small town girls




Breaking Up
by Michelle K.

"I can't do this anymore," Lana says, and Chloe can hear the knife being taken out of the holder. Then, "I'm not...I'm not really that way," and she can feel the blade slicing into her skin.

'You were that way last night,' she thinks. 'You've been that way for weeks, but now it's all bullshit.' But she doesn't speak, for she knows she'd scream and disrupt the murmurs of her fellow patrons.

"Don't hate me," Lana says.

Chloe blinks, wonders if Lana will ever stop being obsessed with everyone liking her. Wonders if everyone's whispering or if the sound is just being dulled by the rush of blood to her head.

"Just say something," Lana pleads.

"What difference does it make?" Chloe retorts. They're in a public place, and she knows Lana did it on purpose so she wouldn't make a scene. So it would be quick and painless - for her at least.

"You're still my friend," she continues. "I still care about you. We're just not..."

"That way." She hates how bitter her voice is, but she ignores the pain that lines Lana's face. She can hear the falsity in the silence, all the little things saying, 'she never really gave a shit about you.'

Then the sound comes back full force, the multitude of conversations - '...I can't believe he did that to you...' 'I hear that's really good...' 'Can I get the check?' - and the music, and she remembers how much she hates Britney Spears.

"Just...just have something to drink." Lana slides the herbal tea towards her, tea that she's been forcing Chloe to drink.

'You shouldn't have so much coffee,' she'd smiled. 'You should relax more.' Then a laugh, that full girly laugh that Chloe went from hating to loving in such a short time. Then a kiss, then hips arching against her hand, then a scream and lies about love.

Chloe pushes it back towards her - splish splash - and there's tea on the table and waves in the liquid. "Stop it. Just stop acting like you care, okay?"

"I do." But Chloe gets her real answer in the stilted delivery of the tiny syllables.

Chloe wonders if anyone will ever want her. If her worthlessness was predetermined by her mother walking away. Then it's waffles burning, her father's gentle voice talking without explaining, pencil breaking as she wrote a letter she'd never send, opening the mailbox for letters she'd never receive.

The voice inside her declaring, "Mommy never loved you."

And blood can't make the leap of faith, so no one else risks the fall.

Not Clark. Not Lana. Not Clark-n-Lana, the couple of love and destiny. Now Faith Hill's singing pseudo-country about kissing, and the Clark-n-Lana in her head are smacking their lips waiting for their big movie smooch. Sigh, moan, 'Oh, Clark.'

Clark-n-Lana, so in love.

Maybe she was only a roadblock for them, and now her bones are going to crunch beneath their feet as they make their way to real love or whatever the hell they think is real love.

Sipping, ordering, the whir of that goddamn espresso machine, the sweet and low lies that didn't mean anything, and Chloe's going to explode.

But she reminds herself that she's not the explosion type. She's the cry in her room type, the cloaked in silence and pain type. That's the way she is, and she wonders what would happen if she dare utter the word 'gay' in this small town crowd, sitting across from this small town girl who's tasted the inside of her thighs.

"I'm getting out of here," Chloe says.

"Are we okay?"

"We're fine," she lies. As she turns around, she accidentally on purpose knocks over that cup with her bag. Thud, shatter, crack, 'I'll help you with that,' and Chloe doesn't look back.