The suffering hot-end of July 1983. A beige house in a second-rate city was sweating from the inside. Breathing felt like smoking, without a reassuring death-kick. She was trapped inside. It’s like this every year on her birthday.
This was her seventh. Dawn sat alone, cross-legged in a sleeveless striped overall, for the obligatory dress-up. Its straps took turns falling down. The acrid carpet beneath her was a dirty green, or grey, or inexplicably both. Her fuzzy blonde curls were short, still Shirley Temple. The melting cake sat in the corner, and no one was there.
“It’s the summer. Everyone is away on vacation.”, said her mother, who probably didn’t bother to invite anyone. When the doorbell finally rang, it was Larissa. Dragged by her own guilt-prodding mother, she was a popular girl at school, who lived around the corner. How inconvenient, for everyone. The girls sat there gazing at the walls and pretended to wait for others to arrive, confident none would.
Dawn’s godmother reported in, keeping the adult quota. She brought with her two gifts. Dawn looked at them, not recognising their shape. Their alien square form was not a toy, not a book, not a five dollar bill in a tacky envelope. She opened her first two vinyl LP’s with confused hesitation. These weren’t for her, were they? Records were for big people. As she peeled off the plastic wrapping, she could smell the ink on the fresh cardboard sleeves. Her little hands carefully held the fragile dark masses, each perfect black with mysterious incisions. They felt heavy, and masculine.
She used her still-forming phonics to spell out the printed liner notes and lyrics to Larissa, who now embedded herself to the palm under her chin, and didn’t move. She thought Dawn was odd, and was secretly hoping to be walked home as soon as possible. The new Education need not apply.
Things didn’t get better, but they had begun. There were to be a tidy sum of beds to lie down and die in. Each one will curve to Dawn’s back as she mouths the escape, song by song, year by year. So much to lonely-learn. A blend of noise warned that her love was an addiction, and the recovery even worse. That the fork in the road will turn into a knife. That nothing would ever cool her blood, or make her sober again. These two even shapes formed an audible window that she could crawl out of, with scraped knees, bruised hands, and a solid howl.
***Jen Ellerson is a Berlin-based Creative Director, Designer, Promoter, DJ and Writer – and not necessarily in that order. Her 2012 publication, “Modern Movement”, is a document of Berlin subculture. She is currently working on a compendium of short stories. To this date, she maintains a perfect sense of trouble.www.jenellerson.com ***