a/n: I wrote this story inspired by the video ‘Don’t Date a Girl who Travels’, directed by David Joseph Falossi and edited by Jonathan Wallace. You can watch the video down below. That video was in turn based on the story by Adi Zarsadias, which you can read here.
I submitted that story for a creative writing class back in late 2014. I got generally positive reviews for it, and it’s definitely a story I like and am proud of writing. I feel like it embodies myself to a large extent, haha. It definitely is based partially on my own life. I ended up putting it up on Tablo but nothing really came of it. You can choose to read it here; it has a slightly different layout on that platform.
Don’t Date a Girl who Travels, by David Joseph Falossi and Jonathan Wallace; story by Adi Zarsadias
Never Date a Girl who Travels
can’t and needn’t and don’t ask
Q: How long have you been gone for?
I’ve been traveling for about 289 days now, and I’ve only just begun.
Eh, she’s been away from home for… eh, more than half a year now. Yuh, I don’t remember exactly. But it’s been a heck of a long time. I’m sitting here all alone, ya see, and she’s just gone off to ‘find herself’ or some shit like that. Annoys the heck out of me, and I tell her that all the time, and she just rolls her eyes. I can’t see it over the phone and she never admits it when I ask but I know she does, I know it. Stupid girl. “Finding herself…” Pfft.
Q: Do you ever plan on going back home?
I am home right now. I go home every day. Or, I’m only going home at the end of it all. I haven’t really decided yet.
She said she would come back after two weeks. Hah! Big fat of expired baloney, that is. I’ve long since given up on her. She doesn’t matter to me anymore. I give her the money to go visit some place other than her backyard and she promises to come back and she tricks me, extending it another day, another week… oh, yet another delay, another unexpected opportunity, and then what do you know, it’s been six months now! She’s fucking stealing from me.
Q: Are you happy where you are now?
Almost. I’m definitely very close to being it.
Of course not, you bloody buffoon. Do I fucking look happy? Am I fucking smiling to you? Am I fucking going around knocking on people’s doors and vomiting rainbows and farting cartoon characters out of my ass? No, you know what, just don’t fucking ever date a girl who travels, and you’ll bloody thank me for it, ‘cause that’s damn good advice. I’m breaking up with my girlfriend tonight.
Most people complain about the cobblestone streets but she dances on them like they’re a masseuse’s hands on her toes. In the harsh slant of the sun’s rays, everyone’s face is set in a grim frown, all except the strange girl’s face which seems like a shattered mirror hastily glued back together. The light that bounces off her blinds you even with your eyes turned away. It makes you want to stare at her straight.
She nuzzles her head into the musky, fine skin of the leatherbound book, breathing in the scent of many centuries of timeless writers and prolific poets. Dizzy to be traversing time in a city as etched eternal as Prague. Heady to be hearing Kafka’s voice in the city he pried himself out of his mother’s womb to get to, pen already grasped in his hand, hair already perfectly coiffed, ever the daring soldier. She wanted/s to be like him.
High on an energy created from a gathered restlessness in great stillness, she flounces past the pillar of books in which, shamelessly, a vagina sits and tumbles down the front steps of the library, shoving “Dobry Den”s and “Jak se máš”s down passers-by’s windpipes, flying away on the light evening wind towards Petrin Hill where Kundera set poor Tereza’s horrible, horrifying nightmare. Oh, dear Tereza and Tomas, Tomas and Tereza. They have a supermarket named after them back in good ol’ Vancouver.
Even though it kills her, she runs full speed up the hill. It’s a very steep slope and the trees have been sticking their legs out in her way all summer, but she’s learned to remember every varicose vein of the earthen sprawl. It takes her ten minutes to get to the top, and she’s huffing and puffing and sputtering and short-circuiting by the end of it, the big bad wolf’s got nothing on her, a drowned cat is what she looks like, and the other runners just sort of awkwardly look anywhere but her. The sun is a giant orange ball swallowing up the Vltava river; if she squints hard enough, the Charles Bridge looks like a shortcut to the burning floating volcano. If only she had run instead towards the edge.
It’s an hour till midnight when she gets home. She checks her phone. Twelve missed calls from Douchebag Dylan. Sometimes she wishes the fairy godmother would come earlier; she feels like she’s been stuck at eleven ‘o’ clock her whole life.
She’s about to toss it on to her bed but it explodes in her hand, making her jump about a thousand miles high. She figures she might as well get it over with.
Hey baby, how have you been?
“Don’t “how have you been” me. Fucking been ignoring me, that’s what you’ve been doing, right?”
Baby, you know how busy I can be. I’m —
“Traveling, I know that! You ever think about how I feel, sitting at home all alone without you? Huh? Selfish bitch.”
Don’t call me that.
“What, bitch? What are you going to do about it, bitch? Bitch, bitch, bitchbitchbitch…”
She snaps the phone shut and checks where her dot on the map is. Time to move on again. Switches on the tap, splashes cold water on her face, goodnight world, the room is enveloped in salt-and-pepper stars.
He still hasn’t figured out that baby isn’t a term of endearment for her, and that fight means two completely different things to each of them.
swimming in neverland’s grey astronaut pixiedust originally really exhausting
“Do you see what she’s always doing to me?”
Sandra sighs, forgetting the household chores for a moment, and turns to her son. “All I see is what you’re doing to yourself.”
“Goddamn it mom, not you too.”
“Get your lazy bum off the sofa and go do something with your life! Heaven knows Zander is.”
He’s off the couch and in her face in a second. Red lights in the periphery. “I am doing something with my life! You think what Zander is doing is ‘doing something with her life’? You’re fucking nuts!”
“Don’t you dare swear at me, young man.” Sandra knocks his head with the handle of the broom and he lets out a roar, swatting it roughly away.
“What Zander is doing is living off other people’s hard-earned money, avoiding my calls and feeling no obligation whatsoever to return home and get a stable, secure job like the rest of the world’s doing. She’s being irresponsible!”
“Zander has found her passion in life. She knows exactly what she wants to do -” But Dylan runs over her. Last breath sawed in half, carcass not quite cold on the ground.
“-while I, on the other hand, am successfully running a company that’s earning over 60% profit per annum. I’d be Vancouver’s most eligible bachelor if I wasn’t already attached to this ungrateful wretch” – here, Sandra lets out an indignant gasp on Zander’s behalf; a deer, wide-eyed, scampers off into the snow-covered forest – “I’ve got a degree, an MA, a million-dollar condo in the heart of downtown. I’ve ticked off all the right boxes! I’ve done it right.”
“Look, I’m very proud of you, son, but-”
“There you go again with the buts! And always taking Zander’s side! You’re my mom, not hers!” Sirens.
“You’re getting mad over nothing. You need to calm down. Zander told me last night -”
Tires screeching in the dark. “Hold up – you talked to Zander last night?”
Sandra blinks, wearily taking a step back as Dylan advances, fists clenched. “Yes, Zander did call me last night. You were out. She calls me every week. I’ve told you that before.” A hundred honks melt into a single blaring alarm.
“Fucking hell!” He hurls his footsteps behind him, and they melt into the ground, sizzling in time to his rage. In the distance, the slam of the door. The gun of an engine. A hand goes up to her face, rubs her temples. Can you hear me?
On the other side of the world, Zander laughingly takes the proffered skateboard and jumps into an ollie, the movement of her traversing the world indistinguishable from the leap and flip of the wheels beneath her. A second in the air is pulled and stretched into a mini-infinity; the feeling of pure freedom balloons within her chest and rushes out her throat, a giddy mess of sounds; she feels absolutely and irrevocably invincible. Singapore humidity presses down into her skin, rendering many tourists claustrophobic and annoyed, but she is a traveler. She feels amazing.
The ambulance finally arrives and is, of course, useless.
Long, rolling hills. A pregnant woman lies in the ground, all the gentle slopes about her a canvas for the rain. Zander pauses every couple minutes to bend down and press her ear against the dirt, listening for the ancient earth’s heartbeat or the gurgling baby’s kick.
She doesn’t keep up with the current social media. Her friends back in Vancouver tell her to get facebooktwitterinstagram so that they can check up on her, just know that she’s alive, but she’s stubborn. Phone calls are her thing. She likes hearing their voices in her ear, as if she’s been able to bring them to wherever she is in the single click of a button. Videos are her thing. She takes videos of the people she meets, an extraordinary local off the street, she takes the places, the mountains and the valleys, the bitter dryness and the sweet rain. She thinks true success in life lies in being able to be simple – never paying for a flight ticket, carrying all the things she owns in a single pack on her back, sleeping under the shelter of stars – but her friends disagree.
“You’re too old to be doing this.” “Life’s short; you don’t want to be wasting it away like this.” “You’re missing out on all the things back home.” “Why are you so lost?”
Their voices used to bother her in the beginning. She’s since learned to shrug them off, the free spirit unable to be caged by man. A car appears faint on the horizon, crawling up the dusty road. She rises off the ground, slapping the dirt off her pants, sticks her arm out into the void, thumb up. Life is good.
The man who pulls up next to her is the kind most people would shy away from, but his one-toothed grin pulls Zander in, slamming the door shut behind her. She rests her knapsack between her legs and grins up at him. They talk for hours as he drives her all the way down to the southern tip of the youngest land mass fished from sea. He gets out about seven times to herd away the sheep that plug up the road in front of them, and she helps too. Birds pick up her laughter and echo it through the misty mountains.
The man knows a cousin who knows a lawyer who knows a niece who knows a sailor who’s bringing a bunch of tourists to Antarctica in a couple weeks. It doesn’t matter the degree of knowing; they make it happen.
Long, rolling hills. A pregnant woman lies in the ground, all the gentle slopes about her a canvas for the rain. Zander tucks herself under the pregnant woman’s arm, curling up comfortably; she’s got a wonderful view of the stars. She’s been wrapped up in warmth long enough for the shyest of stars to finally come out and play, used to her lingering presence now. They become brave enough to dance for her, parachuting from the heavens, shooting tricks, giggles reverberating through the night sky so as to make the sky itself jiggle. Zander hears the ancient earth’s heartbeat and the gurgling baby’s kick.
She smiles so hard it hurts, and rubs her leaking eye.
Breaking ribs alone zoo island lonely
She reminds him of a porcelain doll, wearing blinding white, blonde hair sparkling in the sun. He can see her breaking when she wears that neat pokerface, smiles so seemingly genuinely at her friends, tries to keep everything under control. Her strength is strangely fragile, and that’s what he likes about her. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
She collapses like a rag doll in her seat. “Everytime,” she mutters, staring out to the fading horizon. It will soon meld to black.
“I’m going off the grid soon.” She sips some soda and hears the sigh in her ear like her best friend’s really right next to her.
“Don’t die.” They both laugh half-heartedly. “You won’t tell me where you’re going, I know that, but at least tell me when you’re coming back.”
“Never.” The answer is immediate, penetrating the empty roof. The furniture press forward, craning their necks in eager anticipation. She feels like she’s run a marathon, dark jungles grasp at her limbs, feet catching in sloggy old mud and incessant flies that mark the earth with the stench of something rotting relentlessly infiltrating her nostrils, a scary creaking disaster of a cabin suddenly appearing in a clearing – but she’s just sitting there on an empty roof with the furniture straining to listen.
“I meant coming back onto the grid,” her best friend murmurs softly.
The sun fries her corneas but she refuses to look away. She’s gotten too scared of the darkness. “Uh, maybe in two or three weeks.”
“If I don’t hear from you by then, I will call the police,” she warns, holding the phone in close embrace with her ear. The tax forms are spread out across the coffee table, and from another room, her baby cries. She hears a gruff “yeah, yeah” on the other end from the girl she prays for every night. “Don’t you think I won’t.”
“I miss you.” Neither knows who says it first. Both say it last.
Great, you finally pick up.
She watches the penguins waddle across the bricks of ice, smiling faintly through the wind chill. Pulling the hood lower over her face, every breath of cold air burns her nose and lowers her body temperature a fraction of a degree. The sun will set soon.
I’m getting really sick of this. If you’re not careful, I’m going to break up with you.
With eyes closed, the wind takes on another life, curling its fingers into her ears. She feels like she’s inside an echoing cave, every drop of water off a stalactite a pounding to the barren ground. The darkness under her eyelids threatens to drown her on dry land, but the constant sound of movement and the squawks of sheathbills and gulls in the distance keep her grounded and carefully away from the ice cold seductress fifty feet ahead of her.
You want to be this way, fine. I’m breaking up with you right now. Right now, you hear me.
She can’t press her ear against the white ground this time unless she wants to leave it stuck bleeding in the sugar-coated crystal. She can still feel the heartbeat and the kick here though, reverberating gently under the sole of her boot. It’s getting so cold now, but she won’t put her gloves on, not till this stupid, one-sided conversation is done. She’ll give him another thirty seconds.
Zander, are you there?
Okay, you know what, I’m just being stupid. We’re not really broken up. I just miss you that’s all. If you’ll just say something, I’ll know that we’re alright. It’s not really fair of you to just drop off the face of the earth.
It’s not about being fair. Bright blue eyes stare up into the white sky as the last untethered tendrils of the sun inch towards the line dividing reality and infinite possibility, about to dip under the Antarctic waters.
Zander? Baby, speak to me.
“We broke up ten months ago. And I paid you back every last cent, plus interest, plus sympathy wage. I don’t owe you anything now. Don’t call me; I won’t pick up.”
“You should be grateful I didn’t call the police.”
His panic traverses the thousands of phone lines from Vancouver to the south pole with time not even missing a beat. Baseball was a game she stopped playing after high school but as she rears her arm back, the familiar posture seeps in; her muscles uncurl like a happy cat. The satellite phone carves an upside down smile in the crisp air.
The world blinks its eye and the penguins dive off the shifting ice, chasing the phone to its water grave.