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let your beauty unfold
pale white like the skin stretched over your bones
a paperback 
10th-Jun-2006 12:22 am
allison hood
Because after I finished Lucas, I just had to write.

Title: A Paperback
Rating: PG13 (swears, references to naughtiness)
Summary: The cover was what I liked, initially. I know the whole “You can’t judge a book by its cover” shtick, but I do it anyway most of the time. I’m not as obvious about it as Tacey usually is, and unlike her, I will admit that I do it. Because judging isn’t as bad as people make it out to be, so long as you’re willing to change your mind later. And when it came to this book, well, it was good that I liked the cover. Because nothing would have drawn me to it otherwise.
Word Count: 1959
Notes: Very little editing. Possibly a little hard to understand. I just really had to get into someone's head, and since my eyes kept drifting towards the D/G pic I drew that's sitting between the keyboard and the printer that totally looks like something Alys would have drawn, she was a logical choice. So. Enjoy, I guess.
Oh, and the first line of the teaser on the back of the book is thanks to mistwanderer, who responded to my plea for inspiration at lumos_main. Yay for Lita.

I'm at West’s. With Tacey. Because she still won’t let herself go there alone. And earlier, I was sitting on the couch in front of the TV. Seth’s couch, Elizabeth had told me, being the one he crashes on when he stays over, which he does a lot. She had this sort of knowing look in her eyes. Elizabeth, I mean. “Sort of” because she didn’t really know anything. She just thought she did. She and Tacey and everyone else—they make so many assumptions, like you can’t possibly talk to a guy, really talk, and feel comfortable with him, unless you happen to be madly in love with him. With is bull, because I’m near positive that it’s exactly the opposite. If you really like a guy you’re always on edge around him. Or so I’ve observed.

Anyway. I’m getting off topic. So. I was sitting on Seth’s couch and nothing good was on TV, so I might as well have picked somewhere else to sit because that was the only advantage to being on that couch. The good view of the television, I mean. And I started thinking of Seth, at two in the morning, watching some crap music videos on MTV because that’s the only thing on at that hour. Or maybe it was just the fact that we were watching crap music videos as I was thinking of all this. West insisted on watching a metal countdown on Fuse, and I really wanted to smack him upside the head because, dude, nobody likes metal but him. Nobody. And it might have been different if Seth had been there, because Seth always humors West. The rest of us…not so much. Elizabeth could never humor him because he is her brother, after all, and Tacey was too busy denying her attraction to him to bother with humor. She was being pretty snappish, actually. Not just with him—with everyone. And that was getting pretty damn annoying, to tell the truth.

Shit. Losing focus again. I guess I do that when I haven’t gotten much sleep. No. Don’t guess. Know. Because I’m always writing things at four that I cannot believe ever crossed my mind when I reread my notebook the next afternoon. Which I’m sure I’ll be doing with this tomorrow after lunch. Anyway. What was I getting to? Right. The book on the coffee table. Yeah, there was a coffee table. I though it was kind of idiotic, really—a fucking coffee table?—but I wasn’t about to mention that to West, because other than the metal countdown he was turning out to be a real nice guy. Which I’d already known, from those conversations by the fountains, but I didn’t think I’d really known him then. I don’t even really know him now. I mean, I know more about him than I did, but can you ever really know a person? I wonder sometimes.

So there was a coffee table. I’ve covered that. And any distractions were welcome ones. I mean, it was metal. I was watching a fucking metal countdown. Any teen magazines Elizabeth might have left on the coffee table, any comics, any anythings, would have been great. Just a distraction, any distraction. So I started sifting through any possible reading material. And it surprised me. I mean, I’d gotten it when Elizabeth had told me it was Seth’s couch. Hard to misunderstand. He practically lived there; of course he’d claimed somewhere to sleep. And of course anything on the coffee table in front of his couch would be his as well.

There was a black and white photography magazine, from July 2003. I knew I’d seen more recent issues at Sadie’s, or in her backpack, or in her lap during assembly. And that was comforting, somehow, because I need at least a little bit of familiarity, you know? Even when I’m at a guy’s house because my best friend’s trying to prove a point and yeah, I was hoping to see another guy there, what of it? So I was near ecstatic to see the magazine. I was going to flip through it, but there was a paperback on top of it that caught my eye as it slipped off when I tugged the magazine out from underneath. The book just seemed like it was more than ordinary, despite the plain white cover. So I set the magazine back down over a Calvin and Hobbes collection and picked the paperback up instead.

The cover was what I liked, initially. I know the whole “You can’t judge a book by its cover” shtick, but I do it anyway most of the time. I’m not as obvious about it as Tacey usually is, and unlike her, I will admit that I do it. Because judging isn’t as bad as people make it out to be, so long as you’re willing to change your mind later. And when it came to this book, well, it was good that I liked the cover. Because nothing would have drawn me to it otherwise. And this cover? I’m still not sure what I liked about it anyway. I mean, it was so…simple. Maybe that was the allure of it. The title was in bold, black print, but in a nice font. Easy on the eyes. And the author’s name was smaller than the title, and at the bottom, which I liked because it’s just so annoying when they’re selling the author instead of the book. It’s like they think that’s why we should all flock to buy it—the author won some award for some really brilliant book they wrote a while back, so we should take it on faith that this book’s brilliant too. I think we should be more concerned about the story we’re paying for, personally. But that’s just me.

So I flipped the book over. And it didn't have a bunch of raving reviews all over the back, like paperbacks always do because of course everyone already read it when it was a hardcover so of course there are a bunch of great reviews at hand to make you want to read it. Hell, there wasn’t even a gripping summary that ended in a slight cliffy to make us want to find out what happens. There were words, though, in the same simple black print. Looked like an excerpt, actually. So I read it. Part of me was wondering what Seth read. Most of me was just curious. On my own behalf.

“There’s this thing about people who say they’re your friend,” came a soft voice from behind me. “They’re probably lying.”
The speaker, a bleach-blonde from my English class, had her scary-bright gray eyes trained on me. I wanted to ask her how long she’d been sitting there. How much of our conversation she’d heard. What she was doing out by the back parking lot in the first place. Instead, I returned the stare, taking in her fishnets, fuchsia lipstick, cigarette. She grinned at me then, smile full of mischief.
“I like you,” she said to me then. “You’re…”
I waited.
When I didn’t respond, she put her cigarette out on the cement next to her and stood up. “Name’s Tristy. I’ll see you around. In English, maybe.” And as she walked off towards the quad, still smiling wickedly at me over her shoulder, I was left with a vaguely unsettled feeling. Like everything had just changed.
And I’d blinked and missed it.

I flipped the book back over and read the title. I think I’d glossed over it, too busy taking in the overall feel to actually stop and read the words. Tristan. This would, of course, be that Tristy girl’s full first name. It wasn’t creative, but it got her importance across. I could tell what the book was probably about. The main character was a guy, then, and Tristy was going to change him in a big way. Maybe she’d be his teenage rebellion, with her back parking lot smoking and fishnets and trashy makeup. Maybe she’d seduce him and get pregnant. Maybe….Maybe I should just open the book up and read it, I thought finally. And I finally did, and it gave me the weirdest feeling. Something wasn’t right about it. It was too…stiff. Like nobody had ever read it before. But what was it doing on the coffee table, then?

I didn’t wonder for long. I can’t think about much else when a book’s open in front of me, so long as it’s fiction and not for school. Pretty soon I was lost in the mind of Sean, a sixteen-year-old boy who kept to himself, most of the time. His best friend was wild and outgoing and terribly friendly, but he and Sean were drifting apart. He wasn’t particularly close to his artist father or waitress mother, and they were divorced anyway. So when Sean started a thing with Tristy, nobody paid much mind. And he started disintegrating, but nobody was around to notice. Nobody but Tristy. And he started relying on her. It was inevitable—she was the only one there when he got seriously drunk for the first time, the only face he recognized at the parties he kept finding himself at, the only person who didn’t look at him like they didn’t even know him anymore. And pretty soon they were sleeping together anyway, so of course he relied on her a bit. She relied on him too.

When I was done…god, I really wanted to cry. Tristan was one of those books. You know. The ones that leave you with a tightness in your throat and some prickling in the inner corners of your eyes. They don’t make you cry, those books. They’re above that. That’s the beauty of them, really. They’re so amazing that, as sad as you are, you don’t cry. Because there’s something happy in them too. Something right. Because these are the stories that need to be told.

And it was so well written. I could hardly believe it. The author…he totally knew where this kid, this Sean guy, was coming from. He was right in there. The point of view was so amazingly real. And I started to wonder if I’d read anything else by the author before. So I looked back at the cover and checked out the author’s name. Asher Macaulay. And I swear, my breathing literally stopped the second I hit the surname, because I knew why it hadn’t been read. And I suddenly recognized Tristy, and Sean, and Sean’s friendly-wild best friend. I was sitting on Sean’s couch; how could I not recognize him? And I realized I knew way more than I ever should have about the bleach-blonde ex I’d caught a glimpse of at Homecoming. Tabby, Steven had called her. Now I know everything she and Seth used to get up to that his dad had known about. Or maybe I don’t. Because it is, after all, a work of fiction. And just because it’s based on something real, it doesn’t mean it’s fact. I’m sure there’s plenty that Seth’s dad made up. In fact, I know there is. Because this book came out in June, which means they were still together when it was written. So the whole last third of the book was completely fabricated.


God, I don’t even know anymore. All I know is it’s two A.M. and I’m in West’s bathroom and I’ve put the book in my backpack, because I want to ask Seth about it the next time I see him and I want to have it with me and I kind of want to reread it, too. And I want to know the answers.

There'll definitely be a follow-up to this. Because Alys and Seth are going to have a little confrontation. For now, though, enjoy the chaos and colloquialisms, etc. Tried a crazy sort of writing like I talk style for this, because that's what Alys does and she is writing this, after all.
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