A new exclusive feature on Cultured Vultures, Taylor Laura Jablonowski delivers her first edition of Burning Harmless.
I saw a homeless guy get ruined by a car once. I was ten, maybe eleven-years-old. It was the end of June, I think. I don’t know. I’m really bad at keeping track of things like that. I remember being pissed off that the boys could be shirtless, but I couldn’t. I mean, the fat ones had more tits than me, so what the hell?
I guess I’ve always been an asshole.
What I remember best is the air; it was heavy, hard to breathe. I was in a group of kids waiting for the ice cream man. The crudely modified van crawled down the street, wiggling in the heat like a massive white caterpillar, humming children’s songs coarsely to itself. It would’ve been sort of funny if the ice cream man had hit the bum, would’ve made a great promo for the local evening news at the very least, but a blue Sedan with a peeling tint job and a dent in the driver’s side door was impatient and passed the van. The sedan hit the homeless guy. He went flying. His face hit first. It bounced once. Then his body smacked the ground. I thought it sounded like the time I accidentally knocked a box of spaghetti over at the grocery store; a dry, effortless snap with no echo. I remember that the lady driving might’ve been some sort of Hispanic and she was wearing the ugliest purple eyeshadow I’d ever seen. He might’ve died, but I don’t know. Like most of the other kids, I ran.
There are times I realize that I haven’t learnt to deal with my problems any better than when I was half my age.
“Mia, you’re being stupid.” Sol’s steps were calm. He was always calm. It irritated the fuck out of me. I’m being stupid? I’ll show him stupid.
“I’m going to keep walking just because you said that.” I didn’t look back. I wasn’t even sure if he heard me, but he didn’t give up. Everything was still, sleeping under the orange of the street lights. The houses stared at the clones that faced them. The cicadas made ugly, hissing noises; invisible until you looked close at the trees. Even then, it was just their transparent carcass-shells, clinging like ugly litter.
“You’re cold. Please, let’s go back to my house.” Sol was right, another thing that he always was, but I’d never tell him that. Not in a million years. Besides, me acting like this didn’t surprise Sol at all, I knew that. He knew I could rationalize walking down the street at three in the morning, in just my underwear. I thought it was totally appropriate for this situation.
We walked a couple more blocks before he let himself catch up to me. Sol placed his jacket around my shoulders. I shrugged it off, let it fall on the sidewalk. He still didn’t sound irritated when he told me, “I don’t know why you’re so mad at me, but you can’t just parade around with your ass hanging out, Mia.” “Watch me.” I reached behind my back, unhooked my bra, and flung it into the road. I kept walking. My underwear were next. They came off less eloquently because I didn’t want to slow my pace. I threw my hands up as I tossed them and gave him both middle fingers.
That was childish, my brain said. My brain and I have always been two separate entities. I snapped at myself. I was well-aware that I looked ridiculous.
Sol must’ve known I was silently arguing with my brain, because he sighed, “You’re insane.” Insane. The word stung. I faced him for the first time since I stormed out of his house, my arms crossed over my chest. I don’t know why I made the effort to cover myself.
Mimicking his calm voice, I pointed out, “That was the first god damn thing I told you about me. Don’t sound so shocked.” Sol didn’t say anything. He was searching my face. I hated when he stared at me so blatantly. Mostly I would catch him with my peripherals. I didn’t like unnecessary eye contact. Especially when he was so handsome. It was hard to be mad. Fuck, I was so mad at him. He was an idiot. “I’m going home.” I declared. He still didn’t say anything, just handed me his jacket. I took it this time, but only because headlights came around the corner. I thought about jumping in front of them until I realized I probably wouldn’t die, and I was too vain to be deformed. So I kept walking. If I was going to kill myself, it would have to be more creative than that.
Sol followed me the entire way. I knew he did it to make sure I got home safe, but I was just glad I got to slam the door in his stupid, annoying, handsome face.
I went to sleep and dreamt that I got hit by a blue Sedan with a bad tint job and a dent in the driver’s side door. I woke up before my body hit, but the memory of the dry spaghetti snap sound still made me vomit. I think, it could have been all of that whiskey. I couldn’t tell anymore.