The Truth About Blue
Her name is Carrie. Carrie’s the girl with blue hair who meets boys at the club and fucks them to rock songs from a lime-green MP3 player, a birthday gift from her mother.
Carrie grew up an only child, and her father died of colon cancer when she was seventeen. She wore her MP3 to the funeral until her mother plucked the earbuds from her ears. The Violent Femmes still playing in her head, Carrie walked up to her father’s casket and took a photo of his corpse with an old polaroid camera. His round, blue-white face bounced back the camera’s flash, making her eyes water.
“I’m so sorry, Carrie,” said the neighbor, Mrs. Hufffstetter.
Carrie just smiled, planting her earbuds in her ears. And then she listened to “American Music” three times, singing every word out loud.
Now twenty—one, Carrie lives by herself in a studio apartment downtown. She has a raspy, low, angry voice, which makes everything sound a little overly dramatic. On most nights, she walks with her friend |ane down l7th Street to The Vagabond. They glide through the crowded club. Carrie’s short blue hair swings as she moves, harmonizing with the legato sway of her hips.
Tonight, a Pixies cover band plays. Carrie and |ane lean with their backs against the bar, chanting drink orders over their shoulders. They pretend not to notice the groping gazes of men moving in on
them. They run their ﬁngers over the straps of their
camisoles and lick their lip-glossed lips after each
sip of liquor.
A guy comes over and says his name isTony. Carrie and Jane study his asymmetrical hairstyle, narrow black jeans, and the sleeve of ink on his arm. He leans into Carrie, lines around his eyes and hints of gray in his hair. His face brushes Carrie’s as he whispers in her ear, whiskers and whiskey stinging her cheek. He says,“You don’t look old enough to drink.”
Tony pulls Carrie by the hand through the club, past people bobbing their heads to the music. She catches a heel in front ofthe stage and loses her balance. As she pulls herself up, she notices the drummer, a grin wrapped around his tomato-round face. His hair is long and sleek, and he wears Aviator sunglasses that reflect the people in the crowd in miniature. His shiny, gold cymbals glisten under the spotlights. Carrie looks at him again before leaving the club. His face, there’s something oddly familiar about his face. He points a drumstick at her and mouths the words, “Gonna get you, baby.”
At her apartment, Carrie rides Tony to the Doors. Her gaze bounces among a number of objects in her room: a Sex Pistols poster, a sticker-covered cello that never gets played anymore, an antique mirror smudged with liquid foundation and eyeliner, a drumstick nailed to the wall. She thinks of the drummer from the club, wondering what he looks like behind his sunglasses.
After Tony leaves, Carrie gets her Polaroid camera from a dresser drawer. She takes a picture of her bedroom window and watches as the grainy image bleeds slowly to the bright-white border. She pins it to the wall next to dozens of nearly identical photos, a few taken during the day, but most taken at night, all of an open window that Faces a blank, brick wall.
Carrie stays up late, brushing the matted snarls from her brown-blue hair.
Carrie’s phone wakes her up the next day. It’s Jane.
“You forgot to call me.” says lane.
“I was sleeping.”
“It’s almost two.”
Carrie watches her ceiling fan shake above her head and wonders if it will someday fall on her in her sleep.
“I was worried about you.” says |ane. “That guy seemed kinda sketchy.”
“I mean it. I thought he might have ass-raped you and thrown you in the river or something.”
“He did. I’m still alive, though.”
“Ha! You’re such a whore!”
“So, I’ll see you tonight?”
Carrie usually spends her afternoons studying or going to classes, but it’s Summer vacation, so she passes the hours at home, listening to music and thinking about the guys she meets. In her head, the faces of all those men fuse together into one single face, not so much a face, but more of a shadow that hangs over her bed and watches her as she sleeps.
Carrie gets out of bed and takes a bath, careful not to let her headphone wire touch the water. She shaves her legs without soap or cream and watches shiny, red dots pop up on the surface of her tissue paper skin.
Carrie walks into The Vagabond. lane waves her over to the bar where she’s sitting with a guy named Bobby.
“What’s up, Blue?” Bobby gave her this nickname when she started dying her hair. She secretly resents him for it.
He calls over the bartender and orders Carrie’s usual, Seven and Seven. Carrie and Bobby used to date. She never really told him why she broke it off with him—made up some bullshit story about school and work and her mother, knowing that Bobby didn’t really buy any of it. He’s the only guy who’s ever given her a real orgasm. After that, she vowed to never have sex with him again.
“Pretty great, huh?”
“The band!” Bobby yells overthe music, “Don’t you like them?”
“Listen, they’re great.”
“ lf you say so.”
The band is the same band from the night before. The drummer tickles his snare drum with his drumsticks. Big black letters across the bass drum read ARNOLD FRIEND. A strange name for a band, Carrie thinks. The drummer removes his Aviators and looks directly at her. Carrie holds her breath. He appears much older than she remembers, maybe forty or so. Carrie can no longer hear the music. She hears the thumping of feet on the dance ﬂoor, the deep voice of the bouncer checking IDs at the door, the slurping of cocktails at the bar. The band ﬁnishes their set and the lights go out. When the stage lights come back on, the drummer’s gone. Carrie scans the club, expecting him to sneak up behind her and breathe hot, whiskey breath on the back of her neck. She feels a hand on her shoulder and turns around. It’s Bobby. He hands her a drink.
“Fine.” she says.
Carrie and Bobby have their fill of liquor and music and Bobby takes Carrie home. Carrie listens to The Kinks while Bobby rocks back and forth inside her, his face so close to her own that she can’t look anywhere but forward. She closes her eyes. Her cheeks fill with heat, and her arms and legs start to tingle. Her body shudders and twists with an intensity she’s felt only once before. Bobby rips away her MP3 player and throws it across the room. It lands in a pile ofdirty laundry. Bobby kisses her neck and her face and whispers in her ear, “I still love you.” They bury themselves beneath the blankets. When she’s sure Bobby’s asleep, Carrie takes a picture of tonight’s window, blurry and off—centered.
The next morning, Bobby’s gone. Carrie has a voicemail from her mother, “Carrie, it’s me. I’m going to Grandma and Grandpa’s for dinner tonight. They wanted to know if you’d like to come. Give me a call. Bye.”
Carrie winces at the thought of her grandfather’s spicy after shave and the icky- dryness of his hands and face. His icicle eyes like his dead son’s—like Carrie’s. She studies her eyes in the mirror. The shape, the color, the length ofthe lashes, the freckled iris. Carrie’s tired of those eyes, their eyes, her eyes. Bored with them and every cliché they stand for.
Carrie texts her mom: NO THNX. TELL GMA I SAID Hl. She goes back to bed.
Carrie hasn’t left her apartment in two days. Something keeps her in bed, weighs down on her chest, and sinks her into the mattress. The shadow on her ceiling gets closer each night. Occasionally, the darkness fades a little and a face appears. It’s Bobby’s face. She hasn’t heard from him since they spent the night together. She hasn’t heard from anybody, not even Jane.
Today’s birth control pill says it’s Sunday. Sundays are for Bob Dylan.
Carrie digs her MP3 player out ofthe pile of laundry. There’s a knock on the door before she has the chance to turn it on. When she opens the door, she ﬁnds Bobby, leaning against the wall in the hallway.
“l’m sorry I left.” he says, letting himself into the apartment.
Carrie doesn’t say anything. She starts counting the squares on the linoleum. Bobby grabs her behind the neck and kisses her. She lets him. He puts his hand up the front of her shirt, slipping it beneath the underwire of her bra. In the apartment next door, someone is vacuuming. Bobby tugs on Carrie’s hair hard enough to make her eyes water. She’s distracted by the wobble ofthe ceiling fan and rattling sound of its chain. Still clutching her MP3, she feels around for the power button and turns it on. She can faintly hear the music coming from the headphones draped around her neck. Bobby unzips his l’eans and pulls her head down to his waist. She fumbles with her headphones, tries to put them on, but she can’t. Bobby pushes harder. She’s frightened by the choking sound she makes when he touches the back of her throat. Muffled music continues to play. When Bobby’s about to come, Carrie tries to pull away. She tastes something equal parts familiar and repulsive. Bobby doesn’t notice the haze in her eyes
until it’s over.
She lets the idea of Bobby sit on her tongue for a moment longer, but she spits him out.
“I l’ust can’t work you out, Blue.” he says, zipping his pants.
“I hate that name.” She pushes him into the dark hallway.
“Sorry.” He leans in to kiss Carrie’s cheek, but she shuts the door before he has the chance.
She puts on her headphones and listens to “Mr.
Tambourine Man” four times before going to the club.
Carrie’s father shut the door behind him as he left her room. She stayed awake afterwards, staring at a fuzzy shadow on her ceiling. The bitter flavor on her tongue was as unpleasant and lasting as the act that produced it. Blue light crept into an open window, casting more shadows on the ceiling and walls, and illuminating the round, white faces of dolls scattered about her bedroom.
She opened her dresser drawer and pulled out a camera. Silent and shaking, she took a picture of her window, trying to capture the moon.