Chapter 22. Blow up your life




There are two types of girls who move to New York.


One girl you’ll find standing in midtown, her mouth agape, eyes big like a Bratz Doll staring into the dizzying display of neon and billboard; her brain vibrating, silently screaming:


I belong here.


I belong here.


I belong here.


But then a man with dirty fingernails and a Joker’s grin will swoop by and snatch her knock-off Balenciaga right out of her trusting little hands. He’ll tear down the street, holding her entire identity between the grip of his thumb and forefinger. And by the morning, she’ll be booked on the first flight back to Carolina.


Or maybe she’ll simply stumble over a rat in her prom stilettos. That’s demoralizing for reasons beyond the rat.


Often it’s an audition that breaks her. A cattle call for a low-budget horror movie with a poorly-written script written by misogynistic film grads who harbor resentment toward their mothers. And as she sweats in the stable of thousands of girls — girls as ambitious and as gorgeous and as unique as she — a sobering realization will wash over her: I’m nothing but a speck of drug-store glitter in a sky of stars.


But then there’s the other girl.


Same shit happens to her. But she chooses to stay. And eventually, she learns to stop flaunting her designer bag (even if it’s a fake) at night, alone in Time’s Square. She’ll learn to stay the fuck away from Time’s Square, in general. She’ll eventually decide to ditch her small-town stilettos for a pair of big-city boots. She’ll accept that rats in New York are as rampant as the competition and she’ll stop fearing them. Or more likely, she’ll still be scared shitless of both, but she’ll figure out how to exist in the fear.


The girls on Jane, are the latter.


*


It was Christmas Eve and Violet and Knife were standing on the corner of Sixteenth Street and Seventh Avenue, shivering in fourteen-degree weather.


Violet stared into her black Mary Janes. “I didn’t think it was going to be this hard to catch a taxi.”


“Fuck,” Knife fumbled nervously in the pockets of her black leather jacket. “I forgot cigarettes. Do you have one?”


Violet stuck a freezing cold hand inside of her tattered Balenciaga and unearthed a Marlboro. It was covered in black eyeliner. “It’s got makeup on it, but it still works?” She forced a smile.


“This cigarette is you,” Knife laughed, plucking it out of Violet's hands, popping it into her mouth. “Messy but deadly.”


“Yes. But —” Violet kept her eyes fixed into the ground, “you still can’t resist smoking it.”


“I’d smoke it if I could find a goddamn lighter.”


“I don’t think I have one, but I’ll check” Violet’s fingertips grazed the inside of her bag. She felt a lipstick. A couple of crumpled receipts. Her pink Nokia flip phone. And then something plastic. “I do have one! Christmas miracle for this Jewish girl.” Violet was one of those girls who never had a lighter.

“Wow, it’s the prettiest shade of pink I’ve ever seen,” she admired, passing it to Knife. “I wonder how it ended up in my bag of all places.”


Knife lit the end of her smokey-eyed cigarette and inhaled. “I’ll miss you.” She exhaled.


Violet turned around and faced the window of her local bodega. She watched Rita, the neighborhood yenta who’d lived in Violet’s building for over thirty-five years, gossip with Frank, the bald-headed man who’d run his family’s bodega for over twenty years. She thought about the time she’d accidentally sliced her palm with a kitchen knife while tearing open a package after a bottle and a half of wine. She was only eighteen and didn’t have money or health insurance, there was no way she could afford a trip to St. Vincent’s hospital. Frenzied, drunk, and unsure of what the fuck to do, she’d run down the stairs of her six-story walk-up and into that bodega. Frank had acted annoyed with the scrawny teen girl bleeding all over the freshly-mopped deli floors, but within minutes was wrapping up her hand with medical gauze, instructing her on how to stop it from getting infected.


“Clean it with antibacterial soap and water. None of that Neosporin crap, you hear?” he’d lectured in his thick Bronx accent. Every day after that Violet had stopped by the bodega to report on the status of her healing wound. Frank always wanted to look at it, no matter how gruesome the state. When it finally scabbed over, he smiled proudly. “Kid, what did I tell you about the simple soap and water trick?” He’d given her a pastrami sandwich on the house for being such a good patient.


Violet’s heart ached thinking about Frank. She’d miss him. “I’ll miss you too,” she finally answered Knife, watching her flick cigarette ash onto the pavement.


“I could go with you?”


Violet peered up at Knife who was half a foot taller than her. She stretched her arms long, so they reached Knife’s face. She touched Knife’s cheek with a lovely, lavender-painted nail. Hipbone brushed against hipbone.


A heat radiated between them.


They kissed slowly at first. Like they were performing in slow-motion, for some new-age, downtown one-act about lesbian love in the 80s. They savored the inside of each other’s mouths. Until their bodies said: Performance is over. Let’s fucking ravish each other.


The kiss went from slow and gentle to fast and vicious. Violet bit Knife’s lower lip. Hard. Knife grabbed Violet by the hair. Hard. Violet brought Knife’s hand to her mouth and ran her tongue and sucked her fingers. This was Knife’s weakness. Violet knew this.


“Are you testing me?” Knife mumbled. She felt her knees buckle and her nipples stiffen. “Because you’re not going to win,” she smirked, shoving Violet against the sliver of exposed brick between the bodega and the wine shop.


Violet leaned into the wall. She pulled Knife’s body into hers. “Fuck me. One last time,” she whispered into Knife’s ear. “So I know you’re real.”


Knife paused for a moment. She furrowed her brow and averted her eyes up and to the left. As if she was weighing the pros and cons of fucking Violet. One last time.


Violet felt sick with anticipation, desire, fear of rejection.


Knife let the tension build and build and build. Until she caught a glimpse of Violet’s mauve lips, pouting, her big golden eyes, staring up at her, longingly. Knife couldn’t take it anymore. She looked around. The street was mostly empty. She slowly slid her hands up Violet’s dress. It was fourteen degrees, but Violet wasn’t wearing tights. She traced the outline of her underwear before working her way beneath the flimsy lace fabric. Violet was wet. “Ask me to fuck you again?” she whispered, sliding her finger easily inside.


“Fuck me,” Violet begged.


Violet knew what Knife needed: to be wanted. To be in control. And Knife knew what Violet needed: to want badly. To be out of control.


Within minutes, they had dragged Violet’s heavy purple suitcase up six flights of stairs and were in her twin bed fucking each other’s brains out.


*


Gabriella decided not to go home for Christmas this year. It was the first time in her entire life she wouldn’t be on Long Island for the holidays. She told her parents she had to work, she’d be home for New Year’s, but the truth was she couldn’t face them. She couldn’t look them in the eye and admit the truth. That they were right. She wasn’t suited for the New York game. She’d lost. So many things. Her first job. Her first best friend. Her life-long confidence.


Aunt Valentina had decided to stay with Gabriella through Christmas. She told everyone it was so “poor Gabriella wouldn’t be all alone for the holidays” — which was partly true. But it wasn’t the whole truth. The real reason she didn’t want to go back to Long Island, was because she was afraid if she left the city — even for a long weekend — she’d never muster up the courage to come back. The last time she’d taken the LIRR home to Bayshore for a short vacation, she’d stayed twenty-five years. Because the truth was, whenever she was there, she felt ashamed. Of what? She wasn’t exactly sure. Maybe it was because she was nothing like the people there. Or maybe it was because, beneath the layers of mink and Chanel number 5, she was exactly like them.

And it certainly didn’t hurt that Serafina had invited her and darling Gabriella over for a seven-course Christmas dinner in her uptown Penthouse. It was about time Val had a glamorous holiday. She’d slurped down enough spaghetti at her great Aunt Joyce’s house in Islip to last a lifetime. She’d earned fucking her caviar.


But tonight — before the glitzy Christmas Dinner — they were to attend the annual Christmas party at Dolly’s.


“Come on you big ole’ dyke!” Valentina hooted, pounding her fists against the steel door of the bathroom. “Didn’t anyone ever tell you dykes aren’t supposed to take long to get ready? Throw on a sports bra and move it, lezzie.”


“Didn’t anyone tell you that house guests are like the dead? You can smell them rot after three days?” Gabriella yelled back, carefully adhering glue to her lash line.


“Oh, I’m a guest?” Valentina playfully cooed from behind the door. “What are you a WASP? I’m FAMILY, BABY!”


Gabriella snickered and took a sip of her drink. She checked her teeth for red lipstick and twirled out of the bathroom door, two glasses of prosecco, three sets of false eyelashes, and half a bottle of Miss Dior deep. She grabbed a studded McQueen clutch, threw an electric green faux fur cape across her spray-tanned shoulders, and batted her Venus Fly Trap eyes at Valentina. “I’m ready.”


Valentina who had been sweating in her mink for the past thirty-minutes minutes waiting for Gabriella to emerge from the bathroom, rolled her eyes. “Are you really ready?”


“I’m not ready to face my jobless future, but I sure am ready to get fucked up at Dolly’s,” Gabriella popped a fresh piece of Juicy Fruit into her mouth and began to chomp. “So let’s get the fuck out of this dump pretty please?”


“Finally! You admit it! Your place is a dump!” Auntie Valentina belted. She turned on her gold pumps and linked arms with Gabriella. Auntie and Niece, both queer and teeming with dilapidated Christmas cheer, clip clopped all the way down the stairs and into the night.


*


Gianna pointed her finger at Jack like a gun. “I told ya, Jacky, ya just don’t shit where you eat,” she fired slowly, each word a fresh bullet.


“Would you shut the fuck up? She’s right over there.” Jack pulled the hood of her sweatshirt over her eyes and slouched further into her seat. Instead of sitting at her usual spot, front and center of the bar, she was tucked into the back table of Dolly’s. It was a dusty corner of the bar void of light, where old, bitter lesbians went to die. The truth was Jack would rather die than risk an awkward confrontation with Catalina, who was busy mixing cocktails behind the bar, in a sexy black tube top and red velvet Santa Claus hat.


Gianna sighed. “You think she don’t know you’re here?”


“I don’t think she saw me.”


“Will you get a grip? Of course, she saw you. For starters, you look like you’re about to rob the place.”


“G. I don’t ask for much, but I’m going to ask you. Can we smoke a goddamn cigarette?”


“Only if you tell me what kind of shit happened between the two of youse.”


“Fine,” Jack grumbled, slumping out the door, beanie-clad head facing the floor.


Gianna grabbed her new puffer coat (bought that day on sale at Barney’s) and followed Jack outside, her shiny shoes gleaming in the moonlight. It was quiet in the West Village. Everywhere except for the gay bars. Packs of lost gays with nowhere to go on Christmas Eve hoofed the streets of downtown, making their way to the queer Oasis of their choosing.


“So,” Gianna pulled her shiny gold, monogrammed lighter out of the pockets of her pressed black dress pants and handed it to Jack.


Jack snatched it and lit up. “I don’t know. G. Last weekend?” She puffed, hungrily. “At the Scorpio Mood party, when Violet was missing?”


“Don’t tell me you're still hot for that headcase?”


“That headcase is your friend.” Jack glared at Gianna.


“Thought we got over your kink for crazy girls?”


“That was a low G.”


“Sorry, sorry. I’m just sick of seeing you waste your life, Jacky. I’m not talking shit ‘bout, Violet. You know I love the kid but she’s —”


“It’s not about Violet, G!” Jack interrupted.


Gianna folded her arms. “Don’t lie to me. I know you better than anyone.”



“It’s really not about her.” A giant cloud of smoke emerged from Jack’s mouth. “It’s just that when Violet went missin’ and Imani and I were looking for her — I got scared. I mean come on, G. My heart was racing. And when I saw Cat — I didn’t want to be around her. I don’t know what it was. I just got this feeling that she wasn’t my person.” Jack stared at the half-moon, inhaling, exhaling her beloved tar and nicotine.


“Did you talk?”


“No. I haven’t called her. She hasn’t called me, either. It’s fuckin’ awkward.”


Gianna was about to open her mouth and monologue to Jack once again, about the dangers of one shitting where one eats. But then she caught a glimpse of Gabriella strutting down the block. Her high ponytail bopping up and down with every step, like a sprightly, young equestrian on top of a prized pony. Gabriella, who’d she’d abruptly stopped hooking up even though the sex had been mind-blowing. She didn’t know why she’d broken it off. She was always breaking things off too quickly. “Fear of commitment” and other daddy issues. But the moment she clocked Gabriella kissing that tacky DJ motherfucker from LA, she’d deeply regretted it. She didn’t know how to correct her colossal mistake and had been dreading running into Gabriella so vehemently, she hadn’t been to Dolly’s in five business days. A personal record.


“I’m going to go back inside. I need a whiskey sour,” Gianna grumbled through gritted teeth.


*


Violet and Knife had come four times each. But they weren’t done. They kept going and going until the fifth orgasm, after which Violet fell into a lifeless heap on top of Knife. Her head rose and fell in the swell of Knife’s heaving chest. Knife willed her heartbeat to calm the fuck down, before wrapping her long python arms around Violet. Their bodies melted into each other.


“That was the best sex I’ve ever had.” Knife didn’t care if she sounded like a loser. No one is cool after five explosive orgasms.


“Honestly —” Violet curled under Knife’s armpit. “I’ve never had sex like that.”


“Sex like what?”


“Sex, like, I don’t know. It’s embarrassing.”


“Tell me,” Knife twisted her body to the side and scooched down so she was eye-to-eye with Violet.


Violet was hit with the sudden urge to rip her flesh off her bones. Knife noticed. She placed her hands firmly over Violet’s shoulders. “Tell me. You can’t hide from everyone forever.”


“It’s fucked up,” Violet warned.


“Who do you think you’re talking to? It’s me.”


The fire in Violet’s eyes softened into two pale yellow buttercups. “Sex. I can’t do it. I can’t do it unless it’s, like, violent, or whatever.”


They stared silently into the ceiling for a moment. “I get it,” Knife said softly, turning her head to face Violet.


Violet felt like she was being split in half. Like half of her was in bed with Knife and the other half was floating numbly through outer space.


Knife cleared her throat. It was time. “Violet, I need to ask you?” Her voice was calm. Steady like the kind of bay gentle enough for kids to wade in.


Violet closed her eyes. Let more of herself slip into the galaxy.


“Violet, please look at me.”


Violet’s lids fell open wide. Knife’s eyes dove into her eyes. “What happened to you?”


“What do you mean?” Violet was suddenly tired. She wanted to drown in Knife. But she was a survivor. She forced herself to fight the tide.


But Knife was stronger than Violet realized. Her eyes were beautiful and otherworldly. Enticing and rare like Iceland’s blue lagoon.“What happened to you that made you this way?” She circled her fingers around Violet’s scarred, naked thighs.


Violet suddenly had no fight left in her. Her will to hide was overpowered by her will to rest. She took a deep breath. “I was fifteen, he was thirty-five. One of the many drunks in my building. My room — it didn’t have a lock. I kept asking for a lock, but no one would let me have a lock. Why didn’t anyone let me have a lock?” Violet waited to disassociate, but for whatever reason, she stayed locked into the moment. “He’d pass out on the couch and come into my room. One night I tried to fight him. He punched me. In the eye. Gave me a black eye. Everyone thought it was my dad and I didn’t correct them. So yeah. That was my first time.”



Knife wanted to tell Violet that was not her first time — rape is not someone’s first time — but something inside of her told her to stay quiet.


Violet continued. “Then I met this girl. Shay. She loved me, even with my dumb black eye. And I loved her. She was the first person I loved. But it was like — I swear — they could smell it on my skin.”


“Who?”


“It happened again. A few weeks later. At a high school keg party. Shay found out. She wanted nothing to do with me after that. I shut down. I’ve been shut down. Except when someone touches me, it’s like I open up. But I don’t get to choose where I go. And I always end up back there. I don’t want to go back there.”


Knife fought the urge to assure Violet she would make sure she never went back there. But she of all people understood that no human being can shield you from the demons of the past.


Violet continued. “It’s getting worse too. That night at Scorpio Mood — I saw Ray. I didn’t tell you I saw Ray. But I saw her. And it fucked me up. And then I was kissing — what’s her name —? Like the Vampire Show. Buffy? Yes. Buffy. Everything was fine until I had this, like flash. I was a kid. Four maybe five? I was locked in a closet. That’s as far as I got before I froze. That’s what I do. I freeze. I go away. The only thing that brings me back in my body? Pain. Physical pain. Choke me. Hurt me. That’s all I can handle.”


Violet waited for Knife to turn to stone. To freak out about her run-in with Ray, her kiss with Buffy. They’d never officially broken up, after all. Plus, Knife had not only saved her life but had forced her to the hospital, stayed all night by her side. In fact, Knife hadn’t left her side all week. “What can I say? I’m the marrying kind,” Violet added, willing herself out of her body again.


But Knife’s facial expression didn’t have a fragment of jealousy. Or pity. Or disgust.


All she could say was: “I knew it. I knew it. I knew it,” as fat tears slid down her cheek.


“How did you know it?”


“Because that shit’s happened to me.”


“I knew it.”


“What? How?”


“I saw it. That day in the summer, when we were smoking outside of Dolly’s. Just us. I saw it.”


“Saw what?”


“I saw you leave your body.”


“No one has ever noticed that.”


“I’m not ‘no one.’”


“Please, please don’t take this trip to Florida. Please. Please. Please. Don’t leave me.”


“I have shit to deal with.”


“What about the shit you have here? What about your New York family? What about me?”


“I have to figure out what happened. What that whole flash was about. If I don’t, I’ll never break out of this cycle.”


“But you didn’t freeze tonight! You said so. You trust me. I trust you. You can’t keep running away.”


Violet jumped on top of Knife. Knife let Violet pin her arms behind her head. “Did you take my pillbox?” She squeezed Knife’s wrists with everything she had.


“Yes.” Knife answered her body intentionally limp beneath Violet’s grip. She felt like a dog exposing its belly to show submission. She stared into Violet’s eyes. “I’m not proud of it. But I didn’t take your pillbox. I stole your pillbox. And after I left you in the bathroom in that dive that night? I fucked Catalina.”


Violet unshackled Knife from her sweaty hands. She lay down next to her. “I fucked my new boss,” she flipped over and dug her elbows in the sheets. “In the office,” she added, resting her face in the palm of her hands.


“You did?”


“I did.”


“Why?”


“Same reason you fucked Catalina. To blow up my life.”


They began to laugh. Not because it was funny. Because they were relieved. There were no secrets anymore.


“Look, I don’t know what is going to happen with us, Knife. I really don’t. We are so fucked up. Like, so, so fucked up. But all I know is that I need you in my life. I can’t do this without you.”


Knife nodded. She buried her face in Violet’s chest. “I understand if you have to go to Florida for a while. I do. But there’s one thing you need to do first.”


Violet shot up like a meerkat. “But wait. My flight? Doesn’t it leave soon?”


“Babe. I love you. But your flight? Your flight was boarding long before I gave you your third orgasm. By the time I gave you your fifth? It was halfway to fucking Florida.”


“I’ll book for tomorrow. But before we do whatever you’re so sure we need to do — you need to tell me —” she placed her hand over Knife’s heart. “What happened to you? What made you this way?”



By 11 p.m. the vibe at Dolly’s was awkward, to say the least. Natalia Gonzalez was in Los Angeles for the holidays, and Gabriella wished she was there because maybe if she was there it would be easier to avoid Gianna, who kept trying to approach her. And talking to Gianna would be her biggest nightmare because even though Gabriella was livid that Gianna had broken up with her — when they weren’t even dating — Gabriella couldn’t deny that Gianna looked incredibly sexy in that swaggy, tailored way that always robbed her of her dignity. In other words, Gabriella couldn’t be certain she wouldn’t sleep with Gianna if given the choice, and she didn’t want to be “that girl.” Gianna could feel Gabriella avoiding her which made her feel creepy but she couldn’t seem to stop trying to talk to her even if she didn’t know what to say and she couldn’t ask useless Jack to break the ice because Jack was hiding in the back, becoming one with the old lesbian guard in her stupid beanie and stupid hoodie as if that would ever disguise her from Catalina? Didn’t Jack understand her very recognizable stench of Axe men’s deodorant mixed with Marlboro reds? Jack, on the other hand, wanted nothing more than to shoot the shit with Gabriella and her glamorous Aunt from Long Island but she was terrified if she left the dark corner of the bar she’d run into Catalina and she had no idea what to say to Catalina who was so sweet and gorgeous but something was missing. How do you tell someone that something is missing? The thing was, Catalina really wanted to talk to Jack. To clear the air. Apologize for her outburst and maybe ask her for a fresh start. But every time she looked at Jack — in that stupid fucking beanie and hoodie — her stomach did a backflip. She would suddenly remember how she’d fucked Knife behind Jack’s back and then she’d feel consumed with guilt. She wasn’t like that. But then the guilt would wear off as quickly as it had come, and she’d feel herself twitch between the thighs because holy hell had the sex with Knife been destructive but also, kind of thrilling? And then she’d catch a whiff of nicotine and men’s drug-store deodorant and all of the sudden lust after Jack. Jack and those ass-less chaps. She decided it was best to stay busy behind the bar because she was too horny and too confused to deal with any of this. She had a job to do. Plus, Serafina, her boss was there for the first time in months, demanding Vodka water after Vodka water, because unbeknownst to Catalina she was wracked with social anxiety, herself. Something about Valentina made Serafina’s heart run a marathon. Maybe it was because she’d secretly been replaying their fleeting love affair in her head for the past two decades? Maybe it was residual anxiety from all the cocaine hangovers they’d withstood together? Maybe it was because Serafina had never felt so alive as she had during her tryst with Valentina? And Valentina? She was equally nervous around Serafina. She kept dipping out for a cigarette, giving herself not-so-subtle pep-talks on the curb: “I’m Valentina and no one fucks with me,” she’d declare so loudly she’d startle the baby dykes waiting outside in the freezing cold, to be allowed inside. Meanwhile, Gabriella could sense that Valentina was on the verge of a freakout which freaked her out more than she already was because Valentina had a notoriously bad temper. The only person who was perfectly at ease was Patra, though that would soon change because right as Patra smugly grinned into her tequila-splash-of-soda-and-lime — Violet breezed through the front door of Dolly’s with Knife and Patra’s heart dropped against the bar floor.


“Shit,” Patra whispered under her breath.


“Shit,” Gabriella murmured into her champagne.


“Shit!” Valentina yelped, leaping gracefully off her barstool, like a ballerina. “ PETAL!” She twirled over to Violet, her tulle skirt spinning like a clock. She put her arms over Violet’s fuzzy, faux-fur shoulders. “I’m so glad you’re okay, sweet Petal. Or is it Rosebud? Or Daisy? Whatever. Like Shakespeare says: What’s in a name? Oh, I didn’t introduce myself, how rude. I’m Valentina. Your new Long Island Auntie,” she fluttered her lashes and gently kissed Violet’s hand.


It wasn’t just Christmas in the city. It was now Christmas in Violet’s brain. She was mesmerized by the wild glittering light that was Valentina.


“I’m Violet,” she managed, star-struck.


“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet as you, honey bunny. Now, look. Let’s clear the air. We all know what happened the other night and I want you to know there’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’re not a New Yorker till you’ve been found unconscious by a dumpster!” She swung her head toward Serafina, who was rushing to Violet’s side. “Am I right, Serafina?” she purred.


“Well, in our day it was getting put into a straight jacket in the lobby of the Chelsea after a cocaine-fueled meltdown — but yes. I suppose passing out by the rubbish is the modern-day equivalent,” Serafina clipped, primly petting the top of Violet’s head. “Sweetheart! I’m so upset with you. I leave for a month and you get into all of this nonsense? I will not tolerate it,” She looked at Violet harshly, like she was the headmaster of an elite boarding school.


“I’m so, so sorry Serafina. I fucked up. Royally.” Tears sprang into Violet’s eyes for the second time that day.


Serafina sighed and kissed Violet on both cheeks. “We’ll talk about it next week. But tonight it’s Christmas Eve! And we will celebrate as a family!” Serafina whooped. She banged her oversized Ruby cocktail ring against the Swarovski crystal tumbler holding court in her left hand. “Get over your shit everyone! Tonight, everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.”


“Closer To Fine” by the Indigo Girls began roaring through the speakers. And no one — not even Jack — could help themselves. The entire bar began passionately singing and dancing like idiots. After all, it was Christmas Eve in New York. And even though none of them were surrounded by siblings or parents or partners for that matter — none of them were alone.


That’s the thing about the few who stay in New York. The people who long to live the “big lives." They are special. Not because they’re talented or beautiful or fascinating. Because they can build a family in a building, in an office, in a coffee shop, in a gay bar.


At midnight, it began to snow. Violet pressed her nose against the glass and watched snowflakes fall over Knife’s blonde head, as she laughed and smoked outside with Jack. Gabriella walked over to her. “I got fired,” she whispered, pressing her nose against the glass.


Violet smiled, into the cool glass. “And this is where your life begins,” she said simply. They quietly observed Jack reaching into her pockets and giving a crisp $100 bill to a woman huddled on the street. “I did some stupid shit. Shit so stupid I got fired. By my own guardian angel,” Violet looked away from the window and right at Gabriella.


Their eyes met. “And this is where your life begins,” Gabriella beamed.


Violet looked back out the window. The sky was black and Jane street blanketed in white. “I’m sorry,” Violet whispered.


“I love you,” Gabriella whispered back. The two girls stared quietly out the window, the heat of their breath fogging up the glass.



*



Violet was the last to get on the plane of course. She was relieved to find she was seated next to a girl. A girl with pretty warm brown eyes and hair the color of cotton candy. They smiled at each other shyly.


“Why are you going to Florida on Christmas Day?” Violet couldn’t help but ask as the plane ascended into the air.


The pink-haired girl laughed. “I’ve got shit to deal with. How about you?”


“Same,” Violet answered, watching Manhattan get smaller and smaller, as the plane flew higher and higher in the bright blue sky.




“I know we’re strangers. But do you want to talk about it?” the girl asked.


“Yes,” Violet smiled, “Fuck yes.”