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Chapter III – Part IV
Daisie smiled and set her cigarette down. She watched the smoke slide into the air like a million snakes climbing invisible vines. The sun had completely burned off the fog. Birds were fluting. Music from the kitchen, an atmospheric piano track from Aphex Twin, played gently and matched the melancholic mood of the balcony.
Laila enjoyed that her friendship with Daisie was capable of holding silence. Her mind was so often incapable of finding silence on its own. The questions, thoughts, and projections she lived inside constantly battered themselves into the fragile room of her head. Sitting together, being in silence together, made her feel heard. It helped her feel seen. Finding new words in the silence, Laila started a new thought about the night. “I think there was something else to it as well. I think I felt a moment of rest.” She paused and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath before she continued. “I don’t really know it’s hard to describe, but I have felt, and maybe this is my fault, I feel like relationships become work instead of being rest. I feel like I had to constantly chase Elliot. Like we were running through the woods, like he didn’t know where he was going and I’d be yelling stop, stop, let’s sit here. I want to see your face And then he take off again.”
Daisie gave a small crooked smile, a gentle I’m sorry, that sounds exhausting, without using any words. Laila sat in the silence and warmth of the moment, looking down at her flannel and her thumbs making small circles on the outside of her coffee mug. Daisie was sensing a depth in the feeling Laila was starting to approach and knew silence would give her the comfort to keep going.
“Daisie, remember that game when we were kids, we would peel petals off flowers and associate love, luck, and male gaze?”
“He loves me, he loves me not, blah, blah, that one?” Daisie responded, taking a sip of her coffee.
“Yeah, that one. Can you think of an earlier model to associate the action of being loved?” Laila moved her hands off her knees and started using them to speak, moving in a circular motion, starting close to her body and moving them away, like she was pulling a garden hose out from inside herself. Daisie stayed quiet and continued to listen. “Flowers are so fucked up too, you know? A conduit of impermanence. And starting every spin of the love roulette with ‘He’? We’re teaching our daughters to disavow their emotional significance and trust some kind of Mendelian dissociative patriarchal Ponzi scheme.” Laila had a building feeling in her chest now, like the power of her thoughts was a rising tide.
“Go on” Daisie replied.
“Why is it so hard to trust myself? Why can't I distinguish between being lucky and being happy? Do I love myself? There is so much conversation about “loving” like it’s an outgoing body of work in itself, but “being loved” is work too. It takes work to receive. I don’t think I know how to do it. I don’t think that’s music I can play right now.”
They sat in silence a moment longer.
“Maybe playing well isn’t the point?” Daisie asked. It was the kind of question that came packaged with answers to other questions you didn't know you had. The kind of question that didn't need an answer. “There is a relationship between risk and chaos inside any body of love. I don’t think there is a balance as much as there is harmony. So you're right, yeah, maybe that's the music we learn to play. Sometimes, the harmony can break down and chaos can take over and the music gets messy. It’s hard to step away from at that point. Hard to stop playing. But, it doesn’t mean the risk isn’t worth it.”
Laila looked at her friend, her roommate, her only ground of the familiar. She felt the strength that comes from being connected to another person in ways that transcend what’s reasonable. She was thankful for Daisie in ways she couldn’t describe.
“I think what you did is beautiful in that you took a risk to love yourself. Maybe, last night was about you saying “I love me, I love me” after pulling every petal, instead of singing a dumb song from when we were girls.” Daisie paused and watched Laila turn her head down and noticed her breathing slow. She moved her left hand off her coffee and rubbed the bottom of her eye to wipe away building tears. She pinched her nose and took a deep breath.
“I do love me” Laila said.
When I started this section I had a lot of fun pretending I had any idea what it’s like who two girls sit around a balcony and talk to each other. As I tried to work through the scene I realized I have no fucking clue what that is like and got stuck feeling like this conversation was way to heavy. I tried going back to re-work it and lighten it up, nothing helped so I’m just leaving this for now and letting it be what it is.
Editing is hard. This story is around the 10,000 word mark now. I’m going to clean a few things up and decided this is probably the conclusion of chapter three - which will soon be published with the first two chapters at lovely.xxx
A couple ideas that made their way into this piece
Avril 14th by Aphex Twin
I usually listen to piano tracks when I really “sit down” to write. Actually, I kinda listen to piano tracks all the time. This specific song was playing when I started this piece so I just wrote it into the story as an aid to describe the mood on the balcony. Cheap trick.
Pure Colour by Sheila Heti
Devoured this novel this week after being inspired by a friend reading Sheila. It reads quick. It’s an expanding, intertwined walkabout on the overlap of time and love and art. I will probably read it again this week. There was a line in one section about being alive that inspired part of this conversation between Laila and Daisie.
Problems that can’t be solved and questions that can’t be answered. Good friends.
That’s it for now.
I think i’m going to leave this narrative for now and go back to shorts going in all kinds of random directions. Feeling like exploring something different for a while.