I run into Caroline outside Wicks office and she won’t shut up about some band she saw on the weekend. I’m told they’re named after a dinosaur and have almost a dozen members. The coolest part, she’s telling me, is how the lineup keeps changing but the band stays together, brought to life by the music.

Caroline talks the way a house fire burns.

I suppress a yawn as the oxygen around me dies. I can’t concentrate. A group of high school girls walk past. It’s hard to tell where one starts and another stops, they’re indistinguishable but for the colour of their clothes, like watching a slutty rainbow slink across the sky.

I’m thinking about killing myself.

There’s a jab in my ribs and Caroline asks me if I’m listening. I look at her and try absently to focus. I tell her, of course, that I was just trying to imagine how cool that must be, all those people.

‘Oh, you have no idea,’ she says.

I point at the pack of smokes she’s holding and raise my eyebrow. She draws two out and slips me one without missing a beat. ‘I mean they play this really cool mix of old school surf rock and instrumetal, but it has this really heavy indie twist to it. It’s like, if Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Beach Boys had a baby, and then Muse fed the baby to Sigur Ros. I mean, it’s just incredible you know. I can’t believe you weren’t there.’

I want to get out of this conversation, but she doesn’t leave me any spaces. I nod slowly and light our cigarettes.

‘The lead singer, Tony, we kind of know each other from around, you know. Well, he was completely making eyes at me the whole time. I’m pretty sure he has a girlfriend, but it can’t be that serious if he’s making eyes at me right? Anyway, I saw her out one time and she wasn’t even that cute. I’m way cuter right?’

In my head I’m imagining a bottle of red wine, something vintage, and a bottle of valium. The note I leave next to my bed reads: This isn’t a good enough reason to stay.

Caroline flicks her cigarette into the planter behind us. ‘I have to go,’ she says. ‘I have to meet Jessie over at Caxton and then we’re going to some cider bar he heard about. I’m sure he thinks it’s cool, but I don’t even drink cider and he knows that. If he wasn’t so good in bed I swear I wouldn’t bother. You know what I mean?’

I have no idea. The words seem to make sense, but I can’t decipher them. I nod and tell her I’m meeting Dylan in the valley. She throws her arms around me and brushes her lips lightly against my cheek.

After she’s gone, I stand there and count my breaths.

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