This is a flash fiction piece I did for Patti Abbott's "Scarry Night" fiction challenge where we have to use the line "I really don't mind the scars". It's going until the end of the month. More info here: http://pattinase.blogspot.com/2011/02/flash-fiction-challengescarry-night.html
Celeste by Julia Madeleine
The microphone stand was a lame crutch keeping him vertical on the stage. But Drew needed something, if not just the illusion of being anchored in place. Through a haze of alcohol, and too many blunts out back, his road-mapped eyes scanned the bar for his woman. Or his ex-woman. He wasn’t sure these days what to call her. Fuck buddies, that’s what she said they were now. Although for him, Celeste would never be just a lay, in spite of what she’d done to him.
Through his T-shirt he could feel the scars on his chest and stomach. The pain was still present, even though they’d healed over, months ago, leaving him with raised red keloids the size and shape of leeches permanently affixed to his flesh.
It wasn’t hard to locate Celeste in the crowd. She was the one in front competing for his audience, in the black pleather skirt, fishnet hose, looking like a drunken runway model in someone else’s stilettos. Her glossy hair, side parted and hanging around her shoulders, reminded him of a young Michelle Pfeiffer. Her kohl rimmed eyes ignored him, ignored all that he was. Her applause was only a reaction to the applause of others, nothing that she had noticed herself in him or appreciated. It was, as everything else with her, window dressing; a masquerade designed only to draw attention. But it didn’t matter. She could torture kittens and kill Christ himself and it wouldn’t change how he felt about her.
“And this one is dedicated to our guitar player’s mother,” Drew slurred, his eyes on Celeste the entire time. “Turning twenty-five today for the second time. Give up some applause, people!”
Drew cradled the microphone in his bony hands, breathing into it, his passion rising up in a sombre ache, gentle as a sigh. Then his scream split the air hard like a thunder clap. It died with an unexpected tenderness; a feather drifting on a breeze. So passionate and soulful was Drew’s voice that he knew it dredged emotions from the depths of his many fan’s hearts they hadn’t known had occupied themselves. They said he was beyond talented. A virtuoso at twenty-one. A record deal was imminent, according to his manager.
All the songs he wrote were about Celeste. And it was just like drowning, a clawing at his heart so deep he was surprised most days that he was still here, breathing, in this world.
He caught her eye for a brief moment. His pulse slammed inside of him.
Later, out back, another blunt, and another desperate attempt for her attention. Drew turned to her wearing the leather coat that still bore the cuts from the knife. A memory pierced his brain of her showing him the blade just before shutting off the light switch and running at him in the dark. Something he’d said, or didn’t say. He’d never learned which. At the hospital he hadn’t known how to explain things so he told them it was self inflicted. They put him on suicide watch. And sent in a shrink. But he needed more than just a doctor for his problem. He needed someone who could excavate her from his mind and body, sever her from his soul before she destroyed it too. Seemed impossible.
Drew looked at her now in the dull glow of light leaking from the back door of the bar. It sparkled in her eyes as if they were made of glass, and caught on a silver hoop dangling from one ear. He only hoped she wanted to fuck him tonight and not his guitar player again. He didn’t need another night of torture, listening to them in the room next to his. The fleeting thought of hitting on his guitar player’s mother occurred to him. But he knew it wasn’t something he could ever do. It wasn’t in his character to seek revenge.
Drew took the meagre roach from Celeste’s fingers. He wanted to say something to her. Some magic words that would make her love him. But he stood there awkwardly, aware of his skeletal body hidden within layers of leather; an inadequate armor. She was already turning away from him, laughing at a joke somebody had cracked, when he said, “You know, I really don’t mind the scars.”
His words scattered on a midnight breeze as they always did around her. He brought what was left of the roach to his lips and realized there was nothing there, only ashes.