I remember the burn of the whiskey that I drank the night I killed Aveline. It seemed to pull at the back of my throat as it went down, and then I could still feel it even after it had passed. It was oaky and smooth with a bite that made my toes tingle. Oh help me, I love the taste of whiskey. I wasn’t drunk or anything that night, and trust me, I wouldn’t be so irritating as to feign innocence on account of my lack of sobriety. I knew exactly what I was doing.
It would have been hard to imagine as a little girl, wearing a pink frilly dress and force feeding tea and crumpets to a stuffed dinosaur, that I would one day be the not so proud owner of so many debilitating labels.
It’s hard to wake up from a world of pleasure and haze once you close your eyes to right and wrong. When I finally did wake up, I popped another pill and went back to sleep, happy to live in a fairy tale world where violence felt like love and all of the attention landed at my feet like red roses. This was my life at the Soleil Taverne.
I came to Paris a little over year ago with a leather book full of lyrics and a heart full of aspirations. All I wanted to do was to sing, and then one day I found my place. Soleil Taverne is French for “Sun Tavern”, and since it became my home I’ve wondered if anyone other than me has ever been fooled by its whimsical sounding name. I didn’t notice the darkness. Not when the men I could always count on to be supportive of my dream called my name and reached out to touch the beaded ends of my skirt.
“Flip your hair, doll.” Mr. Martin winked at me as I walked past him, singing of cloudless winters and of dancing with the moon on my skin. I flipped my long dark hair over my shoulder and ran my fingers along his back, not missing a line. My voice of honey was thick and sultry as I poured my lyrics into a borrowed microphone, and all of the men wanted to know me.
“I’d like to tell you all how happy I am that you’re here.” I walked down past the spotlight and kissed a hand I didn’t know.
A man in beige, sitting,
in the front row.
Then I walked back two more aisles and I stopped to pick up my earring.
The building shook as
They cheered my name.
I flipped my hair again as I laughed and blushed.
The attention set me on fire.
They all wanted me.
Drunk on admiration, I wanted more. So when a man with a sophisticated, asymmetrical haircut waited for me backstage after the performance, I was more than willing to let him
Into my car
And that was the way it went for a while and things seemed pretty good. Except that the man with the haircut stole a layer of my haze. He tricked me into sobriety. He pulled the long, velvet curtains from my eyes. I did something that I never thought I would do again.
His name was Andy.
When I was in school, other girls seemed so clueless to me. They worried about proper etiquette and their little toys and their silly boys.
They couldn’t understand.
They still think they’re better.
Right after my parents left me,
I made friends with a man who talked to birds.
He showed me a world
When the other girls saw my new colors,
they told me I was strange.
My behavior was
not normal, but-
They had no idea of
what it could feel like to be a woman.
Underneath an opal sunset,
I let him touch my hair.
And he whispered,
“You’re a rose”
And pretty soon my troubles were
Gone and the hurt
Just didn’t anymore.
And every moment was sunset.
And every card was an ace.
And the whiskey that shielded the rays of doubt
Was always extra aged.
He had an ethereal heart.
They all did, but not to quite the extent.
Partly cloudy, untouched,
I never reached it.
It always mattered to me,
though I know it shouldn’t have.
I was never lacking in affection.
They treated me tenderly
I wasn’t a guest, but a part of the family.
We saw the world together.
On the backs of bikes we rolled,
through The Grand Canyon,
We made love on great lakes.
They kept me safe.
And life couldn’t touch me
And I never caught my breath
Except to crave him more than the rest
And to wonder why I couldn’t
See through his opacity.
Cotton candy love for all…
Suddenly I’d rather die.
“Please don’t leave us.”
“Take this with you.”
He gave to me,
“A locket. Wear it and remember.”
But he won’t remember,
“This is going to hit hard later.”
After I’m gone.
Is it possible to be considered a good person after committing so many sins? Can we ever come back from the things we do-the things nobody knows about? Will the haunting guilt and the pulsing terror of discovery ever relent? Or more importantly, will we ever change?
“Don’t you dare move.”
“My neck is getting tired.” I complained, laying on my side.
Andy threw a french fry at my face, which shocked me into laughter.
“Woman! Stay still! I’m almost done.” His hands flew around the page as he drew and I was feeling hotter by the second.
“Kiss me.” I said.
He looked up and smiled, leaning in for a slow, sweet kiss that only made me want more. He stopped and looked at me. His eyes were brown and deep, like there were things that ate him alive in there. I touched his cheek.
He sighed and continued to stare.
“You are more than the life you’ve created for yourself.” He took my hand from his face and kissed it. “You could be anything you want.”
“But I am what I want.” I looked down and he sat back and started to draw again. “What’s wrong?” I rested my head in my hand.
“You’re too smart for this. For me. I don’t deserve you.”
“Whatever,” I fidgeted with the hem of the silk robe I was wearing. “Every day I learn something new from you. I love being with you.”
“That’s exactly what I’m talking about. You shouldn’t love to be with me.” He put down his pencil. “Alright, I’m done.”
I sat up and took the picture from him, unable to stop staring.
“It’s beautiful.” And then I was starting to cry. He wrapped his arms around me and kissed the top of my head. We stayed like that for a while.
“I have to go.” He unzipped his bag and started putting away his art supplies.
“Can I keep it?” I asked.
He thought for a minute. “Let me take a picture of it at least. Hang on.” He pulled a buzzing phone out of his pocket and turned away.
“Okay. Love you.”
And then he was back, but the moment was gone and my heart started to hurt. I could tell my new face made him sad, but he said, “I gotta go. Kiss me.”
And then I was alone.