pale gold strewn across my pillow

Alex wasn’t particularly into blondes. If anything, her dating history leaned more towards redheads. When she masturbated she thought about Christina Hendricks (not in stylish 1960s dresses of Mad Men, but the rough and disheveled look of Firefly, for what that matters). Piper had been an exception rather than a rule, something about her doe eyed innocence that set a fire in Alex’s chest. She didn’t know that buying Piper that drink would be the biggest mistake of her life, all she knew was that from the moment Piper walked in the bar she didn’t have a choice, not anymore.

“You must have a thing for blondes,” Nicky had whispered into the crook of her neck, and Alex’s throat had closed up. She buried her fingers in Nicky’s hair, and she thought of Piper.

It was good, for awhile, or at least good enough that Alex could convince herself it was better. Later she would convince herself it had been terrible from start to finish, that she never loved Piper, that when Piper lay naked against her the wild beating of her heart hadn’t really meant anything, but she knew that that wasn’t the truth either, not really. It had been weeks before Alex had been able to sleep with Piper next to her. It had been months before Alex had been able to sleep without Piper next to her.

The DA leaned forward, and her pale hair caught the light. “Anyone else you can think of, Alex?” she asked, “Anyone at all?”

Alex’s hear had beat like it hadn’t in a long time. “Yeah,” she had said, “Yeah, I’ve got one more.” It had been ten years since she’d said Piper’s name, and it still felt sharp on her tongue.

She dated girls after Alex, of course she did, girls with big tits and girls with small tits and girls who wanted to changed the world and girls who just wanted a hit and anarchists and socialists and nihilists and idealists. She dated brunettes, and redheads, girls with coal black hair and girls with rainbows cascading carelessly down their backs. Sometimes she pressed them hard against the wall and pulled their clothes off piece by piece and felt nothing, and sometimes she lay naked next to them in the night and her heart raced so hard she couldn’t sleep, and she would tell herself that this time, it counted.

The woman on the parole board leaned back, peering at Alex through her silver-rimmed glasses. “Do you regret what you did?” Her honey-colored hair was in a tight bun, pulling strangely at the wrinkles in her forehead. 

“It was the biggest mistake of my life,” Alex said, and there were tears heavy and tight in her throat. 

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