Tamika Wood’s Birthday Party

& Other Stories by Le Kendall

Not really. Not at the moment.

I don’t fall out with people. I just don’t really fall in with them in the first place or something. Nobody sticks around. Well… I’m the one that doesn’t stick around, mostly.

I was close with Alan Sebastian when we were younger. He didn’t ever have many friends until he met Scott. I guess I didn’t think of him as my best friend so much as… he was just my brother. I knew that I was his best friend though. I thought I had other friends, you know? But… ehh. I didn’t even really think about them when they weren’t in front of me, I guess?

They didn’t really care about me, and I didn’t really care about them either.

It was sort of just a performance I guess? I’m good at that. Performing.


It was 2007 and I was twenty-four, but I didn’t feel any better at being grown up than I had when I’d left home at eighteen. I had years of… what? Nothing really. Stuff. Boys I’d fucked. Music I’d played. Bands I’d been in. Nothing I’d managed to hold on to. Nothing that had gotten me anywhere. I’m pretending to be an adult but I’m actually a total failure. A bundle of depression held together by anxiety.

I’d run away from home. And then I kept doing that. From whatever the new home was. Sometimes I end up back in the same location or the same place but rarely both at once. And never that first home.

Bethany once asked me if I’d ever thought of going back. But I think going back would feel too much like admitting that it was wrong to leave in the first place. But I couldn’t. Even if I went there. There are some things you can’t go back to or back out of. Maybe there is no going back. You’re just going forward while facing the other way.


Um.. not really? I mean there have been people. Guys. But it never really works out.

I don’t know how to get close to people. Not for long. Like even being physically close, you know? I like to sleep with people but I don’t actually like the sleeping part of sleeping with people and I’d prefer not to do that. Like… sex is nice and all but then just go home, you know? I can’t sleep if someone is touching me. I hate waking up alone but I also can’t sleep if anyone is there?

So… unless I meet someone who doesn’t want to share a bed with me and is happy to leave me alone for, like, days at a time if I get really into something I’m writing or playing. Like sometimes I just want to play cello 24/7. Or read for like 16 hours in a row. So… I guess having a relationship isn’t, maybe, something I can have?

I don’t know that it’s ever something I really saw for myself anyway. It’s something I feel like I’m supposed to want more than actually wanting it. I guess I always assumed I’d have to take care of Alan Sebastian for the rest of my life, you know? When I was a kid. He’s my brother, so that was just kind of assumed. Alan Sebastian wouldn’t be able to take care of himself, so at some point I’d have to take over and look after him. I guess I assumed I’d live with him forever.


I find it easy to meet people. I find it easy to make small talk.

It’s not really easy to get close to people. I always think I’ve got it figured out. I get past the first hurdle and think I know what to expect. And then things happen differently and it’s hard again.

Bethany was like that too I think. We weren’t close. But we were equally un-close in some ways.

I was friends with her husband first. Dan. We were in a band, of course.

I’ve always found it easier in some ways to make friends with guys, and I liked Dan a lot because he didn’t show any interest in fucking me. Actually, I guess I don’t really find it easier to make friends with men than women. I find it easy to find men that pretend to be friends with me while they work out if they can fuck me or not. Then they either do or they don’t, and either way they’re not really my friend anymore. Schrödinger’s pussy.

Maybe that’s why it feels easier with guys. I know what they expect which means I know what to expect as well.

But Dan seemed to enjoy not-fucking me. Not that I’m against fucking. But I already had Smithy.

And Dan had a wife and the four of us would hang out and smoke and drink together and it was fun. Nice. Like cosplaying a proper grown-up friendship.

And Dan, well… we understood some things about each other. The dark thoughts. The dark times. He got that. Smithy couldn’t really get that about me. Which was also good, because it meant he’d never be the one to fall to pieces, but I also knew that eventually he’d get sick of my bullshit. They always do.

Smithy’s not significant, by the way. He was just some guy, you know? Similar to the last guy and similar to the next guy. Sometimes tall and lanky. Sometimes bearded and stocky. I don’t really think I have a type, but somehow it ends up basically the same. They like me a lot, until they don’t. Until I can’t keep up with the effort of being the ‘me’ they liked so much.

Dan’s a little more significant even though we never fucked. Dan was friends with Smithy, so I met Dan. So then I was friends with Dan. And Dan was married to Bethany, so I was friends with Bethany.

Bethany’s the significant one. Dan and Smithy are just for context.

Bethany’s important.

We definitely never fucked. I’m not like that but I’m also not… not like that? I don’t know. I’ve only ever fucked guys. But I don’t know if that’s just coincidence or not. I don’t know. There’s a lot of things I don’t really know about myself.


So yeah, Mum put us both into music lessons when we were little. I don’t really know why. She is like the least musical person in the world. She doesn’t even listen to music.

We didn’t have a lot of money when we were kids, but she bought us whatever tapes or CDs we wanted. It was like… almost the one thing she always bought us without objecting to it? But she never bought any for herself. She always let us choose the radio station. And she’d turn it off as soon as we left the room.

And our birthday is three weeks after Christmas, you know? And I never wanted to get combined presents but whatever. One year he got a keyboard and I got a violin. And mum made a big deal over how expensive they were. And how much we better appreciate it.

And then a couple of years later I really wanted to learn the cello. And she didn’t want to buy me one.

And then one day Alan Sebastian insisted that he wanted a drum kit. And he rarely asked for anything. Like. Basically never. So Mum bought it for him. Like… right away. I’d been asking for a cello for probably two years at that point. And I was so upset. The keyboard was basically mine because he’d stopped playing it. I practiced violin every single day. But instead of that proving that I was dedicated to it…the one thing I was actually dedicated to… it was like… because I was still playing the violin maybe I didn’t need a cello. But because he’d stopped playing the keyboard he needed a drum kit. And she just… bought it for him.

And then afterward he came to me and he said “Now she’ll have to buy your cello. It won’t be fair otherwise.”

Like… maybe that was his aim all along.


I don’t know why I’m crying.


“So why don’t you tell us about yourself, Michelle?”

Fuck, I don’t know. I play the cello? I listen to a lot of music. I don’t know what else is interesting.

People always seem to talk about things that bore me. What they did on the weekend or where they want to go on holiday. I like moving. Well, I don’t like it. But I feel compelled to do it. But I hate travelling. I think I just hate going back to the place I left.

And I think it’s much easier to get used to a new place when I know it won’t always be new. What’s the point of getting a handle on how things are if by the time you do that they won’t be like that anymore?

I like movies. I like quoting movies. I like books. I like Agatha Christie a lot. And it’s great because she wrote so many books and they’re all so different, you know. And music. I could talk about music and music theory forever until everyone else gets bored and I have to stop.

I don’t really have a favourite genre. I like both kinds of music… country and western.

A lot of people say they like ‘all kinds’ of music. Except country. Or except pop music. Or except rap. Or except metal. Or except dance or trance or classical. Except. All kinds except. If there’s an except it’s not all kinds, is it?

I don’t know if I like all kinds of music. I haven’t heard them all yet, so how would I know?

Smithy and Dan were both except top 40 music lovers.

I like country music but I get that some people don’t. They usually say that it’s because they have some idea of what country music is ‘always about’ but they’re not usually willing to listen to any examples that go against that. Basically the same thing for rap. I don’t think they’re wrong about what they like or anything… But I don’t think they can ever actually properly explain the reason. Maybe there’s just no words for it. That’s kind of the point of music for me. Sometimes the lyrics are just for decoration. The music part is usually what moves me. Music is all the things you don’t have words for.

I’m pretty sure I could, if someone was open to it, change someone’s mind about what rap music or country music ‘is always like’ by showing them that it isn’t… but it’s not like that would make them suddenly enjoy it or anything.

The one I don’t get is disliking “popular” music just because it’s popular. There’s something weird about disliking things just because other people like them. But I pretend not to enjoy Guy Sebastian and Taylor Swift because it seems like the popular thing to do and I do want to fit in. When I was in high school I pretended to like Britney Spears and The Backstreet Boys so I could fit in with my friends. These days I’ve learned to appreciate that kind of music… and now I pretend not to.


Does it make me a bad person to say I don’t really think of him that much? I know my brother will look after him. The baby was always more Alan Sebastian’s than mine.

I can’t even think of him as my son, you know? When people ask me if I have kids I just say no. It almost feels like something that happened to somebody else.

So I don’t really think about him.

Scott – that was the guy, you know, the father – and my brother just always had the whole thing under control. I was completely redundant.

And you know I grew up without a father at all, and I’m fine. Well I’m not fine but, you know, I’m fine. And I think the part that was worst about that was the not knowing, you know? I don’t have a name or a picture or any information at all.

He’ll know my name. He’ll see photos. Alan Sebastian and Scott… and Mum I guess… will tell him about me. I’ll still exist as a person in his past even if I’m not in his life. He’ll have that. I didn’t have that. I just had a piece missing from my life. I guess he’ll still be missing that piece, but at least there’s an indication of what exactly should have been on it.

And if I ever do think about him… all I can see is Alan Sebastian with his eyes closed. Holding him as he slept. And I feel almost… good about it I think? Like… I gave them that. And then never had to take it away.

So yeah. I don’t really think about him. Maybe I should feel bad about that.


Bethany was new to Sydney and I wasn’t, really, but I didn’t have a lot of friends outside the band. So we hung out a fair bit for a while. But I guess then she found her soccer team and I had the band and we didn’t see each other so often outside of rehearsals.

So we were only really friends-friends for a short time. And then friendly for a bit longer after that. Until we weren’t really anything.

It’s just the way it goes with me. It’s better that way when we sort of start to drift apart. Before they get sick of my bullshit.

So I didn’t even really think about Bethany for a long time. Not because I didn’t care. I really really… liked her.

We were only really friends for a short time. But I think she was probably my best friend for that time. I might not have been hers. That’s normal for me.

But I don’t know. I’m not good at showing that I like and appreciate people. I’m not good at letting people know how much they mean to me. So she probably never really knew how much I valued her. And I did. At least for that little while.

And now it’s too late. And there’s no way to let her know.

We didn’t have a falling out. I didn’t even cut and run. We just sort of drifted apart. And the thing is that it didn’t even feel bad. I was sad about it… but only the kind of disappointment that you were waiting for anyway.

And none of it felt… significant at the time. It just felt like the same sort of thing that always happens. I go somewhere. I meet people. I like people and they like me, and we hang out and we go through things together, and we slowly get to know each other worse and worse over time.

Sometimes the significance only shows up later. Once you’ve got enough of the context.

It’s like that a lot for me. I don’t always know what’s important and what is context. And sometimes all I have is the context and I don’t know what the important thing is and whether or not it’s even there. There’s something missing.

What is it? I don’t really know.

And I wonder

I think I could have made a bit more effort. I should have made a bit more effort. But I didn’t. I just let whatever we had slowly fall apart over time. Like always.

And then I joined a cult.


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4 responses to “1 Anticipation”

  1. Lara Avatar

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece of honesty. I recognized myself in parts of it and you inspired me to put more effort into my friendships.

    1. Le Kendall Avatar

      Thank you so much for reading!! I’m blown away by you telling me it’s inspired you! I can’t imagine a better compliment about my writing. I hope you continue to enjoy the story!

  2. Many Irenes Avatar

    @lekendal oh good, now we have you on here, too, so we aren't at risk of missing these 🙂

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