A Broken Compass

By , Wasilla, AK
A mustang, a deep cherry red with flecks of Alaska dirt, slides up my long driveway. I slip my jacket and shoes on, grabbing my backpack on the way, and leave my sleepy house. I open the red, metallic door and step into a world of subtle perfume and lyrical music. I throw my bag onto a pile of sweaters, purses, and other random, colorful trinkets. As I buckle up, Callie attempts, quite awkwardly, to back out of my serpentine driveway. She then lithely winds down the back road on our way to Anchorage.

“So, ‘Body of Lies’ is playing at the three dollar theater. Want to go?”

“Hot Jordanian guys for three dollars?”

She shifts gears as we turn and we emerge onto the highway. She curses at the blue sedan that doesn’t use his turn signal. I laugh and agree with her semi-fanatical driving beliefs.

She begins to sing with the stereo, her melodious voice catching each note perfectly. I can easily imagine her pretty black boots tapping away to the beat, though with her foot on the pedal, she is unable to do that.

“Have you eaten yet?”

“No. You?”

“No, where do you want to go? I don’t have any particular craving at the moment.”

“Um.” She purses her lips together momentarily and says, “Do you want to try that Middle Eastern place by my house?”

“Sure. I need to find something Middle Eastern that I like for when Solomon comes over.”
She giggles, her smile transforming her face and here shadowy eyes glowed. “I am going to be your plastic bag when you finally turn completely to goo.”

“Do you know what his pet name for me is?”

“I don’t want to know!”

We are finally approaching Eagle River, her car going a bit over the speed limit.

“Oh, I need to stop by Gottschalks, they’re having a sale and I need some shirts.”

We drive into the Dimond Center parking lot. She settles for a spot far from the door, not patient enough for a better spot, and saunters into the mall. Her walking reminds me of a model on the runway, with its unwavering attitude and confidence. Her rainbow skirt swishes around her feet with each step and her dark red wool sweater covers her slim, but shapely body. A medium sized amber necklace, the large jewel hanging elegantly, is wrapped around her neck.

We scan through several shirt racks and come up with a couple of choices, violet and navy, pine and coal. After trying them on, she decides on both and steps up to the counter. She pulls a small wallet from her teal purse and pays for the garments, which she then puts into her purse after accepting the change and receipt from the cashier. We leave the busy store.

We head back to her small apartment. I step into a scent of kitten and candles, set my backpack by the comfy couch with purple cushions, and listen to urgent meowing coming from around my feet, which I playfully kick away. Callie, first and foremost, plugs her computer in and turns on the music.

“Ugh, I need take a shower, my hair is a mess.” She combs her fingers through short, wavy brown hair.

“You just have a just-out-of-bed look going on, people actually pay for that.”

I sit on her couch and lean against the soft purple pillows. As she jumps in the shower, I listen to her perpetual music and admire the wall hanging we had picked out a few weekends before at that one foreign imports shop we both like. It nearly covers her small, white wall and is sided by a multicolored desk to its right. Beneath it is a dresser, each drawer a different color and a stereo sitting on top. When she’s finished, she walks out of her room, makeup on, a pretty blue under her jade eyes and her hair a clean, neat mess. She puts on her stylish brown leather jacket and boots, showing off her absurdly non-Alaskan fashion with pride. She belongs in New York on some days, L.A. on others, and sometimes here in wild Alaska. I could definitely see her in France or Greece, where we will eventually go.

We take the short drive to the restaurant and go into the elegant but empty room. A pretty lady sits us at a booth and we order our food. Callie loves the bean dip appetizer the waitress brings but I can’t stand the bland, tan colored food. After we eat our dinner, mine hardly eaten because, unlike her, I still haven’t found something I like at this Middle Eastern restaurant, we order dessert. She gets a green tea ice cream which she apparently likes and I try some baklava, the honey making it difficult to like. Since she has cash and I don’t, she gives me her money and I pay with my card. We then amble back to her place.

“We should go dancing!” She has been in her downward mood lately and she likes to dance. She isn’t enthusiastic, but invites her friend she met in French class.

While we wait for the movie to start, her friend doesn’t like to dance, we discuss the potential reasons why Monsieur Todd, the pianist with green eyes, hasn’t yet asked her out. She claims she is like a fire, bringing up her bi polar disorder, and says she doesn’t want to burn anyone with her depressive, yet fiery, flame. I go along with it and say that not everyone is flammable.

The movie starts. Afterward, we search the sticky, popcorn covered floor for her ring which she purchased for her short, irrelevant senior year of high school. I find it, the silver twists catching my eye in the dim light. We return to her rainbow cave.

We talk of her agitating math class and her friendly French class, of our past depressed eras and fishing, of getting her GED and her plans to go to California for college after she, hopefully, passes her current math class, of our twenty first birthdays in Las Vegas, and spring break in Arizona without parents. Alcohol comes up, but neither of us is particularly interested.
She had an overdose last week, which she failed to bring up earlier. She is fine now, obviously, but I throw a lot of questions at her, hoping that there is something I can do. She gives no helpful answers so I continue to worry. The only good thing about bi polar disorder is that her mood will improve eventually…though her bad mood will also come back again.

She takes her so-called buffet of pills and I tell her that it isn’t an all you can eat buffet. She laughs, her lips turning up at the edges prettily, and grudgingly agrees. She goes to sleep and I lay down on her couch.

We eat at the busy Village Inn the following day and she seems to be better, smiling more. We create and write a story, quite depressing and powerful, but very good. We aren’t able to finish it because my sister is sick and Jamie wants me to be with her. She drives to a movie at the Century theater with another friend and I go to my sister’s messy house.
We text:





Todd again. He still hasn’t asked her out and apparently has completely different interests, outdoors versus indoors. I assure Callie of her awesomeness, completely honest. I say goodbye to my dear friend for the weekend and my sister, also named Calli, drives me home.





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