Jasminne is an 1080p eldritch projection demon living in Los Angeles. More work can be found here: jasminnemorataya.com
she was my roommate. i worked a few jobs, and in contrast to her, i spent very little time at home. i found it to be a most inhospitable place (we had mushrooms growing in the shower), but the rental market was fucked, and we had no other choice. we lived only a 30 minute drive away from the metropole, but my dwindling number of friends acted like it was the sticks. no one visited but the coyotes.
“baba!” i called out in the darkness one night, keys jingling, bags of groceries fluttering plastic seraphim wings, the front door casting an impossibly long shadow.
she murmured from a dent deep in the couch, covered by a ratty blanket.
“yo! over here!”
i turned on a yellow light with a bit of struggle. “what went wrong today?”
“due to issues with the ‘pull to open’ tab on the bottle of orange juice, i didn’t apply for any jobs.” she looked stricken, eyes far away and sullen. “i’m sorry.”
“oh...whatever. help me carry this shit in.” i was tired of saying it. it’s not your fault. it’s not your fault. whose fault? shouldering guilt older than time again. me you everyone.
i pulled the tab open on the orange juice and poured two glasses. the juice was too bright, and the sugar content made me wary. but it was no small comfort to drink. we toasted in the kitchen.
i was trying to be careful. she had attempted suicide earlier that summer, but was thwarted by a net infrastructure installed at the behest of city council. she could’ve just rolled off the net, i figured, tumbling down like a marble, but maybe when something like that happens you lose your resolve. it’s embarrassing. look before you leap.
i didn’t press for details, and she never offered any. i had lost friendships before, on account of my tactlessness, and i was trying my best, here, now. but all i’m saying is, i would’ve done my research.
we ate tostadas with black beans, a little bit of avo, and cheese. i made them and felt like mama. if i thought it wouldn’t be an obvious move, maybe i would’ve tried to die too. but all of the inverse fight had gone out of me that year. i was compelled to be strong, hard-working, and egregiously normal. normative, anyway. i was trying to heed the call for both myself and baba.
no romance either. probably never again. i had been subsumed by the priapic order. too many mistakes. i had lost substance once, for a man, and the whole thing made me retreat into my and baba’s world. calls went unanswered and finally stopped.
we would go back and forth. i was trying to do my symbolic 45 minutes of cardio at the local gym, and she was eating pre-shredded cheese right out of the bag. she played minesweeper, and i failed terribly at any sort of career advancement. we were both dying slowly.
one day we went on a walk in the canyon. the stream had run dry, the trout were all dead, and i had confessed a truth that had been on my mind for ages. she wasn’t the least bit shocked. she knew something about my character that i was too close to really take in.
“do you think it’s ever okay to lie, to protect someone?” i asked this sheepishly, performing earnestness in a way even i knew was contrived.
“no. have you done that?” she looked at me curiously. “i guess. i guess it’s my mode.”
“you think you know better than someone else? you think you get to modulate someone else’s truth for them? to deprive them of the right to choose whether or not they want to keep associating with you based on knowledge you’re withholding from them?”
“is it about optics? looking like a ‘good person’? who even are you?” she shoved me. she was stronger than she looked, and i stumbled.
“hey!” my knee was cut against a rock, and started to bleed.
“i knew it. you’re fucked up!” she ran ahead of me, laughing. i leaned into the ground and stared up. we were walking beneath the bridge. i could see the net clearly. and the sky, and the spindly ends of trees.
i would have to get back up eventually. but for a moment i sank into the dirt, lanced by self-pity, and helplessly watched baba recede into nothing.