A Different Blue
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“None of us can help where we were scattered, Blue. But none of us has to remain where we were scattered. Why don't you focus on where you're going and less on where you come from? Why don't you focus more on what makes you brilliant and less on what makes you angry? You are missing a key element to the story. Maybe the moral of the legend is that we are all carved, created, and formed by a master hand. Maybe we are all works of art.”
I groaned. “Next you're going to tell me to just be myself and everyone will love me, right?”
“Love might be too strong a word,” Wilson retorted, dead pan. I snickered.
“I'm serious!” I argued, smiling in spite of myself. “All that stuff people say about just being yourself is complete–”
“Yeah. Being yourself only works if you don't suck. If you do suck, definitely don't be yourself.”
It was Wilson's turn to groan, but I could tell he had forgiven me, and my heart softened the smallest degree.
“What was that 'Nobody' poem you quoted the other day? I think that is probably more accurate.”
“Dickinson's poem?” Wilson looked absolutely tickled that I'd remembered. And then he recited it, his eyebrows raised as if he was certain I couldn't be referring to Dickinson.
“I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us
Don't tell—they'd banish us, you know.”
I nodded. “Yep. That's the one. I think old Dick and I would have been good friends, because I'm definitely a nobody too.”
“Old Dick is actually Emily Dickinson.” Wilson's lips twitched. I knew darn well who wrote the poem, but I found I liked making him laugh.
“The beauty of that poem is that everybody can relate, because we all feel like nobody. We all feel like we are on the outside, looking in. We all feel scattered. But I think it's that self-awareness that actually makes us somebody. And you are definitely somebody, Blue. You may not be a work of art, but you are definitely a piece of work.”
November blew in, and the sunlight changed and mellowed. The desert heat became muted and soft, and though Vegas and Boulder City had more palm trees than changing leaves, the fall was a beautiful respite. Mason started coming around more often, and as long as I was on the back of his bike, riding through the desert, being with him was something I enjoyed. It was when the ride was over, when our passion was spent, when we were breathing hard, lust sated, that I had nothing to say. I was always eager to leave or ready for him to go. I never pretended to love him or want anything from him, and he seemed satisfied with what I was willing to give.
I guess that's why it surprised me when his brother Brandon showed up out of the blue on a Thursday night. Manny and Graciela were at my apartment watching American Idol, Manny's favorite show. Manny was convinced he was a better singer than almost every one of the contestants, and would demonstrate his skill on commercial breaks, standing on the couch with his hand clenched around an invisible microphone. He wasn't bad, and what he lacked in talent he made up for in personality. Usually Graciela was his biggest fan, but she was been jittery and kept looking at her phone and pacing back and forth.
Graciela had been getting on my nerves lately. She had started straightening her curly black locks so they hung down her back and parting her hair on the side so her long bangs played peek-a-boo with her left eye. Just like mine. When the school year started the only makeup she had worn was lip gloss and masacara. But that had changed, too. Her eyeliner was thick and black, her lashes curled and coated, her eyeshadow smokey and dark. Her jeans were tight, her shirts fitted, and she'd even found a pair of sky high boots in a size 5. She weighed maybe 90 pounds and had no hips or br**sts, and the clothing and makeup made her look like she was all dressed up for Halloween. It was not hard to figure out that she was trying emulate me, but she looked ridiculous, and for the first time I wondered if maybe I did too.
When the doorbell rang, Graciela sprang from the couch and ran for the bathroom, squealing like Justin Bieber was at the door.
“What in the world is up with her?” I growled, annoyed.
“It must be hormones,” Manny sighed, like he knew all about women's hormones.
“Oh, yeah? Is that why she's become mini me? Hormones?” I stomped to the door and jerked it open, thinking the neighbors had grown tired of hearing Manny sing at the top of his lungs and were coming to complain.
Brandon Bates and two of his buddies stood at my door, matching smirks on their faces.
“Hey, Blue,” Brandon grinned, his eyes on my tank top and the brief cotton shorts I had changed into after work. His friends seemed equally interested in my outfit.
I was taken aback, and for a second I didn't quite know what to say.
“Uh, hi, Brandon. What are you guys doing here?” My greeting wasn't exactly welcoming, but Brandon stepped through the small opening like I'd just invited him in. I yielded in surprise as he strode into the apartment like he owned the place, Cory and Matt at his heels. They all made themselves comfortable on the couch, eyes on the TV, as if they were going to stay for awhile.
Manny was all smiles and happy hellos, thrilled that Brandon Bates was here to watch his favorite show with him. Graciela slunk out of the bathroom, hugging the walls like a shy puppy and perching on the armrest closest to Brandon.