I really ought to close the window in the kitchen.
I really ought to finish this stupid chapter.
Actually, I really ought to eat. It's nearly midnight and I haven't eaten since lunch. Even lunch I forced down over the complaints of my empty, twisted stomach.
But it's hard to eat.
It's hard to do anything pleasant, actually. Everything that I used to enjoy is... tainted. No, perhaps that's too strong a word. Drained. Drained is a better word.
Drained of color. Drained of warmth. Drained like I am. My mind, my body, my heart.
Ugh, so much melancholy and drama. I'm in danger of buying my own product - that heady miasma of self-loathing and self-pity. Uppers and downers. Emotional speedball. Eventually an overdose is inevitable.
I'm a peddler, a seller, of emotions and stories. I concoct my cocktails, my designer drugs, in the dingy meth-trailer of my heart from the bits and pieces of broken people that I pick up and sell as my own. People buy them. They're easy to buy. Five dollars at the mall gets you a softcover. Twelve for the hard stuff.
But that's getting off target. I am hungry. I am starving, actually. But I don't want to eat because I used to love eating but I loved it more with her. That's stupid. But it's true. I don't want to do anything good because it used to be better. I don't want to walk through sunlit parks, I don't want to listen to sweet music, I don't want to anything. It was so much better before. The high is faded.
Drab curtains, threadbare carpets, faded fluorescent lights.
Like every good sale, it started with a sample. Just some flirting, some fun, some dancing on the edge. I talked, she laughed, we drank. Buzz buzz buzz, everything electric and delicious.
When did it happen?
It was fine and under control. I could control it. I knew what I was getting into. I could stop whenever I wanted to. Really.
Damn, I could use a smoke. But I don't smoke. She smoked.
I'll have a drink instead. Just one more. Maybe.
The tv blares in the background. I just leave it on, now. Just like I leave on all the lights. I leave the computer on at night, an endlessly scrolling display. But the radio stays off.
Endless noise. Static. Time going by.
Damn, I really could use a smoke.
No, that's not what I need. I know what I need. The indicator light on my phone blinks. I flip the phone onto its face but I can still see that damned blinking light. Blink. Beat. Blink.
I get up and go to the kitchen. Dishes in the sink. The fridge whirring and clicking. Dim ugly light from within - vegetables, chicken that's about to go bad, half an onion wrapped in plastic. How long had that been there? A wilting bundle of collard greens. I should clean the fridge.
I pull out the water pitcher. Drink it straight. Cold water, icy, down my throat. A stray drop races a wet trail down my cheek. I wipe it away with the back of my hand. I feel the coldness of the water tracing the shape of my insides.
I put the pitcher back on the bottom shelf, next to the collard greens. It's almost empty. Well, there's enough left for later. I think.
Back to my chair. In my room. TV yapping. Lights lightly buzzing. The air is stale. I'm thinking too much - I need to stop.
It's my phone. Damn light blinking.
I shiver. My stomach is a knot, a noose, tightening. I'm cold but I'm hot, sweating. Palms damp. I want it so bad. I need it. But I won't do it. Not again.
Blink. Beat. Blink.
I pick up my phone. Stare at the insipid little light.
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
I put the phone down. It hurt too much. Or it should. It should hurt. I should be hurt and angry and sad. But I'm not. Just empty. Just drained.
I pace across the room. I don't know where I'm going. I grab my hair in my hands, pulling. Back and forth and back and forth. Buzzing again. No, I'm growling. I'm humming, trying not to think. Not to think about how good it was.
Don't think about the lips. Don't think about the warmth. Don't think about the smoothness of her skin. The turn of her smile. The slope of her neck.
It's not worth it. It's never worth it. It's just a product. I can beat it. Mustn't buy it.
I pace. I need. I turn up the volume on the tv then I turn it down. Change the channels. I pick up a book but I can't read. It's late, I should sleep. But I can't. I'm awake. Or I'm not but I can't bear the idea of lying in bed, in the quiet, in my head.
Damn, I wonder what her brand of cigarettes tastes like.
When did I pick my phone up? I put it back down.
Across the room. Nothing there.
Why wasn't there anything good on tv?
I pick up the phone. I put it down.
It's right there. Just right there. Just a taste. A message. See how she's doing. Just a little bit. I just need to get by. It was a long day, just a little bit is all I need.
I pick up my phone, I feel it in my hands, I know what to do, I know what it is. I can't. But just a little. It'll be ok. I pick up my needle and hold it over my arm, the screen still dark, I slide the point in, it's cold, press the power, press the plunger, heart beating, lighter, faster, waiting, hoping, craving, rushing.
Damn. Feels so fine.