Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence won't you come out to play?
Dear Prudence open up your eyes
Dear Prudence see the sunny skies
The wind is low, the birds will sing
That you are part of everything
Dear Prudence won't you open up your eyes?
Look around round round
Look around round round
Oh look around
Dear Prudence let me see you smile
Dear Prudence like a little child
The clouds will be a daisy chain
So let me see you smile again
Dear Prudence won't you let me see you smile?
Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence won't you come out to play?
“I can totally tell you used spell check. I am impressed, Kaylis. Good job.” If I could bottle that sarcasm, I'd make my fortune. Monday afternoons are always more fun with a touch of Jet.
Gracious as a spring day, she was. Dmitri must have narked to her about me getting miffed. Still in a funk and feeling somewhat facetious myself, I tried to take the high road. “I'm thrilled you like the attention paid to spelling. Glad I could bedazzle you with my mastery of the word processing program and its features.” I focused on diluting my silk dyes in small plastic cups.
Her voice echoed through my head. “Your bitchiness is now what's bedazzling. I say three short sentences, and wow, saucer of milk for table one. Put those claws away, kitty. I want to talk about this novel you wrote.”
It was coming, my impending sense of doom foretold. Here comes the verbal red pen and the no-holds-barred draw and quartering of plot, theme and execution. I heaved a deep sigh and uttered, “Bring it on.”
The green streaks were gone from her hair, which hung around her down-turn face. She worked to stretch a three by five foot silk scarf in a standing frame as part of her silk painting lesson. With precision, she made sure it was evenly stretched along the perimeter. “I liked it. I never thought of Lazarus in that context, but cool. And I loved the research you did with ossuaries. I looked them up to see if you fabricated them-- history for the win! So again... way cool. I really really liked Lisbet in general and how she and the evil vampire bitch played off each other. I have a few suggestions for some choppy bits, but all in all, I think it's really good. You'll probably piss off the Papacy if you ever get published and noticed... but let's not count your chicks before they hatch. But I will say you've definitely improved.” She picked up the gigantic sumi brush and waved it like a magic wand.
I laid the brush I was holding down upon the workbench and stepped away from the standing frame. I plopped onto my stool and took in what exactly it was she just said. Was she high? Where was the mocking critique telling me of the awesomeness of Tolstoy, Austin and Plato and how I'd never compare? She liked it? Jet's giggle spilled into my ear and irked me something fierce. “Don't laugh, I'm not speechless yet. Are you loaded?” My voice possessed a touch of wonder, a hint of whimsy and plenty of sass.
“You had me worried there for a moment. I was sure I heard crickets chirping. And no, not loaded. Loquacious, but not loaded.” So it wasn't just Diet Coke in her cup. Drambuie was known to make Jet loquacious.
The incredulousness hadn't abated, and I felt the need to ask just so I was on the same page as her. “You really liked it?” It wasn't my intention for my voice to sound so breathy and hope-filled, but as much as I wish it wasn't so... her opinion did matter. I'll give credit where credit is due and Jet loved books more than mankind. Her thumbs up could very well be my Pulitzer.
“Yeah... when did you write that story and why the hell have you never told me about it? How could you not think I'd love it? The whole Mary of Magdalene twist was nice...it's like Dan Brown and Anne Rice bore a bastard child and ditched it in the middle east... I'm seriously pissed you kept this under wraps.”
“I started writing it right before Dmitri and I finally hooked up... Why did you go behind my back and ask him for one of my works?”
“Because I am tired of being told 'No' by you... Kaylis, I don't know if you're aware that your eyes narrow and you get a little wrinkle above your nose when you tell me no... Your forehead gets all raisin-wrinkly, too. I've looked when you've told Dimi no, and that wrinkle just isn't there. It's like a crater on the moon that only appears by magic when I talk to you. So I'm sticking my figurative flag in that crater and calling those wrinkles collectively the Jetnia Phenomenon when they appear. They are mine. All mine. Don't start giving them to Dmitri just because he pissed you off something fierce. Don't be mad at him. I brought Dmitri to the dark side with promise of cookies. Chocolate chip ones. He's got them stashed in the garage, by the way. And you know what? That manuscript I was looking at is just about done. Let's break out the sandpaper and make it smooth. So just think, time to start planning that wedding in earnest. About two week's worth of hard work, and you'd fulfill your potential sugar mama obligations to Mr. Branimir. I am offering my services to you. I want to see this completed because I have to do my Maid of Honor duty... and I'd like to get that over and done with while I'm still young.”
Wow. I don't know why I'd ever expect Jet to respect the sanctity of my written word, but it galled me that she justified going over my head because I kept denying her. What made her think I'd be any happier knowing my wishes were violated? She wondered why I spawned a wrinkle just for her? And here I was thinking the answer obvious. Silly me.
“Did Dmitri consent to scheme with you so the wedding would happen faster?” It was a hunch. The man was an old school traditionalist at heart and preferred action to contemplation. A long engagement isn't something he'd entertain. I was also curious since normally he respected my work area. He liked computers but never got comfortable with my laptop. He'd find a reason to use the desktop in the office rather than pull up whatever YouTube video on my dainty purple laptop ever-so-close at hand.
Her voice was nonchalant. “Something like that.”
I thought for a moment. “Are you telling me that he conspired with you to make the wedding happen faster... before he proposed to me?” My mind whirled at the thought.
It was her turn for an obligatory moment of silence before she spoke in low tones. “You are good, Kaylis.”
I don't like being manipulated by those I thought of as caring for me. I don't like my best friend and my hunny co-conspiring behind my back about how to get me to finish a novel and to the alter in a rush. It felt like an intrusion and violation of the deal Dmitri and I made long before he proposed... I wanted to sell a manuscript before I ever got married. Being forced to live the reality of that didn't sit well. I wanted it on my terms, not theirs. I also resented that the little written haven I created was pillaged by the she-pirate before I was ready to share it with the world. But she thought it was good... I'd take a look at the suggestions she most likely already prepared. And when it was done, I'd muster the courage to try and see if the publishing world thought it was worthy. Might get published, might not... but either way, it'd be accomplished. Dmitri would get his wedding date and Jet would get to pat herself on the back for a job well done before she bore resemblance to a dehydrated grape.
“I am good, and don't you forget it. As for the work of mine you finagled, fine. Wave your magic red pen. I will bow down to your wisdom in all things literary. And once you've gone to town jacking off that red pen all across my manuscript, you can then figure out the next step for me to take since it seems I'm incapable of doing it myself. Plus I would hate for you to grow raisin-wrinkly before I ever go wedding dress shopping. I'm going to rely upon your biting sarcasm for each frock I plan to try on. And I'll make you wear one too. See how you like it.”
“Oooh you've really got your knickers in a twist over this, don't you? I'm sorry I batted my eyes and waved fresh-baked cookies under Dmitri's nose so I could get my hands on some bathroom reading material. And I'm sooo fucking sorry that I want to see you take it to the next level because, egad, I believe in your abilities. Time to wear your ovaries on the outside like a big girl, Kaykay. Just say the word, and I'll take it to the next level. As a wedding gift to you. Put on your big girl underoos and let's do this.”
In silence I thought about what she offered. Pride aside, I don't know when she'd ever offer me her services with so little shit-giving. I'd be a fool to spurn her generosity. It was as easy as that. Equilibrium regained, I got off my ass and resumed painting. The wide wash brush lurked in the jar of water. I used it to wet the silk before I started applying the dye. Poppy red flowed from the sumi brush, giving color to the roses I painted with a new found zen-like attitude. She waited with the patience of a Shaolin monk.
“Ok. We'll do it.”
Her laugh tinkled through the air. “Awesome! I knew you could be reasoned with... Dimi was pretty sure you were gonna tell me where to shove that red pen and then a few other choice random acts of buggery before my head imploded from the Wrath of Kaylis.”
“You promised me back in art school that you'd never make a Star Trek reference within my earshot. For thirteen years you kept it.”
“I couldn't help myself. And let's look at it this way- Khan is only one syllable. 'Wrath of Cunt' would've been much more worthy of getting pissy. You haven't said that you'll forgive your man. He just wants to leg shackle himself before you get into any more trouble. It's a strictly a preventative measure that includes tax breaks. ”
“I already forgave him. I just don't like my computer's inner sanctum violated.”
“Don't lie to me Kaylis...I know you gave him the cold shoulder.” As she spoke, she added a silver resist line from a tiny squeeze bottle. It was a trick I taught her to incorporate her mistake as another petal on an ever-growing rose. Her nose almost touched the fabric as she intently stared down the barrel of the bottle in her perfectionist way.
Now I was pissed. Why the hell was he telling her everything? “He told you I denied him? I didn't give him the cold shoulder... I just told him 'not now', as in I was fucking irate at the time. I gave him the opportunity to hit me up later. He didn't. Dmitri even went so far as to sleep on the couch at his own behest.” It wasn't necessary to tell her how I missed his presence beside me.
She held up her hand to pause my tirade while she used the blow dryer to heat-set her recent resist addition. When the line was ready, she turned off the dryer, leveled a hard stare in my direction and spoke. “It's a damn comfortable couch. Can't blame him to prefer comfort instead of sleeping next to a harpy.”
“I may be many things, but harpy is not one of them.” A line of blue and a stroke of yellow; my rose now had a shaded stem.
“You worship that man, Kaylis. You adore him. You overlook the little shit that would bug the hell out of me, and focus on the big picture... that's admirable, to a point. The man isn't perfect, and yes, he does things that piss you off behind your back... but he gives a damn about you and your happiness.” She resumed her painting, using a gentler touch with less dye. “He wanted to help make your childhood ambition come true. I can understand you getting pissy over him making me a copy without your consent--I'd be a raging bitch too– but you need to get over your butthurt. You want to marry him, you better get used to him pushing you to do what's best for ya, whether you like it or not. Time to channel that ability to overlook irritating shit for this issue you're having with him. Your bitchiness on occasion can be construed as being a harpy. Just sayin'. You screech again, he's liable to break out the Drill Sargent on you... and you know it.”
Yes, I was familiar with Mr. Gonna Push You Drill Sargent. Bossy, always-right-cuz-he's-alpha-male, do-things-his-way Dmitri was a real treat to deal with when it emerged. It doesn't happen often since he finally learned to relax... but when it does, there's no mistaking it. “I know he's not perfect. If he was perfect, then Lorryn wouldn't have made a difference back in the day. Him being too nice to females has always been his downfall. If he was perfect, he would have gotten out from beneath her thumb long ago. Instead, he let her walk all over him. She kept him away from his friends and cheated on him... and he just accepted it, even after it was pointed out on numerous occasions. He's stubborn, goes behind my back to do things he knows I'd disapprove of, drinks milk out of the carton and leaves the toilet seat up half the time-- by the way, that half the time is always at night. And his sense of loyalty has been known to be astoundingly skewed... again, reference Lorryn.”
“Like you're one to talk.” She deepened her voice and became a bobble-head. “Hello, my name is Moobs and I'm an abusive assjacket fucktard hell bent on destroying a person's will to live...” Her natural voice made its return. “You put up with that fucker and his shit for five years. Talk about a skewed sense of loyalty.” Her voice trailed off, then picked up again on a different tangent. “What the fuck did Dmitri see in her? Did she have some massive tatas or something equally impressive? You were her friend... gimme the dirt on her. I heard she moved back up here. Let's discuss strategy for handling that psycho.”
She and I had rehashed Moobs more than once. Her point was well taken and so I responded only to her query about Lorryn. “Actually no.... there was a rhyme that went around when she transferred up here in high school that made it a point to comment upon her lack of chesticles.” I smiled at the memory of that rhyme. Roses are red, violets are black... why is your chest as flat as your back? ”Honestly, I don't know. Maybe it was just cuz she was into him. I didn't witness it firsthand.. She was living in Sacramento with her biological mom when they went out. She just appealed to him on some level, I guess. She in Chico? How do you know that she's back in the valley?”
“No, Forest Ranch. And you know how gossip goes around. I got switched to playing hall monitor for the library. I'm now the Children's Section bully... and you know how soccer moms gossip. Back on topic. So was she hot? Or an intellectual hottie like you? Because he totally digs the brains. Yummy, but not a zombie's definition of yummy brains.”
“She wasn't fugly and she wasn't gorgeous. She was average. Lorryn was a cheerleader too, so she couldn't be considered too horse-faced. Why you drilling me on her?”
“Cuz you brought her up. And although I know bits and pieces, I don't know the whole sordid saga of that particular cluster-fuck you were involved in. I know she dated Dimi, broke up with him, and then somehow got you and Dmitri together back in the day, just to break you guys up. I know way more about you and Dimi finally getting together than I do about all you kids back in the day.”
“She tried her hand at hooking he and I up for the Winter Festival dance when they broke up for the umpteenth time. I ended up going with a vertically challenged guy friend who was right at boob level when I wore heels. Luckily he only danced with me once.”
“Why didn't you go with Dimi? Thought you had the permahots for him.” She mirrored technique as she colored in roses at her end of the scarf.
“Because I didn't know him at the time. And then there was Lorryn. She didn't mind him taking me to a dance but any other activity was frowned upon. She was very territorial, and even though they weren't dating anymore she kept him on a short leash. When he and I started hanging out that summer, she got really pissed. And when she found out I was dating him... oh I'm just surprised that my craptastic little Geo Tracker didn't mysteriously burst into flame one day.”
“Awww, that's so sweet. I think I might go into a diabetic coma.”
“Don't keel over from the sugary goodness yet. It was short-lived bliss at best. Him driving up from Sacramento about four times a week for two months straight to see just me didn't sit well with her. They were still all buddy-buddy and she took advantage of him.” I rinsed the brush and dipped it in the blue dye. A stroke along the top edge of the rose, and red turned to purple.
“What exactly did she do that made him break up with you?”
“She, he and I were hanging out at her place. I left when it got dark. He got her parent's permission to stay the night on the living room couch. According to him, she said she wanted to talk to him in her room. He went in, lights were off. She took his hand and put it in a place it'd never been allowed before. He took advantage of what she offered him since she totally denied him when they were dating... he broke up with me the next day. They dated again, broke up shortly thereafter and drifted in separate directions.”
“He felt her up and then dumped you!?” Jet's mouth formed an O.
“Yeah he felt her bits up and got a blowjob in return. It's that wicked old school sense of honor he has. He 'cheated' on me, he didn't feel right dating me anymore. She tainted him.”
“Oh gawd, that's such high school bullshit 101. I think I just lost a little bit of respect for him. Did he tell you he got kissed beneath the belt when he dumped you?”
“Oh hell no! I didn't find that out until after he tracked me down years after the fact to apologize to me for breaking up in the first place. Apparently he and Lorryn didn't last very long after he and I split.” The rest of the story I would save for another day. Jet and I both focused on painting the background a majestic purple.
“I cannot believe I've known you thirteen years and only now do I get the full details. Wow. Just wow. So he apologized, you guys rehooked up and it's happily ever after for you two. Well, a happier-ever after once you change your tampon and chill about Dmitri. If you're gonna get angry at someone, be mad at me. It was all my idea. I admit my guilt.”
“I thank you for owning up to your part in the shenanigan.”
“Now go apologize to Dmitri for biting his head off and being a harpy.”
I sighed. Being constantly likened to a mythological creature did not help. “Did he actually call me a harpy?”
“No. But I know that you didn't take the news gently when he broke it to you. I'm pretty sure I heard your harpy-screech all the way from my place last night when he told you. The only reason I know for certain that you shat a brick wall is because Dimi called to let me know you're on the warpath and to hide if I wanted to keep my scalp.” She added splotches of blue to the purple, making them swirl. With precision she placed pieces of rock salt in a crescent moon shape in the largest splotch.
“Am I really that bad?” I sprinkled sea salt with a careless hand. The effect salt has on the dye always fascinated me. It pulls in the dye to where the crystal lays and adds a visual texture to the area.
“Do you even have to ask? Of course you are that bad. Remember, he didn't even want to sleep next to you last night? You puked on him, and he still slept next to you that night... so let's do the math, shall we? Hrm.....” She closed her eyes and put both hands up to her head with fingertips touching the temples. “My abacus says, yes, you are that bad. But if you want to make amends for being a raging canis femina, then I have some suggestions.”
I was all ears.