Not true in the traditional sense of the word, because I changed it all, but true in a deeper way. One of the truest things in the world.
I don’t know how long I’ll leave this up; I’m not sure how I feel about pimping out my past. But, for now, here it is.
“I know,” she says, “isn’t it glamorous how fucked up we were?”
Of course it’s true in this world. We are the stuff of Oprah specials and the emotional wet dreams of a million privileged housewives. We are all that’s left, the only survivors, of a world that doesn’t exist anymore.
It was summer when we met. She lived in a tree fort by the lake and I lived under a tree I called Grampa Spruce. We were tough girls in our holey jeans dark with spruce pitch and no nonsense tank tops. We carried knives and we could take care of ourselves. We knew no one else would.
The state was looking for both of us and we were hiding. Two tough girls by day keeping watch for each other at night. Night was when her mother would come creeping through the veils of sleep with a belt or a willow or a two by four. My father would show up too, with his hands and his penis and his animal killing. They were only dreams but they awoke real scars that would push their way up through our skin, angry red welts and blisters. We nursed each others scars and revered each others strength every night under the trees.
Now, ten years later we’re curled up in the VIP room at a crazy little titty bar in the middle of nowhere. I’m working, she’s visiting. Arizona. She’s in real estate now. We count and we’ve both had thirteen lives since the last time we saw each other, thirteen changes of worlds. Neither of us is wearing ripped jeans and we don’t smell like trees. I’m in a long red skirt and a strappy bikini top with rhinestones, and her jeans are bright blue, her shirt crisp and grown up. I ask if she ever tells people how it was, back then, now that she’s in this Arizona life.
Not really, she says. Just little bits. You know. It turns into something else in people’s minds.
I know. People catch a whiff of our story and we become so cliche that we stop being real. The world we came from doesn’t exist anymore, and I guard it jealously from cliched minds.
I ask if she remembers our free showers with pervy guys and sweet old men, and how we had keys to all the dumpsters in town. She laughs. Of course she does. How could she forget? She even remembers how we used to hide in the woods above a trail and make up stories about the people who ran past.
She lifts her head and props it up on her hand, black hair wrapped around her arm.
“Can you believe we’re both here? Now? Alive and sane?”
I look down and she is tracing the ghost of an oddly shaped scar on my stomach. She is the only one who knows it existed.