Mariposa was the exact opposite of a Carly kind of place, with its vegans (no sugar, no milk, fair trade ethically farmed tea? Who were these people) and students talking in corners about Marxism and socialism and the allegory of the cave (which last week had been just a bunch of words, but now Carly had even explained it to someone else in another group of dreadlocked hippies and got to feel surprisingly clever. Who even needs university?) Mariposa even had poetry readings which was, without a doubt, the gayest thing Carly had ever heard. ("I love poetry," Lanie had said in delight and Carly rolled her eyes: "that's because you're the gayest too.")

But the waitressing wasn't too hard (she was allowed to write down the orders, which was a relief) and although the pay was pretty much the same as Boots, she had been given more hours at Mariposa. There was also the fact that no one she worked with here made her want to murder them. At least not yet. (Some of them were kind of... was there a better term for these weirdos than 'super hippies'?)

Sometimes there were guys who smiled at her and their smiles reminded her of Cain and it made Carly feel sick. Once she had to go lock herself in the toilets until her hands stopped shaking, and it had only been a smile. She rubbed her hands on her neck for the rest of the afternoon and by the time she finished her shift she was red and itchy and used some of her hard earned money to taxi safely home instead of jumping the tube.

(Still she wasn't sleeping well. Cain was there too much. Cain had been heavy that night when he'd held her down, but he was even heavier now in her memory. He had an overworldly weight that suffocated her. Her murder hung like bags of sand across her shoulders and Carly didn't want to wear it anymore.)

So far Carly had waitressed one poetry night and had been torn between complete boredom and almost giggling very loudly. They were so pretentious. How was poetry reading a thing in 2014? Did these people not know about the internet and tv? People didn't need poetry any more - they had lives.

But she figured if she wanted to keep the job - and she really did - then she just needed to man up and deal with the fact that poets were now going to be part of her life. The super gay part.

She saw a lot of Serenity and Leon now - Leon especially she found herself seeking out on breaks, even if it was just to hang out with him, sitting on a table and swinging her legs. Leon knew what she was; or, at least, Leon knew what she was as much as she knew what she was. It felt good not to having that secret standing between her and another human being.

(Jonas knew but Jonas was blood. Jonas had to accept and love her because he was Jonas. Leon had no obligations to not turn her in to scientists to do tests on with big sharp things and lots of needles. Carly was really glad he hadn't done that.)

And, joy of all joys, Carly wasn't the only smoker who worked there and so she didn't have to feel like she was hiding alone out the back of the building when she was on her breaks. And today, on this surprisingly beautiful afternoon, Carly was happy to have a cigarette in hand, sitting up on one of the low brick walls out the front where smokers were allowed to do their filthy thing, the sun warming her skin and attempting to spread that warmth even further down inside. Things were heavy and hard and lonely, but they were better than before. And for now, better than before would do.


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Darker London

October 2014

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