Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ghosts from the Cantina

Musical Musings #9

story written in response or inspired by listening to:

by Billy Joel.

Take one of your existing characters and have them reflect honestly on something that they are not proud of in their lives. Are the willing to say 'sorry' for what they have done or is it too late? Does your character write a letter, make a phone call or is it simply being honest with themselves that is important.?

Anita busied herself tidying the lounge room for the fifteenth time. She nervously plumped the pillows and picked invisible fluff from the carpet. It was over five years since she and Clarissa has seen each other and it was important to her that her home was a glowing example of how far she had come, how she had changed.

She had specially arranged a photo album with shots of the younger friends together, stubs from shows and pamphlets from bands they had seen beer coasters with scribbled notes and dares, stubs of cigarettes they had shared with now famous people. It was all there, painstakingly collated into its historical memorabilia glory. A gift, a truce, a bridge.

Anita straightened a photo which jutted slightly out of the pages and then flicked the pages over to it. Two couples squeezed into a booth at a Mexican Cantina, now long gone – that arcade fallen victim to the city developers. She smiled and touched the faces gently. Cameron, one of many boyfriends Anita had had in those days, sat in stony silence with a puzzled ,bemused look on his face. She was there holding a wine glass aloft - laughing, She was drunk and stoned and hardly kept it together that night. Clarissa watched Anita with a undisguised disgusted look, embarrassed at her best friends behaviour. Quinn, her new date and the man she eventually married was staring off at something past the camera, disinterested in capturing history. Anita sniffed remembering Quinn flirting with the waitress that night.

Blushing hotly, Anita poked the photo back into place and sat down on the leather lounge. Nearly twenty years on and that night haunted her. Every moment replayed in her mind. If only she had made different choices that afternoon or even during the evening. Anita blamed that evening as the first destructive chink in the friendship between Clarissa and herself. She was certain it was the beginning of Quinns wandering eye. It defiantly summed up her destructive nature, self sabotaging a really lovely relationship with the first decent boyfriend she had had. In one foul evening, she had dragged her credibility as a friend and prospect as a proper girlfriend or even wife to an all time low.

For the hundredth time in the last few months, she wondered how Cameron was and hoped that he had found someone who deserved his love. It was too late to look for him, to ask for some sort of closure or forgiveness; so Anita had never even tried searching for him. He had worshiped the ground Anita had walked on, allowing her to be sexually aggressive and experimental. His quiet, loving nature a stark contrast to her wild, flamboyant will. For the hundred thousandth time since that night, Anita questioned why she allowed herself to destroy the fragile fa├žade she had constructed for him, why she bothered to build it in the first place, why she lost sleep worried about him twenty years on.

She touched the photo again and remembered the events leading up to the shot being taken. Excited about the first double date she had been on, Anita began to get ready for the big evening many hours beforehand. Clarissa and Quinn had been an item for a nearly a year and things were getting serious between them. Anita had lost touch with them in this time – as new couples and friends often do, and was delighted when she got the call to suggest a double date to introduce her first significant boyfriend to them. Cameron was so different to any of the others Anita had slept with before. He had been besotted with her from the beginning and she had started returning his quiet flirting as a dare and game, initially completely disinterested in him. However, as she came to know him, she discovered a quick witt and quiet confidence which gave her flighty nature stability and security. She pushed his boundaries with every glance. She made him wait a week of ‘proper’ dating before she slept with him ( in direct contrast to sleeping with a guy on the first and usually last date). Anita was still unsure if she ever actually loved him; but perhaps because she was so devastated when they broke up, it was too late to realize she had.

Anita had been nervous about the double date and tried on every outfit she had, wanting the perfect one to impress both Clarissa, but Cameron as well. Her usual bottle of rum sat beside her bedside table, so she filled a plastic tumbler and knocked it back quickly. A plastic packet of marijuana leaf tips lay on her desk, dropped off by one of her friends earlier that day. It was meant to be weighed and divided for distribution at the party on the weekend. However, it was a new batch and Anita reasoned that she aught to try it to make sure of its quality. There was still a few hours before Clarissa was coming over to pick her up, so plenty of time to come down from her high and ready to eat up big at the Cantina.

It came so easily, swigging on the rum, drawing back on the spliff; alone. She felt at peace and powerful. Anita shook the memories from her head. Still so raw. She blushed again. Who would ever suspect this upstanding citizen, mother and community volunteer ever came from this?

The night hadn’t started well. Anita was unable to put makeup on herself as she was still drunk and very stoned when Clarissa arrived to pick her up. Although practiced in hiding her inebriated condition, Anita was in no state to leave the house, much less go on an important date. However, she forced herself into the cab with the concerned Clarissa and they drove into the city to meet up with their dates.

Flashes of sharp consciousness interspersed with coloured lights, slurred words and slow moving dialogue made up the evening. Anita remembered the photo being taken. Clarissa had suggested that she had already drunk enough and offered her water. Loud and laughing, Anita toasted the other couple and amorously paid close attention to her beau, who was delighted with the danger promised in her eyes. Clarissa begged Anita to take things easy. The meal came and went. Clarissa openly wept and visited the powder room a few times. Anita felt distanced from these events as if she were merely observing. Even through the drugged haze, she felt the uncomfortable under currents between the small party. Camerons puppy dog eyes and his ever faithful smile stalked Anita. She suffocated in his love. The more he drew her close, the more she stabbed his sensibilities. She drank until the rest of the evening blurred into nothingness.

Anitas doorbell rang. The ghosts from that night in the Cantina evaporated. Clarissa and Quinns marriage endured many years; through his indiscretions and wanderings, but in the end, the perfect couple divorced. The evening was never discussed or brought up again. The girls drifted apart, though kidded each other blaming work or distance. In Anitas heart, she knew she caused the rift; not only between the once inseparable friends, but between Quinn and Clarissa. After all these years, how could she say sorry?

Opening the door and seeing Clarissa, champagne in one hand and a box of handpicked chocolates in the other, Anita felt that perhaps both of them had some airing to do.


The Countess said...

"Opening the door and seeing Clarissa, champagne in one hand and a box of handpicked chocolates in the other, Anita felt that perhaps both of them had some airing to do"

It's the flashbacks again. Hitting right home.