CW: Transphobia, transmisogyny, drug references.
Falak ripped off her apron and walked back to the kitchen to her locker.
‘Time to clock the fuck out!!’ She exhaled and ripped off her sad uniform and shoved the sweaty t shirt in the locker.
‘I don't know how you can change in front of these lusty chefs’ Abbi, a short chubby girl with long Senegalese twists smiled.
‘They all know I don't do dick, plus I gotta find a way to show off these expensive tits somehow. Yes everyone, the rumour’s true. A painful 6 grand, take your pics while you can!’
Pablo, the grill chef peered over. ‘But won't you pop a titty in heat like this? Why you even working here, barbie?’
Falak flicked her hair back. ‘I’d explain but the freedom outside is calling me b.’ She leaned into to mirror to apply lipliner and spritzed body spray across herself. ‘It’s not a shower, but it’ll do. Bye bitches,’ She blew a kiss over her shoulder and left through the staff exit.
She had to meet Tiana, her bestie, at Canada Water station. They were heading to Tiana’s show tonight, she already had an inbox full of Tiana’s anxious texts.
- babes are u leaving? -
- its only cause sound check’s at 6.45 -
- oh my god do u have lip liner? i left mine -
- fuck, do u still have some of my business cards? -
Falak rolled her eyes and texted back monkey hands over face emoji
- yes mami, yes to all of them -
She tapped in at Shoreditch High Street. When she got to the platform, a voice called out.
‘Jamal. Is that you?’ He called over to Falak.
Falak flicked her hair over her face and kept walking, trying to walk past him.
‘Caleb, fuck’, she whispered to herself.
Caleb followed her along the platform. ‘Jamal, what the fuck happened to you? What’s all this?’
Falak could feel all the eyes on her at the station. A white girl with a high pony tail cut in. ‘Does he know you babe? Is he harrassing you?’
Falak sighed and put her sunglasses on. She quickly shook her head.
‘Nah, it’s cool. It’s fine. Caleb, what do you want?’
‘is this what you’re on now? What the fuck?’ Caleb screwfaced Falak from head to toe.
Falak grabbed Caleb by the arm. ‘I’m moving on with my life. What’s wrong with that?’
‘Dont think you’re ever welcome back to the ends. Fuckin tranny. You was on some mad shit, but this is next level. You're dead to us man, remember I said that.’
‘Cool, that’s exactly what I wanna be. Dead to you man. but you ‘member dis. I was loyal as fuck, neva snaked no one, was dere since day. So don't chat on my name.’
Caleb roughly pushed her back, and she almost lost balance on the edge of the platform. She screamed out, and everyone looked back at them.
Falak walked away, right to the end of the platform. Tears rolled down her cheeks underneath her sunglasses. She could already imagine someone’s covertly filmed this shit. It's been daily shit ever since she started livin her truth.
The girl with the pony tail came up to Falak.
‘Babes are you alright? That shit was out of order’, she said gently. The train rolled up and all the spectators got on. ‘Is this your train babes? Let’s get on, you can sit with me.’
Falak pulled her glasses off. ‘Nah, hun. I cant travel like this. Let’s just wait for the next one - i mean - only if you wanna wait with me. Get this one b!’
‘Are you mad? I'm here. I'm gonna sit with you till you feel better again, okay! Do you want a chewing gum?’
‘Oh snap, do I stink? Damn, it’s been a long day for real’ Falak laughed wearily.
’Nah, never dat. I was thinkin of this anxiety grounding thing that if you eat something strong and minty it brings you back to the moment. You know?’
Falak held her hand out and popped a chewing gum in her mouth.
‘My names Icey.’ The next train pulled up and she held her hand out. She had a tattoo of a dragon from her knuckles down to her wrist.
‘Nice tat, I love this’ Falak traced it with her finger.
Icey took Falak’s hand and they got on the train together. At the front, it was almost empty.
‘What do you do? ’ Falak asked.
‘I’m a stylist. I go from videoshoots to photoshoots. Sometimes I get to style celebs and shit. It’s alright man.’
‘Girl, let’s swap. I'm flippin fuckin burgers right now man. I cant even get my nails done in this job. It’s so peak.’
‘No way! They are killin ur drip.’ Icey laughed. Her lip piercing glistened in the light. ‘So what was all that about? Earlier?’
Falak rolled her eyes. ‘We go way back. He just cant take the fact I changed up. He was my boy back then. We used to do up road together. But road aint for life. I had to come out of that shit and go legit. Then my mum died, and I had to fend for myself. Wow, I said a lot. Allow me, I'm in my feelings today.’
Icey looked over sympathetically. ‘Come on, it’s calm, life happens init! Hang on, where you getting off? Let’s get your number, or your snap, or insta?’
‘I’ll give you my number if that’s cool? I got an insta, but I aint used it in years!’ Falak typed her number in to Icey’s phone, then stepped off at Canada Water.
Looking back at Icey, still on the train, she caught her blowing kisses. Falak blew some kisses back. Icey was cute as hell.
Leaving the station, Tiana called her. ‘Bitch! Where you been?? I been panicking, gurl!’
Days off were particularly hard for Falak, feeling like she had no family and very few friends now, a lot of times she would just sit on her couch and smoke a spliff while watchin Disney films.
The simple stories always lifted her mood, and even though they were predictable, she found herself crying at the end, always.
A message pinged up on her phone,
- ‘Can I call you?’ -
from an unknown number.
Falak flipped her phone over and got under the duvet. Who the fuck was this now.
- ‘It’s Icey by the way’ -
Falak called the number, and held her breath.
‘What’s up babes? Hope you’re feeling better after the other day!’
‘Yeah, erm, yeah I’m feeling.. great. Hows everything on your side?’ She suddenly felt nervous.
‘You sound like you need a good night out. Trust me. Tell you what - are you free on Thursday night?’
Falak smiled. ‘Yeah, I’m about. What you planning?’
Icey replied, ‘We’re going on a friends date.You down?’
Falak laughed ‘Date? I'm gonna cheat on my existing sweet one. Are you ready for the beef? She’s fiesty.’
Icey laughed back. ‘It’s not that deep. We’ll go Nandos so the bills sorted. It's only cheating if i take you somewhere nice and pay the bill, right?’
Falak laughed. ‘Logistics man! OK cool, let’s do it.’
Thursday took forever to arrive, but finally it did. Falak was wearing a tight bodycon dress and strappy kitten heels. She found Icey, waiting outside Shoreditch Nando’s.
‘Oh my days, you look so fresh!’ Icey exclaimed. ‘It’s just Nando’s you know! Come, let’s find a table.’
Falak walked over to a table on the side.
Icey pulled her to a table further into the middle, ‘Don’t hide this bangin outfit.’
They both sat down at the table, and skimmed the menu.
‘Fino pitta for me man.’ Icey closed the menu.
Falak closed her menu. ‘Yeah that looks like it bangs. me too. I’ll order, yeah. It’s on me.’
Icey raised her eyebrows. ‘And your girl’s gonna look at your bank statement and know you went on a date.’ She grinned at Falak.
‘Real talk. I’m single, you know!’ Falak leaned over their table. ‘But just watch, you could defo be my new sweet one.’
The food came quick and they both tucked in, drinking white wine, Falak soon found herself tipsy and content.
‘I know what we can do!’ Falak had a brain wave. ‘Let’s bounce without payin. There’s a lot of people here, they won't clock,’ She already shoved a bottle of peri peri sauce into her handbag and was ready to rollout.
‘One problem with that plan… We already paid?’ Icey gave her a confused look. ‘Remind me never to do a stick up with you on my side.’
Falak started laughing and she grabbed Icey’s hand. ‘Let’s get out of here, babes.’
They walked out of Nando’s, still holding hands.
Icey looked over at Falak. ‘Do you wanna go somewhere cool?’
‘Yeah Sure, as long as I can get my ass up there in these heels i’m down!’
Icey looked dead serious. ‘Didn't you clock mine?’ They burst out laughing. ‘I got the hook up. Follow me.’
Icey pulled out some keys and opened the door to a warehouse space. ‘It’s one of the studios I work from. Everyone’s gone to Tenerife for a shoot out there. But the real gem is the space upstairs. ’
They got in the lift and it took them up, in a very rickety and staggered way.
‘Icey, I hope this shit don't break! I really don't wanna spend my friend date in a crusty lift. Is this considered like trespassing?’
‘Chill, I thought you did road? You panicked so many times tonight I’m doubtin your story.’
‘Maybe all that road gave me PTSD man.’ Falak laughed weakly, ‘saw too much unpredictable shit.’
‘I feel you. Anyway we’re here b.’ Icey pulled the shutters open and brought them both through to the rooftop.
It was a warm summer night and the sun was dipping behind the skyscrapers in the distance. ‘And… I got you!’ Icey pulled out a bottle of Champagne.
They sat down at a bench and Falak looked over at Icey. ‘It’s been such a long time since I just did somethin fun like this.’ Falak sighed. ‘You’re such a vibe. I’m lovin it out here with you tonight. Also I wanna say thank you for stickin up for me the other day. I’m finally living as my self but people still fuck with me on the daily. It’s really peak.’
Icey grabbed Falak’s face. ‘I’d do it again and again. You seem like such a cool person. Defo someone I wanna spend more time with.’ She leaned in closer. ‘I don't know if it’s all the wine and champs, but can I kiss you?’
‘What?’ Falak snapped back. ‘What do you mean? Ain't this a friends date?’
‘Wow. Okay sorry, I judged it wrong. Sorry b.’ Icey pulled back defensively and stood up. ‘Forget it. Wow. Let’s go back down.’
Falak looked around nervously and shook, opened her handbag for a cigarette. ‘Am I just an experiment to you or something? Why are you so drawn to me?’
Icey exhaled. "You got me all wrong. For real. I just like you. You’re just cool, I like your energy. Let’s just forget dis.’
Falak reached out for Icey’s hand. ‘Sorry, I’m just havin a hard time at the moment. It’s hard to trust people. Do you get me?’
Falak pushed Icey’s hair back from her face and kissed her. Icey wrapped her hands around Falak’s body and pulled her closer.
about the author:
Jasmine Kahlia is a Multidisciplinary artist, with work shown internationally in Spain and USA.
Previous work includes: • INTERFACE•TY [Rich Mix] October 2016 • Road Gals LDN [Rich Mix] February 2017 • Pirates Live[Arts Council, Rich Mix] August 2017 • Top Girl [Brixton Pound] July 2017 • 'Divine Beings' [Camden People's Theatre, Norwich Fringe Festival] March 2020, March 2021 • Diosa Callejera [VAULT Festival] May 2021 • 5 WAYS 2 RUN [The Space, Symposium] May 2021 • 5 WAYS 2 RUN [Fringe of Colour] August 2021 Recent projects: Glasgow Zine Fest, Rural Arts Yorkshire, Kayd Somali Arts, MAIA Bursary, Complimentary Print by Tenderhands Press, Catalan TV3, Sherwood Forest Zine Library [USA].