Suggested Audio Candy:
Sia “Breathe Me (Instrumental)”
Lolly Lieberman was no stranger to disappointment. Her friends constantly let her down and tonight was yet another example of the fact that nobody seemed to spare a solitary thought for her. This was supposed to be a momentous occasion; the most talked about night of the entire social calendar at the nearby club, The Lizard Lounge, and everybody who was anybody at all was going. Curiously enough nobody had so much as mentioned it to Lolly and it was looking like another night in front of the television, comfort binging, and watching old Audrey Hepburn movies for Lolly. Ordinarily she would have felt disgruntled at being left out of the loop but it had grown all too familiar by now. By all accounts this was a standard Saturday night and the only one she could truly rely on for company possessed four legs and lapped milk from a dish.
She could always bank on her Persian, named Holly after her favorite film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, to come good. Holly was primarily a house cat and rarely ventured beyond the front patio, preferring to lounge about her boudoir as opposed to rubbing shoulders with the local street moggies. Hers was a particularly perilous neighborhood and situated only a few hundred yards from the nearest freeway, thus socializing with her kind wasn’t an attractive proposition. In many ways she echoed her owner; self-contained and largely anonymous in the grand scheme of things, Holly spent most of her day curled up on her window ledge watching the world go by. However, whereas cats are largely independent creatures and happy to lounge solo, Lolly couldn’t help but feel as though she was missing out.
Tonight represented the very last straw and she had decided to take matters into her own hands and vacate her house, despite the fact that the few friends she did have had already made plans without consulting her. Moreover, she had spent the past hour washing her hair and applying liberal amounts of make-up in preparation for her night out. She was fed up of laying about staring at her cell as the only notification she ever seemed to receive was from her mobile network, reminding her that she had free calls at her disposal, should she wish to use them. She wished to use them alright, not that her phone ever rang these days. If anything it was there as a cruel reminder that she could slip from the Earth’s surface and glide off into the atmosphere and the likeliness would be that nobody would so much as bat an eyelid.
“I’m going out tonight so don’t wait up”
Again, no reply, although the cat did remove herself from her usual vantage point and brush herself up against Lolly’s leg for reassurance.
“Don’t you go getting into any mischief while I’m gone. I’m trusting you alright?”
Holly let out a gentle purr and sauntered across the room to her litter tray.
“Holly! Must you really? Now of all times”
The cat nestled her posterior into the litter and looked up at Lolly with doey eyes as she prepared to strain.
“I’m not cleaning that now. I’m all dressed up. You’ll have to cover it over”
She retrieved her jacket from her closet and made her way to the door, leaving the night lamp on to offer Holly a little twilight ambiance, before setting out.
“Lolita? Is that you?”
“Grab me that bottle of Merlot from the kitchen will you. It should be just the right temperature”
“The doctor said you shouldn’t be drinking in your condition”
“What are you, my counsellor? Just do it would you?”
Her mother’s tone suggested that she had already begun her nightly binge. She had tired of challenging her on her habit as it never seemed to do any good and Lolly ended up the one bearing the brunt.
Tonight she just didn’t have the strength to get into it. She grabbed the warm bottle of vino and plodded through to the lounge, where her mother was sprawled out in her usual position, looking decidedly half-cut.
“Where are you off to all dolled up?”
“Gonna take a walk. Need some fresh air”
“And what am I supposed to do while you’re gone?”
“The same thing you always do mom”
She bit her lip as this wasn’t likely to end well in her mother’s current state of inebriation.
“I won’t be long”
“You’d better not be. I can’t be expected to do everything myself. Jesus, anyone would think you were the one paying the bills”
A second lip curl and this comment really rattled Lolly’s cage as she knew full well that her father had paid the remainder of the mortgage before running off with his secretary three years ago. It was probably the only worthwhile contribution he had ever made and she hadn’t heard from him for over six months now. Occasionally he would send money, in a vein attempt at securing her affections, but never once did he call just to ask how she was. Consequently, her mother had spiraled during that time and become a fully fledged alcoholic and acute agoraphobic to boot.
“I’m off now mom”
No answer. However, while her kitten at least registered a response upon receipt of such intelligence, Maude just sat there starry-eyed gazing blankly into the TV screen as she poured herself another glass of rouge.
“I’m pregnant by the way. Twins”
Anything for a response. Chance would be a fine thing.
“Bye then. I’m popping by the crack house to turn some tricks. Almost run out of happy rocks. Three dicks should do it. Didn’t you hear? I suck like a pro. Guzzle every last drop”
“This isn’t room temperature”
That pretty much summed up their relationship. Lolly was effectively little more than her mother’s pack-horse and this kind of interaction had ceased coming as a surprise to her a long time ago. She knew that sticking around for another minute would likely see things escalate into a full-blown row and potential violent interludes so she made her way to the door and let herself out before this became so. Stepping out onto the unkempt patio; she exhaled a brief of dismay. Same old street, not a thing any different from the last time she braved the outdoors. She used to find the sound of passing freeway traffic reassuring but now it just depressed her. This was an emotion she was only too familiar with. With the customary shrug; she set off down the avenue in the direction of town.
It was a full five minutes before she came across another living soul. It was Brandon Moffitt from number seven, he had once been sweet on Lolly and the pair had even dated briefly for a few weeks but, while things hadn’t ended acrimoniously, he had totally ignored her for the past few months and this time was no different. Not so much as an acknowledgement although that was no longer any great revelation. She made her way through the town square and approached The Lizard Lounge. It was considered the local hot spot and usually heaving until three in the morning, at which time it spewed forth its plastered patrons, leaving them to incite the usual heedless carnage. Part of her desired to deviate for a few minutes and head inside for a Margherita but it appeared like yet another wasted exercise waiting to happen. Nobody would pay a blind bit of attention to her anyway. She would invariably end up using up a bar stool, staring at her own reflection in a hundred meticulously ordered bottle of poison. If she wanted to do that she only need look at her mother’s weekly refuse.
Within seconds the hubbub of The Lizard Lounge was little more than another uneventful memory to feel indifferent towards. She carried on past the old monument and through the large alloy gate towards the local church. It was three minutes back, offset against the adjoining woods and the only place she ever seemed to find comfort. Lolly was an atheist and had never once set foot inside but the grounds provided consolation when she was feeling at her most disheartened. Right at the rear, past the tidily pruned conifers, and tucked away beneath the wilting willow, was a little plot that received precious little maintenance. She liked it this way; it offered a constant and a little relief from her hectic schedule of being blanked and passed over for invitation. With her mother at home further poisoning her already compromised liver; this had become kind of a second home.
She picked a single lily on her way up the incline and set herself down in the soft soil of her regular spot. Indeed it accommodated her dainty buttocks as if to say welcome home. Placing the flower carefully down against the granite headstone, she nestled into her comforting perch and commenced the usual one-way conversation.
“Hi. I trust that you’re keeping well. Not a lot to report I’m afraid. Mom’s still drinking far too much. I fear that she’s going to do something stupid one of these days. I don’t know what to do with her. I’ve tried reasoning with her but it just seems to go in one ear and out the other. You know what she’s like when she’s had a couple of bottles. She just seems so bitter since dad left and hasn’t left the house in months now. I seem to end up doing everything for her”
While no rejoinder was forthcoming, Lolly felt instantly as though a weight had been removed by venting in such a fashion. Her opposite number was nothing if not a good listener and regularly encouraged her to spill her woes at times like these. Said occasions had become increasingly habitual of late.
“Holly’s good. She’s molting at the moment and I think she may have fleas which I find curious considering she never leaves the house either. Honestly, if I didn’t get out once a day like this I think I would go insane. It’s been different since you left. Not good different. I just feel more and more neglected and it’s hard remaining upbeat with so little notable interaction. I don’t wish to burden you with all this but you’re the only person who actually seems to care what I say. You never judge me or tell me you’re too busy to chat. That means everything to me you know. I don’t know what I’d do without you if I’m honest”
There it was. A smile which was all too fleeting nowadays. Lolly felt consoled by the friendly ear and, for once, felt a twinge of contentment. The other seven lilies had begun to perish so she removed the sullied stems and relocated her fresh offering into prime position. The granite was becoming a little overgrown and, whilst ordinarily, Lolly didn’t like to usher away the overgrowth, it was becoming increasingly difficult to ascertain the verse behind the creeping foliage. With her palm she brushed away the vine and gave the headstone an affectionate dust off.
HERE SLEEPS LOLITA LIEBERMAN
SWEET SIXTEEN AND EVERGREEN
TAKEN WAY TOO SOON
IN THE COMPANY OF ANGELS NOW
Lolly felt like home.