Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trifecta: Phantom

The last quarter moon illuminated our lightless dorm room just enough to distinguish the outline of the other on adjacent beds. We were both half-drunk and sitting “Indian” style with a box of Pizza World lying open on the floor between us. Billy Squier spinning on the turntable.

She exhaled slowly, almost sultry. I watched as smoke wafted illicitly from her lips making a quick and thankful exit out the cracked window. Her dark brown eyes were invisible in the shadows.

“Don’t worry. We aren’t going to get in trouble.” I recognized a patronizing eye roll in her tone of voice.

She always thought she needed to say it, to assure me, right before we did something bad. It wasn’t necessary as I was no stranger to misbehavior, hers or my own.

“You know they like me better, don’t you?”

She was talking about our friends on 4th floor Hewitt and she was intentionally being hurtful. I knew it wasn’t true, so did she, but she'd learned a long time ago how to get under my skin and when to twist a knife. She also knew how to seduce me back. If I wanted to be.

I silently slid under the bedspread that matched hers. I didn’t say another word because I had been her best friend since freshman year in high school, and I didn’t want to tell her what I was thinking. The words were teetering on the exactly edge of my tongue. Waiting.

“You are a self-centered slut and everyone thinks so, too.”

But I didn’t say those words.

My eyes were still open in the almost blackness. Billy still sang. And she still smoked, lighting the next cigarette from the burning filter of the previous one. She casually popped her jaw in such a way that the smoke lifted off her lips in practiced, white rings. Eventually dissipating. Floating away like our phantom friendship.

Using the third definition of the word:

PHANTOM (noun)
3   :  a representation of something abstract, ideal, or incorporeal 


Draug said...

It seems like it's easier to go along with the habit of a friendship than to go through the harshness of breaking one.

JannaTWrites said...

I like the last line and your use of phantom. "Friends" like this really aren't friends at all.

Trifecta said...

Awesome use of the prompt. I love the simple observations in this - the illicit smoke, the almost blackness. Great scene. Thanks for linking up!

steph said...

I love it. I know someone like this - the phantom friend, I mean. Awesome, Gina. Really well done.

Anonymous said...

A brilliant tale created. I just can't bear characters like her- those who know how to manipulate some one into friendship.
Great set-up and nice imagery.


Jo-Anne Teal (jtvancouver) said...

Gina, you've really captured that time in our lives when (if we're lucky) we begin to trust our instincts about people and trust our instincts about ourselves. So many emotions in play in this scene but you didn't let them overtake the writing.

Very, very nicely done!

Anonymous said...

You've got some really great images here, and you did a wonderful job of showing (not telling) the tension between the two. (Incidentally, this was me and my best friend in college, only she was more thoughtless than intentionally cruel. We made up, and we're still best friends!)

Gina said...

Thank you, Christine. We did try after college, and as young married couples. For years. There were just too many differences , mostly in value systems. So being friends long term wasn't going to work for me or my family. Thanks again!

kymm said...

The setting really plays off of this, Gina: too dark to look in each others' eyes, the smoke and the matching bedspreads. Then the shock of what is said and not said.
I love the final declaration of phantom friendship. It's there, but not there.

Atreyee said...

Fantastic ending to a great piece Gina:-)