You Can Be Whoever You Want To Be
She woke up in the middle of the night clawing the sheets, drenched in sweat, her heart thudding in her ears. She blinked, networks of light patterns played across the insides of her eyelids as technicolour dream world turned to dark reality. Shapes in the room were unfamiliar: where once there was a sofa, was now a misshapen beast; where the floor, a muddy patch of water; where the table, a hovering jetty. Slowly the feeling of dread receded from her body and she remembered where she was. She remembered who she was. In that porous space between waking and sleeping it was easy to slip into her old self – sad, lonely Sal. But as she came back to consciousness she repeated the mantra, I am Kit, Kit is me. She was Kit. She was in her own room, in South London. She was a successful Jumpstyle influencer. She had thousands of followers. She was happy.
Kit got out of bed, desperate for the toilet. The relief as hot wee streamed out of her was overwhelming, bringing her back to her body. Getting back into bed, she checked her phone. Six more messages from Seamus and five missed calls. Now she was really awake. She hadn’t read any of his messages since she (Sal) had decided she (Kit) should split up with him two weeks ago – she remembered the thrill of typing out the message and shooting it out like a bullet. Following the strict ‘No Contact’ advice in her self-help book she had ignored him since. But in the half-light from streetlamp that shone through her venetian blinds the normal rules didn’t seem to apply. The phone glowed. She opened the thread and scrolled to the beginning.
OK, if you want space, I will of course give it to you.
I get the sense I have been enjoying spending time with someone who’s beautiful and brilliant without properly acknowledging that and that is causing repeated tension. Do you also get that sense? OK I’ll give you space, laters. Xx
Thought you might like to know that I got the job!
Just tried to call, cause I was in the area and wanted to see if you wanted to meet up?
Have you listened to the new lilscareboi tune? Sooooo good! ☺
How are you habibi? Free this weekend?
Is this enough SPAAACEEE? KIIIIIIIIT
I am listening to Nirvana and touching myself and thinking of you
That last one was a joke
Unless you don’t want it to be? ;)
Can we talk, I feel like we could at least talk about what happened?
Like I don’t think I would just cut out on something like that?
I miss you
I miss you.
Reading the messages in one go gave her a sense of vertigo, as if she might fall into the phone. She had listened to the new lilscareboi tune and it was good. In fact, she was going to remix it for one of her videos. Maybe she should message back just to let him know so that he didn’t think she was copying him or trying to send him a subliminal message when she posted it. That made sense. As she was thinking this typing appeared underneath Seamus’ name.
Thursday 28th May, 03.40am
Kit was better off without Seamus but she missed human touch. She couldn’t remember what he looked like or how he felt. She imagined what his face might look like when he came – screwed up with concentration then blank, disorientated. How powerful she might feel, bent over him; how powerless he would be, moaning beneath her. As the scene developed in her mind, she reached down and in small circular motions pressed a finger to her clitoris. Kit could only masturbate to fantasies involving transgression: people she shouldn’t or wouldn’t fuck in ways she shouldn’t or wouldn’t fuck them. A recurring fantasy involved her pegging one of her former English teachers during lunch break. The pressure of fucking before the other kids returned; the power subversion of fucking your teacher – Kit had come in three minutes. Now, the pathetic image of Seamus, or what she imagined Seamus to look like, desperate and begging, would do.
The morning was bright and crisp and she bounced out of bed with more energy than she’d had in weeks. Gathering her equipment she went to the park, where she set up her camera and speakers. She had started doing Jumpstyle workouts and found the response was much better if her surroundings induced a feeling of calm. The urban-pastoral aesthetic of the park, with trimmed hedges and perfect lawn, was much better for this than her crowded bedroom. Daily, at the crack of dawn and before the park filled up, Sal did her basis-half-twist routine (to her own mash up of Dancehall and lilscareboi’s tune) in the rose garden. She had been struggling to diversify the routine and was getting comments about her lack of in-depth knowledge about the dance form. But the park videos brought a new wave of enthusiasm from her followers, so she blocked the accounts that accused her of cultural appropriation and put on a pair of her skimpier shorts. As she was wrapping up that morning’s routine, she became aware of a man shouting. A man shouting and walking toward her.
Was that – Seamus? She couldn’t be sure but the cap he was wearing was similar to the one in his Whatsapp picture. As he was approaching a dog cut across his path and, in the small confusion created by him trying to avoid the friendly animal, Kit turned and sprinted for home.
Kit’s new video did well. FreeSpiritForageMonster commented, You are the ADRIENNE of Jumpstyle! Coming thru with the new vids and the moves to get thiiiick. More more more please! Every now and then, a veteran showed interest. Antwerp 79 said, not sure about the music tbh. the culture changes but the spirit stays the same xx hardcore Jumpstyle xx
But there were still the haters. BelgianBoy asked, Where are you even from?! You don’t look Belgian or Dutch, stop ruining our national dance with your shit videos. Kit had long ago stopped answering those kinds of questions. Blocked. Even so she was left with a lingering sense of anxiety, which made her feel like Sal. She looked at herself in the mirror. The resemblance was remarkable: same high cheek-bones, same dark eyes, same shaved head, same ears that stuck out ever so slightly with soft earlobes that hung low. Same mole at the side of the neck. She brushed a hand over her face. Now Sal. Now Kit. Without clothes it was harder to tell who she was but in her Nike crop top and gold lamé shorts she felt, and looked, very much like Kit. She picked up the now worn self-help book, which opened naturally to a page near the back of the book. You can be whoever you want to be she read over and over. Then she got a tub of ice-cream and streamed a rerun of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, her favourite thing to come out of Belgium aside from Jumpstyle.
As the episode came to an end – it was clear to Kit from the beginning that the nice dentist had done it because who carries that many loose cotton balls loose – her phone lit up. Seamus.
I saw you in the park. What’s going on? I’m coming over.