it’s friday night and jackson is alone at a party because the party is at her house and no one else is there. she’s lying facedown on the couch bored out of her fricking mind. she thinks about eating adderall and doing something productive, but decides she’s content with just lying there, continuing to feel vaguely sad about nothing in particular.
“it’s hard to tell where my laziness ends and my depression begins,” she says into the empty space surrounding her in the living room.
suddenly there’s a knock at her door.
“oh great not this again,” jackson says as she rolls off the couch and bellyflops onto the floor. she continues rolling into and then through her kitchen until she reaches the door, opening it to find a cop with his fist in the air, getting ready to knock again.
this cop looks exactly like the cop you’re picturing in your head, except his body mass index is a little higher and the bird poop stains on his uniform are less faded. oh and also make him lose that mustache—okay yeah there you go that’s him.
“good evening,” he says while lowering his raised hand to the side of his hip—he and jackson just kind of stare at each other for 6 or 9 blinks. “i suppose you know why i’m here.”
jackson, of course, knows exactly why the cop is here knocking at her door on a friday night. “let me guess, you heard about my skateboarding dog tattoo.”
the parrot sitting on the cop’s shoulder squawks and repeats, “skateboarding dog tattoo,” then takes a huge dump that lands half on the sleeve of the cop’s uniform and half on the floor. the cop’s expression doesn’t change—he doesn’t seem to notice, he just says, “yeah, that is it—can i see it?”
those are exactly the words jackson’s been waiting for; visibly annoyed, she says, “it’s actually not here right now, maybe try back another time,” and then closes the door.
ever since jackson got her skateboarding dog tattoo she’s become a kind of local celebrity; at first, all the attention received from strangers wanting to see the tattoo was flattering, but soon started feeling creepy. it’s gotten to the point where jackson has to wear a disguise each time she leaves the house in order to be left alone—once in awhile though, people who really want to see the tattoo will buy her address off the deep web, then come knocking at her door, always showing up on friday nights for some reason jackson is still trying to figure out.
now that the cop is gone, jackson decides she should do something productive. she grabs her gym bag and puts on her disguise; the disguise jackson wears is a multicolored propeller hat that’s small enough to be mistaken as a large yamaka.
“i’m constantly wishing i would have had a life much different than the life i have had,” jackson says into the empty space surrounding her in the kitchen. on the way out she slips and falls in the pile of bird crap but doesn’t seem to notice.
at the gym jackson puts too much weight on the abdominal machine, she likes the way it makes her feel her hip bone rub against her hip cartilage. between sets she reads a pirated pdf of rachell bell’s first chapbook on her iphone.
“if i keep this up i’ll probably wear my hip joint out before i’m 30,” jackson says into the space surrounding her in the gym. the people using nearby machines shoot apprehensive looks in her direction—she’s still wearing that propeller hat.
her least favorite part about the gym (and most other places) is the people. she prefers getting to the gym earlier than the other night-timers so she can shut off the tvs because she’s noticed people usually leave earlier on nights the tvs are off—no one ever acts like they know how to turn them back on. she’s been wanting to put a “tvs off tonight” sign on the door to see if people still bother coming in.
jackson wonders if she’s the only person at the gym reading status update lit between sets; she wonders if she’s the only person there who’s only there because they don’t have anyone to spend this time with instead. jackson decides she’s probably the only person at the gym who knows what status update lit is—not because she assumes everyone is more ignorant than her, but because she suspects she wastes more time on the internet than everyone else there combined.
tonight wasn’t one of the nights when jackson gets to the gym before the other night- timers, which means tvs are still on, which means people are still there. it’s putting her in one of her anxious moods. she only does half of her usual circuit before changing back into regular clothes and making a bee line for home.
on the way back to her house, jackson rolls by a woman and the word “hipster” suddenly flashes across her mind—even though she knows the word has been semantically oversaturated by pop culture to the point of meaninglessness, she still can’t stop herself from using it inwardly to categorize anyone who a) dresses better than she does, or who b) has embraced a fashion trend that she doubts anybody actually understands.
since the woman jackson is rolling by matches at least one of those qualifications, she decides this woman is definitely probably a hipster.
suddenly the probable-hipster spins around; the hipster says, “hey wait, you’re that girl with the skateboarding dog tattoo right? can i uh… can i see it?” frick—jackson totally forgot to put her disguise back on before leaving the gym. she’s been in this situation often enough that she’s developed an evasive-reflex: she pulls out her phone and begins thumbing at the screen, pretending not to hear anything.
most people get annoyingly persistent when they’re ignored, so jackson’s relieved when the hipster doesn’t say anything more and just continues to roll away. her relief is quickly followed by a distinct sense of saddness as she realizes how truly rare it is for someone to respectfully accept a woman’s silence for the “no” it embodies. it’s not a new insight for jackson, but it’s still a disheartening moment each time she’s reminded she has never lived in a world where common courtesy was the expected-default underlying her social interactions.
jackson puts the phone back in her pocket & turns onto farwell avenue, she feels the early pings of an anxiety attack as she realizes there are still 6 more blocks to go before she’s home—there’s a lot on her mind and she’s desperate to get back to the familiar boredom of lying facedown on her couch. jackson hopes she gets to the gym early enough tomorrow night to turn off the tvs before the other night-timers show up. she hopes the other night-timers stop showing up altogether. into the empty space surrounding her on farwell avenue, jackson says, “i hope i die before i’m 30.”
Joseph Parker Okay lives in Milwaukee, WI. He has recently been published in Maudlin House and ExFic. More of his work can be found at josephparkerokay.tumblr & you can also follow him on Twitter @josephparkerok