Broken Pencil Death Match: Louisa

femme book club 6

“Tonight we’re going to a party, and by ‘we’ I mean everyone. I know because I’ve been tracking the Facebook guest list. And maybe a few individual profiles.

It’s going to be fun, I silently assure myself that night, when I’m back in front of the mirror applying my make-up. I wonder what boring hipster clothes she’ll be wearing.

Out loud, I try to sound casual as I ask my roommate, “Ugh, do you think Louisa is going to be there?”

“I’m sure she will,” she replies absently as she scrolls intently through my iTunes searching for the right song.

“God, I bet she’ll be so drunk and inappropriate,” I continue. I glance at my roommate. Still focussed on the computer screen she barely murmurs a reply.

“What a mess,” I say, and smear my lipstick thickly between my lips.

“Mhm,” my roommate mumbles. “Oh here it is. This is the song I was telling you about.” She bops her head as the beat starts.

I smooth down the front of my black sweater dress and flick my bangs back and forth across my forehead, a nervous habit I developed when I first cut them years ago. My stomach flutters and I swallow hard. It’s only a few strands of hair, but the side pony suddenly weighs heavily on my shoulder. And perhaps a little on my conscience. But I pull myself away from the mirror and bop along with my roommate.

Adequately boozey, I use the last few minutes before we leave to scour the internet for any pre-game photos and steady myself for the night ahead.

“Good to go?” my roommate asks. I snap my laptop closed and we head down the stairs to the street and out into the night.

I don’t even care that she’s going to be there. I probably wouldn’t notice, it’s just that she’s so annoying and rude. Oh well, it’s going to be fun, I tell myself, once again. I push the thought out of my mind and return to laughing with my roommate as we charge against the cold wind.

And it is fun. We’re sitting at a sticky, round table. I’m drinking my favourite beer with a little citrus taste. But my eye is trained on the door half the time. I know my stomach won’t settle until I know where she is. Since we’re early, we get a few rounds on the dance floor before it becomes a sweaty mass of bodies. All warmed up and laughing, I finally see her come in, side pony and all. I raise my eyebrow and turn my head away, but the air deflates from my lungs and I remember the fluttery feeling in my stomach. I don’t feel much like dancing anymore. I falter, but I’m trying not to lose momentum, so:

“Shots?” I shout my proposal over the music. My roommate’s eyebrows raise excitedly and she nods, still to the beat, as we dance over to the bar where a few of our other friends are already leaning.

As the bartender pours our drinks, I see Louisa out of the corner of my eye. Her outfit choices never fail to amaze me. Pink, really? A pink collared shirt. That is so weird. I refocus on my friends as we tap our tiny glasses together and pour the burning liquid down our throats as fast as possible.

We order another round of beers and my friends are straining to hear me over the music. I can tell by the polite smiles and offbeat laughter that some of them can’t really hear me at all. I take a sip and try to swallow my frustration with beer.

A burst of laughter and chorus of voices pierces the din of dance beats and I snap my head around to see the source. Louisa’s surrounded by bodies covered in plaid, denim, asymmetrical haircuts, and ironic glasses, some doubled over and others jostling each other. With gesturing arms outstretched and an animated face leaning in close, she’s apparently telling the funniest story any of them have ever heard.

She’s only been here for five minutes, I fume. Her friends can obviously hear her just fine. I sink down onto a barstool like my body is caving in on me and tug at my ponytail.”

You know that girl hate-y feeling? When you feel insecure and jealous and anxious, but you’re in denial about being all those things? When you concentrate all your feelings of self-loathing onto another person? A person that you maybe, probably, actually secretly wanna hang out with? Yeah. I know that feeling.

You know that femme invisibility feeling? When you’re coming out into or hanging around a community of cool queers, but nobody seems to get your style or what makes you cool? When feeling misunderstood makes you feel like kind of a loser but also, like, kind of angry? When you don’t know what parts of yourself to hang onto and what parts of new things to pick up? Yeah. I know that feeling.

I wrote a story about it called “Louisa.” “Louisa” was selected to compete in the 2016 Broken Pencil Indie Writers’ Death Match, an intense competition based on votes! Voting for the first round, the lightning elimination round, is happening now, until 11:59 p.m. EST, and I need your votes! Visit http://www.deathmatch.ca for full rules and, most importantly, the VOTE button!

 

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