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Post by Alice Become Human on September 29th 2019, 7:54 pm

    Downtown Detroit was like an old, rotting, forsaken, wooden ark floating in a beautiful ocean. The streets were paved and the skyscrapers maintained a silvery gleam, as if desperately trying to stave off the rust of time. The sunset was given audience not just by the slender skyline lining the lake, but by menacing, dark-blue evening clouds that grumpily awaited the star’s exit behind the curtains of a watery horizon.  Along the docks of the city, pigeons cooed peacefully as if taking advantage of the calm hum of the light traffic churning through downtown. It was a Tuesday, and as one might expect, there wasn’t much going on in the already derelict and bankrupt city. It was much more of a way station for commerce with the appropriate office buildings, banks and warehouses to keep the life of the little city alive, but outside of Alice and the trickle of eccentric hipsters trying to take advantage of the low apartment rates by moving in, downtown Detroit was a shell of something that was meant to be much grander, being held together by a diverse and strange group of opportunists. But Alice liked it.

    Underneath the seemingly hopeless body of the city, there was always something new to be discovered. First of all, the former and current tenants maintained the art deco architecture and interior design of a few of the buildings, which took on its own style. Many of the buildings at the time of Detroit’s heyday were crafted beyond the usual gothic etchings and cut away granite and more into golden and bronze palaces of buildings, far more glorious than the simple offices within them deserved.  Secondly, the urban centers of the city were actually rather quiet and didn’t draw as much attention to themselves, humbled by the hauntingly silent forests and neighborhoods surrounding them. Downtown felt more like an oversized, mysterious castle of a dark fantasy and the whispers of the spirits of the past echoing through the wind. When one looked at it the right way, it was actually a wonderful balance between civilization and the wild, that although dangerous, helped one enjoy exploring both worlds without one overshadowing the other.

     The bars, coffee shops, and restaurants around these areas couldn’t help but try to look presentable in the face of such splendor. Even the tavern that Alice sat in presented long, oak beams across its ceilings and sprawling tables with equal wooden strength about them. Gemma with her legs folded in the butterfly position on the booth, giggling and slurping her second bottle of Coors and outfitted with the getup of one enjoying a pleasant autumn or early spring day: plaid skirt, green sweater with long sleeves, a loose sleeveless shirt underneath, and the veritable Hi-top shoes. Her dyed hair with blonde highlights slid across the table as she drunkenly laughed, holding her bottle with mirth as she lay her head down on the wooden altar of beer. 

   Alice was perched on the other end of the table, chuckling along with much less power, although this time Gemma’s tale –the new one about her professor’s walrus laugh after realizing he left his shirt microphone on when he used the bathroom- definitely landed well, especially after her rough imitation of the utterly embarrassing sound. She looked out the window at the glowing sunset and tapped her nails on the table, crossing her right leg over the left just to switch her position as Gemma began yet another story.  Her dress style, as usual, now aimed for a chameleon elegance that matched her recreational strolls in the harbor or the downtown of her home city. Gemma had noticed the change in senior year, and couldn’t help but dress up a bit more when meeting her instead of going for the more comfortable yoga pants and heavy sweatshirt. There she was, sitting like a statue or a gothic set piece, with a pure-white, woolen turtleneck sweater with vertical ribbed patterns sewn into it, a dark-red brooch hanging around the collar laying on her chest, and a silken, ruffled, burgundy, dress skirt billowing over her knees, the flowing sight leading into her burgundy flats. Gemma couldn’t help but wonder if she was dressing as if she was someone taller and definitely wealthier than she really was, especially once the form-fitting white trench coat at her side was factored into the equation. She had assumed her new wardrobe was from her grandparents' clothing line, but none of their clothes or Alice’s clothes in high school remotely resembled their style and Alice insisted on not being dependent on their wealth, caught up in some kind of guilt trip for her time wasted and poorly used in high school. 

   She was an odd one these days, not caught in the typical angsty maneuver at garnering attention and a sense of individuality that kids would do throughout puberty, but instead had a focus that seemed a lot more concrete and ambitious. It frightened her, but she couldn’t help but keep tabs on her friend.  She couldn’t chalk it up to drugs either, because she was getting healthier and a bit more productive (especially with the fact that she made her own clothes), although she didn’t seem to notice her own behavior and attitude change. Alice adjusted her aviator shades, which she had put on when she realized a sunset would be darn near blinding her the whole time while they waited for food, and smiled after noticing silence.

    “Uh-oh, sudden pause. What’s on your mind, dude?” she playfully asked while sipping her coffee, expecting a whole new tangent to form in Gemma’s mind.

     Gemma awkwardly maintained her acute, fanged grin and then swirled the beer in her bottle.

 “So how are things with you? You’ve been quieter than ever on Snapchat, but you look great! I’m curious girl. How are you holding up here?” Gemma stifled an incredulous look and feigned cheerfulness in her tone, as she slyly posed a question to get social data on Alice.

    Alice breathed a sigh and turned away from the window.

“There’s no telling where I’ll be five years from now, I guess. But I’m just aiming for stability,” she said nodding to her herself with a smile, “It’s actually pretty savage out here, in both meanings of the word, but really fun…”

    Alice smiled teasingly, but Gemma sputtered and giggled with the drunken blush on her face a bit redder after she realized Alice saw through her.

“Yeah, but…  college is a part of life where you’re all in it together! You must be smarter than you look to have a life out here without going to Uni. You’re slaying it, Alice, and it’s been only two years out here! Good for you girl!”

   Alice paused with an exaggerated smug smirk on her lips and then said,

“Nah, this sucks,” which was then complemented with a burst of Gemma’s laughter. Using the jest to help give clarity, Alice followed with a hint of weariness and truth,

  “It’s hard, Gemmee-ay, but I gotta do it, haha.  Why should I be studying to take on the world if I can’t get my shit together and can’t just live with the basics?” She shrugged her shoulders quickly to not make a big deal of it.

  Gemma raised her eyebrows and sat back, rather impressed.

“Wow… that’s pretty deep, man,” she remarked, all the more affirmed in her belief that Alice was changing big time. A seed of envy within her head cracked and budded, expanding and maturing with light green roots as she realized Alice had a point. She still seemed quite foolish for throwing away the typical natural progression of people their age, but deep down she understood what she was getting at. After another pause, Alice maintained her patented mellow, sweet voice that was just above the whisper, as she continued her explanation, a bit more talkative when she was on the defensive,

   “There is a lot to this city that you don’t see. Places to explore, people to meet, both good and bad. It’s a dose of reality to me, I guess, and I kind of need it.  It can get lonely when I’m on my shift or sitting in my room with nothing to do, but you’d be surprised at the excitement, sights, and sounds you can experience here. I doubt I could handle the level of shit you guys have to manage in UOC, but it’s something. I can take it in my own stride and make of it what I want. Any more pressure than that would mess me up.”

      Gemma smiled with a squint and replied, “Okay!” She observed that Alice was weighing a bit too heavily on the past as a ploy to take the focus off of her, but that just irked her even more. Where did this straightforward humility come from? As a motorcyclist and then a waitress passed by their table, she couldn’t help but notice their curious eyes strayed much more towards Alice, with an admiring glow than her. She looked like chopped liver. Alice dwelled too much on the past, but she was living in the present. For Gemma, like most people jumping through the hoops of academia, everything hinged on the at least six to eight years of degrees and establishing oneself in the workforce before relaxing and working on the basic flow of stability. Alice was already enjoying the benefits of the semi-solitary life.

 It was too good to be true, so she pushed further to test whether or not her envious worries were true, or if it was just first impressions deceiving her.

    “Let’s go out on the town then! I’d love to hang with you for a bit. Few more days of spring break then it’s back to the rat race.”

   Alice actually didn’t pause and just returned with a “Sure!”

   “So, uh, what’s the plan?”

“Well, Detroit works a lot like Chicago, you have to plan ahead and stay on the same street, but here, it’s best you stay in the same building. So, I can check out a jazz bar and we can chill for sure.”

  “Jazz bar? Anything a bit more… lively?”

Alice shook her head, “I wouldn’t recommend it. You have to know the crowd before you do anything like that.”

Gemma whined, “Oh come onnn. We’ve been to Shadytown before! It’ll be like the good old days!”

  Alice rolled her eyes from underneath her glinting, amber shades.

“That’s because no one really messed with high school kids unless it was to sell weed. Clubs here are basically bars with dance floors. Everyone and their grandma shows up and that can include Festus and the KKK boys, or your friendly neighborhood Crips chapter. I mean I go sometimes, but you have to scout it out beforehand.”

  Gemma finished her beer and threw her hands up.

“Let’s do it! I love warehouse parties.”

 Alice tried to hide her lack of faith in her friend’s sincerity. To her, it seemed like a mixture of the call of the wild that echoed through the souls of girls their age when the sun went down and the stars, moon, and neon lights shone in the dark and the basic naivety that also accompanied their age. It didn’t mean that Alice didn’t have it, but it was hard to envision a night on the town in Detroit with Gemma that didn’t involve crashing into serious air turbulence.  Even though she wasn’t much of a leader and more of a commentator, she felt the shadow of responsibility hang low over her mind as she contemplated the idea.

  She gave Gemma a thumbs up and giggled.

“Ok, it’s my treat, haha,” she cocked her head a bit to the side to pop her neck, and started thinking ahead. “I’ll text you the location tomorrow, promise.”

   Gemma snorted, “HaHA! You’ve got to promise. Not going to catch the bubonic plague at the last minute like you would do junior year, are ya?”

  Gemma smiled and shook her head as she scrolled through her phone, weighing some options. Gemma gleefully raised her thumb back and, like clockwork, she shifted a sudden hard right on the conversational ship rudder into other enthralling topics like memes, Netflix seasons, gossip about fools on the internet, etc.

   After watering Gemma’s inner envy plant by downing an impressively large chicken parmesan and pasta entrée and then paying for both of them, Alice led the way out of the restaurant and then leaned on the brick wall of the building, looking out onto the street and the bay, breathing deeply and comfortably. It seemed like she was readying for a smoke, but this time she just folded her arms with a smile and relaxed. Gemma, meanwhile, decided to reach for her vape, seeing it unbelievable not to do so if one was to awkwardly lean on a wall on a street sidewalk.

   The essences of the conversational topics between the two ladies danced a peculiar dance between each other. Gemma’s topics were like spotlights, exposing a person or circumstance in a plethora of varying hues, sounds, and smells that focused on only the most vibrant and climactic instances about a character or event. Alice’s style was like a bird’s eye view of the city, flying Gemma through a region, guarding against or saying little about the bad and usually focusing on just the good, swooping down around deteriorating buildings, diving into smoke stacks, sailing through the windows of storefronts, apartments, and dangerous street corners, and focusing more on denizens who had a permanent impact on a community, unlike the celebrities and party animals that came and went in Gemma’s world.

  Gemma enjoyed the conversation, but most of it was lost on her, and was a bit much for her to process or dwell on. That still didn’t, however, deter her interest in the warehouse party. She eventually hugged her friend once the Lyft drove up and parked next to both of them. Alice waved goodbye, waiting for the car to disappear in the distance before she donned her kerchief.  She set off down an alleyway, renovated with beautiful murals and lights hung on wires, lighting up the darkness in a spectral, eerie, but inviting glow, a light mist uncovered with their light. Her skin turned pale and her body quickly became light, as if gravity would lose hold of her, an effect caused by her muscles tightening and adapting to the molecule coursing through her blood stream.  Once an alleyway was sufficiently clear, she bounded off, as if a child’s dream of bounding from place to place on an alien moon was coming to life. Her sudden acceleration and de-acceleration from fifty to sixty to zero miles per hour left slipstream gusts of wind, causing those around her great confusion from the sudden breezes. It was a laborious task, but it sure saved her money.

  

 


Alice Become Human
Alice Become Human

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Registration date : 2019-07-29

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