SO BIZARRE

“Oh come on Meg, you know I can't slow down! I guess I'm just too fast for you now.”

“Don’t make me smack you.”

“You would never!”

Tempt me.”

“You love me — I don’t know what it is lately though! I mean, I know Mercury isn’t in retrograde anymore, unless it’s just been stuck there for years...?"

“Maybe your training is finally paying off? Not everything is cosmic.”

“I’m so sure, Meg, I’ve been losing to you forever, & we go to all the same practices so, I don't think it's that simple... you still have no idea what happened to me at the party?”

“Girl, you don’t even remember what happened to you at the party. I remember what happened to me though…”

“I know, I know, you & Steve, yeah, you told me like 4 times &, trust me, the first time was plenty.”

“Well, it was that bi—“

“& we’re done with that conversation! So, yeah, Bricks said I went to the bathroom, which I totally remember, but then I never came out...  Bricks said Kirk Crewel picked the lock for him, only I wasn’t inside anymore.”

“So bizarre.”

“Too bizarre! The bathroom doesn’t even have a window!”

“Maybe you Kool-Aid man-ed out of there?”

“Very funny. But even then you could see why I wasn’t there anymore… but there was no trace. I was just, gone.”

“Look Jane, I wouldn’t think about it too much.”

She always brushed her hair back from her cheek like that when she was nervous. It took me decades to realize that.

“Meg, first of all, it’s all I can think about because it cured me & like, what if it’s something I can give to everyone? I have to find out, right? & second of all, you’re actually the clumsiest person I’ve ever known.”

The scrunch of her nose, the way she flinched like a little kid — scared & vulnerable. I miss her so much. 

“Don’t be rude, I’m being attacked! That locker is out to get me, I swear. Anyway, I'm fine, do you think Bricks is just making it all up to scare you? I mean he did give you that drink right before you went to the bathroom...”

“He’s not like that.”

“His friends are…”

“His friends are the football team, probably a bad pool to judge from — & the only thing they have in common is they’re large & like hitting stuff.”

“Well, you’re right about that… oh, hey, can you help me out with Algebra, I’m totally flunking hard.”

Always averting her eyes; the things you notice when just existing isn’t a chore.

SATAN'S DAUGHTER

The neighborhood hadn’t yet begun to stir.

All was quiet on Crooked Oak, aside from a bird or two, & even they seemed to judge me as I trudged up the walk-way & through my front door. Look at my smile though. Look at how relaxed those shoulders are. Look at how I’m almost springing from step to step through the kitchen. Oh god, my feet are disgusting. I hadn’t realized when I started telling you this story how gross I was going to sound.

“Penelope Jane, I have had it!

“Oh crap.”

“Oh crap is right — no, you know what, oh crap doesn’t even begin to cover the crap that you’re in right now young lady.”

“You could probably say crap again.”

Do I look like I’m joking?

“No, jeez, of course not, take a chill pill.”

“Pills? Really? If you had been taking yours like I’ve been begging you to for weeks now, you think maybe you’d have come home last night!?”

“Mom, look, it’s okay, it’s okay, it doesn’t matter—“

“Doesn’t matter?”

“Nope, doesn’t matter, because I’m cured. I don’t need pills anymore because it’s all just gone!”

“Jane... are you feeling okay?”

“I’m feeling better than okay! I don’t feel it anymore, the it, whatever it was, the buzzing, the pressure, the anxiety, it’s all just gone, Mom, I feel invincible!”

“Are you sure you’re okay? You’re acting different, if anything is wrong, please, tell me, I just want to help you!”

“Mom, I’m fine, I swear, I’m late to meet Meg for practice, I’ve got to, um, clean up a bit first, but I love you, Mom, & really, I’m okay, better than okay, really, okay? I love you!”

The way she looks at me in this moment, as I smile at her for the first time in months... I would echo for a lifetime if I could. 

I ran up the stairs & hopped into the shower, not knowing I’d spend the next few weeks feeling like a new person — not knowing I was enjoying the spoils of a deal I didn’t know I made.

COMFORTABLY NUMB

It still smells the same out here, in these woods. It smells like pine, & that same wet, earthy aroma you’d find on an early morning in Spring, but all the time. I should have bruises all over my body if you consider the state of my clothes. You’d think I were attacked by a bear or a wolf or something. Those gashes in my jeans bare skin, but no markings or discoloration, & I wish I could say how. I’ve had hundreds of years to try & figure that out but so far, no dice. I suppose in the grand scheme of things it’s not very important.

Does it matter to be hurt or to look hurt? Can you feel hurt if you haven’t been hurt? & what if you feel it anyway? The scariest part to me, aside from waking up in the woods miles away from a party I’d been at the night before,& having no idea how I got there, was that I didn’t hurt… at all. I didn’t feel much of anything to be honest with you. 

& let me tell you: it felt amazing

I know, I know, numb is not a desirable state, but just remember what my life has been like lately. Really remember. It had been so loud I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t study, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t exhale without the pressure of everything around me threatening to crush my tiny skull into pixie dust. But suddenly & completely, it was quiet. I couldn’t feel the world around me pulsing & pounding on every inch of my skin anymore — & I don’t think I had ever felt so calm

I mean, look at me, you’d think I’d just laid down on purpose for a quick nap & woke up as expected. Brambles in my hair, no shoes or socks on, rips & tears all through my clothes — I remember my first thought was, Meg’s going to kill me, these pants were hers

WIND'S AWAY

You fall slowly & smoothly.

Dripping.

Detaching.

Deteriorating.

Pooling in puddles.

You sweat & slip off the ledge, plummeting along the face of the cliff that held you; that is you. 

Held in iron.

Flush against the cloth & bathed in moonlight.

Your heat radiates.

There’s no motion. You have no limbs to move. You are held, entirely still; one. Complete & crumbling, folding again & again into yourself.

You sit there even now, an emblem ablaze; killing & comfortable. 

Devastated & selfless.

How can you fall so far & stand so tall? How can loom so large in drops so small?

All you know is that you do.

It’s painful but you oblige.

You burn.

Melting & melding deeper into yourself.

Death is birth. Birth is death. There is only life. 

Light the candle. 

Be the candle.

THE FOREST

I can't breathe but I don't have to. 

There's no panic, or fear.

I have no urge, no compulsion to inhale.

I require no air.

I am air.

I know I threw water on my face... I remember that.

But when I took my hands away from my face, I wasn't in a bathroom. I wasn't in a room at all. I was in a forest; the forest. 

There were droplets on my eyelashes & I could feel a moisture on my face, but I associated this with the smell; the damp, pine smell of morning when fog has poured in from every crevice of the earth & you feel the way you felt when you first inhaled springtime as a child. You smell the grass & the dirt as if you're buried underneath it. I was never in a bathroom. I've been here, forever.

I know where to walk now. I've been doing it for months. Not that I ever woke up remembering, but once I was here... back home... I knew.

I saw them sitting at a table a few feet away from my coffin. The table had never been there in my dreams before & for the first time in the forest, I felt startled. I was unsure about something & it trickled down my limbs in a tingle neither inside my body nor surrounding it, but felt all the same. As if responding to this reverberation, they called out to me.

I don't know if they said my name or if they spoke any words at all but I heard the call & I began to move closer. All I can see in the moonlight, are the flowers, & they're everywhere; all of them a brilliant white with splashes of pink or blue or yellow. But with every step, different details of the table & its lone guest comes further into focus. The candelabra caught my eye initially, as I'd never seen anything like it. There were two arms on either end holding large, white, lit candles; the arms were low & almost touching the table, & the ornamental metal twisted out from under each stick & rose up to form a hovering triangle at the center, in which boxed in a circle. The circle wasn't smooth at all but rather jagged at multiple ends that overlapped toward the center, almost like the blooming of a flower. At the top most point of this triangle sat the third candle; the only one yet unlit.

The table was littered with black marble ornaments & golden cutlery; chalices & plates & utensils, as if there would be a feast hosted here, but there were no guests. None except me & my host.

"Please, have a seat"

They don't even blink as they say this, their eyes a sea of red, a deep, dark maroon with no iris, or pupil, or anything. I can't tell if they're wearing all black or just have skin as dark as the midnight air around us. I can see only flashes of nails or teeth, & all the adornments of gold they wear; rings, necklaces, chained earrings, bands, & bangles. 

"Tell me who you are!"

As my words crack in my throat, I see the slightest, faintest twitch on their face. Was it a smile?

"Every one of you is so obsessed with rules & definition, it must be exhausting! — but please, sit. I may not be bound by time but I still hate wasting it."

LACIE STEVENS

'I don't care what happens, I am totally going all the way with Steve tonight.'

'You've said the last three times, Meg, maybe he's not into it.'

'Not into it? He's a seventeen year old boy, there's nothing he's more into right now... that's not the problem... I just need to keep him focused on me.'

'I'm sorry, okay! Bricks is just so exhausting sometimes, & hey, it's not my fault he's only slightly more obsessed with me than with Steve. I can only distract him for so long.'

'You could probably find a way to distract him longer...'

'Ew, not even... I'll just have to, I don't know, pay attention to what he's saying or something...'

'Girlfriend of year right here, ladies & gentleman.'

I hate the sound of my laugh.

'Oh shut up, Meg. This is her house, up here on the corner... um, is that Woo & Jamaal doing keg stands on the lawn?'

'Yes! & look at all the lights, too! It's like Christmas & Studio 54 had a baby & that baby was thrown into a pile of glitter & exploded...'

'Yeah, I'd say that's about accurate... holy cow, Lacie... are they always like this?'

'If nothing else happens at this party, it is already so choice.'

If nothing actually happened that night, it might've been the highlight of my Junior year. There's still a moment or two of fun that I can remember, but mostly it's just a smear of color. Energy. The deep blue hues & the perfect pink plumes like smoke fractured by a thousand lights. It still feels so loud.

'Hey babe.’

'Hey Bricks, hey Ste—& they're making out already... lovely.'

'You know how they are babe. Anyway, can we talk? I feel really bad about getting on your case before & I know I should be what you need me to be & not get so caught up in my own emotions but babe, I promise—'

The energy.

Does no one else feel this? I am going to explode.

'Hold that thought — & that beer — just one second, okay? I've got a, um, serious headache & I need to see if Kacie's parents have any Advil or something, I'll be right back.'

I don't even remember kissing him before I walked away. I must've known I wasn't coming back...

PARTY POOPER

I'm not sure exactly what about parties I hate but it might be the fact that I love parties. I love party music, & party clothes, & party food, & even party people for the most part, but god, I hate parties. 

I love people & presents & noise & laughter & cork popping & games & ...I really think the only thing I hate about parties is that I hate  parties. I want nothing more than to show up & enjoy all the things that I, well, enjoy, ...but I just can't. The second I walk through the door & enter the room it's like all the air is vacuumed right out of it, & it's the brightest darkness you've ever experienced. It's like I'm some robot & there's a fail safe that goes off the second I enter anywhere I might actually enjoy myself. A big old 'nope' button.

How you can manage to be at war with yourself, fighting for yourself, will never not be confusing to me... & I'm literally, a thousand years old.

I tell you all of this because by the time it came around to go to the Lacie Stevens party, I was looking forward to it, & dreading it at the exact same time. Welcome to my life. The one positive was that I hadn't had 'an episode' in at least a few days now & if I had, it at least was courtesy enough to leave me asleep or not make me look like a fool in public. So, thank you unknown demon? But that wasn't making up for the fact that I was having serious anxiety about it anyway because I always have serious anxiety &, I say this without the slightest hint of irony in the world knowing I am a sixteen year old girl getting ready for a party but, I have nothing to wear. & don't you dare try & pull the gender crap on me about that because first of all, erroneous, & second of all, your hair does not naturally look perfectly disheveled, bro, so nice try.

I grabbed a cute sweater to pair with these boots I'd just got for fall, said, 'whatever,' as I closed my closet door mirror, winked at my Tom Cruise poster, sprayed some perfume, & glided out my room, down the stairs, & in to Meg's car. Meg's parents were rich as hell & she'd just gotten her temporary license. This was maybe the fourth time she'd ever drove by herself but we acted like this was normal. 

'You ready to party, girl!?'

Oh, poor Meg.

That look I gave her just screams,  "gag me with a spoon."

I'M ON FIRE

You're in a small, dark room.

At the center of it, you sit in a chair, completely still.

The air is thick & dark.

Clouds billow & they swallow you.

Richer & richer.

You don't move a muscle.

You exhale.

You've never been calmer.

The room is on fire.

You close your eyes slowly.

Conjure me.

The heat is not light.

The flame is not dark.

You are not you.

You are not who.

You are when & how.

You are there, this, & that.

You are all things, make all things, end all things.

You keep everything with an empty hand.

You are the collector.

Conjure me.

Cast a circle.

Rouse my soul.

THE PRISONER

...you ever wonder if it'd be easier to just suffocate?

Like it's not the drowning or even the dying that's terrifying. It's the gasping, the heaving. The gulping for air that isn't there & the panic that electrifies your body as it realizes there isn't. The body won't just allow this though. The body, in its infinity stupidity, fights, & claws anyway, stuck in a cycle of reflexes. When I was much older than I am in the story we're telling today, I actually came to see the perfect metaphor for this feeling, watching a hologram glitch & seize, attempting to perform the same action over & over but incapable. That's your body when it's dying... stuck in a glitch of emotions. Why can't we ever just accept anything?

Think about it though, for real, imagine this: a train is coming toward you. You're standing on the tracks & you've decided that you're going to let it smash into you & kill you. You've consciously weighed this decision for weeks & are prepared to go through with it. You've decided you're doing this. But you can't control your body's impulse to sweat, or to cry, or to erupt inside with fear & an overwhelming urge to run. Even if you plan for these things to occur, even if you've thought about how you'll feel in advance, they can't be satiated. You know the phrase "push my buttons?" Well, it's crap, because there are no buttons or switches or knobs. There's no turning anything off or on, it just is, & there's no getting around it & maybe that scares us more.

Why can't my brain — in its wondrous power — ever outsmart its significantly dumber & more susceptible counterpart of my body? Because your brain is not, & never was, the warden... it's the prisoner.

CAPTAIN SPAZ

My brain had begun to feel like a 12-lane superhighway, with every idea a sixteen-wheeler doing ninety, flying by me ten at a time, twelve at a time & I just couldn't concentrate. I mean, look at me! Look at my eyes. I'm somewhere else here & even I can't remember where. I can barely pour a bowl of milk for my cereal without getting it all over the table & getting in trouble... again.

"Have you been taking your medicine?"

"Can you stop calling them that, Mom, please? You know it's not medicine. It's horse tranquilizer."

"Okay, that's enough attitude out of you young lady. How many times have I told you that I just want to help? How can I be your guardian & not ask how you are? How can I leave you alone & care for you?"

"Look, Mom, it's just... been a long week, okay? I don't mean to jump down your throat but it also drives me a little insane to be treated like I'm fragile, ya know? Even if I were fragile, you think it will ever strengthen me to be reminded that I'm not, every time you ask? Just, treat me like I'm okay & maybe, eventually, I will be..."

"Okay. Fine. We'll try it your way then. I'm off to work, do you need a ride to school?"

"No, I should make the bus."

"Okay... I love you."

"I love you too, Mom. Bye."

My Mom is always on my case, but if Meg & Bricks are asking questions, & I'm Captain Spazz in class now, I need to figure this one out, & quickly. I've always been good at hiding the amount of effort it takes for me to even resemble normal & for the first time, I think cracks are starting to show. 

SHATTERED DREAMS

I'd gotten home from school after detention & went immediately to my room, threw my things in the closet, & fell asleep, headfirst on the bed, completely over the whole day.

The storm that night was horrible by the looks of all the debris outside the next morning but it was nothing to the intensity of my dream. I washed so much dirt off my feet in the shower this morning that I kind of hoped I was still out of it from the dream & my feet are just always that dirty. Maybe? The last thing I needed was proof that I'm actually going somewhere in these... visions? That sounds makes them sound ridiculous but I have no idea what else I would call them at this point. Hallucinations makes me sound insane & to this day I don't have a very good name for what they are. They're just awful.

Whatever they were, they accomplished their task, because I couldn't fight them any longer. I was going to go along with whatever the dreams & voices & whatever else asked of me because I just needed it to stop. I needed to be able to think again. I would acquiesce to any demand & assist in any endeavor to get it to stop. I was always a space case, but lately I'd been in another galaxy altogether. So I made a vow right then & there that the next time I heard from it I would be ready. I resigned myself to accepting its requests & then, deluded as a teenager can sometimes be, I thought I'd be left alone.

Little did I know that not only wouldn't I hear from it as soon as I'd liked, just to get it over with, but that I would never be left alone again.

COLORFUL IMAGINATION

I think you can tell a lot about a person from their name. 

Not necessarily about their personality or about their qualities, but about their history... their evolution. Some of it is purely conjecture & could be completely counter to that person's experience & reality... but it's a fun gaI think you can tell a lot about a person from their name. 

Not necessarily about their personality or about their qualities, but about their history... their evolution. Some of it is purely conjecture & could be completely counter to that person's experience & reality... but it's a fun game isn't it? Tracing back who were are through who we may have been. Not like reincarnation or anything, because I can sadly confirm that you won't be coming back as a goat. What I'm talking about is the universal energy that's been passed to you through the collected events that lead to your existence & growth &... I'm sorry, I'm boring you already, aren't I? Well, my loves, that's just tough... I think you might relate with me on this one in the end though... just bear with me, okay? Okay. So what's your name? Jamie? Steven? Omar? Talia? Doesn't matter — your name emits a wave of energy into the universe… a smattering of light particles, & these light particles give you a color that is so unique that only... well, only people like me, can see them. 

Everyone is a color. Like I said though, you can only see them if you're like me. I didn't find that out until that night... 

Who knew Lacie Stevens would throw such an important party...me isn't it? Tracing back who were are through who we may have been. Not like reincarnation or anything, because I can sadly confirm that you won't be coming back as a goat. What I'm talking about is the universal energy that's been passed to you through the collected events that lead to your existence & growth &... I'm sorry, I'm boring you already, aren't I? Well, my loves, that's just tough... I think you might relate with me on this one in the end though... just bear with me, okay? Okay. So what's your name? Jamie? Steven? Omar? Talia? Doesn't matter — your name emits a wave of energy into the universe… a smattering of light particles, & these light particles give you a color that is so unique that only... well, only people like me, can see them. 

Everyone is a color. Like I said though, you can only see them if you're like me. I didn't find that out until that night... 

Who knew Lacie Stevens would throw such an important party...

YOU NAME IT

There’s something about dusk that’s so powerful to me.

That hour in the evening were the sky hasn’t gone fully black yet & the sun is still casting it’s glow, holding back the onslaught of darkness, like a golden beam of forcefield cast out for all humanity — before futility armies & plunges us all into the shadows.

That’s what every day feels like to me lately — I am walking dusk — awaiting my inevitable fall into night.

"I really thought we understood each other this morning. I was honest with you & I thought you were being honest with me & were going to try to do better. I’m very disappointed in you."

"You didn’t even give me a chance to explain, but that’s fine, you wouldn’t understand anyway."

You don’t move.

You knew the rain would fall. You brought the rain yourself. You don’t mean to bring harm. Simply to clean, replenish, to compliment life. The storm brings necessary death.

Conjure me.

Cast a circle.

Light the candle. Curse the darkness.

Say my name.

I know your suffering… & I can end it.

The rain is just cascading over everything in waves, whipped & thrown about the likes of which I’d never seen, let alone been standing out in, pellets hitting my arms, face, & legs; the darkest baptism. Only I can’t feel a single drop.

How can I feel the rain when I am the rain?

I know every river, lake, & ocean from which the rain came & know the heart of every life form to drink from it. So much so it hurts.

Everything is energy. Everything is transferrable & my being is part of that transference. That wasn’t even what scared me.

What scared me is that I felt like I could control it if I tried.

It’s fear.

The fear of being in control.

The fear of being responsible & held accountable. The fear of not being able to handle the noise. The force of it is so loud, all the time.

Conjure me.

Cast a circle.

Light the candle. Curse the darkness.

Say my name.


My name... is Linnaeus.

A BELL RINGS

 

The wind doesn’t speak but it doesn’t have to.

Its gust tells you all you need to know.

You’re in a forest.

The forest.

The world is you.

You could raise the earth as easy you lift your finger.

You could shift a storm by breathing.

The energy is electric.

It rattles your brain, in-between your eyes, shredding through your nerves like the ringing of a bell. Immediate & reverberating.

It fills you. Not with life. You’re not even sure you are alive.

It’s a power, to be sure, but not the power to create.

The power to absorb. The power to harness. The power to destroy.

The power of death.

Light the candle.

Become the reaper.

 

NOT MY TYPE

 

Before I knew to simply judge someone based on how they treated me, I thought you could read people. I thought people were a type, or an energy, or you could just predict how they were in general. I would walk the mall & think that every person I saw I was seeing so much clearer than they could even see themselves… & in a way I was, but we’ll get to that. Suffice to say, I wasn’t seeing them as clearly as I thought I was. I was seeing what was there, sure, but I was seeing it because I was looking for it. You can find any quality in a person if you look for it long enough & I mean any quality. Once I learned to really read people, really read people, & to judge them in a way no average human can, I realized how wrong I had been about so many things. That’s the scary part about being a human being, isn’t it? You have to trust your instincts & guesses as fact. Animals just go with their instinct, they don’t trust them — there’s no process by which they choose to move in one direction or another, thus trusting, there’s just reflex, action. Think about how many relationships have been destroyed because someone did or didn’t trust an instinct they knew they had no way of confirming — life is the worst... says the girl who can’t die. Ugh, I think my privilege is showing again.

Look at that, I’ve rambled so much I’m back home, & already in bed…

 

SUCKING FACE

 

"Hi Bricks."

"Hey babe, how’re you feeling? I heard from—"

"It’s a lie. Whatever you heard, Dizzy doesn’t know what she’s talking about."

"Whoa, I’m sorry babe, I just thought you were sick & wanted to check on you. Chill, okay?"

"Yeah, okay, I gotta go, Meg is waiting for me."

"Hey Meg! …see, she’s fine, she’s not even paying attention, she’s too busy sucking face with Steve Balsam."

Meg had a knack for ditching me at the very worst times. She also had a knack for sucking face with Steve Balsam. You can’t necessarily blame her either, he was bread-crumbing the hell out of her back then, only we just didn’t have a term for that at the time. We just said you were a jerk.

"Okay, fine, look, I’m sorry, I’m just really tired of being talked about because this freak show town is freaking me out, alright? I’m not the weird one, this place is, & honestly, I felt totally normal four years ago before I moved here. Ever since then though it’s just gotten worse & worse. You remember my birthday, don’t you? That pain was so serious that I thought it would actually tear my skull open & everyone got mad at me when it was my birthday that was ruined!"

"Listen babe, I get it. Some people are jerks but I do remember your party this year & if you do too, you’ll remember it was me who stayed all night, even when everyone left early. So yeah, crap on Dizzy Dalton all you want, just leave me out of it. I was just worried about my girlfriend."

"Bricks, wait, that's not what I meant! I—I… damnit…"

He lumbered away without turning back. ‘Lumbered’ is quite fitting too as his frame dwarfed mine, I mean, there’s a reason everyone called him ‘Bricks.’ His name was Bradley & I never appreciated him enough... ever…

 

FORGET ABOUT ME

 

Oh, that’s right! Back to the John Hughes movies!

I’m not sure what school he went to but there were a lot more than five people in detention with me that day. Meg wasn’t even in detention, she just wanted an excuse to gossip with me some more. It was basically a glorified study hall because the room was full & we were all just talking or working on something. Whether or not it was school-work is a different story all-together. I think this fascination with High School being something it’s not is really… well, fascinating. What is it about this time period that everyone feels the need to exaggerate or idealize? Just telling it like it was will be messed up enough, trust me.

Maybe that’s what everyone’s afraid of though, telling the truth. I know I was. I certainly hadn’t told Meg the whole story about my sleepless nights lately. I haven’t even told you yet & you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t expect some weirdness. Old habits die hard, I suppose… at least they die though...

"Psst! Hey Jane, check it out."

The way Meg gestured her head toward the door of the classroom & I saw Bricks standing there waiting for me is almost slow motion now. He must’ve heard about my "almost passing out" from Dizzy’s stupid friends & came to check on me. He’s sweet but he should know me better than that. I really hope you’re not getting this idea I’m some idiot who complains about everything but has this really great life because, ugh, I’m totally not. I know I keep having to say that, I just... don’t know how else to explain it. I felt everything — sights & sounds & smells, words & phrases, reactions & expressions, they were all energies that I absorbed from every person at all times… or at least that’s what it felt like. So sometimes even the best people & the best situations wouldn’t be good for me. ‘It’s not you, it’s me…’ kinda thing... & that may the first time that’s been said where it’s not a complete excuse.

 

CHILL PILL

 

I have a boyfriend but I honestly couldn’t care less.

I thought it might make life easier for me so when Bricks first asked me out I said yes right away. I’m not really into to him like that though. Hell, I’m more attracted to his sister. He’s just kind of my shield? That makes me sound like a jerk. I don’t not like him, I just don’t like him like that. He’s a good person & fiercely loyal, just not the sharpest knife in the block, & definitely not my type. 

Meg certainly did her part to convince me too. Meg is great, I love her, she’s been my best friend since we started middle school together, but we’re just very different. 

"Well, what is it then? Because you’ve been a little off the past few days & I heard from Dizzy Dalton that you nearly passed out in Algebra today—"

"Not even! …I just startled myself because I wasn’t paying attention & Garibaldi caught me, that’s all. Not everything I do is meant to be analyzed by Dizzy Dalton. Like she’s so righteous…"

"I mean, she is dating the cutest kid in school & her parents make like, a bajillion dollars & let her do whatever she wants &—"

"I get it, Meg, I get it, I guess I just don’t care, ya know? All she has that I want is a brain that doesn’t hate her…"

"What’s that supposed to mean?"

"I don’t know, it’s just that lately I can barely think straight? Or like, I’m thinking too straight? Everything is so heightened, it’s like I could hear a fly landing on my shoulder or something, but not hear you screaming in the other ear… it’s weird, Meg—"

"So you are losing it, then?"

"Take a chill pill. I didn’t say that. I’m just saying the past couple of days have been extra weird for me & I’m not sure if it’s just natural progression or if I’m just not getting any sleep…"

"Maybe invite Bricks over & have some—"

"Meg, I’m being serious here, I’ve had some really weird dreams lately & I think I just need to pass out for once & not wake up dripping sweat."

"Was that a dream in Algebra? When you almost passed out?"

"I didn’t almost pass out! …but yeah, it was… only I wasn’t asleep…"

I almost forgot how Meg puts another piece of gum in her mouth whenever she gets nervous. I say another because she was always chewing at least one. If only she knew what was going on she might’ve finished the pack right there. If only I had known too…

 

BARF ME OUT

 

"Jane! Psst! Jane… Jane, answer me!”

"Oh, ha, yeah, sorry Meg, just a little distracted lately”

“You don’t look so hot. Why are you sweating? It’s like negative thirty in here, I could cut glass…"

“Weird dreams."

"Daydreams… let me guess, Bricks is being a jerk again? We all couldn’t see him flirting with Crystal right in front of you, like barf me out, I would have decked him for you if you let me!"

"Meg, it’s fine, it’s not that, I’ve just, been a little sick I think, that’s all…"

"Oh say no more, I’ve got Midol in my purse if you need it."

"No, it’s not— …never-mind."

"Did you see Burchfield's notebook? What a loser, I mean sure, Rob Lowe is so choice but desperate much?"

"Ha, yeah..."

"Oh, also, Lacie Stevens is having a party this Saturday when her parents are out of town & we actually got invited!"

"Seriously? How? She never even talks to us."

"Steve & Bricks got invited & they're taking us!"

Whatever you’ve learned about high school from John Hughe’s movies isn't so much wrong, but rather a simultaneous dilution & exaggeration of the reality. Not that I have to tell you that if you actually experienced it yourself. While undoubtedly great films, they are so wildly reductionist it pains me. I am by no means popular, nor am I an outcast. Sure I’ve smoked pot, but I’m far from a stoner. I don’t wear Jordache & I’m not on the cheer squad, but I’m also not asking out Robert Smith anytime soon either, ya know? You don’t have to be just goth or prep, a nerd or a cool kid, I mean, this isn’t Sixteen Candles.

 

DISINTEGRATION

 

You see everything & nothing.

The world at once presses in & moves away. Everything is out of focus. Life, set in a state of calibration. The lens is blurred but the subject is still visible. Still understood.

Your body disintegrates.

You are thought & consciousness — cortex alone, hovering. Held in the ocean of your energy — finally at peace — finally calm. There is nothing else but you.

Completely still, a whisper comes from behind you, so close you can feel it’s breath.

‘Just let me drown.’

Thunder, in the distance, is your only reply.

‘Let me drown.’

The trees don't move & neither do you.

Answer me.

"Jane! Psst! Jane, answer me!”