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  • Writer's pictureNick

Terrence Fletcher

As Neville returns to camp, Noa is sitting on her sleeping bag, doing a very bad job of rolling a cigarette.

"When did you start smoking?" Neville looks shocked.

"Dunno," Noa responds.

"No, for real," he follows up, "only losers smoke. Why'd you do that?"

"The world's my oyster," Noa responds with a flamboyant gesture, tapping extra tobacco into the small cylinder.

"Noa, I'm serious," Neville says. "I never knew this about you."

"My dear," Noa whispers, leaning in towards him, "you're bound to find out new things about the girl you go on a hiking trip with."

"This is something I could have lived without knowing."

"Well, Neville, you might have flown a little too close to the sun then."

Noa is still smiling, lighting up her creation with a match.

"Oh, right. Because you're the fucking supernova of life and love and art, no? You're the second coming of fucking christ, and all the rest of us are here for is to watch you shine."

Noa rises to the bait. "You just know me too well, Nev. I'm along for the ride, and all you pawns can kiss my ass."

"You're unbelievable."


"You would really light the entire god-damn world on fire, just because 'it's an experience,' and burn everyone who loves you with it." Neville looks as if he'd like to eat a hamster.

"And it would burn all the brighter because of y'all," she says.

Noa takes a huge drag of her crookedly rolled cigarette, inhales. She arches her back, blows the smoke up into the night sky, and points.

"You see those stars up th-"

"SHUT UP! Noa, do you ever fucking listen?! This isn't one of our fucking books, alright?! This is real fucking life! And believe me, I hate it too, but this is all we have! There is. Nothing. Else. Coming! This is it! And if you want to burn that down to a pitiful small pile of ash, then do you. But if this is supposed to be one of your stupid metaphors, then it's... a really fucking stupid one, okay?"

Noa taps off some ash into a small plastic bag, looking unimpressed.

"Do you even hear any of the words I'm saying right now?"

"I hear you," Noa says, looking straight ahead, playing with her hair.

"Then say something."

"I say," Noa begins and stops.

She takes her time before speaking up again. Calmly smoking her cigarette.

"Not everything I do is supposed to have some existentialist meaning, you know? If you want to hold yourself to that standard, then do you, Nev." She air quotes that phrase.

"But don't expect me to subscribe to the same ideal."

Neville is still standing up, staring far off.

"You want to know why I'm doing what I do?" she continues. "The truth is, I don't know myself. I just do. Stupid or smart... Those are not things I think about. At least not always. Sometimes I do a thing and only figure out it was stupid later on, and sometimes I know something's stupid and I just do it anyways. Why? Because I don't know everything and I don't claim I do. And sometimes," she tries to look Neville in the eyes, but he doesn't let her. "Sometimes I feel like you think you do. You think you know everything. And you get mad at stupid people. And right now you think I'm stupid. But I'm not. I'm not smart either. And neither are you. We're just clueless kids doing random shit. Nobody gives a fuck. And it's no good to pretend otherwise. That's what I think."

What follows this is quite a bit of silence.

"Fuck this. I'm off." Neville says eventually. He turns and walks away into the forest.

"See you when you're dead, loser!" Noa yells after him.

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