Surfer Rosa Lover

Her sunglasses were heart-shaped and she had a heart-shaped tattoo. She often used it as a tool, an incentive for those she coveted. Not that they needed an incentive of any sort.

She was lovely. In every way fathomable. My opinion may be biased because I coveted her so. Hot, bothered and heavy with anxiety every time the lace trim of her sleeve teased my elbow.

‘What are you talking about?’ She envelopes her tongue around the piece of gum she placed on the edge of her mouth, making the mundane, meaningless, malarkey gesture seem charming. ‘Broken Face? And need I even mention Where Is My Mind? You on dope, boy? Surfer Rosa is a brilliant embodiment of the deteriorating, hedonistic society we love and hate.’

I loved this. Sometimes I think I contradicted her only to listen to her garrulousness. And garrulousness it was, I knew so even then. It wasn’t the bone-crushing, breath-stealing, brittle and blood-soaked love I much later experienced. It was an all-consuming want. It was an affliction. I knew this.

But I also knew the shape of the side of her waist where her heart-shaped tattoo played hide and seek. The hitch in her breath every now and then, the curling of hair at the back of her neck, the bead of sweat between her breasts. I knew this.

And, unabashed, unrepentant and left with unobscured memories of her breath on my lips, head on my chest, words in head, I knew that some day today, I’d call her with a payphone at the end of the street and we’d collide on the sheets like the first night we did.

She’d know I wouldn’t love her the way I loved my bone-crushing, breath-stealing, brittle and blood-soaked love and in my selfish, sun-soaked, sublime want I’d call her my lover’s name.

So, you see, it really didn’t matter whether she thought Surfer Rosa was a brilliant embodiment of the deteriorating, hedonistic society we love and hate, it didn’t matter if I knew her name, it didn’t matter if she was lovely, it didn’t matter if her sunglasses were heart-shaped and she had a heart-shaped tattoo. It didn’t matter that I was her bone-crushing, breath-stealing, brittle and blood-soaked love.


In Between Lives: Chapter Eight

27th July, 1987.


Just Marjorie was not pleased with me.

I got home relatively late the evening Beatrice took me to the concert and I think it’s safe to say that Just Marjorie was upset.

I tried to do the quietly-sneaking-into-your-bedroom-and-hope-the-stairs-don’t-creak thing the cool kids who have lives do, but she was up and waiting for me in the living room, wearing her bathrobe, looking haggard and weary.

I felt guilty but the guilt was overruled by the suffocating sensation that she was breathing down my neck.

She sat me down and “tried to talk some sense into me”. She didn’t know what was going on with me; I had been acting so strange lately. She said that I knew I could tell her anything.

I told her that nothing was going on and that I just needed to be a normal teenager sometimes.

She argued that normal teenagers didn’t ride motorcycles and come home in the middle of the night reeking of stale cigarettes. She said she’d seen my bathroom last week.

I said I didn’t know what she was talking about and pointed out that she smelled of stale cigarettes all the time and regretted it instantly because her face turned bright red and she dismissed me to my room in clipped tones.

Truthfully, Aunt Marjorie had been exceedingly kind to me since my arrival in Texas and even before.

I apologized the next morning. She nodded curtly and asked if I’d like to have brunch with her and her Good Friend Molly.

I said I’d love to.

Kevin is standing at my front door, holding a vinyl record.

It’s Doolittle by The Pixies.

”Why,” I ask warily, “do you have that?”

He bites his lip, concealing a smile. I swear that boy must sleep with a hanger in his mouth.

“I bought it.” He lets the grin free, “for you.”

“No.” I say. I think I’m in shock.

I can’t remember the last time someone got me a present.

“Absolutely.” He holds it out to me, “I remembered that my friend’s brother owned it. He’s at university now, and left it behind. So I bought it from my friend. I know how much you love them.”

I take it and examine it with glee.

“I’ve wanted this record since… forever.” I look up into his smiling eyes and on an impulse, throw my arms around him.

“Thank you.” I whisper, my breath ruffling the hair near his ear.

“It’s my pleasure, kid.” He puts his arms around me, his voice soft.

I pull back, my cheeks hot.

“Walk with me.” He says it like a question. His hands are stuffed into his pockets—something he does when he is nervous—and he is wearing his patent too-small leather jacket with a t-shirt that says “Math Is Fun”. This is Kevin. It sounds preposterous, but I feel like I know him. And we have barely known each other for a few weeks.

I nod and shut the front door behind me.

We walk to Just Marjorie’s frivolous backyard and Kevin begins walking backward so I see the full-fledged grin on his face.

“Do you ever stop smiling?” I ask with a serious expression.

His green eyes twinkle, “No. I believe the world is devastatingly beautiful—not unlike you—when I walk through it with a smile, as it happens.”

“Are you on something?” I mock scowl. Primarily to hide the embarrassing blush coloring my cheeks.

He throws his head back and laughs. The sound engulfs me.

“I’m high on life!” he spreads his arms wide.

“Quit walking backwards, you will fall.” I roll my eyes, trying not to grin.

Kevin looks down at me then, still smiling but with a keen sincerity in his eyes, “I already have.”

My breath falters. I can’t look away from his eyes.

“I can’t believe that you just used that line on me.” I manage to mumble.

“I have plenty more where that came from.” He murmur, his eyes flickering to my lips.

“Kevin…” I whisper, my heart racing, but it’s too late.

He’s leaning into me and then his lips are on mine. I can stop him, this very moment, but I don’t.

I have no idea what I’m doing and I am terrified. But I don’t want to stop him.

When he pulls back, we are both breathing unevenly. I can feel the warmth emanating from his body, so close to mine, the vinyl record pressed between us.

“I’m crazy about you.” Kevin whispers, his breath fanning against my cheek.


“No, listen to me.” He pulls back so I can see his face as he tilts my head up gently with his fingertips, “I know we don’t know each other very well and all, and even though you think The Pretenders are only okay and clearly have something against abbreviating words like “I am” to “I’m” and are sort of out of my league,” he takes a deep breath, “I love every moment spent with you and really hope what happened ten seconds ago will happen again. Several times.”

I am positively speechless. I want to kiss him and I want to hide, all at once.

I want to cry at the idea of this wonderful person thinking I am wonderful.

Before I can make a dork out of myself, I say, “Alright.”

Kevin’s eyebrows quirk up, “Alright?”


He shakes his head. He is grinning. “I give you a speech worthy of a Nobel Prize and all you say is ‘alright’?”

I let the long overdue grin out and nod.

I am smiling. I am alive.

Kevin kisses me. Again. Several times.