Your Imaginary Girlfriend/Boyfriend was a Jezebel feature in which we explored the wild and entirely fabricated world of dating a famous person. After a lot of planning, we've decided to bring it back.
Today, to get us back in the swing of things, we're reconnecting with our old girlfriend Taylor Swift. Get caught up by reading part 1 here.
"I'm looking for Taylor Swift."
"You lost, kid?"
You shake your head no and straighten your back in an attempt to project confidence and fearlessness.
"I heard Taylor Swift would be here," you say. "Tell me where she is."
It's stupid, this thing you're doing. You've come uninvited to a back-alley poker game—one with a rough crowd and a reputation for violence—and started making demands, all because you heard, after months of greasing palms and camouflaging yourself in the grime of the underworld, that she'd be here. You're not leaving until you see her.
At least not without a fight.
"I want to see Taylor Swift," you demand, grabbing the guard's arm as he turns away from you. He smiles—or maybe it's more of a grimace—and you know that you've pushed your luck too far. A fist collides with your jaw so hard that it rattles your teeth. You scramble in an attempt to break a bottle for self defense. A woman screams. Hell breaks loose. A punch connects with your eye and the world goes black.
It makes sense that the girl who introduced you to danger is the one who draws you back into it. You haven't seen Taylor Swift since 2013, during your one and only date that began with dinner and ended with blood on her sleeves and a command to drive drive drive as bullets shattered the car windows.
Now you spend your days in your windowless apartment, sitting and staring at the peeling wallpaper as you chain-smoke and think of her in all her calm cruelty.
The moment plays on loop in your head:
"Is he dead?"
"I'll answer that question if you want. But I doubt that you do."
You had once thought that things could go back to normal. You would go to work, make dinner, talk with your mother on the telephone and everything else you did before meeting Taylor Swift. But then the itch started—the one that drove you to shoplift, speed down the wrong side of the road and go to poker games full of bad people to pick fights.
She ruined you. Or created you. You're still not sure which.
When you finally wake up, it's to the realization that your left eye has swollen shut and several teeth are loose.
"For fuck's sake," you mutter, trying to sit up, You stop short when you hear absentminded humming coming from the bathroom—no, not the bathroom. This isn't home. The sheets you're lying in are too soft and the air you breathe is too fresh for your dingy Skid Row apartment. With painful determination, you open your functioning eye and take in your surroundings. Everything is clean and white and opulent.
The door swings open and in walks Taylor Swift with a swish of flaxen hair and a flash of red lip. She's humming to herself: "I thought, 'oh my god, look at that face. You look like my next mistake. Love's a game, wanna plaaaaay.'"
Her stare settles on you and, if it weren't for the iron-hard glint in her eye, you would think that you had died and gone to heaven.
Slowly, her face breaks into a grin and— oh, god, has she filed her teeth into points? When you jerk back, she regards you with a wry and sardonic sneer.
"You were looking for me."
Her teeth look normal again. Human. Maybe the fight has addled your brain.
Still too dumbfounded to talk, you manage a stiff nod.
"Dumb of you," she says and you still can't find the words to respond. Taylor Swift rolls her eyes.
"Always so fucking timid." Her voice is full of steel and ice and life and blood.
"Put this on," she sighs, gesturing to a clean pile of clothes. "And eat these. I made them myself."
With delicate hands, she places a basket of muffins on the bedside table. "We'll be downstairs when you're ready."
It's that, of all things, that spurs you to speak: " We?"
" We," she drawls. And with the sharp click of the door, Taylor Swift is gone.
You make your way downstairs in the clothes she gave you—a striped boatneck shirt with red trousers—and push open the door to encounter a group of people all dressed in the same outfit. You recognize some of them—Lorde, Selena Gomez, Ed Sheeran. Their faces carry the same tragic expression that you've come to recognize in your own reflection, the one that desperately says, " Taylor Swift. I need Taylor Swift."
Lorde greets you first. "You're new."
"Yeah," you reply. Your eye is still throbbing. "Got in last night. Lucky she had room for me, I guess."
"Oh, honey"—Lorde stares at you pityingly—"Taylor knew you were coming."
"Taylor knows," the room says in unison.
You've made a mistake coming here. Every instinct is telling you to run and yet...
You spend the day baking and sewing with Lorde. She is sweet, quiet and wise beyond her years.
After minutes of cross-stitching in silence, you ask her how long she's been staying at Taylor Swift's house.
" How long"—she chews on the words like they're a bite of an exotic dish that she's yet to make up her mind about. "Who knows?"
"You don't know when you got here?"
"Yeah," she raises her striped shoulder in a delicate half-shrug. "Once you're in, time kind of... stops."
Her sweet smile falters for a moment and suddenly she looks afraid, tremendously afraid.
"It's good, though," she says, regaining composure. "Everything here is good."
"Taylor knows," the room mutters again.
You fucked up.
You've been there a week or maybe longer (Lorde is right— who knows how much time as passed?) when you encounter Taylor Swift again and it's because you did something wrong. Of course, you didn't know you were doing something wrong. You were just trying to nudge the house cat out of the way with your foot when it stared up at you with accusatory eyes and darted from the room. A moment later, Selena Gomez appeared at your door.
"Taylor wants to see you."
She looks smug as she marches you down the hall and into a room where Taylor Swift sits on a throne of bones— fuck, bones—with the cat on her lap.
"You are so fucked," Selena hisses in your ear.
Your hands tremble as you approach the thrones and suddenly you're forced to your knees in an involuntary bow.
"Olivia Benson"—Taylor gestures to the cat—"just told me the most upsetting story. Apparently, she was minding her own business when someone— you—decided to give her a good kick."
"Not a kick, no." You clear your throat and look up from the floor. Both Taylor and Olivia Benson are looking down on you with disdain.
"Hm, that's not what Olivia Benson said. Would Olivia Benson lie to me?"
Her tone is deadly and poisonous.
"No, no," you try to correct. You move to stand only to find that the magic—the same magic that makes time stand still—is holding you to the ground. "It was a misunderstanding. Just a misunderstanding."
"I haaaaaaate misunderstandings," Taylor Swift pouts. She regards you for a mile-long second then something flashes behind her eyes. "It occurs to me that you've been here a year"— a year?— "and haven't been initiated yet. Fight Selena."
You barely have a moment to register panic before a staggering blow hits you from behind. Whatever spell was keeping you in a bow is broken as you stumble to the floor. Looking up, you see Selena Gomez shaking with adrenaline, one of Taylor Swift's guitars—this one signed by Carly Simon—held over her head. She brings it down again and you roll away just in time. The guitar splinters on the ground.
Selena Gomez unleashes a feral scream and dives for you, but this time you're fully ready for her. You're a tangle of limbs, delivering jabs, kicks and punches wherever you can. For someone so small, your adversary is incredibly strong.
The fight ends when you finally get her pinned.
"Well," Taylor sounds bored. "Finish her."
Breathing heavily, you grab one of the guitar splinters off the floor and raise it above Selena Gomez's heart. Fury courses through your veins as a voice—Taylor Swift's voice—whispers do it do it do it in the depths of your brain. You're about to bring the stake down hard when you make eye contact with Selena when there it is—-your humanity. For a fleeting moment, you feel what she feels—fear, defiance and helplessness. With your last bit of free will, you toss your makeshift weapon aside and roll off of her. You both lie on the ground panting.
There's a rustle and suddenly Taylor Swift, in her all her willowy glory, is standing over you.
"Pity." Her voice is a death sentence. "I had such high hopes for you."
Leaning down, she wipes the blood stemming from your broken nose (the result of one of Selena's more effective blows), brings it to her mouth and slowly licks it off her finger. The pointed teeth are back—it's not your imagination this time—and she's no longer trying to hide them.
"Talk soon," she winks and, like a breeze, is gone from the room.
You don't know what happens next, but it certainly can't be good.
To be continued...
Previously on Imaginary Girlfriend/Boyfriend:
Illustration by Jim Cooke.