Did I forget to talk about Rake? Or Blaven? Maybe that’s because of how cliché it was, how deploringly high school. On some level, anyway. From a certain point of view.
No, that’s a lie. There’s only one perspective that makes it cliché, and that belongs to Declan Murphy, who stood outside it, and jealousy knows no clichés, doesn’t acknowledge them, and besides, what teenage boy ever recognized his own cliché and owned it?
There is something familiar about it, though, I guess. Predictable? About the damaged former lesbian child of abuse falling for the powerful-seeming yet sensitive black kid on the drums. Kid? I guess that depends how you look at it, whether he acted more like a kid than other black men his age, or whether he was more mature. We need more words for shit like this. Or maybe fewer.
It was Declan’s own fault, really. If fault is what you want to call it. If it hadn’t been for Angst, there’s no way Blake Morrissey and Raven would’ve hooked up, or even looked at each other. I guess I can’t really say that for sure, seen as how I can only see four dimensions and not past that into the multiverse of infinite bullshit, but I mean, come on. Seriously? Blake didn’t even particularly talk to her much outside practice as it was. Was it because he was black? Might’ve been because she was white. Or because she was a girl, and he was a boy and she knew what that meant and knew that he knew.
But keeping out of her way and giving her space even though he was always right there turned out to be a great tactic for “reeling her in”, as it were. Why? Was it because he came off as the strong, silent type? Was it because she was damaged by a particular view of masculinity? Was it because her recent bout of lesbianism had left her craving the exact fucking opposite? No. I think she was just being bombarded by subtle nudges from Declan, who wouldn’t just come out and make a move, and between that and Jasper’s overpowering everything, she just enjoyed the quiet, a chance to take the initiative, to open herself up.
It took Declan a long time to process the idea that a) he had done this to himself, b)she needed to be with Blake so she’d appreciate him when she got there, c) get over yourself she’s a person she makes her own decisions, and maybe tack on d) it doesn’t fucking matter it’s in the past anyway.
And it’s not that there was anything wrong with Blake. There was plenty of talk all through the relationship and long after (and still) about how of course it was never gonna work out, they werre from “different worlds” (bullshit) give me a fucking—they were different people!
They were incompatible. Mix the black and the white, you don’t get stripes, you get endless shades of gray, depending on proportions.
Once she was with Blake, she became like a completely different person. Not while other people were around, though. She was still herself until she was with him, alone. He was her escape from all the fucking shit, her opportunity to be the one in control so she could test out different versions of who she was, who she could be, who she wanted to be, and who she’d never want to be in public.
“Kinda bullshit is this?” Blake finally asked. That day, in a fit of pique (haven’t you always wanted to say that?) she’d seized him in the hall and tossed him (another cliché) into an oversized broom-closet, where there was a bench that was too small, too shallow, for both of them, but still she straddled him, gripping the back of his neck like a vampire in a tango. “Nuh-uh,” said Blake. This was the last straw. “The fuck off me, girl!”
“I thought you liked this.” Not confused. Not yet. She was still this other girl. This predatory Raven.
“Ashley!” he scolded, and it was the first time he’d used her real name like that.
He was holding her now. Her arms? Her face? I can’t tell because she isn’t even sure herself. “Ashley, girl, you gotta wake up.”
But she couldn’t. She knew somewhere down deep she was inside a dream within a dream but she’d forgotten there even was a real world. A real Raven.
Ashley for sure wasn’t there.
But how could Blake know that?
“You’re losing it,” he concluded. “What, is this some game to you? Is that what I am? Some toy? Why you gotta act this way?” She was crying now—that told him he was getting through to her. “You white girls—you think you can just…” He couldn’t put it into words, quite. The manipulations. The racial playground. The Old South aesthetics of a white woman’s nubian fantasy, and what it might do to him.
OK. So maybe race was a factor. But the driving force was this… misunderstanding? Except they weren’t just not getting each other. It was her.
I don’t want to point fingers. If things had been different… Things are never different, though. They just weren’t good for each other. She wasn’t ready, and he… She just wasn’t right for him. And he couldn’t handle her. He wasn’t equiped.
He wasn’t there yet. There are conditions, especially for… well, for people like Raven. It’s not a matter of deserving. It’s more preparation. Fortification. Like an actor preparing for a role, building up the energy they need to live in that other world in a way that’s believable to an audience.
She needed the fortifications. Not walls against a hostile world but stores of fuel to propel her through it. And like a good audience, he needed to be primed, lulled and led into the right mood. Given girls like Stella as warm-up opening acts to reframe his mind. He needed to be her road, beaten and then paved and leading in the right direction. He wanted to be that road. Her road.
Goddammit, does that metaphor even make any sense?
For all I know, they’re not even really destined for each other. For all I know…
I mean, holy shit, they met in high school, right? What are the odds?
Maybe they’re not perfect for each other. Maybe they’re not even good for each other—they never were.
But they’re what they’ve got.