It Takes A Year: Part Six

[Updated: 2/15/17]

Tara and I played a few more songs together before she stopped to answer the texts that she’d gotten. While she scrolled through her phone I pulled out my own too, wondering if the vibrations I was ignoring were from Will. One of my messages did turn out to be from him but it was just a generic reply to our earlier conversation about his annoying new coworker. I was kind of used to it by now to be honest. I also saw that Tyler had texted me asking what was up. I hadn’t seen him since the first time we met and I honestly wanted to hang out again in a less tense setting. He seemed genuinely concerned for my well-being. We texted pretty much daily and it felt nice. Will didn’t really bring up personal things in our conversations anymore. The more casual he kept it, the easier it’d be for us to move on. At least I suspected that’s what his plan was. It’d be just like last time, except now we weren’t looking towards a reunion.

“My friend Lana just invited us to a party at her friend’s house, you wanna swing by?” Tara asked.

My senses perked up a little. A party didn’t seem to bad, it’d be a nice way to unwind and meet Tara’s other friends. Alicia’s crowd was getting boring and predictable. I could use some new faces in my life.

“Yeah, I’m down,” I said.

Tara put her guitar aside and closed her laptop. We both agreed that we needed to change clothes. I headed to my room and started flipping through my closet for something extra cute to wear. I had to admit that I was slacking on my appearance as of late. Will used to tell me that I looked sexy with messy hair and no makeup on but my recent mornings in the mirror begged to differ. Tara, on the other hand, seemed to look flawless all the time. I couldn’t decide if it was her chic hairstyle, her healthy amounts of sleep, or her enviable body. She had youthful skin which she could probably thank her mother for. I remember her coming over once to drop something off for Tara. That’s when I found out that Tara was half Vietnamese. I knew she looked mixed.

It was easy to notice that Tara’s eyes were bright and lively while my lids seemed to be heavier than before. It took a decent amount of concealer to hide the darkness cradling my sockets. They always got worse when Will left.

When I looked at Tara on those days that she sat cross-legged on the couch, hair tussled and guitar in lap, I wondered if that’s the way he used to see me. Existing beautifully in my own little world, gently in focus. Back when happiness actually shone through my skin instead of hiding away in hollow bones. The perfect candid.

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Carmen

She was a bold beauty and a careful madness. A willowy storm filled to the brim with honey-coated words and sensual desire. I had been to hell and back with that girl and I could honestly say that she was nothing but an angel to me with the devil’s charm. The boys in town could brag all day about having her, but we both knew better. I was the only one who gave a damn enough to show her that she was worth more than a Gin Rickey and a pricey night at the motel. I never made myself out to be a hero because of it. I thought it was just common decency to take her away from dirty men and cheap drugs. I didn’t even recognize her at first, what with a few years of disaster taking away the light in her eyes. But sure enough I knew after a few words that it was her; That sweet girl I dated back in high school with her wavy blonde hair and her full red lips. God I missed the sparkle in her eyes. She took a few drags off the cigarette I gave her, saying she’d just been working as a waitress and living with a friend in L.A. I should have known better from the darkness under her eyes and the frailty of her frame. I’d come to find out that she was living in her car making money off the next customer that saw her strolling down the boulevard. She thought that was all I wanted at the time.

“Let me guess, you’re here to fall in love with me too huh?” she said, flashing me that Hollywood smile.

“Don’t flatter yourself honey.”

I took her out to dinner a few times. One night we sat in the diner talking until the sun rose. She was going on and on, laughing and smiling at me, reaching over for a playful nudge to my shoulder every now and again. Finally she rested her hands on mine.

“I feel like I could tell you anything.”

She looked at me with such dreamy eyes. There was no faking that look.

“Sweetheart, you know you can,” I said.

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