Sparkle & Fade by Daisy Mendez



He was telling me what he was going to do with his life. I'm not sure why he dragged me into it at three in the morning. But Melvin decided, "I'm getting married."
I yawned, and remembered I was still in my flannel bottoms and my white ribbed undershirt. I breathed out morning breath, and Melvin was some where between sweet and sour from the wine he must have absorbed through the night or maybe it was just Zima. Anyway, it brought him to this brink to find me- to tell me the news.
I thought he forgot where I lived. I hadn't seen him around in months.
"Great," I said. I didn't expect to hear first.
"Yeah, it's incredible." That silly grin. So Beautiful.
There he was on my bed perfect in the essence of the bathroom light. This was pretty incredible. A sheet between us, and he decided to finally get personal. I suppose that other stuff before hand must have been kid stuff. The kind of thing Freshmen go through when they're lost and by the time we're a Senior in college we should know where we're going and what we want.
"Except there's this problem."
"Problem?"
His narrow green eyes were staring at me, but I'm sure I wasn't on his mind.
"She's decided she wants to be a guy."
"I guess that could be a problem." Nothing shocked me, anymore. Where were all the normal people? Maybe I was the one who wasn't normal, I was beginning to think as I stared back at him. That's what I needed in my life...obstacles.
"But I don't care," Melvin announced. His hands extended like God blessed him and forgot the rest of us. I watched his broad fingers come down and touch his soft shiny shoulder length hair. He then put one strand of hair behind one ear then the other like it was part of a meditation move. "I'll do whatever takes. If she wants to be a guy, then she can be a guy. I want to be with her anyway...that's how much I love her."
I thought about something stupid to say like ' have you thought about becoming a female now,' but I didn't find any humor in his somber words that were so sincere, and honest. I wanted to cry with bitterness and happiness. This kind of thing would never happen to me. I knew it now as I looked at him. He was in love.
"Mel, this totally amazing." I smiled. " I can hardly believe this...but good for you...yeah...good for you...you're incredible..really...it's incredible."
I couldn't keep my eyes off him. I loved this guy. He loved somebody that much, and I wondered what it could ever be like to be a part of that. And then it happened. I almost fell on him. My lips touched his. I was hungry for his lips, and it was just like the beginning of last semester. I think he remembered too because he didn't hesitate. It was a lingering kiss that generated more, more of undressing, more of finding my skin next to his like a slow warm burn. I guess it was hard to break old habits, after all.
It felt radiant, like laughter, to ease the pain. I hadn't really done anything this semester but wait for this very moment to savor a time like this, bask in someone else's joy and for a moment to think it was my own.


I e-mailed Ray. I asked him how his ganja garden grew. I loved his letters. I wish he wrote more. He wrote everyday, and I still wanted more. He told me about his tattoo of the moon on his arm. He's a graphic artist who lives in Santa Monica. His mother gives him Native American rememedies when he's sick.
I don't even know what he looks like, but it's a comfort...his letters. That should be enough...but it's never enough. And I find myself telling him things that I'm not. I told him I had a tattoo on my ankle, and then I said I got one on my right breast. I could only hope it would match his.
This kind of thing about fiction gets compulsive after awhile, and I'll sit around my room thinking I got to know the truth even if it's lies...I want to believe them. And something will fester in my head till I know its right, and I can't wait to tell him what I know. I get on the computer and expand on the thought that just might bring us one step closer to having something I never had with anyone else before. I just might be in love, or maybe I just want to be in love.
While I was online.... well Dell, my roommate got mad. He barged into my room and unplugged the computer.
"Get your own damn phone line," he snapped.
"I just got on."
"I don't care." He shrugged. Those persistant dark eyes stared at me. "This is a house, people live here..there's only one phone line."
"God...can't you use a pay phone." I crossed my arms and sulked.
"What do you do up here all night, anyway, when you are on this damn thing?"
"I have my friends...okay."
"We're your friends."
"Yeah...right." I knew who my friends were. He was just my roommate. There was no connection here. I didn't buy his beer. I wasn't the one who crashed his parties.
"You need a life."
"Well, if you haven't noticed...it's pretty filled up..with classes...the job at the radio station..the internship."
"Do you really do any of those things, Frannie?"
"Excuse me..don't you have a phone call to make?"
"C'mon...let's just not fight. I can't take that. Not right now."
"Did you change your major to psychology or something?" What was this all about? Mr. Nice guy suddenly?
"If you haven't noticed...and evidently..you haven't ....we're the only ones here. Everyone has left." He sighed.
"Does that mean....I have to spend time with you?"
"You could."
I saw him look at my messy bed then. I wondered if he could tell that Melvin had been here. Like a slight ache, I wondered if Melvin even remembered being here. I got up and opened my window thinking the air of old sex might be thick in the room. I couldn't tell. Though I doubted if the old smell would wear off on Dell anytime soon. He seemed to be immune to that sort of thing.
Dell was sporting a shorter hair cut. He kind of had a Ceaser thing going which kind of gave him a fresh look. But I really didn't want to notice what lived below me, I knew enough about him already. He was the quiet type with his couch potato tendencies even while the stereo played. I thought the TV made him mindless.
"I'm upstairs, you're in the basement..why do we have to see each other?" I rolled my eyes.
"I don't know. We did our laundry together once."
"A real cultural experience." I smirked.
I remembered. He listened to Spanish being spoken like he was doing a documentary asking strangers to accent the various vowel sounds, and I was cornered by a mentally retarded girl who didn't want me to get close to her washer. I never went back to the laundry mat with him. Anyway, I decided I didn't want to do six months worth of dirty clothes ever. I mended my wicked ways when it came to laundry. We got together in the house and bought a washer and dryer from the neighbor who's wife left him.
"It wasn't so bad."
"Dell, you go around quoting stuff from PBS."
"What's wrong with that?"
"You're not my type." I told him as I found something to do, putting the old shoe boxes laying around back in the closet. I thought he might get the hint I actually had something to do.
"What's that suppose to mean?"
"Nothing," I said trying to put the shoe boxes on the top of the closet shelf. "Why can't you go, have a few beers, maybe take in a club or two. Hey, you might even get lucky."
"I don't want to get lucky."
"Okay, so I don't listen to myself think." I looked back at him wishing I could ask him if I needed new curtains or not. Dell could find something to fix, anything to leave me alone. But I liked the white sheets hanging over the window.
When I put the last shoe box on the shelf, the whole stack tumbled down on the floor and pictures floated everywhere. A blizzard of memories at my feet.
I started to gather the mess on the hard wood floor and tossed them into any box I could find. I then looked up and saw Dell there on the floor going through the snapshots.
"I don't guess there are any pictures of me?" He looked sad.
"Um....nope, I don't think so."
There might have been. On occasion I took snapshots of various roommates' birthdays. He might have been in a shot or two, but I hadn't purposely taken any pictures of Dell.
"Lot's of wedding pictures." He nodded with a sigh.
I took snapshots of several weddings. Many of my friends were divorced now. I guess I could throw some of the pictures away since those lives no longer were linked together.
"Yeah, I guess I'm always a bride's maid never a bride."
"Marriage is death, you know."
"Really?"
I wish I could figure out a way to unplug him before he got started on some of these endless issues of his. Why couldn't he just make his own damn documentary and sale the thing to PBS instead of telling me.
"I don't know. Some people get lucky I guess," Dell said.
"Melvin's getting married." I squinted. What a mistake. But then he's an idiot about women.
I'm sure I didn't change Melvin's mind. I don't guess I could make him melt every time he saw me. I'm just not that kind of person. I guess.
I felt drunk thinking of him wondering if alcohol could actually be carried through the sperm to cause such a reaction. That was last night. It was little late to still be drunk.
"He's crazy," Dell said.
"You ever wanted to get married?" I found more pictures stretched out in the corners of my room.
"I don't know...maybe."
His voice sounded restless. Oops. Opening old wounds.
"I almost had a kid, once."
My ears burned when I heard his words. I strained to hear if he said more, but I didn't question him. I looked for more pictures of faces I hardly knew. It was sad to think that I was just a face in a snapshot probably tucked away in a scrapbook.
"You know, I don't have any pictures of anybody I really wanted to take a picture of." I laughed.
"Oh yeah, like who..Michael Stipe?"
"I'm not that crazy about him anymore."
"He was your God...I thought."
"I think all those drugs might have cluttered his brain, after all."
The last article I read about the lead singer of REM in Rolling Stone left a bad vibe in my heart about him. He just didn't make sense. I guess nobody's perfect.
"No, I'd love to have a picture of Jonas Williams," I then said.
"Who in the hell is Jonas Williams?"
"Somebody, I replaced down at the radio station," I shrugged, "He showed me the ropes by phone. I think he was a Negro albino."
"Those must be hard to find."
"God, Dell..he wasn't in the damn zoo. He's a person...a great person."
"You must have been in love."
"I didn't know him like that." I confessed, "He just took the time to help me, answer questions. I haven't met anyone like that since I've been at the station. He was working at another station, and he'd call..see how I was doing. I really felt close to him...wish I had his picture."
"You can't take a picture of everything."
Dell handed over the pictures he gathered up. I put them in the empty shoe box on the floor.
"I guess I have too many pictures."
"Yeah, we all have too much stuff we carry around."
His tender fingers brushed against my flushed face. I wanted to pull away but I couldn't. My dark eyes met his, heavy with something waiting to resolve. I couldn't see myself in him at all.
His fingers then stretched through my hair, and his hands tucked around my neck like he needed me to lean in.
"I..I can't have kids." I heard my voice crack, and I didn't meant to talk. I lie sometimes for no reason. It kind of makes me think I'm someone else for a little while. I should have majored in drama, but I could only get those sweet ingenue parts. I'm sick of those parts.
"What?" I felt his warm breath on my face.
I pulled to my feet, took my boxes of pictures and put them back on the dresser where they were before.
"I mean, I haven't been to the doctors or anything about it, but I know it's not going to happen. I mean, it's not like I'm not careful or anything. I've been on the birth control pills for years, and then I started thinking..well why go to the trouble when it's not going to happen, anyway..so I got off the pill...I mean I use condoms. I have a diaphragm. But it's like..why go to all the trouble..you know..when I'm not going to have a baby...anyway."
"Frannie?"
"What?"
"I don't want any kids," Dell said. "I mean..when it happened...I would have done anything if I could have carried that kid for nine months, myself. She wanted an abortion. I hated that...God how I hated her telling me she was getting a damn abortion, and then it ended in a miscarriage."
"Did you have a funeral or anything?"
His forehead mashed against mine.
He shook his head, no.
"How about that-?" I swallowed my words. We shouldn't be here. He's my roommate for God's sakes. I didn't know how to rewind. I didn't want to rewind.
"Don't you have e-mail to check?"
"You never did get that phone call."
"What phone call?"
Could he possibly be a better liar than me? I don't think so. Maybe
What did he have in mind? Didn't he know I was use to sex like good dope when I could get it. God, I'm pathetic.
It made me sad that things didn't worked out with him and that girl, but maybe he could forget about her for a while.
We kissed.
It's strange getting to know somebody, getting to know their body. How'd he know what I wanted all this time? I don't think Mel ever knew. It was just sex with him.
But this was emerging in to something.
He liked to use his mouth, and I liked his lips.
This could really be something more than casual. I might actually watch PBS with him. Sometime.