The Hanged Girl – Thirteen

 

Image credit: Ysbrand Cosijn

Image credit: Ysbrand Cosijn

Mandy’s school had a hallway with student lockers that reminded her quite strongly of the school scenes in Twin Peaks. They were shabbier, a dull grey colour, and some in need of repair, so nowhere near as sparkly as those in the show, but still they were similar enough. This delighted her, as did any connection, however slight, to the television show, and by extrapolation, to the time spent in Damien’s company watching that pilot episode.

And so it was that she spent hours on the internet, trawling for other associations, buying clothes and makeup with her small, but adequate allowance, that Audrey might well have worn on the show, in that mythical town of Twin Peaks. When her purchases arrived a week or two later her mother did not see the connection, did not know to look for it, and just seemed happy to see her daughter was favouring something with colour and flair as opposed to her usual choice of drab blacks and greys. She encouraged Mandy to buy more, offering her some additional money to do so, to their mutual delight.

And so it also was, that in this school that did not demand school uniforms, but allowed their students to dress as they chose – though most were in a uniform of black of their own communal, subconscious choice – that Mandy found herself days later, twisting slightly as Audrey did in the television show, coyly putting her books in her locker. In her mind she was Audrey, born again and Damien was Dale Cooper, and all was wonderfully right with the world.

The only difference being, where her further viewing of the program from Damien’s DVDs had shown Audrey did not manage to ignite a relationship with Dale, Mandy felt far more positive of her own prospects. If only her mother would just give them some time alone.

After all, Damien had given her his DVDs for her private viewing, establishing a personal connection between them. It was like when boys at school might lend you books, or DVDs, or CDs – it meant something.

It meant everything. And for Mandy, whose life was otherwise dark and rather frightening with her increasing school isolation and sense of dis-connectedness to everything else, the everything that Damien meant was great indeed.

Deep in her private replay of Audrey’s mannerisms and life, and feeling a wonderful – albeit fragile and only early blooming – sense of beauty and womanhood in these luxurious clothes, Mandy did not hear the laughter aimed in her direction for many moments. She was too busy putting her new high heels in the locker, from which she would take them later, pretending she was going out as Audrey might, for a coffee and a dance to music played on the jukebox at the Twin Peak’s diner. Or even better, that those heels would accompany a visit to such a diner where she would find Damien, just like Dale, savouring the coffee and waiting for her.

Finally she shut the locker door, as Audrey would also do, with a slight, mischievous slam, and turned, her happiness about to dissolve as quickly as aspirin in water. For standing watching her was Jasmine, her arm draped casually around David’s waist, and she was then surrounded by a group of her friends, or followers more accurately, a dark halo around the demon queen.

They were all laughing – laughing at her for some reason it was clear – except, mercifully David, who just looked at her uneasily for a moment then looked down to the ground.

‘I was just saying,’ Jasmine spat at her, as though she was rude at not having heard the earlier conversation, ‘That it’s probably right for a ghost girl to look like the past, but the 1950s is stretching it a bit!’

And of course, her white and green floral patterned, full skirted dress and her cute yellow bolero, plus her shiny patent green pumps, did combine well for a 1950’s look, just like Lynch’s vision in the show. The internet fashion houses she had visited had been ‘retro’ and some even blatantly targeted this look. She’d been deliberate in getting this, and now she stood, a victim of her own fashion sense.

A fashion victim.

Only someone confident, someone popular, in a school can challenge sartorial convention in this way. Someone like that would not only pull it off, but set a new fashion trend others would follow. But Mandy was none of those things, so how could she have presumed?

In that moment she was speechless, completely unable to think of a smart retort, or to how to regain the ground. Her little joys had been so personal, so private, so early and brief and so precious, that to have them shatter at her feet, with only her own internal castigation for her foolishness to see them to their rest, was a complete undoing. Her one moment of climbing out of the pit of her life over recent years – away from her parent’s divorce, and moving home and losing the few friends her young life had known, and then being here in this hell hole, and all the myriad of anguishes that are simply being a teenager – now crushed down upon her in its sheer pointlessness. Life was reminding her she couldn’t win, would never win. She was never, ever to be a winner, ever at all.

Tears came unbidden to her eyes, causing further shame and embarrassment, and she suddenly was nothing but movement, running, running past them and away: away from them, away from the school, scuffing her new pumps on the pavement as she tore out of the schoolyard and just ran, and ran and ran. And for a long time she thought she still heard them laughing, even when she was streets away from the school, and it was only when that faded finally and mercifully that she slowed, catching her breath between sobs.

And it was only then that she knew where she was headed, instinctively, needfully. It wasn’t to her mother’s bookstore, there was no comfort there, she was sure. And it wasn’t just to her empty home, as she might have unconsciously expected, but it was close to that. She turned into her home street with a sense of revelation and calm. Of course, of course there was a place to go. There was only one place to go.

Damien opened the door of No 6 Mercy Lane and gazed at her in a kind of wonder and concern. She must have looked bedraggled, a stray cat wanting to come in from a stormy night.

She thought, thank god he is home. And then, of course he is because I need it, I need it so much so he had to be here.

He understood of course, he understood immediately, without her needing to talk to explain, he just knew. She could tell, from his first kind gaze, that he knew. She felt it deep in her bones, a kind of acceptance that brought relief, belonging and sanctuary. He shook his head slightly at her, and reached out and touched her shoulder, brief, tender. She shuddered, knowing this truth even deeper, in her most private wells of feeling.

‘Come in,’ he said, ‘You look like you need a friend’.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved

About helenvalentina

Like most people, I have a number of sides to me. The most interesting one probably emerges through my writing, hence this blog. I love to read, and also to write, and so this is a way to share both.
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