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Today's Story by STORM

You're not really coming back? Like, never?


It was Tuesday and Devon hadn’t called yet.  She was supposed to call three days ago.  She was supposed to call as soon as she got back into town.  After all, weren’t they best friends?  Didn’t they do everything together?  Tell each other everything?  Hadn’t they made plans?  Hadn’t there been arrangements?

Chancey knew she couldn’t call her.  No way.  Devon’s land-line was disconnected.  Again.  Her cell phone had quit working ever since Jason Bell’s party when it fell unceremoniously into a toilet.  Devon had never taken the time to get another.  She had said she was too busy, but Chancey knew better.  She knew that Devon didn’t like to receive phone calls.  She liked to make phone calls.  She liked to be the one in charge.  Devon’s mother had bought the cell phone for Devon in a half-hearted effort to keep track of her free-spirited daughter.  As far as Devon was concerned the toilet baptismal was a blessing.

Chancey looked dismally at her Mickey Mouse telephone.  She wanted to knock that smirk off that impertinent rodent’s face.  But she didn’t.  Chancey had never hit anything.  She simply couldn’t.  It wasn’t like her.  Not like Devon who once punched a guy in the stomach for looking at her the wrong way.

Chancey chewed on a stray lock of her hair that had wound itself around her face.  Her hair was always doing that.  Winding around her head like an old-fashioned telephone line.  So unlike Devon who kept her hair shortly cropped in defiant day-glo spikes.  Chancey remembered the color distinctly:  bright inmate orange.  Chancey had helped Devon with the hair bleach.  But that was a week ago.  Chancey wondered what color it was now.

Chancey paced the small confines of her room a couple more times and  then collapsed onto her bed.  A few scattered pillows, some stuffed animals, a battered People magazine and a wooden box bounced slightly as the weight of her body hit the spongy mattress.  She lay there, face down in the pink comforter, like when she was pretending to be a dead body in their neighbor’s pool and sighed.  Loudly.  Her body felt like a blow up doll with a pinhole in it.  Make that three or four pinholes.  She was leaking and nothing could patch her up again.  Unless–

Chancey began chewing the lock of hair again. It was stuck to her face even more now by the spit it had soaked up from her mouth.  She sat up and stared at the wooden box beside her.  Roughly, she brushed off the pillows, the magazine, and the stuffed animals onto the floor.  Then she took the wooden box into her hands.  She rubbed the top of it listlessly, mechanically.  It was smooth to the touch.  Chancey wondered if she could still get splinters from it.

What if Devon didn’t call for another day?  Did she have enough until then?  Chancey couldn’t remember and dared not open the box to check.  She still had a buzz.  There was no reason to look yet.  With another heavy sigh Chancey collapsed onto her back and stared up at the ceiling.  The well-coifed members of Nsync greeted her with plastic posturing and synthetic smiles.  Chancey ignored them and began to count the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling.  Then she remembered that Devon had helped her put those stars up the summer before they started 8th grade together.  They quickly became best friends and spent all their time at Devon’s house.  Chancey had never had a best friend before and she wrote all about it in her diary.  It had been the best summer ever.  Devon had introduced her to so many things she had never thought about before.  That summer was her first time drinking alcohol.  Her first time smoking cigarettes.  Her first time smoking marijuana.  Her first time smoking hash.  Her first time smoking opium.  Her first time snorting crystal meth.  And most importantly, in the midst of all those substances, it was the first time Chancey had ever made out with a girl.

Suddenly a ringing interrupted Chancey’s reverie.  A high-pitched voice sang out, “M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E, Mickey Mouse!”  Chancey sprang up into a sitting position on her bed.  She stared dumbly at the phone for a moment and then gingerly picked up the receiver.

“Hello?”  she stammered into the receiver, trying to smooth out the curly line that connected the hand held piece to the phone.

“Hey Chancey Chance.  It’s me, Devon,” said the voice on the other end.

“Uh, Hey.  Where are you?”

“Look, Chancey Chance, I can’t talk long.  Daddy’s gonna kill me as it is when he sees the hotel bill for this.”

“You mean you’re still not home?” asked Chancey incredulously, her teeth grinding her lock of saliva covered hair into a thready paste.

“Uh, no.  I’m not.  And I’m not coming back.  Daddy’s found a great job here and we’re gonna stay.  He’s already found us a house and everything.”

“B-but what about school?  And what about—“

It was Devon’s turn to interrupt.  “School?  Daddy’s gonna enroll me in a school here.  Something private, I’m sure.  He says it’s first rate.”

Devon paused.  There was a long moment of silence.  Chancey was dumbfounded.  She had lost her words.  She thought she was made of ice.  Or was it smoke?  She couldn’t tell.

“And,” Devon continued, “This is pretty obvious, but I’m not gonna be able to bring you that, uh, present like we planned.”

“Um, ok.” Chancey almost whispered the words.  Her hands were shaking.  She tried holding the phone with both of them but they only shook worse.

“Um, Devon.  You’re really not coming back?  Like, never?”

There was another pause.  Chancey felt like hours were passing.  Or was time standing still.  She couldn’t tell.

“Devon?  Please, tell me you’re gonna come back.  Please say something.”

“Look, Chancey.  There’s something else, too.  You might as well know it.”

“What? W-what is it?”

“Daddy’s new partner has a son our age.  His name is Ricardo and he’s my boyfriend.”  Devon began to speak faster. “I-I just thought you should know.  Look, Daddy just came back into the hotel room with his work buddies.  I need to go. I shoulda called earlier.  Or maybe I never shoulda called at all.  I dunno.  I gotta go, Chancey Chance.”  There was a click and then the sound of the dial tone.

Chancey stared at the plastic figure of Mickey in her hands.  Slowly, she placed him onto the telephone stand.  Silently, she sat down on her bed.  Her vision seemed blurry and everything smelled like new plastic, the way a just opened Barbie smells—or was she thinking of Colorforms?  She wasn’t sure.  She breathed for a little while, until she could see again, her vision slowly coming back to her.  While everything came back into focus, she spread her hands behind her until she found the wooden box.  Carefully, she placed it in her lap and opened it.  She could see clearly now.  She stared intently at the pipes, straws, screens, spoons and pieces of crumpled plastic wrap inside.  One by one, she took out each item and let them fall silently onto the pink shag carpet.  A few minutes later, the paraphernalia lay scattered at her feet.  Chancey stared blankly into the box. There was nothing else inside.


STORM is a San Francisco based writer and artist.  He writes the Stormantic blog and performs Heroic Tarot at Swankety Swank.


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