THE STORIES by Jenny Hayes
She tells them so often. I know them all by heart. If the Brady Bunch comes up in conversation, Celeste will always mention how she and Anna wanted to form a band called the Bloody Bradies, with everyone dressed like the Brady kids after a massacre. If someone brings up clams, or sculptures, or beaches, she tells the story of Anna in Pismo Beach getting her leg stuck in a giant clam statue at two in the morning, only getting free when Celeste talked a gas station attendant into spraying her thigh down with WD-40. And when anyone says anything about metalheads, Celeste recounts the time Anna drunkenly staggered upstairs with a long-haired guy at a party. She wasn’t fazed by the Metallica logo tattooed across his chest, but when she unzipped his pants and found he’d shaved his pubes into devil horns, she claimed an urgent need to use the bathroom, then ran ten blocks home laughing.
I’ve tried to imagine what that looked like. Were they pointy horns? Or like fingers making the gesture?
I don’t have to imagine Anna. Celeste has pictures of them together, at shows or bars or someone’s house. Celeste is tall and pale and curvy, Anna’s dark and fiery and slim. But there’s one where they have matching red wigs, matching lipstick, matching everything. The look in their eyes says We’re the same.
There are other stories that come out less often. Like the night at a terrible sports bar when some dude dared them to kiss each other. Celeste was about to say fuck off, but Anna said sure, if he gave them twenty dollars. He slammed a twenty on the bar. So they kissed. Tongue and spit and everything. He pulled out another twenty, and another, and the guys around him kicked in more. They both left with a hundred bucks in their pockets. Just for kissing each other! Celeste laughed, shaking her head.
I always wanted to shout, Tell it again! Like a little kid.
Once I asked, what was it like? Gross, she said. The guys looked creepy and smelled like nasty cologne. No, I said. Kissing each other. She laughed. I don’t know. Like kissing anyone.
Sometimes a friend will ask her, What’s Anna up to? She moved, right? Celeste shrugs. Says they haven’t kept in touch. You know how it is when someone moves. But Celeste and Anna were best friends, inseparable, the kind of friends who did everything together, and the one story I don’t know is how that ended. Celeste laughs nervously and says, It’s not like we’ll never talk again, you know? But Anna’s in New York now and I know it’s been at least two years since they’ve seen each other, because that’s how long ago I met Celeste.
She and I have gone to shows and bars and people’s houses. I have pictures of us together, but none where there’s the same look in our eye. But one day something will happen and our friendship will transform. Celeste will tell stories about me, and the ones about Anna will fade away.
Or maybe Celeste and I will have an altercation. I will move to New York. I’ll go out one night and I’ll see a girl with a tattoo of a snake’s rattle poking out from her shirt collar. I won’t ask where the snake’s head is, or try and trace it with my fingertip. I’ve heard what happens when people do that, just like I’ve heard how Celeste held her hand when she got it. But I won’t tell her that. Instead, I’ll ask her to do tequila shots with me.
We will become friends.
Sooner or later she’ll mention Celeste, and I’ll look astonished. I know her! I’ll say. Well, I used to know her.
And then we’ll tell each other stories.
Jenny Hayes grew up in Berkeley, CA and now lives in Seattle. Her writing has appeared in The Toast, Spartan, Eclectica, Printer’s Devil Review, and other interesting places. She’s the co-creator of the blog Yard Sale Bloodbath, and her chapbook Dear Rosie AKA Ro-Ho-Zee AKA Rosarita Refried Beans (featuring an illustrated story about David Bowie) is available from alice blue books. Learn more at http://jennyhayes.com.