Percy Accepts Her Role

It's 1995, in the past of pasts. Blake Anne Percival wrestles with accepting her role.

Percy Accepts Her Role

His flat was an absolute biohazard, but Percy didn't mind. In fact, there was comfort in all the clutter. It was lived-in, chaotic, and familiar. Not unlike a nest of sorts. A nest she felt she belonged in, when every other space made her feel out of place.

Percy was staring in the bathroom mirror, mouth slightly agape as she applied mascara to her bottom lash-line. Alex was taking a shower adjacent to her; psyching her up for something she did nearly every single day: go to work.

"I'm, like...sooo pathetic," she droned, resisting the eye-roll as she moved on to her other lash-line.

Alex jostled a barrage of soaps and shampoos, they clattered, and he cursed.

"I wouldn't say that," he managed, wrestling with the avalanche he'd caused.

"Are you, like, fighting with shampoo again?" Percy giggled, leaning to snatch her favorite magenta lipstick from her purse. She relaxed her mouth and held up her colorful stick of camouflage.

"No," Alex lied, cursing.

"I just, like...don't know what it's all for, or whatever, you know?" Percy painted her lower lip in a stroke of magenta. "I could be doing something way totally better, but I like...never get picked for the team, or whatever."

A careful finger lingered on the edge of her lips to swipe her mouth into pink-purple perfection.

"Like, I'm totally a genius. Right?" Percy asked, reaching for a tissue to blot off the excess color. "Or maybe I've, like, convinced myself I'm a genius." She groaned. "I don't know. Whatever."

Alex was done bathing and cast the transparent curtain aside. He reached for a towel and accosted himself to get as dry as possible, as quickly as possible.

"I think you're a genius," he said, "then again, I'm pretty fucking biased."

"Yeah." Percy giggled, tossing the tissue to start on her bronzer. "Totally biased."

"You just gotta' play the game, Percy," he replied, patting himself viciously.

"You don't," Percy replied, swirling her brush on a bronzer compact.

"I know. Because I'd die trying," he said, ruffling his pale hair with a towel.

"Who's to say I'm not, or whatever?"

Alex sighed, dropped his towel to the floor, rounded behind the bottle-blonde beauty and wrapped his arms around her shoulders. Both naked, yet not self-conscious, Percy held his forearms to his body. He rested his head near her own. She closed her eyes, resisting the urge to bite her lips to shreds.

"I like...hate this."

"I know."



"Do you think I'm good enough?" she asked, her valley-girl cadence evaporating into the warm air around them.

"Of course I do."

Blake Anne Percival was fashioned as a perfect weapon of femininity. Every piece was carefully chosen to send a pitch-perfect, stereotypical message. Dumb blonde. Materialistic. Way out of everyone's league. Stupid, but beautiful. Fake. Unapproachable.

It was an artificial armor.

As she walked to the train station, Percy's head was hung low. Every step in her tall heels felt heavy. Her shoulders, donned in a pretty pink dress, dropped. She glared at the cracked streets as they glared at her. The styrofoam cup in her hand was held like a life-line. Coffee sips came and went as panacea, stimulants, flavor and anything to distract her from what she'd made herself into.

Percy was encumbered by the knowledge she was smart enough to know she was in a cage, but hadn't figured out how to escape it. The only thing she'd managed to discover was putting plumage on herself made it easier, and harder, at the same time.

Blake Anne Percival was miserable.

Now at the train station, she produced a few coins from her purse, passed the turn-style, and hammered down the stairs to make it just in time.

She stumbled into the car and grasped a metal rail. As the stops came and went and people filled the car like sardines, she was stuck with some dickhead's backpack in her face. Coffee held above her head, she tried to keep stable as she was boxed in on all sides.

As her stop was fast approaching, she felt someone not so subtly grab her ass. She dumped her hot coffee on their chest and made her escape, stumbling free.

The doors closed, she looked back at the stranger who'd accosted her. The train took off, the colors blurred.

"Just another Monday, or whatever." She laughed.

The walk was short. She tried to make it last. Percy focused on the gray streets. She focused on the smells around her. She focused on the sounds her pink heels made. She focused on the blue sky above. She focused on the rushing cars.

Then, she paused at the door of the station. She checked her appearance in the window briefly, then rounded the entrance. She clocked in, her butterflied lashes flicking open as she checked the clock.

She was late.

Percy sighed, scribbled her time in pen, signed her name and went to the bullet-proof near-cubicle she lived within. A stack of fresh new reports took up all the space on her desk.

Percy stared down at them. She looked out through the slot where more report requests would come. She scanned over her work station, peered through the glass, and finally plopped down. Tight-jawed and morose.

The mint-colored phone at her left jolted alive and shot out a caustic ring. She reached for it without looking, set her bag under the desk, and held it to her ear.

"Hello. New York City Police Department, 105th Precinct, how can I assist you?"

"Please hang up and dial 911. Thank you." Percy placed the handset on the receiver. It rang again. She picked up the phone again and placed it to her ear.

"Hello. New York City Police Department, 105th Precinct, how can I assist you?"

"The copy of your report was faxed on Friday. Yes. Yes. Please check your machine. We sent two copies." Percy placed the handset on the receiver. It rang again. She picked up the phone again and placed it to her ear.

"Hello. New York City Police Department, 105th Precinct, how can I assist you?"

"Please hang up and dial 911. Thank you." Percy placed the handset on the receiver. It rang again. She picked up the phone again and placed it to her ear.

"Hey, Collin—" she perked up, placing the receiver to her chest, "this one's for you," she said to the officer who she liked the least.

"Thanks, babe," he flirted.

Percy's upper eyelid twitched. She placed the handset to her ear again.

"Yes, transferring you now. Thank you for your patience." Percy placed the handset on the receiver after she heard the telltale tone.

The phone rang again. She picked it up and placed it to her ear.

"Hello. New York City Police Department, 105th Precinct, how can I assist you?"

"Please hang up and dial 911. Thank you."

"Hello. New York City Police Department, 105th Precinct, how can I assist you?"

"Please hang up and dial 911. Thank you."

"Hello. New York City Police Department, 105th Precinct, how can I assist you?"

Now on her break, Percy sat on her little perch—an island of cement that marked the top-end of a parking spot—and sipped a cup of coffee.

She looked over at the cafe she loved most, that her friends loved going to, and found it mostly empty. She was hoping she'd catch one of them. Sometimes she got lucky.

Peeling at the styrofoam cup's rim, her expression soured.

"This is going to be how it is for, like, forever...isn't it?"

"Hey!" chirped a familiar pink-haired woman. Percy's shot up and snatched Olivia in her arms. Olivia giggled as her partner kissed her until her skin was the color of her hair.

"How's work, or whatever?" Percy asked, holding onto Olive far too tightly.

"It's crap," Olive admitted, "had a big ol' order. Had to stock up an entire office—"

Percy pulled away, wincing. "I think that was, like, us."

"Yeah?" Olive asked with a piglet's snort. "Oh man...who ordered all tha' chocolate frosted stuff? They gotta' wicked sweet tooth."

Percy took Olive's face in her hands and studied her expression. Bright-eyed, warm, full of life.

"Ya' okey dokey?" Olivia asked.

Percy's big brown eyes filled with tears.

"I hate it here."

" too."

"Do you, like...want to run away together?" Percy asked with a sniffle.

"And do what?" Olive asked, expression falling. "We're jus' gonna' have to do tha' same stuff everywhere, huh?"

"...what if we..." Percy took Olive's hand and struck out across the asphalt, "like...had a little flower shop, or whatever. Grew flowers. In Vermont, or something?"

"Hmm...I dunno'," Olive said, trailing after her taller partner. "We don't gotta' car to drive there."

"You're right. But, like, what if we totally stole one?"

Olive snorted at Percy's answer. "We could always ask Alex fer a car," Olive said as Percy twisted her around as if in a dance.

"Then we'd like, owe him, or whatever," Percy said dryly. "I don't want to, like, owe anybody."

"Too late," Olive said, looking down at Percy's beautiful petal-pink dress.

Collin, because he exists within this story to merely annoy women who want nothing to do with him, popped outside to take a cigarette break.

Percy broke away from play-dancing with Olive. Olive stuck fast to her hand.

"How we 'posed to run away t'gether if you won't even hold my hand in public?" Olive whispered. Percy twisted in her grasp. Olive's thin brows narrowed.

"H-hey Collin," Percy managed.

"Percy—" Olive tried again. Percy wrestled herself from Olive's grasp.

"Hey Percy," Collin droned, flicking on his lighter. He hadn't noticed their play-dancing. "Whose the kid?" he asked, barely paying attention as he lit up his cigarette.

"Kid?" Olive snorted and crossed her arms over her unignorably large chest, "Listen here, buddy, I've jus' got good genes, alrighty?! I'm twenty four!" she protested.

"Oh," Collin said behind a pane of smoke. "Alright, alright, alright. Remind me not to piss off your sister."

"Do ya' got rocks fer brains, or what? Do we even look related?!" Olive was growing irate. An angry Olive was an adorable one; hardly threatening.

"Liv," Percy said, her mouth a thin line of magenta. "I, like, gotta' get back to work, or whatever."

"Ok," Olive said, her anger dissipating. She moved towards Percy to plant a kiss on her bright magenta mouth, but couldn't.

Percy's horrified expression had created a ravine.

Collin looked off towards the back door for a split second. Olive made her move and pressed her lips to Percy's own, then dashed away.

"I'll catch ya' later, okey dokey?"

"S-sure Liv. Sure."

Percy was left standing with the styrofoam cup in her hand. Collin offered her a cigarette. She declined.

Staring out into the sea of gray before her, cars as buoys, yellow lines as driftwood, Percy was lost in gray. The hot sun baked the asphalt and set waves of heat into the air. Birds flew down to pick at scraps on top of the waves of gray.

Collin started talking to her. Percy wasn't listening. She was focused on the landscape of likesome drab, gray, hollowness that spread out before her for what seemed like miles.

She turned back to look at the station. It loomed behind her until it turned into a blurry box.

She looked off towards where Olive had skittered. It was the cafe across the street. A blissfully blond Alex was talking to a perfectly pink Olivia.

She knew it was them by the colors they wore. Their faces had turned to watercolor smears. She saw Olive turn and wave. She saw Alex do the same, then he must have made a joke, because the shape Percy knew was Olive flickered in laughter.

Mascara dripped black lines down her cheeks. Percy tried to still her tears but she couldn't stop the floodgates.

Collin, in a moment of usefulness, must have asked her what was wrong.

"Isn't there, like...more to life than all this?" she asked. Percy gestured weakly with her styrofoam cup at the asphalt, then the building behind her.

Collin must have responded, but she couldn't hear him. The only thing she heard was the beating of her heart.

"...are they, like...flirting?" Percy's tears had dried. She screwed her brows together and took a step forward.

Collin's voice broke through the waves: "Who?"

Percy dragged her mascara-stained eyes to rest on Collin's face. She stared at him until he became nothing but a configuration of skin over meat, stretched across bones.

Percy took a deep sip of her coffee while maintaining eye contact, threw the cup into the center of the parking lot, and walked back into the building.

Her steps weren't heavy. Her shoulders weren't slumped. Her head was held high. Her expression wasn't blurry. It was caustic.

She sat back at her desk, fixed her makeup while staring into her pink compact, then looked at the mint-colored phone.

It rang.

"Hello. New York City Police Department, 105th Precinct, how can I assist you?"

"Please hang up and dial 911. Thank you." Percy placed the handset on the receiver. It rang again. She picked up the phone again and placed it to her ear.

"Hello. New York City Police Department, 105th Precinct, how can I assist you?"

K. Leigh is an ex-freelancer, full-time author, and weirdo artist. Read their lgbt+ sci-fi books, connect on Twitter, visit their site, or send them an email if you’d like to work together. 🌈 🏳️‍⚧️

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