The Taylor Swift Girl

OK, my old aunt comes home from this open mic where her old friend played old man songs, and some girl played Taylor Swift covers. My aunt’s “relating” to me, but of course I get mad. That is my thing—I’m the one who plays Taylor Swift covers.

How did they even let her in if she’s my age, right? But I guess her mom went, which is literally too dumb. So now my aunt has to take me. She doesn’t think so by herself, but it’s fair ‘cause she’s the one who told me. And no, I’m not bringing my guitar. I’m seeing if that girl comes back, so I can make her stop stealing my thing. I say, “It’s my thing, right?” and my aunt says, “I guess. You are Taylor Swift,” and I say, “Right?”

So next week we go, and of course I bring my knife. No reason. It’s not that big.

The bar’s gross and dark, and it smells like mold. My aunt keeps leaving her drink to go flirt with weirdos who played last week, so of course I keep downing it, and she’s drunk so she doesn’t notice—no one’s getting in trouble is what I’m saying. The show starts and the girl’s not there, but we have to stay ‘cause she could too show up, you don’t know that.

It is not easy to stay there. My aunt’s not hard to convince ‘cause, like I say, she’s having fun with the weirdos—I mean it is not easy to stay in that room with that stage and that sound system. Everyone playing is dumb, and they can’t sing. I can sing. I sing like Taylor.

My aunt slides in across from me, and I ask, “Can’t I sing better than everyone here?” and she asks, “Better than who, dear?” So either I said it too loud or she’s that drunk. She’s looking at me like I’m the one that drunk, which is dumb ‘cause I’ve had three drinks.

I say, “Don’t I sing just like Taylor Swift?” She takes my hands across the table and plays earnest: “I told you. You are Taylor Swift.”

“Shut up, bitch,” I say, “‘cause maybe I am.”

“You are,” she says, rolling her eyes.

“You can die now,” I say, and I grab my purse to go to the bathroom. She grabs hers and heads back to the bar.

“I think I’ll die very soon,” she yells across the bar and laughs like she’s actually close to dying. She smokes.

I’m on my way to the bathroom, and a blonde girl with a dumb hat’s in the restaurant part, on the other side of the saloon doors. She pushes them in with a guitar case, and there’s stickers on it, and one of them’s Taylor Swift. A second later her mom’s there, but they’re hiding how it’s her mom. I know it’s the girl, but not all the way know, and there’s stuff I have to do in the bathroom, so I make a plan to get back to her.

What I have to do in the bathroom is coke. It’s not bad—I don’t do too much of it. I use this straw I cut in half with kid scissors—I can’t afford too much of it.

Inside is gross. There’s no door on the stall, which I’ve never seen in my life, so I put my phone on my shoulder in case someone comes in and wonders why I’m watching the toilet. It’s not easy. I have to stick my straw right in the baggie, so of course I drop my phone and take more than the bump that I meant to, and right then the door opens, which can’t not be my aunt. I flinch-drop the baggie, and it falls in the toilet, which at first I think might be lucky.

Of course it’s the girl, so I’m mad right away ‘cause the baggie, if she’s stealing my thing or not, and that’s why my knife comes out early.

“Are you the girl who plays Taylor Swift covers?”

I know how to sound scary, don’t worry. My knife’s on her neck. She acts like that’s a big deal, which is literally too dumb, but I need that from her.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” is what she’s trying to say, but she doesn’t get far ‘cause she’s lying.

“I play Taylor Swift covers,” I say. “I started that.”

“OK,” she says.

“I pretty much am Taylor Swift,” I say. “Right?”

She says, “Of course you are.”

That’s about all I wanted here, so I try to just cut her a little bit, but I cut her way more, so it’s time to leave the bathroom and also the bar and, if I’m not careful, the country.

My aunt’s at the bar, and I freak out ‘cause she’s sitting by that girl’s mom. I play calm and hit my aunt on her arm. Her eyes are half-closed and she’s grumpy now. I say, “Let’s go, OK, you’re drunk,” but my aunt says, “There’s coke on your nose,” so about then things get bad for me.

“I didn’t know you had coke,” she says. “It might be useful if someone gets hurt.”

Now that’s something she says ‘cause I’m dreaming or there’s blood on me or she followed me to the bathroom, right? And I’m wondering if I should get my knife ready, if I can get her out of the bar, when she slaps me. She’s off her stool. She jumped or something, and she’s not so much standing, holding herself up on my shoulders.

“You are Taylor Swift!” she screams at me, and I can’t even guess what joke she’s trying. “Say it!” She’s still screaming.

“I am Taylor Swift,” I say.

“Mean it!” she screams. It’s probably ‘cause the dead girl’s back there that that’s the first time I wonder if my aunt is OK. The mom’s looking at us. My aunt’s baring her teeth.

“Listen!” she screams. “It’s shitty what happened! The world is over! I don’t know what’s left to do if the world is over! But I think we can stay alive if you can come back to your senses.”

“OK,” I say.

“Stop talking like you’re fourteen!” she screams. “Like the world is here and there’s people in it! There’s no one else here to think with me! I can’t fucking carry you over this burning coal mine.”

“OK,” I say.

“Just stop. You are Taylor Swift. Mean it!”

She lets go and falls on the floor and starts wailing. It’s like she’s been crazy for a long time. Like too much happened that she never told me. She thinks she’s somewhere else, another person.

The mom’s back to her drink, but she’s listening. We still have to get out of the bar, so I get on my knees by my aunt to—I don’t know—calm her down. She dropped her drink ‘cause glass cuts my knees. It hurts too much. It feels like fire. I pat her hair. It’s soaked.

“I am Taylor Swift,” I say, real sweet and serious, like I believe it.

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