What image, feeling or idea in your head started this piece?
The humiliating memory of describing my friend’s scent as a “flavor.” It was so Freudian, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I wanted to know what that could mean for a seemingly platonic friendship, that uncomfortable, subconscious truth.
Are there any lines/images in this piece that surprised you when you wrote them?
The dream sequence was fun and surprising to write. I didn’t necessarily have an idea of what exactly I wanted Cam to dream, just that it would be too explicit for her to ignore. It came in a stream-of-consciousness way that I don’t normally write.
Which character had the most power over you in the end?
Since I was spending a lot of time in Cam’s head, it had to be Tirah. She’s such an intoxicating combination of right and wrong.
Do you think Tirah and Cam are really going to be best friends forever?
I had an earlier draft where I delved more into the intensity of their friendship. There was a moment where they were non-ironically planning to get pregnant at the same time and raise their children together (of course, as best friends!!!) But I have a strong feeling they don’t even make it past graduation. Which is heartbreaking.
When you write music into your stories, do you hear them in your head? How do you decide what the characters are listening to?
I’m always playing music in my head, and when it’s written in my story, I can hear it so clearly. I usually like to listen to ambient music of varying energy levels when I’m writing. But I’ll pause it and throw on the song I’m writing about on repeat to really get into the emotion of it. For this story, I wanted Cam and Tirah to be listening to Junglepussy. She’s this NYC-based rapper that released her debut mixtape Satisfaction Guaranteed in 2014. She’s hilarious and brutal, but also has such a pure message: take care of yourself and your people. My friends and I would go to all her shows and blast that shit on the daily. To me, those songs are so telling of that time in my life, when I spent my first summer in the city.
Braudie Blais-Billie is a Brooklyn-based writer hailing from the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Hollywood Reservation. She’s a second year MFA candidate in fiction at Columbia University.