Cynical Laura- By RBH
On an anonymous third period Psychology quiz, I was voted "Most Cynical" by my peers.
I would be the most likely to check the boxes that stated, "the glass was half-empty" and "clouds only have a silver lining because they are crying." I'd like to formally disagree. I, unlike Homecoming Queen Becka Goldstein and Dancer/Actress/Singer Sandra McGuire, am not a dreamer. I do not half lofty hopes of becoming Julliard's next "triple threat". I do not think Erick Durn will marry me because I have boobs the size of watermelons. By keeping a levelheaded firm grip on reality, very few things surprise me and I have yet to be impressed. I do fairly well in school, have a decent number of friends and college will be my ticket out of the hellhole in which I currently reside. I am not cynical. I am punctual, indifferent and all-around, good person.
I do not believe in fairies. Peter Pan is a pedophile (he's been living on that island for God knows only how long and yet still visits the Darlings) and I know nothing lives under my bed except a hideous green sweater my almost-blind Grandmother attempted to knit for me. Santa Clause was hit by a Vista Cruiser when Dad moved out, taking a large number of our bank account with him and the Easter Bunny is a narcosis who thinks is fucking hilarious to stick eggs where they won't be found for weeks (Mom just thinks he's an idiot).
I am not cynical. Honestly, I do not have a reason to be cynical about anything. Average seventeen-year-old girl, struggling through school and its many hells. Such as friends, psychopathic teachers and boys and stupid, fugly boys who think its ok to suck-face with Sandra McGuire, five minutes after receiving your virginity in lacy underwear from under the porch of Matt Campbell.
Fugly. The lot of them. Fugly as the day is long.
Mom told me to get out that Saturday night. To go have fun, and go to that party ("Tracy Smith's party, Mom. She's hated me since third grade." "Well it's been a long time, she can't hate you for much longer." "Okay, Mom.")
I told her that I was going to meet Nat there. But I wasn't. I didn't even call her. Not like she'd want a call or anything except Brian the Brain, her new boyfriend. Again, there goes some fugly boy screwing up another great relationship. I missed Nat. Maybe I wouldn't be so non-cynical if I had someone other than a stuffed rabbit to talk to.
So, firm in my anti-socialness, I went to the one place where nothing bad would ever happen because, well, the ending was already written out. I went to Barnes and Nobles. That was my happy place. With its smells and sounds and thousand upon thousand of books about whatever you liked. I was safe and content there. Well, I was until evil itself struck the shelves.
For copyright purposes, lets call this new series S***. No wait, too hard to type. How about Dimlight. Yeah, that works because all the people that read it are dim, as in not intelligent enough to realize that this damn book series set women's rights back about one hundred years. I bet Susan B. Anthony rolls in her grave every time someone buys this crap-bound book. Poor Susan.
But, if we are not going to look at the metaphorical nature of this monstrosity against literature, lets just read it, eh? The plot is this: a lonely, whiney, wannabe-suicide has the luck of Muhammad Gandhi and find out this sexy hunk of a night-thing goes to her school. More importantly, he wants to fuck her like a bunny. However, as previously mentioned (although, rather more, inferred) this dude's a vampire. As in undead, zombie-type with the face of a god. Lets just hope for her sake, the god isn't Shiva.
So she learns the secret of this tortured, soulless evil monster (and yet he saves her from a flying van. I think "epic hero sexypants" is this year's "evil-dead mass murder") and so they become a happy couple. She wants to be a vampire. He says no. She is attacked by a really, much more badass vampire and is almost killed, then the little prick's family becomes the cavalry and saves the day. The bad-ass vampire is killed and all is right with the world. She wants to be a vampire. He says no. Something involving a werewolf happens and then our sweet heroine becomes a necrophiliac.
This year's NewBerry Award?
I don't think so.
So this series, Dimlight, has infected B&N's everywhere and what's worse, people (ok, tweens) eat it up like sugar! It's all "Vampy (I shall call him that for copyright purposes) loves me!" this and "He prefers brunettes" that. And I'm all shut the fuck up.
Beyond this brief rant about the destruction of our classic English literature, Saturday night found me scanning the cooking, masseuses and psychology sections of Barnes and Nobles, a warm Tall White Chocolate Mocha, extra cinnamon and a splash of skim milk in my hand. I used to look over at the teen section just to make snide remarks under my breath at the titles ("My Hand in His Forever", please give me a break!) but now a group of tweenies from the middle school down the road has designated this place as their Dimlight secret cult meeting place.
Do the handshake. I'm begging you.
So I went to the adult section, where I rightfully should be. I had divulged into the Religion of the Middle East about a week ago and had gotten about half way through when the philosophical stand-point made me put down the book and think about the next time I inhale, how many things I would be murdering.
See. Not cynical. I don't like killing things.
A Beginner's Guide to Cooking: 101 ways not to burn your arms when you take something out of the oven. I chose that one because it made me smile. I took a sip of my coffee, reached forward towards the book and nearly split the whole cup down my front. Because, about three rows over, sat a group of comfy chairs, which I originally had intended to place my own buttocks but as of this moment, someone there was laughing hysterically. It was a deep rumble sort of laugh that you couldn't help but grin at. I checked my shirt. Everything was in order and I still had a full cup. I didn't have to kill this son of a bitch. I slipped the cookbook under my arm and meandered over to the sitting area.
It was completely empty. Unusual though, even for Barnes and Nobles on a Saturday night. Wait. Come to think of it… never mind. Towering shelves rose up like walls around this little sitting area and I was suddenly enclosed like a caged animal. I wasn't claustrophobic or anything. I just felt trapped, standing awkwardly near this clearly insane man. Because, every few minutes, his laughter would reverberate around the store, as though no one else was here.
I frowned. He might not have made me spill my coffee but he didn't have to be an ass. I flopped down onto a sofa, kicking my feet up and in a direct line of sight to his profile. He had a sharp nose, thin blue eyes and hair that was possibly nuclear-reactive. A long leather coat was spread over a table and he was dressed from head to foot in black. He looked a bit old to be a full-blown punk, maybe around twenty-four. Maybe he was one of those artsy types that did creepy paintings of his ex nude, while living in his mom's basement. He laughed again. I shuddered.
As I opened the first page, he muttered something to no one in particular, perhaps maybe to a character or the author.
"God, you're such a stupid bint." He was British. My Natural Science teacher was British too and I could match the accents.
He chuckled, a sort of back-of-the-throat thing that pulled back his thin cheeks, revealing perfectly white teeth. He sunk lower into the chair and as he did, the book was pulled out of his lap and into plain sight. Dimlight stared back at me.
Now I was ruefully pissed off. Laughing, fine. Laughing with Dimlight. SO NOT, okay.
"Hey you," I growled, loud enough and stern enough to get my point across. "Shut up."
"Oh, sod off." The guy didn't even look up, only waved me away with a brush of his hand.
I frowned and quickly shoved my nose back into my cookbook, mortified that, at first glance, I thought this guy was cute!
Fine, I can ignore him. I flipped to a recipe about Chocolate Cheesecake. Oh God. I love cheesecake. I'd kill for cheesecake if it asked me too. I'd marry cheesecake, and if it said no, I'd be its creepy stalker for the next year and a half. I want cheesecake. I need cheesecake. The way it sort of melts in your mouth, soft and light, and so sweet. Then the granola crust comes next: crunchy mixing with smooth, almost creamy, cake. You can swish it around in your mouth and your tongue can never find rest because its always--,
He laughed again and the dream was shattered. I quickly whipped a drip of drool from the corner of my mouth and gave him another dirty glare. Dimlight is just NOT that funny! So then was he just trying to piss me off?
"Dude," I hissed. "What's your problem? Nothing, especially that stupid book, is so funny that you have to draw the whole store's attention! It's not even that good!"
"Oh, I know," he chuckled. "They're just so dead wrong."
"Vampires!" The guy rolled his eyes and fluffed the books pages in front of me as though the truth of his words would leap out at me. "They're mucking it up! Sullying the good name of night-creature everywhere!"
"So you don't like the book?" I asked slowly.
" 'Course I don't!" He tossed it down onto the table and stared at it awe-struck.
"Then why were you laughing so hard?"
"Didn' I just say why. These, lassy, are not vampires." He flicked the book for good measure and gave me a firm glare. "They are sappy, whiney, stupid as all hell masochists that aren't even slightly related to vampires. They… they… they're immortal puppies! Yep, immortal puppies!"
He grinned, pleased that he found such an excellent label.
I stared, this man beyond comprehension. "How would you know about vampires?"
"I have more than skeletons in my closet, ay pet." He gave me a wink. "Lets keep it at that."
I nodded and assured, he began to rummage through his pockets for something. Not finding whatever he was looking for in his black jeans, he leaned over to look in the coat.
"So then why are you reading it if you hate it so much?"
"Research." He answered simply and found what he was looking for: a pack of cigarettes and a silver lighter. Without so much as a glance to see if anyone was looking, he lit one up and took a deep breath. Evidently pleased, he sat back in the sat and watched me from across the table. Normally I would have said something, or in most cases, just taken the cigarette right out of his hands, but something about his eyes made me stay put.
"Research? For what?"
"I know a guy, somewhat like the main bloke in this poor excuse for literature. And I was hoping to make up some jokes relating this guy and my, ah, mate."
"You know someone like Vampy*? Dear man, I am very sorry for you." I gave him a nod of respect and he took it with a raised eyebrow. He sucked in another deep breath and blow smoke towards in my direction.
*Again, for copy right purposes
"Yeah I do. A poncy git if there ever were one." He frowned and shook his head.
He lounged. He was lounging in that round chair. It seemed the best way to describe him.
"So you're spending your Saturday night looking up insults for a guy you don't even like?"
Wow, not going to Tracy's party seems a whole lot less cynical now.
"Yeah," he answered airily and frowned at me from down his sharp nose. "Nothing good on TV, mate."
"Right." I rolled my eyes.
"Even though this book might have a cracked-out view of vampires," he said firmly as though to convince me he wasn't so pathetic. "It has the plot line of a Class-A HBO movie."
"And that promotes reading it, how?"
The guy paled slightly, which honestly, didn't seem possible. "Um, I don't know. I suppose that's why some bints like it, I suppose."
"Is that what you do? Sit at home watching HBO and LifeTime movie-marathons about the most stupidly complicated love octagons I've ever seen?"
Still beats being a creeper painter of his nude ex.
"No!" He said and sat up, glaring at me. "And some of those triangles, are not stupid!"
"Nothing ever happens like that!" I said, suddenly on the verge of being pissed. "You don't find love because you're a cute blonde who looks lost all the time!"
At that, the guy froze and pulled back into his seat. He took another drag from his cigarette, refusing to look at me. I wondered if that was the end of our conversation. After a while, and several chapters of how to make éclairs, he spoke again.
"How do you think you should find love?"
Definitely not in sixth period Bio-tech. Or under the porch of Matt Campbell.
"There has to be loyalty," I said, managing to suppress a grimace from the memory. "And trust. Date your best friend if you can. You should definitely marry your best friend. That way you know what's coming and those stupid, hot feelings in your stomach won't make you do something you regret."
I stopped and looked up. He was watching me intently. He wanted me to continue.
"That's why that book is from the devil." I said, hurling a vicious glare at the hardbound thing. "True love or whatever the hell it is, doesn't exist. To love that way, so violently and so passionately like that, it can't work. One of you will be burned alive, maybe both. It has to be equal. Equal loyalty. Equal partnership. Equal respect. You can't leave the other one out to dry. You have to care for each other before you can even get close to understanding them. In fact, you never might."
He stared at me for a very long time, long enough to make me feel uncomfortable. Then he did that back-of-the-throat laugh.
"God, you're cynical."
I gaped at him. "What?"
"No, wait," he continued as though I hadn't spoken. "You're just delusional."
"I am not cynical!" I howled. "I am not delusional!"
"It's not funny!" I picked up my cookbook and hurled it at him. It landed squarely on his stomach and he choked on the smoke. I don't usually do things like that, throwing books at people, but he was just a jerk!
"Ok, fine!" He wheezed and coughed thickly. "You're not! You're not!"
I nodded and uncrossed my arms, then handed him my drink. He slurped it greedily and smacked his lips afterward.
"Fine, you're not delusional about your beliefs. I'm all for good, equal matching but this business about it has to be perfect is thick as a rock, mate."
He gave me a look and I frowned. "Oh God," he suddenly said and turned his head slightly to glare at me sideways. "You're one of them."
"One of them what?"
"You're waiting for Prince Charming to swoop in and carry you off!" My mouth twisted into a tight line and he gasped again. "And you thought you found him, din you! And he was just a sorry, right bastard!"
Something in my chest broke and in one swift movement, I snatched up my cookbook from his chest and strode out the doors of Barnes and Nobles without a second glance back.
I did not want Prince Charming to sweep me off my feet. I now knew Prince Charming didn't exist. Love was only a bitch unless you were very pretty and extremely dimwitted. True love was a literary device used to create dreams and high hopes for things that were even close to reality.
If I was cynical, then so be it. I was also right.
It was not until about a week and several panic attacks later did I realize I had left my bag at Barnes and Nobles. After finally getting to use the car from my sister, I drove to the big store in the rain one day. I was almost hesitant to go back inside. What if he was there?
But I shoved any fear down my throat and out of mind. However, instantly, I scanned the massive crowd in search of any neon hair and black. I nearly passed out when a large ruffle of black moved near the children's section. My heart was still thudding in my throat after I realized it was an early-Halloween decked-out witch. After a quick shudder, I went to customer services.
The woman there, dressed like a werewolf and a button that said "Team Hacob" on her apron. She smiled brightly. Dumb bitch.
"Hi," I said, trying to look only at her eyes and not her humiliating costume. "I think I left my bag here last Saturday."
"Oh yeah! Laura Benningfield?" She held it up from behind the counter. "This it?"
"Yep." I nodded and took it from her. "Thanks."
"Any time! Have a super scary Halloween! Whoo!" She giggled and wiggled her fingers in my face.
I tried to grin, not grimace. I waved a goodbye and turned to go before she spoke again.
"A plus, by the way!"
"What?" I turned and she was grinning like someone with a secret.
"Your boyfriend!" She squealed. "He is GORGEOUS!"
My heart slammed painfully into my throat, much worse than when I saw the wanna-witch. "What are you talking about?"
She clearly sensed my horror because she frowned. "The guy who brought your bag over. All black clothes? A sort of super sexy Billy Idol look going? British-goodness and all!"
Her eyes went glassy as she thought back but I slammed my hand onto the counter to make her come back. "What did he say? Did he look in my bag?"
Not that I thought he would take anything but in there I had some journals. Some very private journals. Some with detailed descriptions about the party at Matt Campbell's house and what happened under his porch—
"Please tell me he didn't look this bag!"
"I don't remember." I wanted to shake her. "I don't think so though. Oh wait! He did put something in it! Yeah, a note! Hey, where are you going?!"
I turned and sprinted out of Barnes and Nobles, not worrying about the no-running policy for once in my life. I shoved open the wooden doors, bolted through the rain to my car and flung open the silver door, diving into the leather seats for dear life. It was dark and warm and I had never been so nervous in my life (Matt Campbell's party notwithstanding). People ran from their cars to the store behind me and the world rushed faster without stopping. I reached into my bag. Was he going to criticize me even more? What else could he say could be more hurtful than before?
I was not cynical.
With a deep breath, and a faint thought of "why does this guy's opinion of me matter anyway?" ran through my head, and then I opened it. It was messy handwriting.
Sorry. Didn't mean to offend. Especially didn't mean to run off one of the few free thinkers I've met in a long time.
Even if you are a definitely cynical, you're not wrong about love. But Charming's a git frankly. Love comes from the spark of arguing and the troubles in hard times. If you love someone after that, after the smoke clears, then it might be true. But you'd have to live an eternity to find out.
I tell you how it goes.
Thanks for one-less dull Saturday.
He didn't sign his name, only a weird symbol that resembled an S. Stephen? Steve? Sam? All in all it didn't matter.
P.S I bet you were better than him anyway.
Cynical Laura. It had a nice ring to it.
*A/N Please do not hate about my references to Twilight. It's a book series, as was Buffy a TV show. This idea came to me one day while in a bookstore, not because I wanted to rag on your fictional lover. Please keep your opinion of Twilight to yourself and only look at this fanfic on the quality of my writing. Please do not leave comments like, "Edward wld so pwn Spike" because that is illogical. Spike would eat him, without ever having to show fang.