleases without the slightest consideration for how it might affect anyone else. She chases her whims with ruthless perseverance, only to later cast them aside. She has never worked or paid for anything; things have always been handed to her. She is late hours and loud music, glitter and sweat.  Her lies are crafted from the clay of my truths. Jacey is gorgeously disgusting and disgustingly gorgeous. And she is a part of my life, like it or not.

If she notices me glaring at her, she doesn’t let on. My reminders to throw her trash away and hang up her clothes roll down her shoulders with easy shrugs.  Weighing her vast capability to deny her own imperfections against her complete disregard for others, I decide that it’s probably the latter. She is bumbling through another off-key rendition of a rock song with impeccable recollection of its crude lyrics. Even Edgar has shoved his oblivious, fat head into the empty Dorito bag and is running around in circles trying to find his way out.

I shake my head and walk out, muttering, “And take a damn shower. You stink.”



The alarm on my phone goes off at 5:40 and again at 6:00 a.m. I fumble for it by the crack of blue morning light coming through the blinds and free myself of the tiresome noise. Beside me, Aaron is tangled in our cotton sheets like torture binds, wrapping around his middle and stretching over one ankle. I stifle a laugh at seeing him that way, unrestrained by the stringent rules of appropriate behavior. He’d have hated it.

I routinely start a pot of coffee and fix myself a bagel, thankful that school is finally out for the summer, freeing my morning routine of jostling my son, Corey, from his bed. If only teachers were granted the same courtesy. We still have another week of meetings and classroom teardown. Having stalked off to bed, still angry with Jacey, I’d forgotten to pack myself a brown bag lunch. The cafeteria isn’t open this week. I grab the debit card from its envelope on the refrigerator instead, scratching a note to Aaron that I need it for lunch. With the alteration to my workday routine, he’ll most likely understand. As long as there’s hot coffee. Everything goes a little more smoothly with Aaron when he has his coffee.

Nine months a year, I love my job. It’s only these beginning and ending weeks, filled with office politics and reviews of policies and procedures we knew in our sleep, that I ever dread going into work. I’ve been teaching full day kindergarten for six years at an elementary school in Woodbridge, which is a bit of a drive from our townhouse on the outskirts of Columbus. With cutbacks to the public education system, teaching jobs aren’t easy to find. I’ve talked about trying to find something local, but honestly I don’t mind the drive. It gives me time to think. To assess. Sometimes it seems those early morning hours are the only space in my head that isn’t filled with other peoples’ thoughts and agendas. I can drink my coffee, listen to the music of my choice, and plot out my day.

Five minutes into my commute, my cell phone rings.

“Do you want to go to Cinci?”

Damnit, Jacey.

“What for?” I ask skeptically.

 “There’s a job fair down there.”

“Yeah? And what else?”

“Nothing else,” she feigns purity without bothering to hide her guilty laughter, “God, Emmy. You always think the worst.”

I don’t respond.

“Ok, fine. A guy. So?”

“Come on, Jacey. Don’t.”

“He’s different though. You’ll see.”

“I can’t just … What about Aaron?”

“Bleh. He’s your problem.”

You are my problem.”

“I’m serious. This one’s not like the other guys. You’re going to love him.”

“Ok. For one thing, all guys are the same. No exceptions. They have different faces, different voices, different … other stuff. But rest assured, they are all self-serving, unscrupulous a******s.”

“Not Matty.”

Matty?” I choke, spitting coffee on my blouse.

“Well, his name is Matthew.”

“Then call him Matthew,” I say, rubbing my, now wet, face with the back of my hand, “There are some names that shouldn’t be shortened.”

“You are such a controlling b***h.”

“Thank you. Did you meet him online?” I pose the obvious question because it goes nicely with my disapproving tone.

“No!” she exclaims with insistence, “Not really. Yeah, I talk to him online a lot, but I actually met him at a show.”

I roll my eyes. Jacey is a regular groupie for a local band who call themselves Carnage Carnival. She hasn’t missed one of their shows in two years, never mind that they’re all the same. I went along with her a few times when she first got into it, just to see what all the fuss was about. A modernized glam metal band, they are very professional, right down to their flashy image and cocky attitudes.

“At The Brink?”

“No, the one before that. At Lovell’s.”

“You said he lives in Cinci?”

“North of.”

“And he drove all this way to see a show at Lovell’s?”

“Well, he knows the band.”

And there it is.

“No way,” I reply, “We’re not going.”

“What? Why?” Her mock innocence spills through the phone connection and drizzles down my face. I have to wipe it off.

“You’re pathetic. You’re just doing this to get in with that singer, what’s his name?”

She is instantly defensive, “I could totally get Casey if I wanted him!”

“For a night,” I inform her, “That’s all the longer any girl has him.”

“He’s not looking for a relationship,” she explained.

“So, what? You’re using this guy Matthew to get close to Casey.”

“That’s not true. I really like Matty �" Matthew.”

“Oh, I bet you do. You really do like every guy who tells you you’re gorgeous. That’s what makes your s**t so believable. God, Jacey, I can’t believe you’re still doing this.”

“Look, I’m going. I don’t need you to babysit me. I just thought we could do a road trip, like, for old time’s sake. But if you trust me to take the van…”

“You need to get a different vehicle.”

“I know,” she says dismissively, “But I can’t get one before tomorrow, so I’m going to need the van.”

“You don’t even have a license.”

“I’ll use yours. I’m practically your twin.”

“Evil twin,” I mumble, “Nobody’s going to believe you’re me.”

“How do you think I got into Lovell’s?”

“Damnit, Jacey!” I sigh, “What am I going to tell Aaron?”

“The job fair, remember?” Although I’m sure it isn’t possible, I think I hear her wink.

“You’re such a manipulative, lying b***h.”

To which she gives our standard response, “Thank you.”

© 2011 Natalie

Author's Note

Shifted entirely to present tense. Not sure about this yet but I'm having fun with it.

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**I meant NOT shift back and forth**

Posted 10 Years Ago

It feels kind of fragmented, but I am sure if you added more the fragments would come together a lot better. It is a well written piece, as usual. :-) Present tense is very stylish and fun, but difficult to keep up through an entire story. I know it was a challenge for me the times I attempted to use it. It works for the story if you can keep up the tense and shift back and forth. Can't wait to read more!

Posted 10 Years Ago

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Added on July 14, 2011
Last Updated on July 14, 2011




Writing is very much a hobby for me, but it's something I truly enjoy doing. I hope to get feedback that will help me improve my skills and produce better quality work. more..

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