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Last updateTue, 06 Aug 2013 2am

Back You are here: Home Stories Words for the People Short Stories Bucket Love
Monday, 17 June 2013 05:27

Bucket Love Featured

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This isn’t Dawson’s Creek, but tonight my childhood best friend is close enough I can see green flecks in her hazel eyes, the little raised bump above her right eyebrow from that accident with the baseball bat, and the tiny scar tissue dent where her nose ring usually sits. Her once bright pink hair is now the faded colour of cheap store bought strawberry ice cream. The kind that tastes more of strawberry milk than it does actual fruit. Fastened around her neck, threaded through thick black cord, scrabble tiles spell out her name:

Z-O-E-Y.

Right off the bat that’s a total of sixteen points. Not including any double letter or triple word scores. And I’ve known Zoey since like forever, maybe better than anyone, but still my friends feel the need to educate me. To warn me. To tell me:

“That girl’s got an open door policy.”

“Front or back?” I’d joke through the ground together teeth of a pasted on smile.

With a knowing look they say, “She’ll bang anything with a Y chromosome, if she’s drunk enough.”

Here in Zoey’s bedroom, I’m surrounded by a kaleidoscope of pink. This isn’t the princess pink of little girls, think dusty rose, cherry blossom and sunset pink.

Hot sexy fuchsia pink.

Little Miss Chatterbox pink.

Patterns of magenta damask on soft cream walls. Pillows, curtains, and throws, the pink of pink elephants, raspberry ice pops and soft bubble gum. Entwining her silver metal bed frame pink fairy lights twinkle, and there, one half locked to the bed post, a pair of fluffy pink handcuffs.

Sugar and spice and all things vice.

Tonight Zoey’s drinking.

We’re sat on her bed, playing drunk-scrabble, using the anything goes variation of the rules, where it’s okay to use the start of F-R-I-E-N-D-S-H-I-P to spell F-U-C-K.

And W-A-N-K-I-N-G on a triple word score will get you forty-five points.

Not that it matters, but right up until Zoey poked little holes through the letter tiles of her name to make a necklace, I was actually winning.

“Game...” Zoey slowly pushes the corrupted remains of our scrabble board closer and closer to the edge of her bed until it tips, scattering letters amongst the thick carpet pile, “...over.” Patting the space next to her, she says, “I don’t bite, Tom.”

At a total of just five scrabble points, my name is pretty worthless.

Shuffling up the bed closer to her I say, “That’s not what I’ve heard.”

My friends, they say, “That girl’s had so much dick she’s a mined out cavern, even your breath echoes inside her. She’s a porridge pot you have to stir just to touch the sides.”

They say, “Pure bucket love.”

Sniggering they tell me, “That’s how fucking Madonna must feel.”

A small frown creases Zoey’s forehead, looking down at her hands, picking at her chipped violet nail polish she says, “You know not everything you hear is exactly right,” fragments of purple settle onto the bed covers in front of us. She says, “Sometimes what people tell you is nothing but glorified bollocks.”

Giving her shoulder a gentle shove I say, “Kidding.”

Still not looking at me, Zoey says, “I mean look at The Phantom Menace; that got great reviews on release and, well...”

Stretching out to lie beside her I laugh and she meets my eyes again. Used to be we’d watch movies every weekend, shoulders touching, sharing the biggest bag of toffee popcorn you’d ever seen. Growing up Zoey wasn’t what you’d call a girly-girl, she liked rebels and villains. Her favourite movie was Taxi Driver. She liked explosions and horror. Mischief and trouble makers. Sci-fi, action, thrillers and kung-fu.

She liked comics, for God-sake.

Until one day, Zoey got tits.

And boys. And attention.

And then Zoey started asking me stuff, like halfway through some late-night double feature she’d look at me and say, “What do guys like in a girl, besides their dick I mean?”

Nothing was ever completely serious with Zoey.

Staring hard at the movie, hiding my own feelings, my own pocketful of lust, my own naivety, I’d just shrug. This girl, my best friend since forever, who I’d tumbled hopelessly in love with age eleven, and now... now I was losing her, now everyone else wanted a piece of her heart too.

Still the questions came.

Would guys like her dress?

Would guys like her hair?

Would guys like her finger up their ass? 

To keep up I started reading my sister’s magazines. A complete re-education over hundreds of glossy pages. I learnt about skincare; how to exfoliate. Fashion. Couture. Editorial. The difference between lip gloss and lipstick. G spots. Multiple orgasms.

I knew all about girl’s feelings.

The desire to be needed meant that at fifteen, I’d morphed in to the kind of cliché “gay best friend” role only ever seen in T.V sitcoms. And yeah, maybe it wasn’t honest, and maybe it wasn’t real.

Maybe it wasn’t perfect.

But for a while, it was close enough.

And anything was better than nothing.

Pressed up next to me, the sweet notes of Zoey’s perfume is all I breathe, probably I could feel her heartbeat, if mine weren’t thundering so loudly. And Zoey says, “Last time I saw you in your underwear we were eight years old.”

Her big sister’s wedding. Me in Spiderman briefs jumping around her bedroom shooting invisible webs while my Mum tried desperately to get us to stand still, to dress me in some tragic waistcoat and gross cravat.

Oh fantastic.

Talk about lasting impressions. 

Turning on my side to face her, the shift of my weigh causes the metal on the fluffy cuffs to clank against the bed frame. Fast as a pinball Zoey clamps the unlocked half around my wrist with a sharp click.

“Hey prisoner.” she looks up at me under her big black eyelashes.

I pull my arm and the bed frame rattles, knocking against the wall behind. Despite their fluffiness, the cuffs are tight enough to pinch.

“You remember that old saying?” Her smile is innocence with a grass stained back. “With great power comes... what?”

“Um, great responsibility,” I say still pulling at the frame. A dull mark is worn on the wall from where the head board has knocked and rubbed.

“Nu-uh,” her eyebrow raises, “Corruption.” And she leans over the side of the bed reaching where I can’t see.

I hear her rustling around, searching. “Hey, Tom, you ever used a butt-plug?” Her voice sounds muffled upside down.

“What?”

“I have a nice big dildo somewhere down here you could try for size, you know, break it in for me.”

My butt cheeks clench involuntarily at the thought of eight solid rubbery inches squeezing their way inside, twisting deeper. The way a hard shit feels when you’ve been constipated for days. The feeling of squeezing something the size of a lemon through a hole the size of a plum, only in reverse. Sweat prickles along my hairline, dampens the back of my knees and collects in my palms. My heart beats a parade. I have to pee.

Zoey brings her head back up, her hair ruffled from being upside down, in her hand is a DVD case; Taxi Driver.

“Kidding,” She says.

I drop my head back on the pillow, relief swamping my nervous system.

“Thought we’d watch a movie,” Zoey slides off the bed and crosses her room towards the T.V. “You know, for old times’ sake?” The fallen scrabble tiles scattered across the floor stick to the soles of her bare feet.

These so-called friends of mine are always telling me, “Give it up, already. Not in a million years do you have a chance, Zoey’s a fox and you’re just you.”

They tell me she’s out of my league.

They tell me I’m dreaming. I’m punching way above my weight.

That I’m aiming too high.

With my heart sinking, drowning in stomach acid, I laugh. I tell them, “The higher you aim, the longer it takes to fall.”

These friends of mine; truth is I think they’re all a little in love with Zoey too.

Snuggling up next to me, Zoey reaches her hand down and pulls a little white square of a scrabble tile off her foot. She says, “Don’t you think Robert De Niro is so hot in this film?”

“I’m not really sure he’s my type,” I say watching her. One hand still chained to the bed frame, a smirk spreading from ear to ear.

Zoey peels another tile off her foot and lays it on the duvet, eyebrow arched she says, “Oh yeah? You know my Mum actually thought you were gay.”

Oh.

Thanks a million Vogue.

Making a small mound of the tiles, Zoey says, “But my Dad, he told her no, said he saw the way you looked at me.”

I look at the small pile of scrabble letters. All worth just one point each, all vowels. With my free hand I take one and make a fist around it.

“I’ve missed this,” Zoey says, leaning back to rest her head on my chest, “Our movie nights. Scrabble. Your beauty tips.”

She laughs softly. I look at the top of her pink hair, where the roots are growing back a warm brown, the tips of her small ears. Bringing my hand round towards her, my fist still closed, I say, “What I’ve missed most is the twenty-first letter of the alphabet.”

My fist open, that single scrabble tile tumbles onto her waiting open palm.

Because this is more than just bucket love.




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Last modified on Friday, 23 August 2013 19:33
Emily Slaney

Emily Slaney is 70% no confidence, with dark humour and a crooked smile. She describes her writing as nihilistic emotional satire because she likes to make you laugh before she pulls it all away from you. She lives in England with her husband and kids in a semi-detached madhouse where sarcasm is what passes for everyday speech. She has previously been published in Parable Press. Should you want to you can find more about Emily at: emilyslaney.com.

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