Short Story: "Winne and June"
Winnie arose from her bed with a heavy feeling that ran through her entire body. The downsides of drinking all last night hit her. She felt dehydrated, tired, and just empty in general. Last night was another night where she felt like she could just drink her troubles away but when she looked in the mirror of her bathroom, she was faced with reality again. The bags under her eyes were slight and her makeup from last night was smeared. She sighed and made her way into her shower.
Luckily, she was off from work today so she could do whatever she saw fit. It was still kind of early in the day. Well, it was basically noon but that was early for Winnie, especially on a day off. She definitely had errands she needed to run. It was one of the first days of spring where the sun was out and most of the ugly winter snow had been melted away from the spring showers. This was perfect weather to run around the city and take care of a few things.
Winnie got ready quickly and tried to not focus so much on her face. She did her best not to notice her acne scars that always seem to pop right back up when she thinks she's come up with remedy to be rid of them. She tries not to notice the slight discoloration between the middle of her face and the outside of it. As she applies her daily makeup, she does her best not to curse at how her eyebrows don't magically become fuller.
With a sigh, Winnie finally puts on her clothes for the day. She found her coziest over-sized knit sweater, loose jeans and a pair of sneakers she knew she'd be comfortable walking around in all day. Her father was in the kitchen washing dishes and her mother was eating at the table when Winnie went scavenging for a quick breakfast.
"Good morning," her mother called a little loudly so that Winnie could hear her over the rushing water.
"Morning," Winnie said settling on eating a bowl of cereal.
As she went to the fridge to get some milk she heard her mother sigh. Winnie took in a silent breathe and prepared herself for the unnecessary judgment of the day from her mother.
"I wish you wouldn't wear such big clothes. You have such a small body, it's not flattering," her mother said.
Winnie held back a groan. "Can't I just eat in peace?"
"I'm just saying," her mother mumbled as Winnie sat down.
Her father got a look at her face and now it was his turn to chime in.
"Interesting choice in eyeliner," he said with an amused look.
Winnie rolled her eyes. "It's a look!"
She had decided to experiment with her eyeliner and do a reverse wing. Now that she was frustrated, Winnie ate her cereal as quickly as she could. She hurriedly washed out her bowl and got out of the kitchen as fast as she could.
"Where are you off to?" her mother called.
"I have some errands to run in the city," Winnie called back.
She picked up her bag, waved goodbye to her parents and made her way out. She pulled out her sunglasses and checked her reflection in the mirror in the lobby. Now she was doubting her outfit and her makeup after her parents had basically torn the look apart. It was too late to go back in the house now. She was losing daylight.
The weather was just perfect outside. A nice day by herself was exactly what Winnie needed. A day alone with her thoughts. Right? Winnie pulled out her phone to see if she got any texts from friends to hangout during the day. Her phone was drier than a Sahara. Not even an email. Looked like this was going to be a solo day whether she wanted it to be or not.
She made her first stop, which was just to pick up some body soap from her favorite booth in Chelsea Market. She was almost out and was unsure when the next time would have time to buy more. This was actually the only errand she actually had to run but she always loved an excuse to walk through Highline Park. She was just at the beginning of it. She knew it would probably be super crowded since it was nice out and Saturday but she could care less.
She checked her phone again for any texts but nothing came up. She guessed everyone was busy and didn't want to actually disturb people. Plus, she had been meaning to incorporate more "me-time" in her days. She also needed to get some practice with her camera. Her city could be so beautiful but she would always let it slip away.
Fortunately, the Highline was not as crowded as she thought it would be. Still a little congested, but not so congested that Winnie would not be able to capture a few shots. She took her camera out and was about to capture a picture of the skyline when someone jumped in front of the camera.
Winnie was taken aback and a glare began to form on her face.
"What the hell?!" Winnie exclaimed angrily.
She was faced with a girl with a cheesy grin. "Sorry, just wanted you to get my good side."
"You know that was really rude right?"
"I know, sorry. But I wanted to get your attention. I'm digging your entire look."
Winnie's eyes widened slightly. She finally got a good look at the girl and was starting to notice how pretty she was. Now she was trying to figure out why a girl who looked like that was even giving her the time of day.
"I like your look too," Winnie finally said a little sheepishly.
The girl smiled. "Thanks!"
There was bit of awkward silence and the girl spoke again.
"So, you're a photographer?" she asked.
Winnie bit her lip slightly. "Well, I'm trying. I don't think I'm too good."
"You have Instagram?"
Winnie nodded. "But it's not for my photography. I'm still trying to get that together."
The girl nodded. "Well, you seem to have an eye for it. How about you practice some live shots at my gig tonight?"
Winnie raised an eyebrow in confusion. "What do you mean?"
The girl pulled out her phone and showed Winnie a flyer from Instagram.
"I'm a DJ," the girl explained. "I'm also getting it together and I'd love it if someone could help me document it. You can bring your friends!"
Winnie thought about this. Should she trust this random girl she just met? She was always hesitant on strangers. She was also always hesitant on commitment like this. What if the girl thought the moments she captured were trash. Would she even have the right equipment for this? Wait, was she even going to get paid for this?! Should she even be paid for this?
"Here, just follow me on Instagram and you can come through if you want," the girl suggested catching on to Winnie's hesitation.
Winnie bit her lip again but did not want to seem like a snob. The girl held up her phone showing her Instagram handle while Winnie searched for it on her own phone.
"Ah, so your name is Winnie. That's cute," the girl said as she tapped the phone screen to follow Winnie back. "You're old enough to drink, right?"
"I'm twenty-two," Winnie answered.
"Great, I just turned twenty-three," the girl said with a big smile. "I'm June."
"Cool," Winnie responded mentally slapping herself for how lame that sounded.
June smiled again. "Well, hope I'll see you tonight Winnie. I don't go up first so feel free to be fashionably late."
Winnie chuckled a little. "I'll let you know if I can come through."
"So, we're going right?"
Winnie ended up meeting with her best friend Georgia for an early dinner. She had just told Georgia of the weird interaction of her day.
"I'm not sure," Winnie said picking at her food. "I mean, she's just a random stranger off the street."
"She's a cute random stranger from off the street," Georgia said with sly eyes.
"We just went out last night!"
Winnie laughed and shook her head. "I'll hit up the chat."
Georgia cheered. "We can pregame at my house."
"Sounds good to me."
Winnie's least favorite part of getting ready was figuring out what to wear. Her parents had gotten in her head about all the loose clothes and she knew that she had to actually look like something in this bar to impress June.
You don't even know if she actually likes you yet, Winnie thought to herself. Thoughts like this definitely were not helping the fact that she was in hate with all the clothes in her wardrobe. It had cooled down since she had been out earlier. After going through everything, Winnie settled on a pair of black culottes with yellow polka-dots and black strapless bandeau. She put her locs in a high bun even though she hated how big it made her forehead look but it would get in her way if she was taking pictures and would make her uncomfortable if it was really hot in the bar.
When she walked past the mirror, Winnie stopped. She actually liked how she looked which did not happen as often as she would like. Maybe the excitement was getting to her. She packed her camera bag and threw a denim jacket on. Her parents were in the living room relaxing together. Winnie made sure her jacket was closed so that they could not say anything to her about her outfit.
She poked her head into the room. "I'll see you guys later."
"Where are you off to?" her dad asked.
"Going out again. Got invited to this party at a bar," Winnie explained.
"Just be careful please. Text us the address," her mother said.
Winnie fought the urge to roll her eyes. She was twenty-two and her parents still treated her like she was sixteen. She could not wait until she saved up enough to move out. She threw the thought into the back of her mind and made her way over to Georgia's.
Winnie was only slightly buzzed when she walked into the bar. She wanted to at least have some good pics before she got too lit. Her friends, on the other hand, were pretty inebriated when they arrived. Winnie was on the lookout for June. She said she would be in the back of the bar.
They had set up a little platform for the performers. She found June starting to set up while the DJ before her was finishing up. When June finally noticed Winnie, a huge smile painted across her face. June instantly hugged her, which cause Winnie's stomach to knot up slightly.
"I'm so glad you made it!" June exclaimed.
"Really?" Winnie said in disbelief.
June nodded. "Good vibes attract good vibes, y'know?"
Winnie rolled her eyes and they both laughed.
"Well, I bought my camera. I hope I can get good shots with all the darkness," Winnie said as she started to assemble the camera. "Can I take some test shots of you?"
June nodded. "Do whatever you need to do."
Winnie took a few shots of June as she continued to set up. She looked at June's laptop and saw she had a custom sticker that said "DJuno" which made Winnie giggle.
"Your stage name is amusing," Winnie commented.
June laughed. "Isn't it? I'm glad you approve."
The night went smoothly. Winnie was actually pretty satisfied with the shots she got. June seemed pretty satisfied as well.
"So, did you bring friends or are you riding solo tonight?" June asked.
"I brought friends," Winnie said as she packed her camera up. "How about you?"
"I got a few friends in the crowd, but before we have our groups converge, do you smoke?"
Winnie raised an eyebrow at her. "Depends on what you're talking about."
June pulled out pretty skinny joint and Winnie smiled slyly.
"I partake," Winnie answered.
June giggled. "Great, let's step out for a bit."
Winnie followed June out to the patio of the bar where they found people smoking cigarettes. The pair found an open space where they could just chat.
"You know, I took a pretty big risk coming here," Winnie said.
"Oh?" June said with a smirk. "Was I that scary?"
Winnie shook her head. "No, but my parents have constantly warned me about talking to strangers."
"Strangers are just friend waiting to be made."
Winnie broke into a laughing fit. "You're very interesting, June."
"So are you."
Winnie scoffed. "I'm just an empty space."
June shook her head vigorously. "Don't say that. You're just getting to know yourself. We all are."
Winnie sighed. "I hate being an adult."
"Join the club. But you can't let that dictate everything. You have to appreciate the little things."
Winnie nodded, taking in the words carefully. How did June get this carefree and insightful and how could she get there?
"Make sure you send me those pics so I can post them," June said putting the joint out on a wall.
"I will, just DM me your email."
"Or I could just text it to you."
"You think you're so smooth," Winnie teased as she handed June the phone.
"It worked, didn't it?"
Winnie scoffed and June smirked. She put her number in then called herself from Winnie's phone. Winnie saved it and June texted her email almost immediately so she would not forget. They made their way back into the bar to catch up with their friends and score a few drinks.
Winnie was still trying to wrap her brain around how she got where she was. She was actually starting to like herself which was something she had not been feeling for more than a decade now. She was starting to feel like she was actually deserving of good things. She was enjoying her hobbies again. She was waking up with a feeling a purpose. Of course, she still had off days but they were not as bad as before.
"You've been really happy recently," Georgia said.
Winnie had come over to hangout because they were both too broke to actually go out to eat somewhere that day. Georgia had pasta and Winnie had sauce. Together, they made spaghetti.
"Yeah," Winnie said with a sincere smile. "I haven't felt this way in a while."
"Now I have a serious question for you, but don't take it the wrong way, alright?"
Winnie gave her a concerned look. "What's up?"
"You've been happy for you and not just for June, right?"
Winnie took a moment to think about her answer. She had been spending a lot of time with June these last few months. She became June's official photographer whenever she had a gig and they had become very close. Something Winnie had failed to actually come forward with was June's intentions. She really liked her but she had no idea if the feeling was mutual.
"I just want to make sure that if things don't actually work the way you want them to with June that you'll keep up with this new mood of yours," Georgia explained.
Winnie nodded. She was unsure honestly. A lot of her good habits that she had been doing lately were thanks to June, however, was that so wrong? Would she be disappointed if June was really just trying to be friends only? Sure, but she hoped she would still want to do these things that made her feel good.
"I don't have a concrete answer for that," Winnie confessed. "I want to say yes, but who knows."
Georgia nodded. "She still hasn't told you anything?"
Winnie sighed. "I haven't asked either, so I'm at fault too. I can't find the right moment to just ask."
"When's the next time you're seeing her?"
"She invited us to her house tomorrow night, remember?"
"Right! She's celebrating one of her friend's birthdays, right?"
Winnie nodded. "This'll be the first night in a while that she'll be playing music but I don't necessarily need to take some photos."
"Ask her tonight!"
Winnie rolled her eyes. "I'm not trying to make a scene at her friend's event!"
Georgia scoffed. "That's the best time to make a scene."
Winnie felt the butterflies in her stomach grow as she and Georgia got closer to June's apartment. This was going to be Winnie's first time coming here. Usually when she saw June, the two of them would meet at a food establishment or working together at one of June's gigs. Nervous did not even begin to explain how Winnie felt about tonight. Georgia was right, she needed to confront June about what she was feeling.
"Welcome to my humble abode!" June exclaimed when she answered the door.
"We bought alcohol," Georgia said pulling out a bottle of vodka.
"And mixers," Winnie added pulling out a bottle of lemonade.
"This is why I keep you two around. Come on in," June said motioning them in.
It was a nice two bedroom apartment. Not a lot of space but that is what you expect when you're renting in the city. Fortunately, it was a small gathering so everyone had space in the living room. June had relaxing music playing. She had said earlier that the celebration was meant to be a chill one.
Winnie had been socializing with June's friends while also avoiding June. She could not stop thinking about what Georgia had said earlier. Was she really happy for herself or was it just an act to keep June around? She felt like it was the former but remembering her previous relationships with people, there was a high chance it was the former.
"You've been avoiding me," June said sitting down next to Winnie which startled her.
Winnie bit her lip and June passed her a drink.
"Does my house make you nervous?" June asked.
Winnie shook her head. "You're supposed to be hosting, I didn't want to distract you from that."
"I wouldn't mind being distracted if it meant you were the cause."
Winnie rolled her eyes. "There you go again with your sly words."
June smirked. "What's on your mind, Win?"
Winnie wanted to say "you" but she knew that would sound corny. Instead, she shook her head hoping that June would leave it at that.
June sighed then took a sip from her cup. "Well, when you're ready to be honest, let me know."
Winnie rolled her eyes again and took a sip as well. She knew June was not a mind reader but was she really that bad at reading signs? Or was Winnie just bad at giving them? Now new thoughts were running through her head.
"Let's get some fresh air, huh?" June suggested.
She stood up and held her hand out for Winnie. She took it and the two of them headed to June's room. June opened her window so some air would come through.
"I'm too lazy to actually go downstairs," June said with a chuckle.
Winnie laughed and took a seat on June's bed. June settled on her window sill and stared outside. Winnie admired how the lights from outside hit her. She took her phone and started to take pictures of June. Luckily, she didn't move. It was as if June was able to tell exactly when Winnie was shooting her.
It was quiet between them and Winnie's thoughts began to get less reckless. She began to think about what she had been doing recently that made her mood seem so good. She did feel like she was happy for herself. She was spending more time with June and if she was the one who caused these happy feelings was it so bad? Could she really be happy with this girl as just a friend? Would it hurt her? Would she lover herself less if June did not feel any type of way about her? There was only one way to find out, right?