I don’t know why I remember sharing pomegranate seeds with Heather. We were both in the second or maybe third grade, hiding out in the shade of the jungle gym, pulling snacks out of brown paper bags and comparing them. My mom had packed me half a pomegranate, the weirdest snack in comparison to the fruit-roll-ups, Ritz crackers, and granola bars everyone else got. A pack of Gushers was a commodity, and could be used to bargain other people out of their snacks.
The sweltering heat of the Arizona sun kept the majority of us immobile, seeking shelter beneath anything that would prevent burning. The playground, I assume, looked relatively desolate; full of slow moving, sweaty kids, roaming from one shady spot to another. But there we were, Heather and I, feet in the sand, under the jungle gym, trying to figure out the best way to eat this weird fruit.
More than anything, I remember being embarrassed of my friendship with Heather. She had a weird upper lip that had obviously been the result of some facial surgery, and she said the word idea as “idear,” and generally had some weird speech patterns of a lisp nature. Somehow we were friends, despite the fact that I didn’t really like her. Or maybe I really did, and told myself I didn’t. If other kids asked, I certainly didn’t. Yet, somehow, she was the only person I shared my snacks with at recess.
After having said hello to everyone in the room, introducing herself to the spouses of coworkers she hardly knew in the first place, smiling and pronouncing her name correctly (Mad-uh-line) about a dozen times, she excused herself to the restroom. Looking in the mirror, she adjusted her curly red hair, tucking a large strand behind her ear. She rubbed the make-up from beneath her eye, and moved her face closer to investigate what potentially looked like a future zit. She reminded herself to pop it once she got home.
The bathroom was decorated with the kinds of holiday items you would find in a Pottery Barn catalogue: fluffy white towels with smiling snowmen in the bottom corners, a wreath with white bulbs above the toilet, soaps in the shape of christmas trees. The room smelled clean, like cinnamon. Madeline thought about the kind of woman who decorates their bathroom in such a way. She probably plays tennis. Her bosses wife certainly looked like she played tennis. She probably had a book club too.
Madeline pulled open the medicine cabinet. There was toothpaste, lotions, Neosporin, Aspirin, and multiple orange prescription bottles. Turning each one to face her, label out, she read the name of the medications and dosages, stopping at the one of interest. Oxycodone 15mg. Jackpot. She pulled the lid off the top of the bottle, and checked the amount of pills inside. There were enough inside that she could take a few and no one would notice. She slid six into her hand and slipped them into the small pocket of her clutch purse. Quietly, she twisted the lid back on the bottle, set it in the medicine cabinet, and turned the remainder of the prescription bottles back to the way she found them. After closing the cabinet, she left the restroom with her fingers trembling around her purse. The anticipation of adding to her collection, the adrenaline rush of stealing from acquaintances.
Ed was not one to let anything go, especially when it came to pretty girls. We all had heard his speech about how to get a pretty girl, and despite how ungodly embarrassing it was, he always managed to have a pretty girl on his arm. He was so different from the rest of us, making charts, graphs, calculations on his social behavior, but thats why we liked him. He spent his nights analyzing his technique and writing out his “Rules for Pretty Girls.” Chasing skirts was the thing that gave him meaning, and he was obsessed. There was nothing else to think about, nothing else to talk about. He stayed up late most nights planning his next move with whatever fling had stuck that week. He’d eventually get bored with the chase once she decided she liked him, and he’d move on to his next bit of research. We all mostly appreciated the nights he took a break and gave us the most recent insight to his studies. One of the guys, Billy Rachart, actually kept a notebook with him and jotted down ideas he got from Ed.
Today I watched Naked Lunch for an English humanities class I am taking. I’m intrigued. I have no idea what the movie is really about, and somehow, I’m still captivated. Some thematic elements stand out to me, but I feel mostly in the dark.
For those of you who have seen it, want to grab coffee? Lets chat.
I put my arm out on the center console and closed my eyes. Even with a year and a half long heroin problem, I still couldn’t watch the needle puncture my skin. It stung, and then it was hot, too hot, burning the inside of my skin like a cigarette being put out on my arm. I grabbed the white, blood-spotted bandana from the floor of the car and pushed it against the inflamed red bump that grew out of my arm. The warmth rushed through my veins. I could feel it tingling in my toes, moving itself around my body, playing games with my nerves.
I kept my eyes closed and was swept away into a blissful silence while it was Jacob’s turn. It had been a couple days since the last time we got any dope, and though I had been trying to quit, it belonged in me. It was a part of me. It sought comfort inside of me, rubbing up against my insides, pulling and tugging, massaging my organs. It was my friend, my kindred spirit, the only thing that really understood me.
Delilah’s eyes sagged with the weight of her face. Once a vibrant blue, they had transformed into stone, two unyielding orbs drowned in gray nothing. Her hair, white and thin, stood perfectly still at her shoulders, firmly combed and maintained with diligence. David remembered when her hair was long, down to her waist, and it would dance at the slightest movement of the air. It always seemed to be everywhere, defying gravity, penetrating all situations; it was in his face, it was in her face, it was on the pillows, it was comforting the world around it, adventuring to anywhere it pleased with the lightest of sentiment. He twisted it around his fingers as he spoke to her, tight enough that the tips of his fingers turned white.
David thought about a rope rubbing against her neck, her loose skin flailing beneath its fibers. He imagined the sound of her gagging for air. He thought about the silence; the sweet silence.
The rifle, the Percocet, the rope, these were things that would do the job, but without the poetry.
Getting a little scary up in here this morning.
It’s writing time. (Taken with Instagram)
Around 1992 My dad accidentally bashes my head into a ceiling fan.
Around 2007 I tell my best friend, Lauren, I have a hole in my heart. She worries.
Around 2003 a man on the internet asks me what I’m wearing.
Around 2006 I sit in Steven’s car, cigarette out the window, feet on the dash, staring out the windshield. He speaks profoundly about The Beatles while we wait for the phone call. There is a hand gun in the glove compartment just below my feet.
Around 2011 I laugh harder than I ever have in my life. Tears fall from my eyes and my voice is stolen by the humor; only silent, guttural, jagged movements.
Around 1999 J.W. almost drowns me in a swimming pool. They call it rough-housing when you’re a kid; attempted murder as an adult.
Around 2008 a doctor gives me a prescription for Suboxone. It tastes like oranges and helps me sleep; the shakes fade into the night as it dissolves under my tongue.
The black is interrupted
by a roar of laughter.
The clock gleams 2:47
in small green lights across the room.
A guitar wails beneath the fingers
of a crapulous and mediocre musician.
It’s strings sing for freedom
and pray for silence in the dead of night.
A sigh escapes my lips
and floats into the empty space of the room.
It strives to squeeze beneath the door
and present itself to its unwanted company,
but it is thwarted by the beast of hysterics.
Beer bottles clank against each other
squealing and fizzing for their audience.
The shatter of broken glass.
Another eruption of laughter.
I roll over.
I close my eyes.
I dream of morning
when their cadaverous frames
lazily line the path to the doorway,
sinking into the booze soaked floorboards,
and everything is quiet.