Picture It and Write!: Autumn and the centerfold

This is my bit for last week Picture It and Write! photo prompts. This is a lengthy one but I’ll promise you that you most likely like it, I know it’s turned out to be one of my favourites. Cheers!

Spiral Stairway
via Emilia Blog

It’s my day off and I’ve been staring at the pastel blue of the sky unblinkingly for long moments at a time. My eyes overflow at the effort and no doubt it would have hurt if the sun was between the delicate looking clouds. As it happened this sky wasn’t authentic but an armature attempt at fresco, Tia’s pride. A decent imitation though I was no expert to really say but an imitation nonetheless; a much better fallacy than the timeline of my life so far. I have to quit thinking about all of that. I’ve put it behind me, or I tried to but it’s so hard to do that when the past is what put me here in the first place.

But it’s not entirely a bad state, to be honest. I grabbed at the chance to cohabitate, it was good rent and surprisingly good company. Tia was the resident artist, wielding paint brushes and words both, but keeps a day job as a florist five minutes away. Kirsty was a chef at a ritzy restaurant in the Bronx, who could probably afford a whole flat but for reasons unknown to me she’d rather share one. I should talk more like I used to, you get answers that way. I … well, I wait tables at Clayton’s mostly the nightshifts; nothing artistic about that if you don’t count the random bad poetry I scrawl on paper napkins leaving them lying on the tables.

  “Feck it!”

I nearly tumbled off of the couch. Tia was at the other end of the living room sitting at the desk, fuming at her laptop. She swiveled around to stare incredulously at me.

“Kyrie, can you believe what that fecker, Tony, told Becky?” she said ‘Becky’ like it was the pigeon crap she was compelled to scrape off the deck.

I tilted my head to the side in silent inquiry.

“He spilled on my next installment of Ricard Octopus. This is a crucial one and I am beyond pissed,” she fumed, pulling at her dark brown hair in utter frustration. Then a maniacal light came into her eyes.

“I know what I’ll do. I’ll name a character after him then they’ll get really attached and then … I’ll go Steven Moffatt all over ’em!” Tia erupted into a cackle the wicked witch would approve of, rubbed her palms together, sent me an conspiring evil grin and swung around to pound furiously at the keyboard.

I winced. This cannot end well for anyone, I have a feeling she’d be setting herself up in the process. I said nothing yet. It was stuffy in here and the cool fall wind blew longingly against the windows kept closed sometimes during writing frenzies. Our apartment is on the fourth floor, walking to the end of the hall there’s a door opening to this weird spiral step that reminds me of a DNA helix. I went outside and sat on the first step and rapped my arms around my knees and gazed out to the drowsy cerulean yonder.

Someone was playing Centerfold on the floor below, the perk-me-up song seasoned the chilly air, I felt it grazing my skin. Without any prelude … I burst out laughing. Laughing till my eyes were streaming rivulets of tears full of some mystifying emotion. Who am I kidding? I was heading this way for a while now and it was about time I cracked. But I saw that music video though, I wonder if the guy who’s blasting it had a bad day.

I look down at the people milling around, bundled in lumpy sweaters, heading home or perhaps to the theater. I often wonder who they are and what they do. Do they like coffee with sugar or would that gentleman with the long black umbrella prefer Earl Grey tea instead? What battles have they fought? What have they yet ahead? This was the first time I broke away from home since it became too painful to be there anymore. It’s a sprawling, spiraling world out here and I’m beginning to navigate my way through it. It’s a terrifying and a heady rush, being technically alone. It was inevitable and I wouldn’t live with training wheels forever. Am I delusional when I believe that I’m a disappointment? Or am I being unreasonable and feeling sorry for myself? In any case I’m a bit more free, so why am I so glum? Hmmm … perhaps I knew that one already.

A flurry of burnt orange leaves wafted above my head drifting away randomly with the air currents that carried a hint of pumpkin spice. The street lights come to life one after the other. That song’s on repeat. I hear loud happy voices bubbling up from the sidewalk, and for a moment everything froze. I wanted to tuck this moment away in an album, I know I’d be returning to it in the years ahead.

‘Life goes on’ it seemed to be labeled. That serene fact whispered itself into my ear as the stage set before me resumes and I’m suddenly filled with this energy. I need to get up, to do something. Anything. I abruptly realize that I could lose those two women that have come close to be considered real friends, I have a job I’m lucky to have found. Everyone else looks as if their lives are full to the brim with one thing or the other. I see now that I’m simply empty.

I could feel around the newfound void and I had an urge to be filled. I shot up and held tightly onto the icy rails least I fall and I kick the bucket full of a whole lot of nothing. What now? It would be wise to steer clear of Tia at this point in time, Kirsty would be exhausted when she came from work. Who can I infect with this craziness that’s possessed me?

My blood runs cold
My memory has just been sold
My angel is the  centerfold
Angel is the centerfold
Na na nana na! Angel is the centerfold!

Then it struck me. Why the hell not? I stomped a flight down the level below. The door slammed dimly behind me as I ran to the source of the music. I waited to catch my breath, hands braced on my bent knees. I didn’t knock yet but the door opened to reveal a tall man topped off with jet black hair and dressed in a comfy emerald sweater and simple black trousers. He had a faintly surprised look about the blue eyes behind a pair of rimless glasses. The volume was turned low.

“I hear music,” I explained. “I thought I should drop by and … say hi. A warning too, Sara Simmons is liable to freak out at the volume but you don’t have to care because she’s all mouth anyway … And I’m rambling. I should leave now.”

Embarrassed, I turned to go when he lit up a smile and grabbed my wrist.

“Come right in, if ya donna mind! I moved in two weeks ago and I hardly know anyone,” say all this while he led me into his living room.

“Kyrie Rai. I’m living practically above your head with two flat mates.”

“Riley Callahan, not straight outta Dublin as you might think. I don’t mean to be too forward but would you mind staying a while? Me mam’s coming in thirty and then I’ll have to play something religious and it would be a shame to dance to this by myself until then,” he said with that charming accent.

Well, what do you know. This wasn’t as difficult after all. Yes? No? Oh, come on. I came here didn’t I?

“Is it possible to say no? Um, at all?”

“Nope.”

“Promise me a slice of that pumpkin pie and we’ve got ourselves a deal, my friend,” I said glancing out of the kitchen window.

“Shake on it, lass,” holding his hand out. We shook.

That was how I met my best friend. A wake up call on a cold autumn afternoon with an 80s tune. And pie.

A few other entries for that week from the community:

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12 thoughts on “Picture It and Write!: Autumn and the centerfold

  1. I interesting short story. I love the voice of your POV! We all go through those periods where we seem lost and alone. You did a Nice job in expressing this.

  2. That spiral staircase looks remarkably like the one outside the Physiology building in the University of Cambridge. There’s a matching white staircase on the building opposite. They’re a pair!

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