I got my drivers license today, I drove straight to your house you were waiting outside with a cake it had “Happy Birthday” written on it. We sat in your room watching Carrie with the lights off. We ate the cake with a fork and just when we started to feel sick you spoke “Let’s get something to celebrate.”
You looked like your father when you smiled and like your mother when you cried .This was common knowledge even more so when we heard them come in yelling at each other. I heard the sound of a plate crash and I got up but you pulled my arm , put up the volume of the movie and the scene with Carrie White covered in blood came up.Her eyes were filled with rage and malice. I turned back to see you get up and open the window,
“ What are you doing?”
“Getting out of here. Let’s go Juno.”
“What if they kill each other?”
“Wouldn’t be the first time.”
We snuck out on to the roof ,you jumped off the roof into the pool and beckoned for me to do the same, we jumped the fence and got into the car.
“Why did we have to do that?”
“ Because I’d hate to interrupt the lovers,” you said only half kidding you started fiddling with the radio.
“We should probably talk about it, Finn.”
“And we will in therapy one day until then we have a driver’s license to abuse.”
I didn’t know what to say to bring you back so I didn’t .I started driving you opened the window leaning on the ledge of the car with your arms crossed over as you watched golden suburbia turn into the countryside. I knew the exact spot just passed the woods there was a strawberry farm we found when we were kids, If things got really bad that’s where we’d go in the summer well that’s if my parents got sick of us.They always preferred distance between Finn and I but we were the kind of people who grew up together then grow old together. It didn’t take long for you to switch one moment you were a gun the next you were a bed of roses. I feared the gun and loved the roses.
I looked at her she was deep in thought, sometimes I feel like it messed with her that my life was the way it was.
“Can I kiss you?”
“Because you look like you need it.”
She laughed at that then turned to face me.
“Close your eyes,” I said as I leaned in and kissed her forehead.
“Stop thinking so much,”
She had hair the colour of the strawberry fields , dark green eyes and clusters of freckles all over her body, dazed and confused dissatisfied and annoyed she got out of the car walking into the darkness. I got out of the car and started chasing after her tickling her sides when I reached her then running when she tried to attack me with strawberries.
“I surrender ,I surrender I’m sorry.”
“There’s a for?”
I laughed as she wrestled me to the ground, “Juno this isn’t effective communication, use your words.”
She pelted me with soil and before she could do more damage I tackled her to the ground and kissed her, her lips were soft and slightly covered in earth , she was my favourite person in the whole world, I think I loved her no I’m certain I did.
“Dad, Mom?” I called as I came in the TV was on every light in the house was off. “She’s gone, it’s just me.” I got out the guest wine from the cupboard and sat beside my dad. “How long did you have to stay away this time?”He said pulling out his wallet “ Four hours.” He pulled out a couple of notes and set them on the table.I took them then slid the wine to him after taking a gulp “What are we watching?” It was their wedding tape it was always their wedding tape but it seemed polite to ask.
“Do you think she’ll come back this time?”
He snorted drinking the wine from the bottle.
“ I never thought I’d meet the love of my life at such an early age maybe I don’t understand what that means yet but I’m going to figure it out.” My mom said in a voice sweeter than a dream, she looked at my dad then and kissed his cheek and my dad picked her up spun her around then kissed her.
Dad turned off the TV , “I’m going to bed don’t stay up too late.”
I manned the living room waiting for her to come home. I turned the TV back on rewinding back to part of my mom’s vows . I took a gulp of the wine after rewatching the scene about five times I heard a car park in the driveway.
Mom came in bumping into the furniture. She moved to the kitchen looking for the guest wine “It’s in here, bring the something to eat please my head is killing me.” She brought a box of cherries then smiling she kissed my forehead “Finn, or is it the great Dionysus in disguise .”
“Where did you go?” I asked her .
“To heaven,” she answered drinking the wine.
“So you left us in hell wondering where you were?”
“Don’t do that,don’t burn heaven right in front of me and tell me hell’s fun,”
“So we’re hell to you.”
“No, not you well yes you because you look like him too.” She laughed at this.
“Well then go up to hell Persephone,Hades is waiting.” I said grabbing the bottle and taking the last gulp.
I stood in front of my mirror, what did you see in me Finn? I sucked in a breath and turned to the side, I was tall and lanky. I touched my hair
closing my eyes imagining it was your fingers. I ran into my mothers room and put on her wedding dress. Put on her lipstick and her pearls.I walked down the stairs trying my best to look like a dream, trying not to trip.
I reached the last step and I smiled rehearsing my vows “Finneas, I feel happier when I’m with you, you’re the love of my life. someone will remember us one day and our love will be that remarkable even in another time. I know this because when you call my name -” I heard the car pull up and I ran up the stairs.
“Juno,we’re home honey.”
“I’m in the shower.”
I yelled then turned on the shower as I pried the dress off my body. I shoved it in the closet before putting on my robe and wetting my hair. I looked at myself in the mirror wiping the lipstick from my lips.
I went to bed feeling like a child every question stemmed with the thought of Finn and it felt like I was too young to understand it,to understand you. I wanted to forget my idiocy my naïveté. I closed my eyes but just when I fell asleep I heard a sound by my window. I opened the window and I saw you there I looked at you in a credulous manner. You looked like a photograph with your olive skin, onyx coils and your brown eyes I felt my heart start to race .
“Am I dreaming?”
“Yes just lucid dreaming, let me in?”
“Are they going at it again.”
“ I’ll explain later.”
I put on some jeans and a t-shirt and ran down the stairs. I opened the door and he entered looking for the car keys in the study. He signalled for me to be quiet and we made our way to the front door after closing it I looked at him expectantly .
“ Candace called , if you want the records they’re yours . That’s what she said.”
“ This couldn’t wait until tomorrow.”
“ No, they’re re in mint condition and she’s leaving tomorrow it’s one of those spur of the moment miracles.”
You were the catalyst of my life I thought as you leaned out looking through the window. Sometimes I think you’re a figment of my imagination then I remembered I couldn’t think up someone so great. “We could be heroes” by David Bowie was playing as we walked inside The Golden Year record store.
She was beautiful, she had the same olive skin as Finn just with freckles, her hair was golden and it probably shone in the sunlight. She was smiling at you .
“ Driving all the way down here in the middle of the night, you must be desperate.”
“You called late in the night and waited for us to show up, I’m guessing we share the same sentiment.” You replied walking the aisles looking at the records.
“Who’s Red here?”
“Her name’s Juno not Red and she’s my god.”
“Too bad I don’t believe in god,” she said as she disappeared into the back room, she came back with a box full of records .
We left the record store. You put the records in the back seat.
“I don’t want to go home .”
You said as we got to the car.
I imagined a gun in my hand, I pulled the trigger and rose petals fell from it.
“We don’t have to go back there then,” I said as I handed you the car keys.
I drove as she played with the radio singing along to the songs every now and then. Then she shifted to look at the records.
“ Finn, If I’m your god what does that make you?” She said giggling.
“Well Red , that makes me the first disciple.” I said smiling at you.
“ The cult of Juno.” She said laughing and shaking her head.
“ So Candace?”
“She’s a friend.”
“I thought I was your only friend,”
I chuckled, “Sorry to disappoint you,”
“ What kind of friend is she?”
“The kind you of friend you drive to in the middle of the night to get records from.”
“What kind of friend am I?”
“You’re not my friend, you’re my lover.Juno,”
Her lips parted as if to say something before she turned red.
“When was that established.”
“When I kissed you and it felt like fire and thunder.”
We stopped by a diner she got a stack of flapjacks and I ordered a black coffee.
“You could move in with me at the end of the summer .” She said softly
“Dad wants us to move back to Lazio at the end of the summer,”
She looked a little shocked but mostly she was sad. I couldn’t stay here forever even if I wanted to. I drove us to a motel. I asked the manager if they had a record player he looked in the back and came out with a RT80 High Fidelity I took it upstairs and started playing the records I settled on ‘Crimson & Clover’ by Tommy James & The Shondells. She wrapped her arms around me leaning her head on my back.
“Don’t go Finn,”
“Dance with me, Juno.”
I said turning around and moving her hands to my neck.
“We could leave together.”
“I can’t leave them .”
She clung on to me.
“No ,you can’t leave me,”
I held her as she started to cry. It felt like holding together a house on fire. She looked like a white flag burning getting smaller and smaller every second.
Every thing is strange people,places but not you ,Finn you had a smile as warm as Fresno in July. You felt like home.I brushed the hair out of your face and kissed you , you closed your eyes we laid on the bed my eyes still puffy, cheeks still red.
“I’m afraid you’ll forget about me.” I said softly.
“I’m not afraid of that.”
“I could never forget you Juno, you’re the only good thing ,”
“ It’s a mystery to me how you always say the right thing.”
I climbed on top of you, “It’s a mystery how you do the things you do,”
You pulled down my shirt collar .
“Juno it’s not a mystery, I love you.” We were a breath apart , you closed the gap kissing me softly. I pulled away then started tickling you.
“Juno , no stop it.”
You said squirming and laughing, you rolled and I fell onto the bed. You began your attack.
“Finn no, no,” I giggled wrapped my arms around your neck and pulling you down to my chest.We stayed like this for a while me running my fingers through your hair as you listened to my heart beat.
I woke up in the middle of the night, then I saw her laying next to me. I’d been having the same dream for weeks now where she got into her car furious with me. I tried calming her down and she left just like mom does. It felt like she wouldn’t come back .
I called into the silence.
“I’m afraid you’ll forget me too, I’m afraid we stop talking,I’m afraid we end up like my parents. I have this dream that we got in a fight and you got into your car , you leave me like she does in hell wondering what I did.”
I felt like a coward , I couldn’t say any of this when you were awake.
The golden rays of the sun hit your hair as you slept. I got up and fiddled with the records I picked up the 10cc The Original Soundtrack and played “I’m not in love” I opened the curtains I heard you whine ,I snorted.
“We have to get going ,”
You threw a pillow at me I turned around laughing as you got up and went to the bathroom.
Your favourite colour is red, red like roses or strawberry fields, red like my hair. I thought as I packed away the records. But I couldn’t help wishing I was some else, the girl you would find and end up marrying who lived in Lazio . I could see her :
Black hair and pale skin with blue eyes, she would kiss you, hold you erase me and the colour red from your life, she’d take my seat in the car , on our adventures. But mostly she would make you stay.You’d choose her like you didn’t choose me, like a gun, like roses.She wouldn’t be complicated. Wouldn’t ask about your family. I’m just your god, not your lover.
I felt like a liar pretending to be okay with you leaving.
I thought as we walked to the grocery store I put pancake mix in the cart and you snorted.
“You’re not going to make it from scratch?”
“You make pancakes from scratch?”
You took the mix out of the cart then then started putting in the ingredients you needed.
I sat in your kitchen watching you crack an egg into a bowl of milk and olive oil before mixing in the dry ingredients.
“What are we going to tell my parents?”
“That you had fun.”
“They already hate you, you know.”I snorted.
“I know they do , they’re afraid I’ll hurt you.”
“And will you?”
“You’re like god to me, I would never hurt you.”
But you already did.
You moved to get the guest wine that stayed in the cupboard.
“Wine in the morning?”
“ It takes the pain away.”
“Life.” You said pouring the wine into the glasses.
I moved to eat a few blueberries from the bowl you set aside.
“What will we do today?”
“ Everything,” you said pouring the batter into the pan.
“We can’t do everything.”
“We can try.”
I moved to wrap my arms around your waist.
We ate out on the terrace, I drenched my pancakes in syrup.
“You’re not going to taste anything.”
“Not true.” I said making a heart on my pancakes.I took a bite looking at your backyard, there was the swimming pool glittered under the rays of the sun. I looked back at you and you were staring at me.
“Why are you staring at me?”
“Because you look like The Birth of Venus,”
“ Well technically I look like the model Botticelli used I’m sure Venus looked a whole lot different from me.”
“I don’t know, just a guess.” I said taking a sip of the wine.
“ We should go swimming today.” You suggested as we took the plates to the kitchen washed them and put them away.
“Maybe later, I wanted to go the studio today.”
I made ceramics , I thought about starting my own shop one day.
“You still can’t work while I’m watching you?”
“Yes and I’m sure my parents don’t want to see you right now. Thank you for breakfast.”
“ Let me walk you out.” You said wrapping your arms around my waist. You kissed my neck, “Finn,”
“I have to go.”
“I don’t want you to go.”
You released me and opened the door.
I drove up my driveway.
“How does the fairytale go?Pumpkins, glass slipper back by midnight?”
My dad said kissing my forehead and hugging me.
“Where were you?”
“Finneas and I-”
“I hate him.”
“He’s leaving at the end of the summer.”
I said walking inside the house and opened the studio.
I gave my dad my car keys.
“You’ll never see him again,” I said putting on my apron.
“One day you’ll laugh about this,call it a rebellious phase.”
He snorted closing the studio door and I started working.
I drove to the strawberry farm and then to the grocery store buying the few ingredients I was missing. I got home and started baking and cooking. The telephone rang and I picked it up it was her,
“ Finneas , wine red or white?”
She dropped the phone and I moved back to the kitchen, I started cooking . I got out the plates we got form the wedding.
I set the table, she burst through the door with the wine and a vase.
“You’re not late , their not here yet.”
“ Good to know, have you checked the mail?”
“ No not yet.”
She said kissing my cheek then filling the vase.
“How is Jeane’s book?”
“Very philosophical,” I said talking about work, I was Jeane’s editor we fought a lot but she was a good writer,she encapsulated the universe in a mere hundred pages.
“How was the shop today?” I asked putting out the wine glasses.
“A woman came in said she was looking for lavenders , she was beautiful tall,red hair, green eyes, she looked like The Birth of Venus .”
“Her name?” I asked.
Malory said as she put the vase down. She went out on to the terrace with a pair of scissors and started to cut a few roses from our garden, I watched her from the window.
I brought my lavenders home,got into the bath and closed my eyes. I looked at the turquoise stoned ring on my finger and submerged myself underwater.
“In the bathtub.”
“We’re going to be late.”
“How did it go?” I said as you came into the bathroom.
“We started a piece on Nero’s ruins.”
You said leaning on the edge of the bathtub with your elbows.
“ And how was your day?”
“I went to a flower shop , bought some flowers then I started talking to the owner and I gave her my card.”
You looked into my eyes and then to my lips then kissed me.
“I missed you,” I said softly as you smiled at me.
I got dressed and we drove to one of the editors working on the piece with you for dinner.
You opened the door and I got out we walked up the stairs and you knocked on the door.
The woman from the flower shop opened the door she smiled at you kissing your cheeks then looked at me with recognition.
“It’s nice to see you again, Mrs Gardener. Dear the guests are here. His in his study Adam maybe you could get him out .”
You went inside and climbed up stars to the study.
“This is a beautiful house.” I said.
“ Thank you , and the lavenders did you put them in water?”
“ Yes did it as soon as I got home, this is a beautiful vase.”
“Thank you we got it in Florence.”
We heard murmuring and later and Adam came down followed by another man. I moved to get a better look at him.