Monday, November 19, 2012

Girl in the Photograph

Hello! Second post of the day! How many times have I done that this month? Haha, enjoy a Monday Memoir. I'm currently having a slight breakdown about what to wear on Wednesday. Even though it's not a date and it's really casual. Anyways! So today's Memoir features Lillian from Coffee Shop, or a twist on that Lillian. Lillian is probably my favorite character and I think my next project will feature her. She's almost exactly the type of person that I want to be: Self assured, confident, and bold. She's not afraid to do things her way and knows exactly what she wants. She's super independent, and isolates people because of her independence. Enjoy! xx

Girl in the Photograph

Lillian watched the rain fall from the whitewashed walls of her grimy motel room. It had been sunny up until two days ago and the clouds had rolled in yesterday afternoon. She had sat on the hot sand remembering summer by herself just before the first raindrops started to fall from the gloomy sky. It seemed like an eternity ago even though it was just yesterday. She wanted to relive that moment where she was just normal; a normal person sitting on the beach suntanning. No one scrutinized her as she sat on a blanket with sand over her feet and a magazine in her hand. Her sunglasses were perched atop her hair and she was wearing her favorite flower print bikini under the wrap her cousin had gotten her two years ago. It was still her favorite piece of beachwear. Her flip flops were discarded in the sand, carefree. Someone had even approached her for a photograph. She seemed happy in that photograph as the tourist whisked it away on his fancy digital camera. That was all yesterday though and today, rain was pouring down. Rain thudded against the windows and she took a deep breath. 

Her car, her mom's car, was parked in front of her motel room. Her mom's car was headed for the junkyard but Lillian loved that car. It was a rusty old Volkswagen car that fumed exhaust everywhere when she started the engine up. The leather seats were scratched up and there were unidentifiable stains in the back seat. Other people might have thought this car was junk but there were just memories there that Lillian couldn't afford to throw away. She had packed up and left just as she had promised. Her father hadn't believed her when she said she would, but here she was. Lillian had a weeklong vacation from school and she wanted to forget everything, even if that meant running away spontaneously. The blanket was wrapped around her and her back hurt as she sat up on the mattress. It was maybe eight in the morning but she had a long day ahead of her. She always had vivid nightmares when she was stressed and last night was no exception. Lillian closed her eyes for a couple seconds. Usually pretending that something didn't exist was comforting. Her dreams always ended with her frozen on an empty street trying to run from something she couldn't see. There was something about that fear that she couldn't forget. It haunted Lillian that one day she wouldn't be able to wake up. 

Lillian wished she could've said she was happy here, away from her family. Was happiness even attainable? Photograph Lillian would have said she was happy in a heartbeat. Lillian would've given anything away to be that girl forever. Her makeup hadn’t been washed from her radiant skin and she had slept in a skin tight maroon dress. She had a killer headache and this wasn’t how she normally started her morning. Lillian dragged herself out of bed and walked straight to the bathroom. She brushed her long silky jet black hair and smiled. It was probably the one thing that wasn't in a mess right now. She opened the cabinet in search of Advil. 

She found an orange pill bottle with only a couple tablets left. Lillian had forgotten to buy more when she visited the drugstore yesterday. She hurriedly took one and felt instant relief. Lillian washed her face and brushed her teeth. She didn't feel like eating and left the bathroom after finally brushing her hair. With the money she earned working in a clothing store, Lillian had just enough to afford this vacation. She had stolen one of her mother's diamond necklaces just in case her funds ran short. She hadn't had to sell it yet and hoped for the best. It was one of the last things that she had taken from her mother. Lillian sighed as she sat down at the little dining table and recorded how much money she had and how much was spent. It was her fourth and second to last day here. After tomorrow night, she had to drive back to Los Angeles, back to the chaos of everything. Returning was the worst part about running away. No one could run forever. 

Lillian changed out of her maroon dress, the one she wore to last year's Homecoming dance, and wore her old boyfriend's sweater over black leggings. She wondered why she still had it when he had wrenched her heart apart. He was a terribly nice person and she had a problem with that. They shouldn't have even been friends but Lillian wanted to feel normal. She wanted to forget her troubles by hanging around someone without any troubles at all. It was her own fault for trying to run away. She was never his special girl but just a special girl. Terribly nice people were difficult to gauge. Their relationship had started off innocent in a way that Lillian wasn't. They were friends and that was the last time she would let herself fall in love with a friend. He had invited her out to the school play just because she didn't have anyone to see it with. She had thought that was the beginning of something, rather than an apologetic act of pity. They talked for an eternity through phone calls and late night messages. Time was not a boundary. Her carefree attitude changed the night of April 8th.  He finally worked up the courage to ask her out on something she interpreted as a date. She had spent a whole week planning the perfect first date. They hadn't actually gone out to anything and she wanted it to be special. When Lillian saw her friend Georgia there with him, she wanted to vomit and run away. She asked the both of them why Georgia was here and his answer was simple. Georgia didn't have anything to do and so he invited her. That was how much Lillian meant to him. It wasn't a date at all. She felt betrayed by Georgia at the same time. Georgia had helped her plan this event. Had she been plotting this behind her back the whole time? Needless to say, Georgia was ostracized and isolated, by everyone except maybe him. He still didn't understand what he did wrong. After that night, he sent her flowers and chocolates and invitations to see movies she had no interest in seeing. He wanted her back only when he realized that she had long moved on. He was maybe the second guy she actually liked and another reminder that love didn't work. It was a lie invented by happy people to make everyone else miserable. She tried to tell herself that she didn't care, but that would've been another lie. She was the type of girl that guys wanted but seldom loved. She always loved them more than they loved her and so she had promised herself to throw love away all together. 

Lillian grabbed her umbrella and put on her shoes. She needed to clear her mind and besides, she did enjoy the rain. She locked the door behind her and started to walk. 

She hated her family and wished that she could stay here, by herself forever. She might meet a nice guy somewhere in this small beach community and they'd be happy, that was a requisite. She would be that girl in the photograph, she could be that girl in the photograph here. Her mother was dead and her father was a well known movie director in Los Angeles. She had lived with various people now just to avoid even seeing her father again. Her eccentric Aunt Louisa was first on the list until Lillian decided that it was time to leave. She always left a neat little note, packed up her suitcase, and left. She never fully unpacked at any given time. She stayed at each of her friends' houses for three weeks until their parents started to question her motives. There was nowhere to go now and so she had decided to come here. It was her mother's favorite place to be. 

Her father married some woman with ginger hair and long fingernails painted blue. The last time Lillian had seen them was at their wedding that she was forced to go to. They divorced five months later and to Lillian, it proved that love never worked. She was more similar to her father than she would've liked. There was nothing she could change about that. Her father had explicitly told her she needed to come to some press event tomorrow evening. She couldn't skip this one. She was mostly out of money too and there was nowhere else for her to run. There was always a reason preventing people from running to infinity. Lillian walked along the beach and liked its solitude and isolation. She couldn't even hear the blaring traffic. The city never slept. It was unsettling at first to fall asleep to the ocean waves and silence. Lillian would miss that more than anything. Silence was the greatest gift that anyone could give you. The rain pounded on her umbrella but she liked the way the water droplets bounced around. 

"Hey. You aren't supposed to be here." She turned her head around and stood at the side of the street. There weren't any cars anywhere and the pavement had been eroded. This was new to her. She stuck her hands in her pockets and glared up at him again. Was he part of the "good citizen" brigade? 

"Do I care?" She asked with a sigh. She wanted a smoke but she had given up those cancer sticks three years ago with her first boyfriend. They were four years apart but they always said love was ageless. He had been her first kiss and the one to introduce her to cigarettes. She was a naive girl back then not so used to solitude. He had said he loved her and that was the first time any guy had said he loved her. She depended on that just as much as the nicotine. It was a normal Monday in his apartment where they'd smoke on the balcony and listen to one of his favorite bands. She lived there for the three months of their relationship. His apartment was small, almost like this motel room. It had one room and one bathroom with a whole bunch of crap littering the floor. He had snaked his hand around her back and soon inside her shirt. She didn't know what to do and she recoiled from his touch. He asked her what was wrong and she said that she didn't want to do it. He shrugged his shoulders and kissed her. He didn't try anything else. A few weeks later, he invited her to one of his friends' house for a party. She went and he dragged her to one of the bedrooms. He gave her the ultimatum there that she would sleep with him or he would break up with her. He knew how much she needed him and needed to feel the illusion of love and belonging. She wasn't ever that needy and left the party immediately; changed and hardened like a stone. He never called her again and Lillian gave up smoking, just like that.  

"Did you hear what I said?" Lillian was back in reality. She blinked a couple times but she felt that her conscience was breaking into a thousand little shards. Lillian studied his face to distract herself from that imminent pain. He looked like the only other resident from around here. She had met a couple people when she decided that she was hungry and needed some sort of meal. Lillian had been to both the diners and realized that both served inedible muck. Maybe she didn't want to live here after all. He inhaled sharply and she smiled as she turned back around. 

"You aren't supposed to be here," he said again, only louder. 

"Where is here? Like this side of the street? Or in this town? My dead mother would've said the same thing." She wondered when the exact moment was when she could say that statement without crying. Lillian hadn't hated her mother. Her mother was just blind to reality. She was one of those happy people who thought she had found love. Lillian remembered when she screamed at her mother that her father was having an affair right before music class. Her mother locked herself in the spare bedroom and took her own life. It was never talked about but Lillian blamed only herself. She continued with piano and guitar but never felt the same about anything.  

"I just meant on that side of the street," he said. His tone was much softer and she wished she hadn't said anything about her mother. It was supposed to be a good laugh for her. She liked seeing the horror stricken expressions people wore. She hated pity and other people's pity. 

"Sorry," she simply said and continued to walk along that side. He grumbled but raced after her. He was wearing a baggy sweatshirt from Aeropostale and some faded blue jeans. He didn't have an umbrella but she didn't feel sorry for him.

"Leave me alone," she finally said whipping her hair around. "I want to walk, alone." He nodded and watched her leave. She knew he was waiting for her to turn back and apologize about her sharp tongue. But she never did and he stood there for quite a while. She hated people with lack of reality. They built illusions around them and built lies to stay happy and naive. When those walls were crushed, they felt no desire to remain apart of society. His positivity was holding him back from seeing that she was never going to return. She hated the fact that her father was good at manipulating her own pessimism. Lillian stared at her wristwatch. She had spent an hour walking around and now it was time to face her own reality. She continued in a circle until she had to eventually turn around. Lillian saw that he was still waiting for her at the edge of the street.

"You're stupid," she said walking straight past him. What did he want from her?

"I knew you'd come around." He smiled stupidly at her and she realized he probably wasn't smart enough to know what he wanted and how to get it.

"I literally did." He was following her again but she still remained a couple of steps ahead. She walked the ocean stretch back to the motel room. He stood outside like an abandoned puppy. "Go home. I'm going to call the police."

"I'll call the police too."

"For what? I didn't do anything wrong."

"You spent an entire hour walking on the wrong side of the street." Lillian wanted to strangle him. She didn't and folded her umbrella. She opened the door to her motel room and sighed. Lillian wondered why she was doing this but she pushed the door out by a mere inch. He seemed to understand what that signal meant.

"Thanks," he said following her in. Lillian hadn't really unpacked and her suitcase was still zipped by the foot of the bed. The motel room was small, with one queen size bed, a desk and that small dining table. There was a kitchen space even though Lillian hadn't even touched it. The stranger she had invited was taking off his sweatshirt and she wondered if she sent out the wrong impression. She laughed just because this was crazy. Maybe it was Lillian-crazy when she drove out, but it was plain crazy that she had invited a male stranger into her motel room. Didn't she watch the news? Didn't she read horror stories? He smiled at her.

"How old are you?" She asked. His blond hair had clumped together because of the rain and he was audibly shivering. He was taking off his shirt now and Lillian almost cringed. Was he okay?

"I'm seventeen," he said with a boyish smile. "What about you? What's your name? I'm Andrew, by the way." Introductions weren't important to her. Why acquaint yourself with people that just left? What was the point of making friends when everyone eventually left?

"Are you? I'm sixteen. You don't need to know my name. You can shower first. It seems like you need it more than I do. Do you live around here?"

"You could say so."

"Why didn't you just go home?"

"I'm going to take that shower now."

"Do you have clothes?" He pointed to his backpack and she hadn't realized that he had on a backpack. Lillian nodded and walked to the kitchenette. There was a kettle hanging from a hook and she poured water into it. She put the kettle on the stove top burner and turned the heat on. She needed some tea and Andrew probably needed some tea. He had to have some mental issues to be waiting for a girl he didn't know for that long in a pouring rain storm. At the same time, she probably had to have mental issues for inviting that said person inside. Lillian took off her ex-boyfriend's sweater and stripped down to her underwear. It didn't really bother her that there was a guy in her motel room. She put the clothes back into her suitcase and pulled a towel out. Her mother had taught her to always carry around a towel of her own. She took off her socks and underwear and wrapped the towel around. She heard the water stop running and the bathroom door open. Steam had filled the bathroom and Andrew was shivering loudly again. He was wearing a new pair of darker jeans and a dry shirt. She said nothing as she walked past him and went into the bathroom. Lillian put her dry clothes on top of the sink basin and felt her towel sweep down. She realized the door wasn't closed and that there was a guy in the motel room most likely staring at her naked body.

"Perve!" Lillian yelled. She slammed the door shut and turned on the water. She turned the dial all the way to hot and watched her skin turn red. Lillian came out of the shower twenty minutes later wearing her jeans and an old school shirt. She didn't say anything to him. He handed her a cup of tea and she took another capsule of Advil.

"Let's go for lunch," he said with a smile. She decided that she was a bit hungry and dried off her hair. She zipped on a jacket and followed him out. Lillian decided that the right thing to do was share her umbrella. She wondered where the sudden change came from? They sat in the diner and both ordered hamburgers.

"So what are you doing here?" He asked.

"Running away I guess. What about you? You clearly don't live here."

"I met a pretty girl who wasn't following the rules so I decided to follow her."

"You think I'm pretty?" There was a slight inflection in her tone. They took the rest of the day sightseeing. He seemed to know this town better than her. They shared the umbrella as they looked out at the beach.

"I love the beach," she said sighing into the ocean waves. "Los Angeles isn't like this. It's so chaotic that I just want to be alone."

"You're from LA? I'm from LA too. What are the odds of that?" He looked a lot better when he wasn't sopping wet.

"You never told me why you're here."

"I guess I'm doing the same thing as you."

She smiled. They were two strangers connected by the singular idea of running away. Maybe she seemed like the girl in the photograph right now. She felt a sense of happiness. She hadn't felt happy for so long that she had actually forgotten what it was like to genuinely smile. They continued to look around until it became dark. The only problematic thing was that there was only one bed and not enough space on the floor.

"Um floor's yours," she said pointing to the tiny space between the desk and the bed. She was nice enough not to kick him out.

"What, like you haven't slept with a guy before?" She froze and her skin stiffened. The memories of her first boyfriend came rushing back. Her head started to ache. "Not like that, obviously," he said stuttering.

"Do I seem like that sort of girl?" She was whispering.

"I didn't mean it like that. I don't even know your name."

"You did. You did mean it like that."

"Fine maybe I did but I didn't know you'd be so shaken up by it."

"Out. Get out."

"Sorry, I really don't have a place to stay. Please."

"Do you think that I care?"

"I don't get what the big deal is." She didn't know why she was explaining her past to him. It just tumbled out. He looked dumbfounded when she finished. It wasn't too far off his normal expression.

"Sorry," he said. "I'll be your first." He climbed onto one side and turned off the lamp. She didn't know what was happening and this was probably the first time she hadn't been in control of the situation. "Good night." Lillian slid under the blankets to her half of the bed.

"Have you ever slept someone?" She didn't know why she asked. She didn't know why she had compromised her authority either. Lillian blinked open her eyes and felt the sad truth settling in. She knew exactly why. She wanted to feel happy so badly that she would throw anything away.

"You're my first." She couldn't help but laugh. It felt nice just laying there sharing something with someone. She woke up in the morning to see that he had woken up before her. It was seven thirty in the morning. He was making a phone call.

"Yes, I found her. Lillian right?" Lillian froze again. Chills were tingling up her spine. This wasn't the way she wanted to wake up either. Here she was, letting someone into her life just to realize that they were using her. She changed into a fancy purple dress, from this year's Homecoming dance. Her Miu Miu pumps were strapped on to her poor feet and she was ready to make an entrance.

"You like nice," he said absently after hanging up the phone.

"Hey this is weird but did my dad hire you to follow me? That's not who you were calling right?" Lillian was desperate for him to call that notion crazy. She wanted him to erupt in laughter and call her crazy. Lillian was holding her makeup pouch and her almost empty aspirin container. She shoved them into her suitcase. She wanted to gulp down another pill so badly she was visibly shaking. He stiffened and she almost smiled. She knew it. She knew it. These days had been too good to be true. She was that girl in the photograph but now she was suffering from those lies, those illusions. How had she let herself go so far? Where was that rigid discipline and control? She couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to pretend she never heard that phone call. Was it better to have happiness or truth? If she chose happiness, she would be exactly like her mother. Her mother's death had proven to Lillian that happiness and love didn't exist. What would happen after that happiness was falsely achieved? Lillian smirked to herself. She knew the answer too well: she would crumble beneath the lies and take her own life.

She opened her umbrella and zipped up her suitcase. She didn't even wait for his answer before storming out. His lack of answer was enough for her. She checked out of the motel room in the dreary lobby. Lillian saw him leave the empty room and she put her suitcase in the trunk. She opened her car door and drove off, blasting music. She wondered how much he was paid to do this.

It wasn't raining in LA and she almost felt silly coming here. Here was this huge party and she was trying to be a part of it all. A couple familiar faces smiled at her and she smiled back. That was the etiquette. She saw a couple of guys who her father had paid to do the same thing at one point or another. They always stood there like idiots after her accusation. Then they would say something along the lines of "I fell in love with you after we spent that day together" and she would laugh just because of the sheer ridiculousness of it all. She contemplated what other options she had. She was wearing her mother's diamond necklace as she mingled around the scene. She saw Andrew there and wondered how he had managed to drive faster than her. He was talking to her dad about something and she inched closer. Eavesdropping was bad but she didn't really care. The line between good and bad grew blurry with every passing day. Neither of them had spotted her.

"Why won't you let me date her?" Hmm? Had he seen her? Lillian just rolled her eyes. This was a change. "I did what you asked."

"I'm not the one stopping you from dating her. Good luck convincing Lillian."

"We've slept together," he blurted out. That was their secret. She closed her eyes momentarily. She needed to think. The whole room went silent and all eyes turned to her. The spotlight was suddenly on her.

"He wishes," Lillian said mustering the courage of laugh. Was he here to ruin her life? He looked almost broken hearted.

"That's my girl," her father said with a sneer. They would talk about her escapade later. She had just ruined his party.

"C'mon Andrew, let's go," she said and he followed her out. Her father was gaping at her. "Don't ever do that to me again."

"You mean, you're still going to see me?" She rolled her eyes, but couldn't help smiling. Right now, she was the girl in the photograph.

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