Mixtape No. 43
Mixtape No. 43
everything you wanted in your life / has happened to you now / but you’re standing in the courtyard / mourning new lost friends / whose lives were cut short before the summer's end / and the boy you want so bad / is sitting courtside with miss everything you hate / and it shapes the way you look at men / you’re bothered by the weight of having to pretend / that it's still summer / but it's not summer / 18 years / charging my fears / in too deep out of reach / tragedies reminding me of why I’m losing sleep / I’m in too deep / I give up / are you up? / talk to me / are you up? / I give up / talk to me
I was staring at her under the glow of a bug-swarmed lamp light. From the concrete wall that meets the shoreline near the Cà d'Zan mansion I could make out her blond hair and brown skin. The same way I could spot her among the swarm of students in the packed parking lot after school was the same way I could detect her in the warm dark Florida night. K.C. was just easy to find, it didn't take much to hone in on the shape of her. Her bronze legs and arms almost silly but ultimately sexy and the way her whole body danced through every movement with a lightness that looked like freedom was distinctly hers. In days she'd be dead, and my secret love for her would have to be stuffed down even deeper.
I was romantically involved with her best friend Abby. That's why we were there alone together for a brief moment that night. We were both supposed to meet Abby at this place, her skipping school hideout to pick up ecstasy and go off to parties near the beach. The fact that we were alone together was simply coincidental. K.C. leaned into the car window that had dropped her off to give her pretty boy a kiss goodnight. I watched with a tinge of envy. I walked slowly toward the car, slow enough and with enough distance so that I only had to wave to him as he drove away. He was everything I wasn't, beautiful and tough, confident and liked by everyone, most likely because he was a super-rich kid, often seen on TV at professional basketball games because his father owned a team, usually arm in arm with beautiful basic blond girls regardless of K.C. I couldn’t tell how much older he was than her but it must have been close to ten years. The maroon Acura pulled off quickly, stuttering out and then disappearing into the blanket of Australian pines that grow through the soft white Sarasota sands.
K.C. hadn't seen me in a while, and she hugged me with a new energy I hadn’t seen in her. “Abby's always late as fuck," she said with a knowing smile. "Let's go sit on that playground over there, I want you to hear something." My pulse always raced when K.C. was in proximity but now it drumrolled at a pace so fast my cheeks went numb and my fingertips wet. I followed her up the steps of the wooden playground and watched as she climbed into the small red tube. The most sought-after spot on a playground when I was a child was now vacant and waiting for two restless teenagers to speak about their lives up until this moment.
I was spilling over with visions of the future, and she seemed content with what had happened so far. We laughed together, making jokes about our shared friends, sharing stories of the last summer, excited for the summer to come. I had always assumed that she was typical; all the telltale signs of a basic girl were present, but it was me who was typical in my way of thinking. Ideas that an intelligent girl had to excuse the cheerleading squad, the shopping trips, the sporting events; the desire to be paid attention to had somehow made me forget where I came from. There she was speaking as if she had secretly understood us all and had summed up how everyone would play out their specific roles. All but her own. Out of nowhere, she began to sing "I went to your house" – the song was familiar, but placing it didn't matter at the time. I didn't know K.C. could sing. She had come to see me play at school lunches when I would entertain my friends and try to pick up, but she never joined in or mentioned she had any kind of voice. Inside the strange echo of plastic red tubing her voice was stunning, hypnotic, and painful.
Years later I realized the song she sang was the secret song on Alanis Morissette's album Jagged Little Pill. I laughed about this several times after years of thinking she had written the song. But again, it didn't matter what song it was. I had heard K.C.’s last song. I lost all memory of what happened after hearing her sing; I imagine Abby showed up and I watched silently as they embraced and exchanged drugs and money. K.C. didn’t look back or say goodbye to me. She probably joyfully jumped into the back seat of another car and drove off to a beach party that I may or may not have attended. Days after her death, I stood in the courtyard at school with her closest friends, each person with their “last moments” story and I in silence staring at the ground, feeling guilty for thinking that my story, the one I would not tell them, was the best. Everyone changed after that, as if K.C. had stopped our worlds from spinning and sent them violently in the other direction just as she had planned it.
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