A taster of something I’m working on currently….

They hadn’t met up there in months.
There was a time when they would spend whole summer days up there with a couple of loungers and a cooler with some soda, maybe a bottle or two of beer.
But recently the roof had fallen from favour. Valentine didn’t know why, it didn’t cross his mind, maybe that was just it. Who knew.
He was on his way there now, trying to avoid a sick feeling in his stomach, trying to focus on that other feeling, that light, warm feeling he always got when he thought about her, like something bright and golden in his stomach, even if it was sometimes tinged with a sour sense of the unrequited.
It looked like rain.
The sky was a fantastic bruised miasma of blue-purple clouds and the wind was picking up. Dust and trash blew down the sidewalks and into the gutters.
He looked up from the toes of his Chucks to see her sister walking down the other side of the street.
She had noticed him and was crossing the road.
“Valentine.”
She said it like a statement, not so much a greeting. She did this with other people a lot, but not so much with him. He could see through her most days.
“Rap,” he nodded as she drew to a halt in front of him.
She was small, smaller than her sister by a few inches and although they both shared the same, sandy, white hair, Rap’s was dyed black and cut short, ‘like a goddam lesbian’ as her father often would bark, to which she would raise a middle finger and say, ‘fuck you’.
Denim was the order of the day with Rapunzel, faded, worn jeans and a matching jacket, worn under another jacket, a leather one with a hole though the shoulder that she never talked about but was made with the switchblade that sat in her pocket right that moment. The hole that was made in the desert when that tall, perfect man took the coat off and pinned it to the fencepost with the blade instead of putting it around her shoulders as she shivered, like any other lover would but not him.
Motorcycle boots, but no motorcycle. Black, scuffed and worn at the heels.
Plain white tee, well, washed out and grey now.
Then the belt.
Rapunzel (of course, not her real name, but the only one she would answer to these days) cut off her hair when she came out of the desert wearing that jacket over her thin, cotton dress. Red eyed and sniffing, ignoring people who asked her where she had been, that the sheriff had been looking for her, that her father… ‘I don’t give a fuck about him!’ she replied and shuffled home, took of the jacket and cut off her long, gold locks while staring blankly at herself in the bathroom mirror.
She used the switchblade.
There were questions of course, but not many answers. She hadn’t told anyone about the perfect man and she never would.
Over that weekend, she changed herself. Her hair, her clothes and so far as anyone knew in the town, her father didn’t hit her anymore, ‘cos now she hit back.
Val first heard Kelvine Tynes say at the store that he saw Art Lockheart with a black eye and bloodied lip when he came in for his Luckies one morning, Tynes gleefully suspected it was Rap’s handiwork. And some time later, Val was at the Hammer when he saw Artie knocking back brewskis with Bear Johnson, he sported a fresh cut above his eyebrow then.
Val couldn’t think of anyone else who would hit Artie, the man was too much of a coward to hit anyone he didn’t think would fight him back. Rap had spirit. Ellie? Well…
But the belt.
Rapunzel wore the hair she cut off around her waist. She went to her room that morning and plaited the hair tightly. Now, with the edition of an ornate silver buckle, it sat on her hips, daring you to ask about it. For some reason people didn’t or at least Val never heard of anyone who did, save one time when some woman from out of town was filling up at the gas station and pointed out.
Apparently Rap just glared at her for a second and ignored her, took her smokes (that was new too, she never used to smoke) and stomped away.
She was lighting a cigarette now as she looked him up and down.
“How’s it hanging Valentine?”
“Just fine Rapunzel, how’s yours hanging?”
No-one else could talk to her like that, she just blew smoke out of her nose and turned her head to give a sharp little laugh.
She would of hit anyone else.
Or worse.
“You headin’ up to see the girl?” she asked.
He nodded.
She took a deep drag on her cigarette and looked him over again, “You two have not been up there in months, what happen, you finally get some rubbers again?”
This was typical of her, Valentine never rose to the bait and often wondered if she was attracted to him and then wondered if he was attracted to her, or just what he could see of her sister in her. She knew he loved her sister, it went unsaid between them, but she knew, even if Ellie didn’t.
Val took it as a sign of acceptance.
“Nope, plenty of those, we’ve been doing it in your bed when you’ve been out, didn’t you notice?”
She grinned again, “Fuck you Valentine Cooper!”
He loved her smile, he was one of the few people who got to see it.
He was thinking of that smile again, two months later when she stepped out in front of him and slashed his face with the switchblade.
But is wasn’t a smile, it was a grimace of rage.
How strange, he though as he put his hand to his face and felt the hot blood, I though she was smiling….

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