I Was Born for This
‘That’s not all I talk about!’ I say, but now that I think about it, it does seem to come up in conversation quite a lot with my parents. And they listen politely, but they don’t care about The Ark.
‘We’re just concerned, Fereshteh.’
I laugh, not knowing what to say. ‘I’m … I’m just going to a concert.’
Juliet wanders into the hallway, a cup of tea in her hand and her hair pulled back into a loose French plait. She notices the serious expression on my face and mouths, ‘Everything okay?’
I give her a reassuring nod.
‘Fereshteh? Have you gone?’
‘No, I’m here, baba.’
‘Just stay safe. We worry.’
‘I know you do. But I’m not stupid. I won’t do anything stupid, I promise.’
‘You are a smart girl. Smarter than us, probably.’
I smile a little. ‘Nah, you two are the smartest of them all.’
I reassure him again that I’ll be fine and hang up.
‘What was all that about?’ asks Juliet, perching on a radiator and looking up at me.
‘That was my dad. My mum’s still angry.’
Juliet grimaces. ‘Oh.’
I laugh. ‘Don’t worry. Parents, am I right? She’ll chill out when she realises she’s in the wrong.’
Juliet chuckles weakly and looks away. I know she’s had some bust-ups with her parents in the past – they’re both very important lawyers, as are Juliet’s older siblings, but Juliet wants to go to uni to do theatre set design.
‘Oh,’ she says. ‘Yeah.’ There’s an odd expression on her face, as if this is an awkward thing for us to talk about. Maybe it is. I guess we don’t talk about our families that often.
Mac chooses this moment to thunder downstairs, adjusting his belt. At the sight of Juliet, he immediately starts running his hands through his hair.
‘What are you two talking about?’ he asks. Nosy.
‘You, behind your back,’ says Juliet with a sly smile that is most definitely the Juliet I know.
They start talking and wander off towards the living room. I stay and stare down at my phone, thinking about what Dad was trying to explain about Mum.
Mum doesn’t understand me. She doesn’t understand why I reacted so strongly about a boy band.
And I know they’re both worried about my future. They don’t ever say it, but I know they know I’m average and average is disappointing for them. Especially compared to my brother. The pinnacle of ambition and success.
Don’t worry. I know that. I’m fully aware I’m average. God, I’m so, so aware I’m average.
But I’m not going to think about any of that right now.
I don’t need to.
This week isn’t about my life.
I don’t have to think about it at all.
This week is about The Ark.
I spend a greater part of the day talking about Jowan. With Juliet, and on the internet.
Tumblr is awash with theories and opinions and discourse. Whether Jowan is real is split approximately fifty-fifty. I suppose Jimmy and Rowan being asleep in the same bed, cuddling, isn’t exactly official proof, but in my eyes it’s close enough. It looks pretty damn romantic to me. I’m an optimist. I like to believe that love exists.
Twitter won’t shut up either. #Jowan has been trending for hours. My whole timeline is flooded with people screaming and crying in caps lock. Neither Jimmy nor Rowan have tweeted about it, but they’ll have to say something soon, won’t they?
I wish I could ask them in real life.
I wish I could see them and tell them everything will be okay and everyone is happy for them.
‘Do you think they’re upset?’ asks Juliet, while we’re both sitting on the same living-room sofa, our laptops open in front of us, Brooklyn Nine-Nine playing on the TV across the room. Mac sits alone on the other sofa, scrolling through his phone.
‘Maybe,’ I say.
‘I feel bad … feeling so happy when they’re probably upset,’ says Juliet.
‘We don’t really know what they think about it yet, though,’ I say, forcing a chuckle, but it’s obvious to both of us I’m just trying to justify our joy at the situation.
Once I’ve read every opinion one could possibly have on the subject, I wrap myself in one of the blankets from last night and reread one of my favourite Jowan fanfics. It starts when Jimmy and Rowan met in primary school, and ends when they’re both twenty-seven, having left The Ark and gone onto solo careers. They fall in and out of love multiple times, always finding their way back to each other.
I know it’s not real. The details, anyway. But I like to imagine.
I like to hope.
I like to feel happy.
I have had a lot of bad days (I know, shocking, right?), but today really is making a strong case to join The Day I Had a Panic Attack at Children in Need, The Day I Passed Out at a Meet-and-Greet, and The Day I Fell Off the Stage at the London Palladium, as all-time worst days of my life.
These probably don’t sound very bad but they were bad. Please take my word for it.
During the drive into London, I contemplate the strong possibility that someone was able to break into our apartment and take a photo of me while I was asleep, meaning that literally anyone could break in at any time and do … anything. It could be anyone. A deluded fan who’d do anything to see us. A journalist wanting to uncover our deepest secrets. A transphobe who just wants me to die. God knows there are people like that out there.
Cecily makes five different phone calls throughout the journey, each one pestering a different person about how this photo made international news, but she just seems to get angrier each time. She ends the final phone call with a heavy groan and a shake of the head at Rowan and me.
Looks like not even Cecily has the answers this time.
The fans don’t seem to think anything’s wrong. The only thing they’re talking about in my Twitter notifications is that they all think ‘Jowan is real’. It makes me feel sort of sad for them. They’re only going to be disappointed, one way or another.