We smoked PCP or heroin or meth or some other crazy time-bending drug. It looked like marijuana but felt like teleportation.
“Why is this happening?” I kept asking Robby, as my reality flickered in and out of sight. “Don’t let go of my hand— I’m scared.”
Robby and I sat in the screened porch, smoking something foreign on a freezing damp December night. I kept grabbing the skin on my pale wrists, twisting it compulsively.
White Christmas lights in the yard glinted on the galvanized metal trashcan. Robby used it as an ashtray, but I had bought it for the wedding. It was for our table-scape—my ex and I—and beautiful, too, filled with white roses and periwinkle hydrangeas. I meant for it to look rustic. One of our guests had said I created a Gatsby-esque affair: Japanese globes hung under a brilliant tent; lanterns on tree branches shone in the salty sea air that summer evening. Everything glowing. There was a Jazz band. That sort of scene. I was most proud of the Gatsby compliment, more than the exclamations of how I looked in my gown: “Radiant!” “Elegant!” “Stunning!” Those were some of the words they used.
I was just a kid then, fresh out of college, but this, now, was my fresh start. I moved home to Natick, when a year back, just a divorced girl-child, I met Robby, my lost dreamer. He was working at the Church pumpkin patch, a seasonal job, always—a true free spirit. He carried the pumpkin I had selected to my family’s Volvo, wrote his number on a makeshift receipt, and ever since I have been praying that pumpkin, that never left my mind, won’t burst at midnight. He let me enter his dreams of an open world: of art and transcendence and Europe or the golden West. A life less domestic.
I was with Robby, happy and trying new things. He and I, adults living back home with my parents. That’s how we got my dad’s mystery drug.
We both wanted an escape: something like teleportation.
“How will I know if I’m high?” I asked on the porch after sucking back the harsh smoke from a brass bowl. He said, “In one, two—“ And I was gone.
“Don’t let me go,” I begged.
“I love you, B,” he said, grasping both my hands.
“Keep me in this moment.”
“It’s me, B.”
“Keep me here!” Everything flashed around and inside me. Lightening—on and off, light and dark again and again and— “R— What’s happening?”
Then he smiled, something wild: “You’re never going to feel this good again in your whole life.”
I heard him, but then–gone again.
The world was a flickering bulb on a cold city street.
I was disoriented, out-of-body, capable of anything—of killing myself. But that’s not what scared me most. What scared me most was that I knew in my swimming brain that I would do it again. That I craved it. I wanted more. And I thought of my dad: tragic, lonely and high. I thought of how he left the drugs for us on the porch like a gift. I thought of R, of alcoholism, of Denis Johnson, of the Whiskey Slot, of my divorce and substance abuse— And I wanted more.
No one needs a reason to use. We just do.
Can love grow from a fractured heart?
I take another drag. The light is in my head now. I’m dizzy, spinning through spaces like the lamest time-travel you could imagine because I’m not going anywhere at all.
“R— Why is this happening?” I try to temper my voice dare wake my mother. (She tacitly tolerates my father’s drug use but it’s different with us. She would care: We’re the kids.) And I don’t even hear my own voice. Volume doesn’t make sense.
I bat a hand at Robby to see if he’s really there.
“I want to wake up,” I say. “Why can’t I wake up?”
“Relax,” he tells me and pulls me to his chest, reaching his frozen hands under the bulk of my sweatshirt.
“Am I safe?”
“Yes, B, you’re safe. I love you. Nothing has happened.”
And then I know it, register it: I’m stuck on drugs. I wish I could will my eyes open from this alternate reality, but there’s no escape from here: a mirror mirroring hollow reflections.
Now we are inside by the glowing Christmas tree, sitting on the yellow couch. I rest my head on Robby’s body, spread across the cushions. My ear pressed to his stomach, I fall asleep to purrs and rumbles.
Rebeka Singer writes, works and teaches in her native Providence, RI. She received her MFA in Creative Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College in May 2012. Her work has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in Eclectica Magazine, Red Savina Review, Sassafras Literary Magazine and The Fat City Review.