College Crush

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4.

Walking down the stairs of my twin sister’s perfect little home feels strange. Framed photos take up all the wall space in a way that looks very similar to how our parents decorated our home when we were young.

Lily, her husband Frank, and her three children look up at me as I approach the dinner table with smiles on their faces. There are two four-year twin boys and a three-year-old little girl. All of the kids are seated on booster seats.

“Lori,” Lily says, pointing at an empty chair for me, “This is Frank, my husband… and these are your niece and nephews. Kyle, Frank Jr., and Mazie.”

“Nice to meet you all,” I say, sitting down.

Frank smiles at me with a welcoming grin and the kids seem to think I’m decently okay as they continue picking at their food. Lily hands me a plate of mashed potatoes, vegetables, and grilled chicken.

“So, what do you do for a living?” Frank asks me. “Your sister told me you’re a writer… tell us more about that.”

I can tell he is just trying to make friendly conversation, not pry into the details of my life, yet I still feel uncomfortable by his question.

“I’m a journalist for The Daily Edict. I write about government-related subjects, economic issues, social commentary… you know, the boring stuff.”

“Not at all boring,” Frank argues, “That’s good stuff. Me, I’m more of a hands-on guy. I fix pipes, tubes, and drains in the wonderful world of plumbing.” He laughs and reaches over to squeeze my sister’s hand.

“Do you like it?” I ask.

“Well… it allows Lily to be a stay-at-home mom so that aspect of it alone makes it worth it to me,” he responds.

I look at my sister and see her smile down at her food.

“Are you planning on kids ever?” my sister asks me.

How does Lily’s dinner table, cookie-cutter family look like they’re coming straight out of a postcard right now while my life is in shambles?

How did she turn out so… normal?

I chew my food and watch her daughter Mazie play with her food on the table. An innocent baby… made out of half of my twin sister’s DNA. If I had babies with this Frank guy, they would all turn out looking like these children. I try to picture what my babies with Tom would look like. I can’t.

I try to picture what they’ look like with Langston.

I can sort of see a blurry child’s face becoming clearer and clearer in my mind. I stop that thought from continuing to process because I feel slimy even thinking about it.

I’m still guilt-ridden for letting him kiss me behind Regina’s back. Even if Tom and I are over, Regina still has her heart set on marrying Langston.

I could never in good conscious impede on their relationship… more than I already have.

I look up at my sister and her husband who are staring at me. They are waiting for me to respond.

“Kids?” I ask. “Um… probably not. Well, maybe one day but not anytime soon. Or maybe never. I don’t know.”

Lily nods and takes another bite of her food.

“Dinner was so lovely,” I say to her and Frank, standing up slowly, “but I think I’m going to turn in. It was a long drive up here and I’m exhausted.”

“Okay,” Lily responds quietly, “We’ll talk about logistics tomorrow then.”

“Logistics?” I ask.

“Like about how long you’re staying and whatnot,” she replies.

“Oh. Yeah, of course.”

“I put a towel in the bathroom for you upstairs,” she tells me.

“Thanks.”

I retreat up the stairs into Mazie’s pink-painted bedroom and unzip my suitcase to find the empty lipstick tube that holds my capsules filled with pure MDMA in a crushed-up powder form. I only have one pill left and I immediately toss it back.

It’ll take about 45 minutes to hit and maybe even a bit longer since I just ate. I deliberately didn’t eat much food so I’m hopeful that my high won’t be too badly affected.

I jump into the shower and let the day roll off of me with the steaming water and suds of soap. I scrub my skin and clean my hair until I feel the molly start to take over my body. Every inch of me starts to feel good so I shut the water off and grab the towel my sister left for me. I pat myself dry and slip into a soft cottony pair of pajamas and slippers. I walk across the hall, back into Mazie’s bedroom, and sink down into Mazie’s twin sized bed, unfazed at the tiny size of the mattress because it feels so damn soft and comfortable.

I’m glad I had one of my pills left. Recreational use of MDMA is something I picked up in high school from a guy I was hanging out with for a few weeks. His name was Jeremy. I used to sneak out at 3 AM each night to give him blowjobs in the back of his truck until one of the nights he asked me if I wanted to try molly. He told me he’d never tried it before but he wanted to try it with me.

I said, “Why not?”

Instead of hooking up like we usually did, we laid there and cuddled the entire night, staring at the stars in awe.

Disbelief.

Spell bounding wonder.

Did “God” really place each of these brightly sparkling dots all over every centimeter of the sky like that?

I heard that each star represents a human life and that when you see a shooting star, it represents that particular human’s death. I wondered which of the stars dangling across the ink-black backdrop above me, was actually “me”.

And when my star would become a shooting star… plummeting down, right out of the sky…

I was there with Jeremy, staring upward. Each of our limbs and body parts interlaced with each other.

My face on his chest and his fingers in my hair felt heavenly. Every inch of me felt like I was being gently massaged by invisible angels.

The contrast of the pitch-black night sky to tiny little purely white, brightly shining stars was intense.

There were so fucking many of them. How could that many stars be in the sky at one time? I was both pleasantly bewildered and wonderstruck.

Stupefied in fact.

It made me reconsider the existence of God for a moment.

When the drugs wore off and I returned home the following morning, I felt dazed by the events of the night.

Jeremy called me and told me he couldn’t believe what we had experienced together… rolling through the high of molly together in each other’s arms all night. How “beautiful and magical” it was.

He said, “I fucking love you. I can’t even picture my life without you anymore.”

I told him, “You don’t even know me. And you don’t love me. So don’t call me again.”

I assured him that his feelings were ephemeral. He asked me what that meant. I told him it meant his feelings for me would be short-lived… dried up in no time. He’d be onto the next girl without a second blink. He said he didn’t believe me.

I hung up on him and laid down on my bed. He tried calling eleven or twelve more times before I finally blocked his number.

He wasn’t in love with me. He just thought he was because of the drug. I sometimes think about Jeremy and I wonder how I could have ever wasted time with such a loser. Even though the fling only lasted a few weeks.

I stare up at the ceiling in Mazie’s room, feeling the full effects from my head to my toes.

Have you ever stared at a stucco ceiling in a dimly lit room while you were bored or depressed?

Or high?

It’s crazy the things you’ll see up there. I see a wishbone, a vagina, a crab’s claw, a baby face from the Rugrats cartoon, an arrow, and a bunch of other shit. I wonder if there are hidden messages sporadically placed across stucco ceilings. And if so, who are the messages for?

I reach up to my face and touch my nose. I feel the tiny little hole where my piercing used to be.

I never really liked how I looked with a nose piercing. I think I just wore it and told myself I liked it because I knew that my mother hated it so much.

A clear image of what I think my baby with Langston would look like comes into the front of my brain.

Very adorable. I’ve never pictured what my baby with Langston would look like before but here’s an image of the kid, clear as fucking day.

I take a deep breath and feel the oxygen fill up my lungs in the most delicious way. This high feels better than any amount of pot or any amount of liquor.

I think about Bradley, this other guy I messed around with in high school. He made me feel… powerful. I remember the sensation of power I would feel whenever I’d see his car pulling up to pick me up.

He wanted me bad…

Really bad. He’d do just about anything for me.

And I toyed with him because of it.

I liked being the one who could tell him, “I’m done now. Take me home.”

The worst part is that I liked seeing how crushed he would get whenever I would say those words.

He wanted more of me. My time. My attention. My body. Everything.

And I wouldn’t let him have it… simply for my own mental pleasure and enjoyment.

Mazie’s room is so fucking pink. In a cute way, don’t get me wrong. I used to love the color pink when I was younger. My Barbie dolls all wore pink, my headbands were always pink… Lily always liked green.

I would say, “Ew! Green’s a boy color!”

And she’d say, “No, blue is! Green is the color of emeralds!”

We must have been six or seven.

I think about the first time I spoke to Langston. We were sitting in class and he was one row ahead of me.

He turned around and said, “Hey.”

So completely nonchalant. So blasé.

I asked him for an extra pen because mine had run out of ink.

“You only pack one writing utensil for class?” he asked, handing me one of his.

“I’m failing as a creative writing major, aren’t I?” I playfully asked.

He smiled at me for a few seconds longer than normal and smiled back at him.

I liked his eyes. They were so warm and inviting. Like inviting me… begging me to fall in love.

And I did.

Then he turned back around to face the front of the class and I stared at the back of his head, wondering if his neatly combed hair was soft and if it smelled good. He looked like one of those guys who always smelled good. Changed his dorm room sheets regularly and whatnot. The next day when he got to class, he sat down right beside me, instead of in the row in front of me. We sat together every day in that class moving forward.

I rub my eyes and see phosphenes begin to clutter up my vision. Phosphenes are the lights and colors that people see after rubbing their eyes too hard. I learned about phosphenes as a kid from my father.

God. My dad was always such a smart guy.

Mazie’s room is starting to smell like chocolate chip cookies. What time is it? Is Lily baking right now?

I have no concept of time on Molly but even the smell of cookies isn’t enough to motivate me to move from the blissfully, heavenly, and pillowy position I’m currently in.

Celestial euphoria.

I don’t want to sleep through this roll but I’m feeling way too comfortable. Way too cozy. Way too drowsy…

I close my eyes and begin to peacefully drift to sleep.

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