I remember when I was little, sitting on my windowsill and looking out, how the waves barely moved on the still night. The moon glistened off the peaks and I remember trying to imagine what sorts of creatures were gallivanting just below the water's surface. Now that I've matured, I'd like to think that our dreams as human beings were down there, drowning in the overwhelming mass of water, which is how our lives go. People are usually so busy trying to catch up to that dream they end up suffocating it in the pressures of drama, media, life. The faintest glimmer of hope is what keeps fools going, believing. Then again ignorance is bliss, so I suppose being a fool must be quite heavenly. I had reached this conclusion when I was seventeen, looking at those waves roll over the sand just as I did when my dreams seemed like I could touch them. I have to wonder if people even understand the consequence of reaching their various dreams; it ends; leaving them unsatisfied in the end. Yet the hope persists, because if we reach that dream, the delusion is there that everything is perfect. This is why I describe hope as cruel and paralyzing, as the crushing weight under the sea.
Hope beats in everybody's souls, our hearts, our desires, everything. It fulfills us; it destroys us. However; there is but a single soul in this world with enough hope to drown the world in that suffocating ocean. The man of the name Gatsby. I'm sure in some generation you will hear this name. Gatsby was frozen in the state of reaching for his green light, ignoring all of reality in order to get there. He did things that are both great and harmful, but again: that's humanity. I'd say if the American Dream could ever be defined by a human being it would be that Mr. Jay Gatsby.
The reason seventeen was the year I lost faith in the decency of these illusions, was because I had reached my dream at a ripe age. Some drifter found me on a curb singing my heart out and picked me up with the promise of riches. He was right. I had become famous in less than a year. But then there was the point of now what was I to do? I was suddenly exposed without privacy of any kind. People lied, cheated me with empty promises whether they be lovers or god awful business men. I was young, had given up my minimal public education, the only thing I took away being the words of delightful books. I found myself falling into the disdain of my surroundings and even my own self for wanting such an awful hell. The consequence of my childish whims was I was no longer given the decision of a normal life, which now that I'm older seems more promising then the swirl of media. Everything was about publicity. My manager fixed me up with the jocks, and countless Casanovas. They sickened me. People who I publicly went out with as 'friends' were simply bitches I would much rather throw under a reckless driver for their brattish gossip. I was on a strict schedule of appearances and deadlines for new songs. Then suddenly I understood I desired a new dream. A dream of where all of this vanity and fame disappeared. Alas I am a hypocrite, for I don't have the motivation anymore to accomplish such a dream, and have just learned to live with the loathing.
One of the said appearances was where for the first time I set my eyes on Mr. Gatsby. His parties were all the rage I assure you. A millionaire that popped up out of oblivion allowing his house to be turned into a public circus with all the booze and frivolous married men and wanton women anyone could desire. Strangely enough though for all of the visitors of these grand events, almost all of them would say they had never seen, met, or even spoken to Mr. Gatsby. Some were under the suspicion he didn't even exist, that it was all just an illusion to privilege the wealthy. My manager after much persistence persuaded me to accompany Joseph Fox, a rising star in the field of soccer. He had caught wind that anybody who was anybody was showing up uninvited to these parties without so much as a care. So of course I was to follow like a lamb to the slaughter. I sauntered in wearing my brand new yellow dress with diamonds around the collar. I was in disdain of the color; my hair already golden, I might as well be a personified version of the color.
"Hey Charlie what do you say to a small dance?" Joseph looked at me and I made a disgruntled noise.
"Charlotte please." I corrected. I hated that pet name. It was overused for one and for two it makes me sound like a man. He rolled his eyes at me.
"Fine Charlotte, how about a dance?" He held out his hand expectantly but I simply sighed out of boredom.
"I think not Mr. Fox. I'd much rather be alone." I dismissed and started to walk away from him. He was dumbfounded by my response and ran after me like a puppy.
"Now what kind of an attitude is that? Aren't you supposed to be my date?" He laughed half heartedly although I could hear the hint of irritation.
"Look." I turned to face him, arms crossing over my chest. "Don't take this the wrong way but I'm a little sick of men at the moment. So if you fancy some female companionship by all means pick up any haughty tot you see fit for your carnal desires. I however; am just waiting this out until I can leave in peace." I waved him off again and strutted away, ignoring all of the gaping eavesdroppers. I figured I would take the time to go and check out the beach that surrounded the bay and if that was a bust for some solitude surely there must be a library with some real pages inside the establishment.
I weaved my way through groups of bodies that were lying in the sand, enjoying the 'romance' of the moonlight on the water or just getting drunk in their little private VIP circle. I kept walking; tripping in my high heels so many times I ended up grunting in defeat and taking the damn things off to continue my journey. Finding the dock abandoned and far from the intoxicated whims of other party goers I walked to the end to stare across the water. The only disturbance in the dark depths was the green light blinking across the bay, shining so bright it captivated me for a moment. It pulsed with such brilliance I felt new life invade my soul if only for a few moments. I pull my dress up to my knees as I sat down to watch the atmosphere around me. I felt relaxed in that green glow, and rested my head on the dock post, letting my toes dip into the wet surface of the water. My skin gleamed white under the light of the half moon. My body was still for a few moments, as I enjoyed that place of sanctuary. No one was staring, no one was watching. No fans, no men, no drunks. Just… me.
I don't know how long I was there just being still. I may have dozed off for a bit, I'm not entirely sure. What I am sure of, is when I was aroused from my content state by the jolly laughter of that swine I had been forced to come with. He had a few pals with him it seemed as he staggered in my direction. Half of me hoped he would fall into the bay. The other half hoped I pushed him.
I stood and faced him, my heels were nicely placed to the side of the dock so no hope of them getting in the way. The men behind him were laughing just as loud as he was and I made a face as the alcoholic breath swept over me. No I was not saying I've never been drunk, I've been plenty drunk, that doesn't mean I have to like the smell though. And sober it certainly was not refreshing. "Now listen here you pompous broad! You should be lucky to have a date with me! I'm a rising star! Now how bout you knock off your high horse and be a lady for me?" He bellowed. One of his friends whispered in his ear and he laughed. "Oh right maybe not like a lady if I want you to spread your legs huh?" He roared with hilarity. I looked at him with a raised eyebrow, not at all amused by his charade.
"I'm sorry Mr. Fox I couldn't understand you over your drunken slurring." I haughtily countered, moving to walk past him. He grabbed my wrist to pull me back and I glared at him.
"What'd you say bitch?" He hissed in my face. Oh dear lord give him a mint.
"Let. Go." I kept my voice even and pulled my wrist. He held tight and my body shook. He became angered and shook me a little more.
"Stop being such a fussy wi-" He suddenly let go as he staggered and I flailed and screamed as I fell backward. I was enveloped with a cold splash in the water. In a panic I moved my arms to push myself back to the surface. I burst forth with a gasp and I coughed, looking for a place to get out. I was not a very good swimmer to say the least. I had never learned properly. It was a struggle just to keep my head above the surface. The water was freezing too. The sun had long gone away and the moon was doing nothing to warm my chilled body. I felt the goose bumps line on my skin and my dress clung to my body. I lost one of my necklaces but I didn't exactly mind at that moment.
The group of drunks were belting out laughter at me as I tried to move toward the dock to at least hold myself up. "O-one of you could at l-least help you kn-know!" I stuttered, my teeth involuntarily chattering from the cold. They all just kept laughing and staring. I finally reached the dock edge and held on, shivering. "Please s-someone help me u-up!" I begged, not strong enough to pull myself up on my own. I had little to no upper body strength, something I would have to work on later apparently. It became more obvious by each passing moment no one was going to help me, and I wasn't sure I was strong enough to make it all the way to the shore.
"My my old sport I would have thought a true gentleman would help a lady in distress." A not so amused voice interrupted their humorous expressions. A man was standing in a traditional tux, hair slicked back and holding a glass of wine perhaps. (I learned later it was just sparkling cider.) His lips were in a thin frown and he was looking at them in a way that would unsettle anyone. I watched him from a distorted view as I trembled from my current position. The men all exchanged nervous glances and Mr. Fox was the first to speak.
"She just fell in. We were gonna help but you see it was quite funny…" Jospeph trailed off as the man seemed less and less amused. "Uh…" He laughed a little then all of a sudden I was lifted by rough hands out of the water. I groaned a little in the harsh treatment and was dumped on my behind on the dock. My shakily pushed myself to my feet, rubbing my arms as the chilly air ran across my wet skin. My dress felt like a weight now as I moved a little away from them. The stranger came closer and took off his jacket to wrap around me.
"I'm terribly sorry Miss. I'll have them escorted out right away. I may have some spare clothes you can wear up in my room." It took me a moment to process the words and we were suddenly all staring at him with wide eyes. Did this mean that this…?
"Y-You're Gatsby?" One of the followers exclaimed what we were all thinking. This was certainly a surprise. Many people that attended these parties had never seen him, let alone spoken to him. Yet here he was just like any normal man. It was sort of… anti climactic to say the least. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but he certainly wasn't it. He was a young man in his late twenties or early thirties and in good shape.
"Yes… Jay Gatsby." He nodded his head like a true gentleman and finally smiled as he introduced himself. I always liked that smile. It was hard not to like that smile. It made me feel like that even though here I was shivering wet, and in the last place in the world I would care to be, I was safe, and it made me pleasantly happy. "And you miss?" He looked at me, showing clearly he no longer had interest in the scallywags that had their jaws ajar.
"Charlotte Perkins." I answered with a curtsy. "Thank you for helping me Mr. Gatsby but I think I'll just call up a taxi to take me home. Sorry for the trouble." I nodded and turned to walk past him.
"Now, I wouldn't be a very good host if I didn't help you out now would I? I insist, please come with me." Gatsby put one hand on my shoulder to guide me away with him. He snapped his fingers and a server came over. "Please have this group of… gentlemen escorted from the grounds." He whispered into the server's ear. The server nodded and went to go and complete his order. I was swept off with him into the house before I even entirely knew what was going on.
"I'm sorry I don't have anything more to your size… or of women's clothes but they are at least dry. I'll have your dress hang. You may wait up here if you like." Gatsby retrieved one of his shirts and pants from his closet. I stood there awkwardly, looking around at the place. It was strange being in a stranger's room. More strange being offered his clothes. I took them and nodded appreciatively. He looked at me a moment as I just stared at the ground and I turned my head away, feeling embarrassed.
"Why I just recalled where I've heard your name before Ms. Perkins." He grinned and walked over to his record player. I felt my lips twitch into a frown and I didn't turn to face him, knowing what he was getting. He came back and showed me an album of myself. I looked at it with disgust. "I'm quite a fan." He went on as if he was justifying having it. I managed to mutter a small thanks of faked appreciation as he put it back. He came back over and realized I was upset.
"I'm sorry did that unsettle you? I didn't mean to-"
"It's perfectly fine Mr. Gatsby. Thank you for the clothes. Where may I change?" I interrupted, not wanting to get into the uncomfortable subject. He blinked in surprise but let it go thankfully. He gestured towards a washroom in the corner of his room which I went to, head held high. Let me try to save the rest of my dignity from this night.
"I'll be in my study taking a call if you need me." He called after me and I waved to let him know I heard before closing the door. I sighed and looked at myself in the mirror. My mascara was run all down my face and my hair was fluffed from parts that had dried making it look patchy. I turned my back and pulled off my topaz ring first, setting it on the counter. I then continued to disrobe, hesitating a few times when I reminded myself whose bathroom I was in. I sighed, staring at the clothes for a long time. To put it off a little longer I washed my face, removing all of the makeup since it was utterly ruined anyhow. I placed some more water on my hair to slick it back so it would dry more evenly. Once that was done I looked at the clothes again but with a sigh gave in and pulled on the shirt first. It hung loosely, hiding my minimal breasts and opened up the majority of my collarbone despite being buttoned up all the way. I rolled the sleeves up so I could use my fingers to tug on the pants. As expected they were long, so I rolled the waistband and the bottoms to may them somewhat fit. I had to keep holding them up though. I was considered relatively tall for a woman, but my structure was dainty like a doll.
I hesitantly walked out of the bathroom, having folded up and left my wet ones sitting in the bathtub. My hand was firmly placed to hold up the pants and I looked to see if he had returned. He had not. I bit my bottom lip as I quarreled with the options to either walk out and pray to god nobody notice me, or hide up in this room until everyone left with the danger of getting caught up in more awkward confrontation from my gracious host. I chose the lesser of two evils and sat down on the bed. I took another scan of the room and saw a small collection of books at the nightstand. I reached over and picked a few up to see if they were at all of any interest. The closest thing I found was a book titled Ulysses by James Joyce. I sat back and began to read the tale, somewhat appalled by some of the story-line. Yet I was compelled to keep going, finding it enticing all the same. At some few hours later I felt weary and without knowing it, had fallen asleep with the book right in front of me.