I tried to tell her that I was sorry,
but she was distracted,
her eyes glittering as she gazed in silent awe at my jewellery.
My mouth was dry,
no matter how many overpriced cocktails I put on my credit card.
I saw her eye the packet of cigarettes that was peeking from my open handbag,
and I instinctively tutted,
like a heartsick mother with only her wayward child left to lose.
She seemed to adore all the superficial things about me,
all the things I most despised, but clung to,
in some misguided attempt to keep myself interesting.
She was interested,
I could tell.
She spoke to me that same way I used to speak to my “elders and betters”,
that wilted affectation that gets a little stunted after a few drinks,
when hiding your past is no longer a priority.
I hated that about her.
I hated that she couldn’t hold herself in higher esteem,
how she couldn’t see that she was the child of a good woman,
a woman who did her best,
and that this wretched child was the best of her,
so she had nothing to be intimidated by,
but she always shrank when she started to share her ideas,
making herself so small,
so she could fit into a small world.
I snapped my fingers in her face,
and I shouted
“You will be the universe. Fuck the world.”
She was shocked.
I tried to make amends, but both of us knew that she was broken before she walked into the bar,
so it didn’t matter if I shouted,
because the damage had been done long before,
and I couldn’t face the first girl.
The first girl,
with her hopeful eyes and her hoity-toity ideals.
She never comes by anymore.
She used to.
She’d just stand in the doorway,
not quite beaten by imposter syndrome.
Standing with a withering stare, far beyond her years,
asking what I had done with her life.
I won’t see her.
I told her not to come.
I just want to see the one who still believes a little,
but has lowered her expectations.
vibing to the Beach Boys on her broken iPod,
eating it up every time when I exaggerate about how things turned out.
I tell her that I’m a singer now,
but I don’t tell her that my songs only earn a cent a stream,
and that I still dream of Vegas in the bedroom of a house share.
I tell her that I have heard audiences cry my name,
but I don’t tell her that I don’t love it in the way she expected,
and that I dread the din of applause because it means I have to tear myself apart,
six nights a week to get it.
I tell her that I lost my virginity,
but I don’t tell her that it was to the wrong kind of person,
and that I’m haunted by his paw prints over a decade later.
She asks me if I’m happy.
I tell her that I am,
because I know that she needs it,
and I needed it too.
I needed to know that no matter the stage,
I am still the world’s greatest amateur actress.