Here. I’d die for a hit right now. It is March and the lake has only just thawed. I’m thinking about this town, and how I ended up back here. After everything, I’m here. I heard Lily is in pre-med, that Max is helping build a school in Haiti. And here I am. Twenty pounds […]
I’d die for a hit right now.
It is March and the lake has only just thawed.
I’m thinking about this town, and how I ended up back here. After everything, I’m here. I heard Lily is in pre-med, that Max is helping build a school in Haiti. And here I am. Twenty pounds tinier, and track marks still healing on my arms. Because the roads of my life all ended up pointing back here. Living with my parents, sleeping in the bed I’ve had since I was eight.
Lily, Max and I. We’d spend the entire summer on this dock. Pulling up just before dawn, our bodies shrouded in the warmth of alcohol and nicotine, despite the cold air blowing over the Wallowa mountains. The Red Hot Chili Peppers blaring from the stereo of Lily’s Subaru. Our clothes would be off before we opened the car doors. Then we would be running, racing naked down the dock into black nothingness. I was always last. Never as brave as the two of them. I’d follow their screams, the sounds of their bodies hitting the water.
You had to jump, because even in the summer the lake is too cold to linger. Dipping a toe in would make you shy away. So we’d leap. Feet and legs springing us into the air, then kicking madly as we plunged.
Down, down, down.
I’d pray that it was too deep for the fish and reeds to touch me, my eyes locked on the starlit sky. My breath was gasps. I’d pull Lily close, push our bodies together as best I could while treading water. I would feel her nipples press into me as I kissed her with everything I had. Max would pump his fist into the air, like he was the luckiest man alive to witness two blonde-girls make out.
When dawn broke we would climb onto the rocks like lizards, and let the sun bake our tired, bruised bones. I would trace patterns on Lily’s arms as she stared adoringly at Max. Maybe if I’d been born with a penis she would have picked me. I later heard he gave her herpes, but I have no idea if it’s true. It wasn’t my place to ask.
I flick my cigarette butt into the lake and it sizzles as it dies. For a moment I imagine it screaming, drowning away. Then I’m yanking my clothes off. Tee-shirt over my head, sweatpants around my ankles. I can’t stop my teeth from chattering as I slip down my underpants. My knees are knocking together, my fingers are ice, my body is numb, and I’m feeling everything all at once.
Needles in veins, hands on skin, Lily’s lips. Her almost flat stomach, the dimples of cellulite on her thighs that she hated and I loved. I would kiss every inch of her if I could. I wouldn’t care if she had herpes.
I curl my toes over the edge of the dock. The stars are out, reflecting off of the icy cold, glossy surface below me. I want to cry, but I think the tears would freeze on their way out. My cellphone is ringing in the pocket of my sweats and I know it’s my parents. In a panic when they noticed that their 20-year-old-heroin-addict-daughter isn’t in her bed at 3 AM.
I remind myself not to linger. Don’t dip a toe, you’ll shy away if you do. Leap. I bend my knees, still cracking into one another. I think about Lily, and Max. How I’ve never loved anything as much as them until I stuck that needle in my arm for the first time two years ago.
A new wave of shivers takes me by surprise, and I topple rather than leap into the lake. My head is under, my arms flail, my legs kick. It is in my nose and my mouth and I’m not sure where the surface is. Maybe I don’t want to know. Then the air is on my face and I’m gasping and gasping with empty, frozen lungs. I can’t feel anything, but I keep my eyes on the stars. I tell myself that I would never trade all of those years with Lily and Max for just one more hit. Right. Now. But I’m not sure that’s even true.
There are headlights on the road to the lake, illuminating my car parked by the dock. It’s my parents. I can tell by the sound of their engine, and by how much they are speeding. They think I’m going to kill myself, or relapse, or both. Dad is running down the dock now and I realize that my father is about to see me naked for the first time in twelve years. Mom is running behind him and I yell to them. Warning them to not slip on the ice. “I just needed a swim” I call, my head bobbing barely above the surface. I don’t think they hear me.
Lily and Max would laugh at the scene that is about to unfold. My parents will drag me out of the lake and I’ll splutter on the dock. They’ll scold me and I’ll say “I’m okay. I’m okay.”
And I am okay. I just needed a swim.