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Subtle Constants

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Fatin POV

 

Fatin was sixteen when she first noticed her. 

There was a flurry of bodies pushing through a cramped hall as she made her way to the one lesson she seriously despised with all her being; math. She was never bad at the subject, more so the complete opposite. Fatin was splendid with numbers because of the inordinate amount of time she spent with sheet music, timings, and composition. 

Patterns and solutions came easily to her as she had spent half of her life slumped over that hell-born instrument. As soon as she could walk her parents had her in an array of classical instrument classes, narrowing them down one by one until they found one that they could work her to the bone over. 

However, today really chose to spite her further by intruding on her run to class with a not-so-subtle, tell tale cramping; shooting through her abdomen like a god damn knife. 

Of course, today she got her period. 

Obvi. 

Sighing she diverted and rammed through the crowd towards the toilets; shoving them out the way with perfectly manicured hands like a game of high school Whac-A-Mole.

Shutting the toilet door, she cracked her bag open; going through the usual compartment where she stashed emergency tampons for times like this. 

Nothing. 

It dawned on her then that this was not her usual bag, no. Fatin had of course chosen today to bring in the new bag she dropped an unhealthy amount of money on at the weekend. This meant that whilst she looked completely killer, she still hadn’t transferred over her random shit like lip balms, condoms, and tampons. And worst of all, she had no ibuprofen. 

“Fuck my life!” She groaned. 

“Um, are you okay in there?” A small voice asked awkwardly from the other side of the door. 

“Oh, I’m stellar. I appear to have no drugs or tampons. I’m literally so done with today and it’s not even second period. Do you have one I could like, borrow or something?” 

“Was that a pun? Second period?” The voice replied before the girl coughed awkwardly at the silence she received back. “I’ll uh, slide one under the door. I mean, you can’t borrow it but you can have it.” 

Fatin breathed a sigh of relief as a hand with perhaps the most lesbian nails she’d ever seen, poked a single tampon under the door. Wincing when she finally got the corny joke. 

“Thank you.” 

“No problem.” 

After getting it into place she left the stool, moving to wash her hands. 

“There’s a spare and some ibuprofen in case that’s what you meant by drugs. If you meant cocaine, I’m out... I would like to clarify that was a bad joke I don't touch cocaine. Not that I'm uh, judging if you do.” 

Fatin turned her gaze to the girl for the first time, breath catching slightly. 

She stood tall in pale blue jeans and a crop top with a striped blue and pink shirt hanging loose over the top. 

The girl was beautiful. 

Fatin stood there baffled because that warm feeling currently forming in the pit of her stomach -one she knew all too well as the subtle hit of attraction- was normally reserved for guys, and maybe Gal Gadot because who wouldn't? 

But this girl was certainly not a guy. For one she had a 'she/her' pronoun pin on her tote badge next to one of a frog and another of a book stack.

A girl. Well, that was new. 

“Thank you,” She managed to mutter after a silence sat between them for far too long not to be uncomfortable. “It’s appreciated. Without pills, I’d probably bite off Mr. Simmond's head within the next half hour.” 

“Oh, well…” The girl shuffled anxiously, already slinging her bag over her shoulder. “I’m glad to have helped prevent a murder.” 

At that, Fatin rose a brow. Whilst she had no intention of making the stranger feel uncomfortable, her total lack of laughing at her jokes had done so; brown hair veiling her face as her chin ducked in embarrassment. The thing is Fatin did think she was funny… in a total dad humour kind of way. But for the most part she was still too busy digesting the situation -and this girl who she apparently was attracted to- to respond in anything but a manner that made her come off as a total and utter asshole. 

Before she could reply the girl had grabbed her bag, walking straight out the door and having left her with an entire pack of ibuprofen and a spare tampon and pad. 

Who the fuck was she? 

 


Fatin kicked herself that entire day, brain fading as she watched the teacher talk about a random equation she was devoid of interest in. 

All that was left in the hollows of her mind was a lanky brunette with eyes so intense she felt herself squirming whenever she thought about them. 

 



One month later she found out her name. 

An exert of a story she had submitted to a national writing competition sat plastered there alongside a -truly awful, seriously what were school photographers thinking of that angle? Christ- photo of her face. 

Fatin did not -did- place that paper in the bottom drawer of her bedside cabinet, where she would remain mystified over the comfort it brought her even if she never looked at it.

 


 

She forgot about her mostly for the next year; absorbed in cello and exams she could barely keep up with around throwing herself into parties. 

There was no shame in having a healthy sex life. But what there was, was a toxic side to it she hated to admit existed in the peripheral. 

Sex with strangers and random guys from school was easy. There were low expectations, no commitment, and she didn’t have to consider how the hell to fit anything stable and constant into her already overflowing schedule. 

However, after she found her father to be cheating, she threw herself deeper into that sea of sex and alcohol to the point there were warning lights going off left, right, and center; that she chose to ignore.

He had devastated her family. Fatin’s mother had been completely broken by the news, barely eating even now. Initially, she assumed her mum would bounce back, almost like that ‘The Fray’ song about the stages of death and grief. (She had really hoped the same went for a cheating shit of a husband.) But alas, Fatin still awoke every day to her mother looking growingly tired and frail; splotches of purple circled beneath her eyes. And if there were two things Jadmani’s weren’t it was tired and frail. They were bold, strong, picture perfect. 

That picture-perfect image had been what crumbled both Rana and Fatin. Not wanting to publicise what he did, they both remained quiet, citing an amicable divorce even though it was anything but. They still posted pictures of him with her brothers like he wasn’t a total home wrecker and she hated it. He didn’t deserve the saved face. 

He deserved to be ridiculed. 

With time, Fatin became like a mother to her brothers; a second hand when Rana fell short of energy. She packed their lunches and often took them to clubs. Ran herself half dead just to keep them from suffering too. 

Her brothers deserved the childhood she was given, just with less cello stress thrown into the mix. They deserved to have their biggest worries being when the new Star Wars film would be out, or the fact they forgot their homework. Small, manageable things. Not their world turned upside down when they were too young to even fully grasp it. 

From the ordeal, she was drained and had taken it upon herself to relinquish her stress to booze and guys each weekend night -and occasionally weekdays- when she snuck out at three AM. Her mother was always too gone to even notice. 

 


 


She was now seventeen and relishing her final year in high school. Through alcohol.

“Woah, okay, you’re okay.” 

Steady hands gripped her waist preventing her from falling over after she had collided with a solid form. 

Fatin looked up, squinting as her drunken, blurred vision settled slightly, a hand reaching up to a worried face. “Tampon girl?” She grinned. God, she was hot. 

“Sorry what?” 

“You lent me a tampon,” Fatin slurred. “And drugs.” 

“Maybe don’t phrase it like that at a party?” Leah chided. “And it’s Leah. Rilke. Not tampon girl, please do not make that a fucking thing. I’ve gone most of my high school life without a truly shit nickname, and I’d prefer to keep it like that.” 

Fatin ran her hand along a pale cheek again, grinning as Leah struggled to hold her up. “Tampon girl sounds cool though.” 

“In what world would that be cool?” 

“Would you prefer 'my drug dealer'?” 

“Dear god.” She groaned. “Please just use my actual name.” 

“Ugh, Rilke, you’re killing me.” 

Leah bit her lip at that, supressing a smile. “You’re incredibly drunk. How about you give me your address and I can drop you home?” 

“Too far to walk.” 

“That’s why I’m sober and have a car.” 

“Who is sober at a party?” 

Leah frowned but shook it off. “People who want to get home in one piece, or enjoy the night without the repercussions of a hangover. Believe me, I do not need a repeat of last year.” She laughed coldly but didn’t go into any sort of explanation. “Now come on. I know we’re not friends but it’s probably safer I take you home then some dude.” 

“But some dude may get me laid.” 

Leah shook her head instantly, helping Fatin to stand. “Not like this you’re not.” 

The scenery began to blur around her into a haze of green bushes and tarmac that spun below her, the weight of a hand on her back providing a steady comfort she seriously needed. 

“Please don’t throw up in here, I’m not insanely rich and detailing costs a tonne.” A paper bag and a bottle of water were thrust into her hand. “Drink. You need to hydrate.” 

“Yes, Mum.” 

Groaning, Leah started the car, Fatin swaying as nausea rose. 

“Drink.” 

“Fine.” 

Sliding the lid off, she sloppily brought the bottle to her lips, taking a sip that half missed her mouth; proceeding to dribble down her chin much to her mortification. 

Leah followed the address given, albeit after a lot of questioning when Fatin kept changing her mind on the zip code. “We’re here.” A hand pressed down on her chest before she could get up. “Nu uh, finish the water first.” 

“I’m totes fine.” 

“Great, then you can finish the water.” 

“Such a bitch.” She muttered under her breath, Leah obviously hearing as she let out a quiet sigh in response. 

Fatin pressed the bottle back to her lips, slowly sipping in silence for the next five minutes until she was done. 

“See, not that hard, hey?” 

“Fuck off.” Fatin shoved the bottle back at her but smiled lazily. “Goodnight tampon girl.” 

“Oh my god, stop.” 

She saluted her, staggering out of the car and up her driveway like Bambi on ice. 

 



Fatin barely remembered the interaction the next day. The hazed memory only being jostled into her mind when she saw a picture on her phone she took without Leah (or herself)  noticing. The slightly pixelated imagery of silken hair lit under lamplight as she drove; concentration devoted to the road ahead. 

Leah apparently, forgot entirely. That or she simply didn’t care. 

It was a concept she couldn’t understand, walking through the halls next day and seeing her there, wearing a cute ass crop top with a Lana Del Rey tote slung over her shoulder. A scrawny kid walked beside her, too in Leah’s personal bubble for Fatin’s liking. Almost like a fly glued to a wall. 

But as she passed, Leah briefly took note of her before her face dropped as she completely averted her gaze like Fatin had done something absolutely unforgivable to her. Then again, maybe she did. 

Her memories of the prior night were unfinished puzzle pieces at best, a collection of images and moments that didn’t quite fit together like chunks were missing and devoid. 

Fatin’s stomach turned within her as she considered that; perhaps she had said something awful. 

Now, she is rarely one to ever overthink let alone fixate.

There had been one guy; a supermarket worker with hazel brown eyes and floppy hair that worked the till, who had caught her attention at fourteen. She had assumed it to be love, burning and intense even though he didn’t even know who she was. (He was also far too old for her, so probably for the best.) But as it fizzled away Fatin understood it for what it really was. Hormones. Innate attraction to his physique. It was basic chemistry. 

So that was the box she shoved Leah Rilke in. Basic chemistry. There was no need for a relationship. 

None at all.

Fatin did not do social constructs such as relationships, she did quickies and fleeting like it was her brand. The girl should really be sponsored by the local safe sex clinic because Fatin was the posterchild for such matters. 

However, all boxes at some point break open. 

She should have known better than to think that flimsy mental cardboard could protect her heart from Leah Rilke.