MAHALA SPILLERS - CHOICES
Mahala Spillers is a published poet and essayist, studying for a Creative Writing BFA in Winter Park, Florida.
You can find her work at Literary Yard and Down in the Dirt magazine.
“Why did you let me smoke that stuff?” Meg asked Chloe as she exhaled a billow of smoke.
Chloe patted her on the back. “We smoked the same stuff and I’m fine. You can choose whether you have a good time, or not. Stay out of your head.”
“I don’t want to have a bad time. I just know that it’s not going to end well.”
“You’ll be okay.” Chloe continued in a hushed tone. “I was wondering about Arliss. Is he single?”
Meg made eye contact with Arliss across the room. His sympathetic gaze held on hers. A small smile upturned the corners of his mouth. Her pupils dilated.
“Last I heard. I haven’t seen him in a while. ”
Chloe gave her a clued-in look. Meg winced at her friend’s pity. “Don’t you think your kids might look too master-race with the blonde hair and blue eyes?” Meg said.
Chloe sighed. “Not looking to be impregnated, Meg. Just put in a good word?”
Meg softened at her friend’s pleading and nodded. “Oh god. My lungs are collapsing!” she exclaimed with her hand on her chest.
“You’re fine. Breathe. Then go talk to him.” Chloe swatted at her and stood up from the couch to leave. Arliss quickly replaced her.
“Are you baked?” he asked with a laugh.
“As a pie, my friend.”
“Are you going to be okay?”
She paused too long before she responded, “I’m fine.”
He studied her face before speaking. “So, you’ve been handling everything well?” Arliss asked as he sat beside her.
“Yes and no. Have you talked to your brother about everything?”
Arliss’ eyes widened and shifted. “He’s mentioned it-- and you. I wouldn’t worry. My opinion of you hasn’t changed.”
“He hates me. Doesn’t he?”
“Hey. He hates me too.”
“I really hurt him, huh?”
“We really hurt him.”
Meg sighed deeply and hung out her bottom lip like a dog. Arliss noticed this and scooted closer beside her. “What’s this about?” he said as he playfully nudged his knuckle against the protrusion of her mouth.
She flinched at his touch and sucked it back in. “It was a caricature of a sad person.”
“Why are you sad? You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I did a lot wrong,” she said quickly, shifting to another subject. “What do you think about this party? Anyone catch your eye?”
Arliss inhaled and smiled, eyes fluttering across her face. He exhaled before he spoke, “I like how red your cheeks get when you’ve been drinking.” His hand returned to stroke her face.
She allowed it at first, eyes closed at the sensation of his skin against hers, before she pulled back with a nervous laugh. “I have some gossip. Want to hear?”
Arliss eyed her sadly as he brought his hand down but indulged her with a nod.
“My friend, Chloe--”
“The little blonde one?” he asked, glancing at Chloe who was smiling happily.
Meg’s shoulders dropped. “Well.uh. She thinks that you’re real attractive and she wants to make little blonde Aryan babies with you.”
He chortled with amusement. “In those words, exactly?”
“No. Actually. She just wants to put her mouth on your mouth.”
“You want me to sleep with your friend?” he asked.
“I’m presenting this information to you in a total Choose-Your-Own-Adventure kind of way. Purely optional. She wanted me to mention her to you.”
“I don’t know her, so, I’m not interested.”
She relaxed her shoulders just to tense again. “That’s why you should talk to her. You talk to her, get to know her, sleep with her, pop out a few kiddies...”
“Look, Meg, I’m not looking to be a father and I don’t want to have a one-night stand. I like to sleep with people that I’ve known for more than a night. Girls that I like?” His voice dropped up and down with hints
“I’m sorry. You can choose who you want to sleep with. You don’t need my screenings.”
“It’s not that. You’re avoiding the problem here. It’s not just that you want me to sleep with someone else. You’re avoiding the conversation.”
“What is there to say?”
“There are things that can be done. Things we can change.”
“I just know that this will end badly because it already did end badly.”
“How’s that? Nothing even began?” He shook his head in disbelief.
She eyed him back so that he would know. She shifted her sadness back to the catalyst.
“Chloe plays guitar and piano,” she said, pointing to her friend.
He didn’t look where she coaxed. He kept his eyes darted on her, but she refused to look back. Finally, after avoiding his attention, he looked at Chloe. She smiled and gave a little wave.
“Maybe she should just pick one,” he said, returning his attention to her.
Meg bit her lip, on the verge of tears. She continued to avoid his stare.
“I can understand why he resents you,” he said coldly.
She couldn’t help but look at him when said that. She searched his eyes for proof that he meant it. She brought her hand quickly to her chest as her breathing became irregular. She eyed him with disbelief.
“And what about you?” she said after a long breath.
“We already jumped the fence. What’s the apprehension about? We don’t have to take it so seriously. I’m willing to take it slow.” His voice raised with hope. He grasped at her hand.
She slid away from him once more. “I don’t think I can take it. Period.”
“You really want me to hook up with Chloe?” he said as a test. His eyebrows were raised, awaiting a response she couldn’t give. Through a shaky breath, she said, “Yes.”
He sighed and slipped up from the couch. He gave her one last knowing look before he sat beside Chloe across the room. Meg clapped her hand over her chest. She wasn’t sure what was collapsing now.