It's with great excitement that I share with you folks: Creeps, Anonymous--a dramadey depicting the joy of finding a kindred spirit in the the internet age, and losing oneself to escapism, Creeps is slated for completion next Fall.
The following is a short excerpt from Chapter 2. If you like what you read, please head on over to the Patreon link provided below to get a sneak-peek to the full chapter.
Dinner was served at Linda’s that night, the four of them huddling around the cramped kitchen table.
“How’s this for a home-cooked meal after two weeks of take-out?” Olivia shoved her hand into the bread basket, pulling out a fistful of crescent-shaped dinner rolls.
“What is it?” Diana asked testily.
“It’s Hamburger Helper,” Linda scooped lumps of brown meat and pasta onto their plates. In her sneakers and polka-dot scrubs, she looked ready to bolt out the door for her next shift. She shooed them along for helpings like a factory foreman, ignoring Diana’s visibly shaken sensibilities.
Boxed dinner, in some ways, was comforting to Olivia. Her folks hated cooking, and every night boiled down to arguments first over what to eat for take-out, and then how to pay for it. Having something home cooked--even if most of it was vermicelli and powdered, pre-packaged sauce--seemed pleasant, if not one of the coziest things she’d been up to in a while. It meant someone had worked to cook over a stove at home, and they were usually doing it because they gave a shit, and not because someone paid them to.
Everyone returned to their meals in solemnity, content to eat without breaching the topic of the house again. Sammy looked consumed in the task of organizing her sauce and peas, Linda drifted far off, organizing shifts in her tiny pocket planner. Her mother made an attempt at loading up her fork with greasy macaroni, her lips pressed into one dark line as she eyed the utensils on the table.
“Is this Mam and Papi’s silverware?” she said suddenly.
“Yes,” Linda said, not looking up from her planner. “They left it behind with the house.”
“Have you been putting these into the dishwasher? They’re all black.”
“Of course I put them in the dishwasher, Diana. No one here has the time to hand-wash utensils everyday. I work day and night, Sammy has school.”
“Yes, that’s why silverware is only used for special occasions,” Diana insisted
Olivia’s phone buzzed in her lap. She snuck a look at it beneath the lacy plastic tablecloth, trying not to feel a sick lurch of excitement to see that Dima had finally gotten back.
Yo. What’re you up to?
She unlocked her phone, struggling to type out a response that didn’t sound too eager. It took three iterations of nothing much, free of any unnecessary verbiage, before she finally settled on her most aloof choice: Sup. Nm, you?
“Somewhere you’d rather be?” Her mother’s voice emanated icily from across the table, making everyone at the table pause.
“Nowadays? On a yacht filming rap music videos, mostly.”
“Want to run that past me again?” Her mother’s eyelid began to twitch, a nervous tic that was reserved for rowdy students, and gridlock traffic on the 440. She harpooned a carrot onto her fork, waiting for Olivia to double-down on her mirth.
“Right. I was just going to go out and see some friends, ” Olivia wiped the canned tomato sauce off her chin with a printed napkin.
“You haven’t finished eating the dinner Aunt Linda made for all of us,” Diana said lowly.
Linda shifted uncomfortably in her chair, “It’s all right, Diana, let her go. It’s a Friday night.”
“I just think she aught to stay until we’ve all finished, help unpack, maybe be present for a half an hour, at the very least. You think you can manage, can’t you?” She turned from Linda to Olivia. A blanket of cold, damp snow lowered itself on the already general bad mood of dinner. Linda held her tongue and Olivia glared helplessly into her lap at the black screen of her phone. Sammy scraped a sauce-covered carrot across her plate, and the plate quietly groaned against the grooves of her butter knife.
“Well, now you get to see what deal with,” Olivia finally bit out, addressing the table, her lips curling into a pinched smile.
“Now I’m the bad guy, right?” her mother grew red in the face, “It’s all about how I’m wrong?”
“No, I think you’re allergic to being wrong. I think that’s where I might get it from,” her chair scraped
noisily across the old tile floors as she lifted herself to go to a place that was away from the table, away from the situation, and as far from having to think dinnertime at home as possible. She knew exactly where that was.
Dimitry Halochok was not a name that gave anyone the warm fuzzies. For Olivia, it was a name that mostly inspired the word why. They’d first met when she was looking to score weed at fifteen. His kid brother, Macksim, had furtively promised in gym class that he knew a trustworthy guy who wouldn’t sell them bags of oregano. Sheepish, they took the bus home, and he took her over to his family’s Soviet one-floor home, and lead her back through the spotless hallways to the mirrored garage, where Dima resided, lifting weights.
Macks had long, wheat blond hair back then. He’d leaned his shaggy head into the room and announced to his older brother in a wavering tone, “Someone to see you.”
“Is that right?” From across the room, he pinned her like a butterfly to corkboard with his eyes. He rose slowly off the bench, loping around the gym equipment to greet her. Even though he had messed-up teeth, and a giant vaccination scar on his shoulder, her stomach dropped at the way his blonde hair fell into a sweaty forelock in his face, and she found herself mesmerized by the generous way his basketball shorts hung for dear life, low on his hips. She blinked hard, clearing her throat.
“Is it your first time?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she quavered, trying to keep her voice steady. All she wanted to do was to laugh again, like she used to, about the stupid things. There were a lot of things she just didn’t enjoy anymore, and she wondered about ending it. She figured it was worth a shot at better living through chemistry--If she didn’t try something she wouldn’t have many options left.
“Don’t worry, it’s all about breathing,” he swung his arm around her shoulder and lead them upstairs to his room, turning on his blacklight. He let them smoke out of his glass bong. He kept it in the corner of his room; with its mossy walls that were covered in Bob Marley tapestries, NASA photo collages. The smoke hit her like a singeing cigarette butt to the back of the throat, sending her into a series of hacking coughs. She doubled over, trying to get the feeling of something lodged deep in her chest out. Dima and Macks slapped her gaily on the back, barking with astounded laughter, congratulating her.
She turned her bleary gaze to the both of them, suddenly feeling dizzy.
“Feel anything, Liv?” Macks grinned, poised over the bong to take his own hit.
“Yo, her eyes are so red,” Dima snorted, gesturing for the piece. He turned to her, “You took that like a champ.”
Afterwards, as she was beginning to come down and get sleepy, Dima drove her all the way back to Tottenville to make sure she got home safely. When she got to her doorstep, he called her kiddo, rolled up his tinted window and sped off in his car.
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