a story of infinite conversation
IN WHICH THE MANY MEET
The first that is me is reckless. She’s wild, she’s young. She likes her eyeliner black, winged out that way her friend showed her how to do. She wears a red bomber with an all-black outfit, thin legs exposed. Bright blonde hair, a big smile. Low-key a tank, she holds her liquor until a boy holds her instead. The queen of the night, when she is in town, the world turns upside down. She lives for the party, loves for the night, and if she shows up too soon during the day, things are bound to end.
“What’s cookin’?” she says, her smile as bright as the street lights.
The second that is me is reserved. She loves the avant-garde and can rarely be seen without a hat. Sometimes, she even wears her eyeglasses out. She has an olive green lipstick, a fake septum ring and a star face stamp that takes a long time to wash off. She takes herself out on dates to museums and movies, because she knows she’ll want to read the captions for each painting, and see only a specific kind of movie. She misses smoking cigarettes and likes to read books in parks, listening to progressive rock, and not saying a word to strangers.
She doesn’t say anything, to her I am a stranger.
The third that is me is pragmatic, and slightly nauseous. She's in sweatpants and booties, with a fur coat on top. She’s late to class, or to whatever she’s forcing herself to do. Her playlist is more important than her makeup. She’s bare faced, and squinty eyed. She’s running errands, contemplating why she’s spending all this money, wondering if someone texted her, and looking forward to being back at home. She might have a cold, or a kidney infection. She knows she isn’t trying. She just doesn’t feel like it.
“I am so tired,” she says, dropping her huge fake leather bag, weighed down by books she’ll never read but always carry.
The fourth that is me is resolute. She’s pacing nervously and rehearsing what she’ll have to say. She bought the pencil skirt she’s wearing the day before. She’s polite, but her smile never shows her teeth. She’s professional. Her voice is more melodic than any other, and her soft spoken nod to every question inspires warmth without being too friendly. She laughs at jokes, but never dares to make one. She cries about being late on the elevator, but is never clumsy.
“Hello, hello,” she sits down at her desk, pulling a chair and turning to me.
The fifth that is me is nervous. She doesn’t know what to say, so she says everything she knows. She looks ahead while having an intimate conversation. She's in pink velvet boots and a shirt dress, A Touch Of Spice on her lips. She loves everything you love, listens to everything you listen to, and has heard of all authors you admire. She tucks her silvery hair behind her ears and overwhelms you with eccentricity. She trips, but she never falls, and has too many old puns up her sleeve.
“Hey,” she says, too insecure to even take a seat.
The last that is me is no longer me. She’s thirty-six pounds heavier, at least ten shades of brown hair darker. She’s wearing a sun dress she bought at the hippie fair, and teal eyeliner to make her hazel eyes pop. She writes songs on guitar about why her parents won’t ever understand her, and chats with people on the internet all day. She runs away to the sound of the classics, and dreams of finally being high. She suffers, but she smiles. She hides, but she’s finding her way. She hates herself, but loves the world.
She purses her lips, she can’t bring herself to do anything else yet.
Welcome, I think.
The First looks around and smiles again, “Finally! I’ve always wanted to do this.”
The Last finally feels like talking, “We’re all you. You can ask us whatever you want.”
This is my time to shine.
I immediately turn to the Fourth. She’s wide-eyed and surprised to be the first I sought out.
Why can’t you be yourself?
She frowns, “Well, no one is themselves at first in these things. I’m first impression you. I’m easygoing.”
“You get yourself hurt way too much, girl,” says the Third.
“You’re just always in a bad mood,” she replies.
“Well, duh, I’m the least attractive of you all.”
“I think I take the cake for that,” says the Last.
The Second laughs quietly, somewhat condescendingly.
“Nothing… this is just really sad,” she says, looking outside of the window.
Why is this sad?
“I’m the you who you want to be. These people are nowhere close to me, that’s why.”
Why would I want to be you?
“Because I know how to be alone.”
“Why would anyone want to be alone?” the Fifth asks in disbelief.
“You’re constantly going on dates and meeting people, but you’re not even real to them. A couple of days and then you die off,” the Second responds.
“You don’t even exist!” The Third protests.
Why do you defend her?
Why is you the one defending her?
“I’m real you. I do everything you really want to do. I’m the one who you go to sleep with at night. I’m always existing. I’m tired of existing all the time and never being. It’s not fair.”
“I knew you were going to complain!” The Second chimed in.
“Lol” the First says out loud.
Who are you then?
“That’s a great question. I’m the new you. I’m just an idea. I don’t even have a personality. I’m just a costume. But I look hella good, if you ask me. That’s why you wear me out. I’m the Cool Girl.”
Why hasn’t she spoken?
We all turn to the Fourth. She’s writing things down in her laptop and barely pays any attention.
Why haven’t you spoken?
“Was I spoken to?”
Do you not want to speak?
“I mean, what is it going to do? I’m part-time you. I put up a front. I’m an accessory you can decorate.”
I think you can all tell me many things about me. I want to ask you all so many things. But this is a long conversation. Can we resume it later?
“We’ll be here,” says the Second.
“You’ve summoned us,” reminds the First.
“I have nowhere else to be,” beams the Third.
“I’ll just take more notes in the mean time,” escapes the Fourth.
“I’ll do my makeup” chimes in the Fifth.
“I don’t want to be here” whispers the Last.
Well, I’m sorry. But I need to talk to you very soon. I want to let you go. Let me let you go.
“If you promise me I can go, I will wait a little bit longer.”
I would never lie to you.