devastation baby


This is What They Said it Would Be Like

by Violet Piper

White sneakers, light-wash jeans, rings, big clip, two strands of hair left to frame the face, a shoulder tattoo of a bee, New York Times tote bag. Inside: a single avocado and a book with the receipt from the bookstore still tucked inside the cover, Airpods playing a podcast. Podcast over– am I smarter now? I don’t remember a single thing that was said. Catching a glimpse of my thighs in bike shorts in the bodega window and wishing I was dead over it. They look like that because I eat things. God, I can’t believe I’ve eaten anything ever. Big clip, white sneakers, jeans, there she goes, and there she goes, and her. The sidewalk is a conveyer belt, diverting every few feet to the left or right into a different cafe with the same chalkboard and two fonts: romantic secret-garden cursive and Y2K futurism all-caps. Oat, matcha, lavender, croissant. Soy, chai, rose, morning bun. Yas, bitch, slay, queen. Have. You. Seen. This. Tik. Tok. “I read somewhere” means you saw it on Tik Tok. The Bridge and Tunnel transplants say Oh that bar is a piece of shit. Everything said aloud is the name of a bar; they speak in Simish. “Let’s go to Turtles.” What the fuck is Turtles? Taking a photo of a funny license plate to post later. Oh man, this is cool or funny or interesting in some nauseatingly small way, and thank God because now I can post about it and layer it with photos of my face looking as beautiful as I can manage in an hour of sitting on my floor making a pouting face. It’s the apathetic sympathetic dance. My neck always hurts. Debilitating FOMO. Debilitating anxiety over meeting up with one friend on the same day I have one other thing. Cute outfit! Cute, cute, cute we say about everything, reiterating that Cute is the basis of all our connecting and talking and listening. We’re women so things are cute. The horrible stomach-dropping when I tap my debit card to pay for anything. That thrilling euphoria of paying with a ten-dollar bill. Let’s get drinks! Everything is Cute or Drinks. I hate, somehow more than anything, spending fifteen dollars. I work for an hour to drink one drink; I see the coins spilling into the coin-counting machine as the level goes down. Rooftop party, more big clips. Fairy lights. No, not that North East liberal arts college, they’re completely different. Defensive. I’m from here. Distancing. Not this part of Brooklyn. It’s the transplant towny dance. Everyone else’s pimples are always normal and who cares, and mine are always humiliating and kill me. I can’t sleep correctly. Either I can’t or I don’t want to. I don’t know the difference. Of course I can’t sleep! I’m so fucking angry she said that to me in high school. I only know my ex has a new girlfriend because I saw his Venmo transaction “groceries.” Close friends stories. Screenshots from Tinder. Can you believe this guy? Anyways, all hundred of you, I’m dating this way and I want to be. It’s the I’m Fine Help Me dance. I cry too much in front of my boyfriend and he’s going to get sick of it. I won’t get sick of it, he says. That makes me feel even more guilty. Stop fixing things when I want them to be fucked up. We can all meet on Tuesdays to read your play because we are all nannies and baristas and work at Lulu Lemon. Then we go home and pull down our green screens and make dehumanizing self-tapes and send them to someone who’s mean and angry all the time. I need to drink more water. I need to stretch more. I need to use a retinoid and a gua sha. I need to know at least one sentence about every movie and tv show and book that everyone else is talking about. Why the fuck did this come up on my Discover Weekly? Spotify doesn’t know me at all! Did you do the Wordle today or are you a moron? All you need to do is nod and “hmm” and then say the headline you got from your CNN notification an hour earlier– it’s not that hard! I could dump the rest of this out and then rinse and dry the container and then put it in the other bin but I just can’t, I have to throw all of it in this bin right now and so be it if I singlehandedly set the planet on fire.

Violet Piper is a writer, musician, artist's assistant, camp director, and astrophysicist. She has published essays, stories, and poems in Slate, Blue Mountain Review, Harpur Palate, and others.