2017 L.A. Wolfe
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Avocado Grove Emily
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Table of Contents
Avocado Grove Emily by L.A. Wolfe
Avocado Grove Blog
It’s hot outside.
Maybe I’m delirious. I don’t live in a house anymore.
We’re in a condo. All the swimming pools join to make the
ocean – the beach and seagulls too. People play volleyball.
The breeze is good here.
Powers Cross Resort
8 a.m. Hungry
My name is Vanessa.
You don’t need to know my last name. Plus, if anybody I know
ever found this journal, I’d have to change my whole identity.
I used to be fit and
eat wheatgrass for breakfast. This morning I stuff down two
bacon and egg breakfast sandwiches. I’m still a natural
blond, but it’s been almost every color except green.
This is my first day at
Marianne’s. She doesn’t understand I’m a few frames
behind, since prom.
When she talks about
Don, I shove my purse across the countertop in her kitchen away from
a tangled mess of stuff – kitchen gear and cartons of what look
like last night’s take-out. She stops talking about men.
But I have a separate conversation with another mom, Waterpark Mom.
And I can’t smell the beer Marianne had for breakfast or hear about
what almost happened with Don last night. Waterpark Mom asks
about the kinds of food we’re eating on our lunch date today and
about the English class I’m starting at the college in a couple of
“And where did you
get that bag, at the fair? Wasn’t it last weekend?” She
I see what she means
about the bag, it looks handmade with a denim patch, a fancy dog sewn
into the crochet. The romantic story, my boyfriend bought it
for me at that fair last weekend. We stayed all day eating
fried dough and corn dogs and (this ugly purse) was one of the last
items left. Real story, I bought it at Target on sale, the dog
used to have a glittering rhinestone collar, but it came off and this
was months ago.
We share stories from
the summer. Marianne laughs this time. And I remember
what it is like to have a family and friends. I’m the
cheerleader again and Beast is my boyfriend.
“It’s been a while
since you’ve been back,” Waterpark Mom says.
I pull out my reader
and see what’s going on in the neighborhood.
I am the girl in class with the boyfriend you wish
is yours. We know all the answers. Teachers talk to us
after class like we’re old friends. We never get into
I am the girl you secretly hate but pretend not
to. Everyone wants to be friends with gods.
When things go wrong, you pretend not to be glad.
It must be a strange mistake. I think so too.
When life is good.
My seventeenth birthday party. Everyone is
here – the volleyball team, the neighborhood, and Cliff.
Cliff arrives first. What I remember after the space between
Cliff and the door and what happens after I put his present on the
table is this – noise everywhere. Talk about college, living
away from home, and chatter in my head. My dad makes a joke
about Cliff and his motorcycle and asks if he’s providing the
entertainment. “Can't he do seventeen wheelies around the
“Got a boyfriend back home?”
His emerald gaze turns my way, completely my way.
He asks where I live and if this is my first time away from home.
And I talk about South Florida and volleyball
camps and brag about my place on the team at school and how the coach
expects a championship this year.
“My name is Dillon” shows me around the campus
and at the end of the tour invites me out to dinner.
It has been less than two days since Cliff dropped
12 p.m. Hungry
Beast Sightings – Y
The other girl. Waves roll underneath the loungers. I
lean over to stick my toes into wet sand.
“I wouldn’t if I
Beast sits on the
chaise next to me. And I laugh and ask where his date went.
“Last I heard she was
a star on Twitch.” And he tells me the people on the beach
all do the same thing they did hours ago.
“Are you going to
hang out here or not?”
game going on, and I think about joining it. I think about a
lot of things – strolling on the sand to see if it feels real and
discovering if anyone here knows how long this world will stay.
The beach stretches for miles. And I wonder if I will ever see
1 p.m. Hungry
Beast Sightings – Y
I scribble Beast back
and doodle him with a pair of fins and tons of scales and pretend
he’s far, far away out in the sea. Everything is quiet and I
close my eyes. When I open them, the ocean has disappeared.
And there isn’t a swimming pool at Marianne’s. Beast is
My nineteenth birthday. Tiny party. No
one wants to be here because it is a repeat of what we do every
night. This is how the evening goes:
We’re quiet – there are no jokes about
My counselor’s name
is Patti. She’s a sober Marianne. I tell Patti about a
trip to a waterpark from years ago – the good parts. "We
made sugar cookies and spent the whole day in the sun." And
then I say how Marianne spends hours doing nothing. All she talks
about are men.
I leave my first
session with an assignment to read fun books.
“What is this place?”
The place we end up, a cove of pines and Red oak
trees overlooks a valley. Every scary piece of news about a
girl my age, a dead girl found in a secluded forest bubbles up inside
my head. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.
And what about Cliff?
Dillon threads his hands through my hair.
And I forget all about Cliff. (Cliff who endured the endless
glares of all the Johnson’s because of his motorbike and who went
to the last party at Ally and Don’s when we suffered Grizzly’s
stories about her volleyball days, Cliff the most). The voices
of dead girls' fade.
Waterpark Mom – Y
Waterpark Mom is here
in the room with me and Marianne.
This isn’t about
the wine you spilled on the carpet, it’s what Marianne told the
other women after she thought you went upstairs.
Her words stick in my
head and make dark magic.
“You surprised me,”
“I dropped a tray of
“They all left.
No one bought anything.”
“Is it a
consolation?” Waterpark Mom asks.
3 p.m. Grumpy.
Marianne doesn’t eat
and when she does, she eats diet food. Even her bacon and eggs
come from skinny pigs and underfed hens – she calls them free, as
if this removes half of their calories and fat.
I dream of food the
whole time we shop. McDonald’s milkshakes and fries, and
everything is supersized.
“The stripes are
going the wrong way, Vanessa. The shirts make you look fat.”
I hold up another
My hands gravitate
towards five more sacks just like the one Marianne despises. I
wait for Beast to appear and tease me too, but so far he hasn’t.
Marianne leaves with a
wide smile. How long will it take her lips to fall off and get
regular again, the way mine are all the time? And could I ever
be happy at the mall shopping the way she is today?
“Have you ever tried
a Spirulina smoothie?” She asks.
Marianne lives on this
disgusting drink. But it makes her so fast we are in the car on
our way home, the foot traffic at the mall is way behind us.
“How about a
flatbread pizza?” Flat is code for skinny.
And I flip my reader
open and catch up with my friends on the ride back.
My bags are packed and waiting in the front lawn.
And I don’t know if Grizzly will still be there when I get home;
and if she is, whether she’ll have any ideas for what to do or
where to go. And some of this is wishing Grizzly and I get
kicked out of Ally’s – it’s happened before, it will happen
Does Grizzly say “damn” one too many times on
her tour through Ally’s house? Or maybe she breaks something
expensive. But despite my fears, my aunt and my mom talk like
old friends. They barely even register I’m back. The
two of them sit on my aunt’s giant couch looking thick together
laughing about something.
My aunt’s couch, like the rest of her home,
looks like something out of a magazine. Grizzly calls it
elegant and says, “This should be behind museum glass.” But
when my aunt leaves the room, Grizzly complains about the slipcover;
and she points at the couch and asks if I smell anything strange.
I tell Grizzly the most I notice is a vague aroma of a good, spicy
meal. And this reminds me of the chili Grizzly used to make.
I gaze at the outline of my aunt’s sofa and how
it hides underneath the lazy slipcover. And I imagine the sofa
the way it looked years ago – a major whale and the kind of
furniture we would have kept covered in its plastic (though Grizzly
will never admit this). It is in this place we have a quiet
conversation, about what happened between me and Soccer Boy.
My aunt says she’ll never kick me and my mom
And the woods never happened. I’m like her
original sofa. All my stains are gone.
The vampire door opens.
Who are you? What
do you want? There are all those eyes again. I whisper my
answers. It’s my first day at Denman high.
I have done this before
– traveled up and out of my head hundreds of times and floated
above and looked down on everything, except there is a lot of
“You’re in ICU,”
I point to the monster
gates outside of her house. “This doesn’t look like a
hospital. Are you having a party?” Gitt Roberts’ parties
are the stuff of dreams…
Soccer Boy strolls
outside and swallows me up with big eyes.
“Who are you talking
to?” He asks.
“Do you remember the
cheerleader? Got high. Totaled her car?”
Neither of them say
what happened to the cheerleader or me.
Gitt squeezes my hand
and disappears behind her vampire door.
“Don’t tell them
your name,” Big Sister says.
She’s Big Sister,
been there, done that, told you so. The imaginary friend I
can’t control. Her hair is blonder than mine and longer. And
she doesn’t seem to mind if a whole tribe of fairy girls joins us
I point to the pink
Halloween wig on my head.
“Wear it if you want,
just be yourself all the way.”
One of the fairy’s
whispers, “Tell me your name.” She sounds as if she’s
high, and she says I’ll go through my life over again.
I go through the whole
day, I flat iron the cotton candy hair, put on the same, long silvery
earrings; another lemming in the flow at the new school, except this
time I know some of what Big Sister and the fairy girls were talking
I know the way to my
classes. There are other things too, the stuff about my name
and being afraid to say it, being afraid of Soccer boy – I don’t
know if this is what Big Sister meant, but I don’t pretend to be
My name is Emily.
“You know my name.”
Soccer Boy stops strolling with me. His hands slide up to his
hips, his nostrils flare. “I’m the best quarterback at
Denman, the best in the whole damn state.”
I shrug as if what he’s
said isn’t a big deal. And he pouts. Nothing has
He lied about the size
of my underpants and the color too. She wore these tiny pink
panties, they’re cheap just like her – way too many flowers.
I watch him stomp away.
Beast Sightings – Y
Shade gets neon pink
running shoes. (She’s me from last year, the perfect me.
And I see her everywhere now). She wears her new shoes in the
dream and acts happening. I wear the same outfit from last
Fall, except I don’t wear any shoes at all.
“Sometimes dreams are
just dreams,” Beast says. “Don’t you like your new
The volleyball boys and
girls from the beach are here and they notice Shade’s “hotness
factor.” I tell Beast it’s a relief to watch the popularity
circus from the sidelines and stick my feet in the sand.
“I don’t believe
you,” he says. “I bet she’d stumble in stilettos too and
take them off.”
The memory of how we
meet plays in my head. This girl wouldn’t stumble into
anything unless it was on purpose.
“I used to be that
“Not at first,”
Beast Sightings - Y
Don’t imagine this. It will make you
crazy. But if you hallucinate, stay out of their way. It
is hard when they are everywhere, in your bedroom, in your breakfast,
and even in your mirror when you wake up. They don't tell you who is
“I fell off the board, but everything was fine,
these waves aren’t anything like L.A.,” Beast says.
“You lived in California?” Shade asks.
“I want to move there and be besties with Rodeo Drive.”
And I see more old friends and faces from before
the other girl happened. Except now I watch some version of
this played out with Shade. My crowd turns into Beasts’ crowd
wherever I am. And for right now, Beast is a cool surfer.
Shade believes him. I was never friends with this Beast.
“Are you joining the game?” He asks.
I hear the crunch of
each shiny foil being pressed by the stylist’s long, blue
fingernails into my head, but I remember what happens here, what
these popular girls do to my hair. And when I crack my eyelids,
I am back home again re-reading the text message that brought me
The stylist brushes
goop on my hair. And it’s as if she senses the strange calm
in the room. Her fingers fly. I imagine all the protein
molecules in my hair breaking down.
“You’re gonna love
this,” Adrianna says.
My hair looks like it
is highlighted with fruit punch and not the diluted kind Ally likes
to make for Thom, but full strength, a deep, dark pink.
Adrianna’s hair looks wild, but my head looks like a messed-up
candy cane – hot pink hair next to lighter shades of muddy blonde.
Gitt laughs and then
Adrianna and Bev join in too. But this time I do not smile
And what they know
about the woods and Soccer Boy and the wig I wear doesn’t matter.
“I took a picture and
sent it to Soccer Boy. But it isn’t as good as the one of you
dancing at my party, alone,” Gitt says.
And when their laughter
ends I tell them about how hot pink goes good with the dress I’m
planning on wearing (it’s red), except I’m thinking about my old
Clipper’s jersey and being nine years old again, and the Clipper’s
lost a big game. My ghost dad says red goes with everything.
He tells me this on my long walk home.
colorblind?” It’s the meanest thing I’ve said to him,
since he’s been dead.
Beast Sightings – Y
I’m sitting at a
table with Emily and a few of her friends, Julio, Adrianna, and Bev.
This is Julio’s sister’s quince.
The last few times I’ve
opened my reader it’s like I’m in the story too (and we’re not
talking imagining I’m in the story). This is what Marianne
was whispering about with her friends.
she’s a book character. “We’re all characters,” she
Adrianna pushes beans
and rice around on her plate.
“When are we heading
out of town?” Emily asks.
Julio’s dad says. He looks at all of us. “How come
you kids aren’t eating? The pork is good.” He says
other things about how one fatty meal isn’t going to ruin anyone’s
But Emily says more
about fitting into clothes than almost any other topic except for
maybe leaving and going other places and some iPhone video of her and
Julio. Her voice gets quiet when she talks and even quieter
when she gets to the part about the video.
Say nothing about the train.
“I’m going to
Tampa,” Bev says. “Cheerleading.” The mention of
the word ‘cheerleading’ reminds me of last year and the
excitement of going on competition trips out of town. But I
start to wonder if any of these feelings are real.
Julio’s father nods
as if he understands what I thought and knows make-believe messed
up. He mumbles about twenty dollars a plate to his wife.
And Julio scans the restaurant as if the answers to our questions are
out there. Am I the something here out of phase – am I
screwing everything up? I listen to his amazing and great ideas
about leaving and how it will solve everything.
And I climb on top of
my chair and shout over the music. “You’re a dumb ass.”
Julio lunges for
Emily. I land on the floor in a crush of people dancing.
“Need some air?”
“The exit is far
away, in another place,” Beast says.
“What about them?”
“They repeat the
quince again the same way they know.”
Sounds of the party
follow me and Beast all the way to a large glowing EXIT sign.
“You forgot your
“Was it something she
waits in the parking lot.
I wake up after
midnight. Beast is gone. I take Patti’s advice and read
a fun book until my eyes shut.
“I can’t show you
how to play with time,” Fanta says. We sit on Marianne’s
porch. It feels like a million degrees outside. Shade and
her friends drink smoothies with the volleyball boys and girls.
They take a break on the sand. Everyone enjoys the brightness.
Fanta’s hair turns
colors. It matches my soda can. He keeps showing off his
super powers but he won’t help me finish an essay due Monday.
I’ve asked him a dozen times.
“Before the island.
Sometime in June… a crescent moon,” Fanta says.
“Go back to
Aphrodite.” Shade and her friends are outside.
Waterpark Mom says to ignore them.
Fanta gabs about
Aphrodite and his brothers. And I listen to how they escape
from Hades for the second time. “She isn’t good for you.
Don’t you remember she leaves and you’re stuck on some far away
island with a busted ship?”
“Could Shade help
with your essay?” Fanta points to where Shade and some of her
friends have started up a game with the volleyball kids.
“They don’t like
And he puts Hera’s
glasses on and turns into one of the boys on the beach, he keeps the
shock of purple hair and fits right in with everybody out there
having a good time.
Beast Sightings – Y
Shade and her friends
go Food Network. They squeeze into Marianne’s kitchen and
make smoothies. Spirulina smoothies.
like it’s a treatment for a disease or maybe it is a disease.”
Shade acts like I’m not good enough to get cured. She doesn’t
make one of her fancy drinks for me. And maybe my problem can’t
be fixed by her silly drink.
Smoothie drops on the
floor. “Clean this up,” she says.
I make a salad with
bacon and turkey, tomatoes, and shredded cheese.
And when I’m
finished, the counter is clean, the kitchen is quiet. But I’m
still stuck with the essay; and I remember how smart that version of
me used to be and the friends I had and how we used to study
together. Where is that girl? Does she hang out with
Beast and Fanta? It's a hot afternoon. They all join the volleyball
boys and girls for a game. I crunch ideas for the essay alone.
I hear the crunch of
each shiny foil being pressed by the stylist’s long fingernails
into my head, except I can’t relax. I remember what happens
here, what these mean girls do to Emily’s hair. I try to
imagine I’m back at Marianne’s re-reading the text message that
brought me here to Panic like a gateway. Maybe if I read it
again, I’ll go home.
But nothing happens.
There’s a blast of cold from the vent above my head, and everyone
is quiet, even the stylist. She brushes goop on my hair and
it’s as if I’m Emily.
“You’re gonna love
this,” Adrianna says.
“I’m not into fruit
Gitt laughs and then
Adrianna and Bev join in too. I do not smile back.
The stylist tells me to
“Open my eyes.” And I expect a candy cane colored mess all
over my head. But my hair looks gorgeous – there are golden
blonde strands next to lighter shades of honey, this is the hair
color Emily imagines.
The popular girls act
as if they see the Kool-Aid.
“I took a picture and
sent it to Soccer Boy,” Gitt says. And all of them giggle.
I remember what Emily
says about the dress she’s planning to wear to the prom and how it
goes great with her hot pink hair. But she says it to save
This new blonde even
looks good with sweat pants. And these girls are laughing?
“Are you color
blind?” I ask.
They don’t answer.
And I open my reader.
Everyone stares at
Grizzly, a few people pull out their phones and hold them up as if
she and my Aunt Ally are on some reality TV show in the front lawn,
and as soon as the action is over they’ll upload the video to the
Internet. I don’t care if it goes viral. (This has
already happened to me). Any moment now one of these people with
their phones is going to ask me, “Are those your drugs?”
“Pack up now.”
My aunt get kind of nuts sometimes.
And Grizzly has had too
many beers. I don’t know if she ate much, the chili was cold,
and some guy in the line kept telling me to move along. I’m
not hanging around here. (I’m leaving town with the guy in
the dirty video).
Shade stays in her room
for the night, and Fanta tells me about how we escaped from Hades.
“Steel gray ships
crammed the sky and blotted it out, even the light from the
“How come I don’t
remember any of this?”
Fanta smiles in the way
he does – as if he knows about other places where book characters
hang out (but he’ll never tell).
“How did we really
get out of there?”
invited you to dinner.”
I’m at South Side
burger. This place looks the same way Emily describes it –
not much on the atmosphere (this is a run-down sports bar, except for
the television). Money here has been spent on good televisions,
and they are everywhere. The vinyl booths have seen better
days. And the seats are still wet from the last wipe down, I’m
glad I wore long pants. A waitress comes over and asks if I
want anything to eat. I ask for a double chocolate milkshake.
If I was into sports
the way Emily is, I could at least get into the basketball game.
I try to follow the game. The most I understand is the Miami
Heat are playing the Los Angeles Lakers. Emily likes the Heat,
even though she will always be a Lakers fan and a Clipper’s fan
first because of her dad. I don’t know whether my dad likes
sports and if he follows any teams. Though many of Marianne’s
boyfriends are fans of football or baseball; and she has jerseys from
a few teams. I don’t know the names. The mascots are
colorful. And the shirts make comfortable pajamas.
The door to the bar
opens and I expect Mickey and Emily to walk in. I sit alone,
sip the shake and look at the crowds on TV and the growing crowd in
the room. When I last saw Beast, there was another crush of
people. And I remember what he said about a doorway or was it
an exit, we were both at Julio’s sister’s quince and he drove me
home, the way he used to, the same as if we were out on a date from
I haven’t been able
to do what Beast said and go back to the 7-Eleven and have a
Slurpee. But is that why I’m here? I don’t know how
long to wait and whether Beast will show. This isn’t our
7-Eleven and it isn’t any place Beast knows. But he didn’t
know about Julio’s sister’s party either and he found the ‘exit’
there. Where is it this time?
>Messages (0) Ally
Sat, Oct 31, 11:06 AM
Hi Ally. It’s
Marianne. Can’t host the holiday block party. Remember our coffee?
Good time. know someone I might ask about the party?
Everyone stares at me.
I’m at Ally and Don’s house on the front lawn. And this
feels like a reality TV show, except I never knew about it; I’m the
Some of the neighbors
pull out their phones. What I know is this: I don’t want this
to go viral – the video of me, and of them at this moment where we
realize I don’t belong here.
“Pack up now,” Ally
says. She says it the same way she does to Grizzly when she
asks her to leave. But Ally whispers in my ear.
We don’t know who
you are, or what you want, but your world isn’t here.
For weeks, I don’t
open my reader. And I hide my phone.
I keep busy with
essays. (4,000 words are due before Thanksgiving). But I
need a break.
Beast Sightings – Y
Waterpark Mom – Y
Assignments are pushed
to the side. I’m off for Thanksgiving and spend all day with
Fanta and Waterpark Mom out on the beach. He’s fixing his
ship. Waterpark Mom looks the same from when I was six.
She wears the same swimsuit.
Fanta tells me about
the supplies he’s gathering for his trip off the island. He
says he can change applesauce into whatever he wants.
and we haven’t eaten lunch yet.” Waterpark Mom says.
I ask Waterpark Mom if
she wants to share the fries Fanta made. But Waterpark Mom
isn’t in the mood to hear about his fast food magic tricks.
She says we’re eating at Marianne’s. I tell everyone I’m
not hungry for leftovers again, but then I think about the pastas and
prime rib, the surf ‘n’ turf dinners Marianne brings home
sometimes from dates; and I tell Fanta the fries taste like old rice.
We pass through
Marianne’s tiny kitchen. Shade and her friends are here too.
On the countertops, a buffet of food is already here – pizza,
pasta, hamburgers, cold cuts sandwiches, and chips. And Fanta
says he has used his magic and created a food court here.
“Everything out of oats,” he says.
“Is this real?”
And I mean is she real – Waterpark Mom, Shade, all of them. I
don’t finish these thoughts, even Waterpark Mom is silent.
Occasions mix in my mind – Thanksgiving and Christmas, the holiday
parties last year, math club competition, cheerleading, and prom.
I open the patio door
and try to swim away from the inside and let the ocean swallow me up
just like Beast said it would.
I imagine he’s here,
checking out the hot bar and ordering a steak burger and fries or
maybe he’s at the deli.
“Thought we’d have
an early holiday dinner,” Marianne says.
She carries in bags of
groceries. The food court disappears, so do my friends – I
listen to the echoes of our conversations on their way out.
“Is Aphrodite taking
you back, or is she leaving again like before to go on adventures
“Read the sci-fi,
then you’ll understand,” Fanta says.
There’s enough food
here to feed half the neighborhood and Marianne starts telling me
about the six different kinds of pie she’s bought. This isn’t
for me and her; she’s inviting one of her boyfriends too, and I bet
he has kids.
“It’s a ton of
food, for us.”
Marianne says, ‘us’
like it’s an apology and it makes me wonder about the holidays in
her head and what she’s saying sorry for.
“Remember the party
and the guy that kept bugging me about my butterfly tattoo?”
Beast Sightings – Y
Waterpark Mom – Y
Marianne warms up
leftovers, a fried steak sandwich, curly fries, she asks, “Do you
want the slaw?”
“I already ate.
Remember? Where does it all go… the beer, the pizza, your
buffalo wings? How come you don’t gain a pound?”
Marianne shakes her
head. She pushes some of the slaw and some of her sandwich on
to a second plate.
This is not my mother.
This is a woman with hair extensions. And I pretend Marianne
went out with some friends, a girl’s night – and after this the
hair happened. Marianne laughs. I don’t like her laugh
or what she’s wearing. Her t-shirt isn’t flashy, it isn’t
a blazing color like neon pink, but it’s tiny and she looks easy in
it, especially with her new hair.
I glance again at her
shirt and Marianne stops laughing.
“Is that a wig?” I
point to her hair.
Waterpark Mom gets up
from the couch. “Cool it,” she says.
Marianne looks messy
just now. The things she said earlier about Beast and boys make
me check the clock, but it’s late and I can’t go anyplace.
“Should she be giving
me any advice about boys?”
Waterpark mom tells me
to have the conversation.
And I blurt out how
Marianne showed some guy her tattoo, even though this happened months
“What a mess,”
Waterpark Mom says.
Marianne used to make
me laugh. But there are strange voices in the house now, they
stay soft and low, whispers in the dark. I ask them answers to
my questions about why Marianne has the metabolism of a teenager, why
she looks pretty no matter how she wears her hair, and why my
boyfriend killed himself. But I haven’t heard any great
A door closes and
everything is quiet. And I dream about ice cold drinks and new
hair. A search for scissors is replaced by visions of driving
to the 7-Eleven and drinking Slurpee’s at midnight. Me and
Beast are still there – our ghosts bathed in moonlight.
And I have this idea about how to get Shade to accept what happened –
for us to be whole again. I don’t know if the plan will work,
if she’ll believe.
Dad calls and drones on
about parties he goes to with people I pretend to know. And we
avoid discussing anything that matters, like the way our new living
arrangement doesn’t work and how Marianne’s scared about taking
me anywhere after I spilled wine on her carpet. I ask him about
sports and at first he doesn’t say anything, and it’s as if I’ve
asked him a hard question he doesn’t know the answer to. He
says he likes tennis and he started playing a couple of months ago.
And this is all he says.
I almost tell him about
Beast and my plans to visit the cemetery this weekend. But I
remember the fight on Ally and Don’s front lawn and what Ally said
about the world. And what Dad knows about my life is about as
much as I know about the sports he likes.
And I imagine another
version of me that does everything right.
Ate an entire bag of
Marianne’s favorite salt and vinegar potato chips. (What I
wanted was an extra -large bucket of chicken but was too depressed to
go out for it). We didn’t meet up at midnight like the
Here’s what happened
at the cemetery:
Friends I used to know
came. I wonder if there will ever be a time when gatherings of
people don’t remind me of something tragic. I did not cry,
even when I thought about the model girlfriend and almost asked one
of the friends, “Did you know about her?”
But this is silly.
I know the answer. On some days, she’s me at the beginning of
the year, or another version of Shade, or she’s a girl in class,
any girl Beast smiled at. The gossip about her and Beast went
around all summer. And some of the friends came back to find
out what happened.
I hear about all their
better places, but I heard before, in Marianne’s conversations with
people and in e-mails from a few who kept in touch. It is still
“Why should you want
to return,” I asked (from universities, art schools, and trips to
foreign lands)? This friend learned a new language and that one
bragged about her many boyfriends. I left out the part about
how I was doing. I didn’t know how to describe the exits into
books and how Beast is alive there. What would I say, “I
crashed a quince and Beast drove me home?”
fall asleep after the visit to the cemetery.
I hang out with Fanta
and Aphrodite. They lead almost typical lives (except she’s a
Goddess and can do whatever she wants). I’m at the part where
he’s figuring out how to be more exciting so the next time she
visits him she’ll fix his ship with a wave of her hand. He’s
considering body piercing, laser hair removal, and more interesting
tattoos. (She isn’t into hearts).
Aphrodite appears and
starts speaking Greek and I understand. She tells me, “Hades
isn’t as cold or horrible as everyone thinks.”
She mesmerizes you with
her words, and like Fanta she looks however she wants. She
stares at me for a long time – and I hope she’s transferring a
little of her power to me and I’ll wake up looking like some
version of her. She says to Fanta, “Maybe we could bring a
mortal down with us?”
I try to follow the
rest. I catch a few words about my visit to the cemetery, they
know about it. And then we’re traveling to where Hades
lives. We get caught up in the drama going on – Persephone
and Hades fight about decorating.
The skies are dark in
the underworld; you can barely see the outline of the clouds.
Persephone tells us about the war and how Zeus made it magical, but
only in one place. “There’s a neighborhood here where it’s
so bright it hurts your eyes,” she says.
I don’t understand
what Fanta means about the coldness not being terrible here.
But maybe having the ability to adapt to almost anything and change
into whatever you want, makes it possible for Fanta to say these
things. The whole trip down to the underworld, Fanta,
Aphrodite, and I listen to music. The playlist is a mix of pop
country tunes. Don’s tunes. And we sit on a sofa at
Persephone’s house, it’s the same sofa in Ally’s house.
And it makes Persephone’s living room perfect.
I stare at the whale of
a couch. There are no jelly or juice stains and no slip
covers. And this couch moves…a lot. I turn around a
stare at what looks like one great eye – the outline blends into
the sofa. And I’m reminded of the sky here, there are no
stars. But, this eye twinkles. And it reflects the
candlelight burning in the room.
And I want to ask the
eye about what it knows.
Beast Sightings – Y
Marianne had a party
while I was gone. Energy from the gathering still lingers.
I smell barbecue, chips, beer. And when I close my eyes, I
breathe in smoke and feel a paper plate in my hands. It’s
heavy with the weight of watermelon wedges, potato salad, ribs.
I don’t know how long
I sleep in the sun but when I wake up, the swimming pool next door
and the one across the street and all the pools in my neighborhood
aren’t pools anymore, they are back to being the ocean. And
the breeze is good here – wherever this is.
The volleyball game
from before continues. And even stranger than all those pools
turning into the ocean, Beast lounges on the chaise next to me and we
stare out at the view. I think about strolling on the sand,
sticking my toes into the water, and maybe swimming.
“I wouldn’t if I
It is as if he is
reading my mind.
"This is an ocean
and it will swallow you."
The beach disappears.
There is only a napkin sized screened in porch. Across a couple
of lawns from Marianne’s house there are larger homes, these homes
have swimming pools that look as if they belong in some worldly place
you might go to on vacation the way they are all decked out.
The closest pool to us has rafts floating in the water, fat cushions
on all the furniture, and flowering plants around the whole thing.
“Why all those
“His wife got the animals on sale.”
She pushes our flimsy
plastic table and moves it a few inches. “Doesn’t matter;
that weekend isn’t good for any of my friends.”
She slurs her words.
I don’t know what weekend she’s talking about, and why we can’t
get a hot tub. I almost ask why her new boyfriend won’t chip
in for one. For a few moments, we both stare out at the
grandeur on the other side and the preparations for a party.
There is pink everywhere, every shade of the color you could ever
imagine, from cotton candy to lemonade, as if the princess of the
celebration couldn’t decide. Marianne and I are mesmerized by
clusters of balloons, a giant tiered cake. Marianne makes a
comment about the weather and wonders if the party will be cancelled.
The wind picks up, the
edge of the table cloth shimmers in the breeze, goblets fall over and
plates flip into the pool. The gusts get stronger, but no one
comes out and fixes anything. And we watch a lot of pink stuff
blow away. We are caught up in the drama. And Marianne
swears she heard a fight going on. But I only hear the wind.
Later there are
twinkling lights and sounds of celebration. The lights remind
me of the eye in Persephone’s living room. The eye knows what
happened at the party before the guests arrived, and if there was a
fight or if it was the wind. It knows why my dad never comes
home and the reasons Marianne drinks too much. And the
flickering bulbs are extensions. They know where Beast is and when
we’ll see each other again.
There is music playing
and a ton of people. Marianne says she doesn’t mind if I walk
I hope you enjoyed Blue
Dreams. Please tell me what you think either at your favorite
bookstore or on my blog at http://avocadogrove.blogspot.com/.
Dreams is a short story fantasy based on The Avocado Grove
Avocado Grove Emily is a collection of short fiction available on
I am currently working
on the next collection of stories set in The Avocado Grove.
Excerpt from The
Avocado Grove: Emily
October 31, 2013
“Man, aren’t you
going to ask her to dance?”
And you morph into the
girl that sits in front of me in math class and then into my aunt
from Cuba, and then you are my latest girlfriend. How you
change into these people I’m not sure, but all of you easy going
souls get bored sitting on the sofa sipping beer and wander off, and
I follow your changing shapes through the crowd and the way your hair
goes from long dishwater blonde to short bleached blonde to almost
“Which one?” I
laugh. I point you out to a guy I don’t know at all, but he’s
nice enough so I play along. “She has a cheerleading
“In Tampa, who’s
he?” You ask. I don’t even have to fumble for an answer.
This guy wants to help you with the classes you already make A’s
in. It doesn’t take you long to go turn the music up.
I stumble to the patio
with you. The music is fast and loud but we act as if it’s
slow. My hands find their way up under your shirt.
“Come on, let’s go
finish this party in your car.”
Later we are surrounded
by smoke and noise. There’s a flash of red in your shiny
blonde hair. We’re caught in the crush of people dancing
together in a speeding car. Is the stereo screaming or are
I’m messed up and you
are not my mom. But for a second, I am a small child again and
you are my mom and you tell me, “You don’t look so good.”
“You look perfect.”
And you do – as perfect as if I just picked you up for our date.
You spent hours curling your hair and those curls sparkle in the
moonlight. “What did you put on your hair?” I ask.
But you do not answer
me. You push open the car door that moments before was crushed
in but now looks as if nothing at all happened. And the door
seems far away and you seem far away too as if you are in another
place. I try to get back to the car as fast as I can but
there’s only the road beneath my feet. I can’t find where
you are, you have disappeared, and after what feels like days I
follow the road back home.