I’m ready for this trip to end.
“Do you think that this is real life and that sobriety is actually when we are on drugs?” I ask Zen. I don’t even think about the fact that he probably can’t feel anything yet.
“Maybe.” He says.
There are headlights pulling up into the driveway. The sound of two car doors slamming in succession. I can only make out the shadow of the bodies walking toward us. They look like spirits returning to haunt the house where they died. I keep this thought to myself. I can feel them walk up the stairs as Zen and I sit in silence for what feels like hours as the two people, both guys walk, step onto the porch and into the party. It’s- all- time-elapse for me, even the sound of the guys’ deep voices.
“What’s up?” Guys’ voices.
It’s only after they walk through the front door that I recognize Philip and his friend, Jeff. They are both jocks at school. They play everything, but football is the main thing. Unlike other places where they may have chances to get sports scholarships, and go on to play pro, and actually have a life in sports or at least have sports lead them to somewhere, these times will probably be the best times of their lives. I’m surprised we even have football. We don’t have anything else. I don’t feel sorry for them though, at least they’ll get a best time, plus, they’re both assholes. While the rest of us writhe like we are in the hell from a Hieronymus Bosch painting, these guys are living their life of glory. Philip is fucking Kara, but he is dating Allison this perfect Christian girlfriend that probably gives him blow jobs, but wont have sex because she is waiting for marriage, so he screws Kara. Kara has sex. I don’t, and I wont not while I still live in this town. Everyone gets pregnant here, and I swear it will not happen to me, and there is no contraception greater than not screwing one of these stupid boys.
“Have you had sex?” I ask Zen after Philip and Jeff are out of earshot. At least, I think they are out of earshot. I’m suddenly paranoid everyone at the party can her me. I look over my shoulder there are no people watching, but the wood grain is swirling like the gentle current of a river.
I can feel Zen staring at me. He is almost scowling. I can tell he is thinking hard about how he wants to answer. I almost say something smartass about his brain hurting but my brain is actually hurting.
“No. Why do you want to?” He decided to tell the truth.
I look at him totally disgusted. “No. Fuck off. I was just asking. God don’t be gross.” I said all of that, but I think that I blushed. My body automatically flushed in a wild heat that I know was intensified by the acid. I’m afraid I might have turned red and he saw. Then again it may have been too dark. I hope it was too dark. Was that a flirt? Was he flirting with me? Is he fucking with me? That’s why drugs are bullshit it let’s your opponent get the upper hand. I need to chill out.
“Shit. This is crazy.” Zen laughs. “I think I am starting to get a body high.” He laughs a bit more then stares at his hands.
I stare at his hands. I stare at my hands. I have nice fingers. What a lovely nail bed I have. Lovely. I think my gran says lovely. I feel myself smile. It feels nice. Zen had said do you want to. I look at him not looking at me. He said do you want to like have sex. Was he being facetious? I felt self-conscious that he was talking about us when he said this is crazy, but I knew he wasn’t he was finally starting to feel the blue sky. Or was he saying that us sitting here is crazy?
I start to speak but it comes out of my mouth really really slowly, “I think… my lungs… are filling up… with ice.”
Zen busts out laughing. “You took a really long time to say that.”
“I know!” I laugh. And we can’t stop laughing.
It may seem strange that I am sitting on this porch frying with this skin that doesn’t even know that he is supposed to be a racist, but it isn’t. We only have each other. We’ve been friends since we were fourteen. Even though I say I hate him, it isn’t true, he doesn’t know it’s true, but Zen is the only kid that would talk to me after I got out of the Magalia girls correctional facility. Everyone else was afraid of me, which was fine, I like all these assholes to be afraid of me, it keeps them from fucking with me, but Zen wouldn’t give up on talking to me. Maybe that is why I get so mad at him when he makes dumb choices when he reaches out to the wrong people the wrong places. I don’t know. What do I know? We are a class of rejects. Zen is a real hippie kid or at least he was. When he first started school he came without any shoes. I guess it was because he never wore shoes at home. My mom had said that his parents should have known better that they should have protected him, but they were into things happening naturally. I could have said the same about her, my mom, she should have protected me but…she left. Things just happened naturally I guess.
Kids called Zen pigpen. They still call him pigpen. Philip and Jeff would have called him pigpen when they walked up the porch, but they probably didn’t because it isn’t their regular type of party. It’s funny how the jocks get all shy when ever they want sex or drugs. It’s true they never get it from their own girlfriends, the sex that is, at least it doesn’t seem like it. You never see any of the cheerleaders at these parties. Girls. Huh, I wonder if they do anything bad or if their all just as perfect as they appear to be. I don’t get why Kara is having sex with that asshole. My mind is wandering. Maybe that is why Zen chose to be a skin head so people would be afraid of him. Wont work, too many rednecks. They think the shaved head is weird. Makes me laugh. I hate it here.
I want to take Zen’s hand because I need the comfort, but he suddenly gets up.
“I’m going to walk into the woods.” He says not looking at me.
“No. There are fairies in there!” I say totally concerned, then I immediately recognize that that sounds crazy. Then I realize that it is okay to sound crazy when you are high, and then I realize that Zen is not even paying attention to me. This is okay. Everything’s okay.
“Oh yeah. I see them. No I’m going.” He starts to walk down the stairs.
“Wait!” I call to him. “You see them?” I almost whisper this. Zen used to play D&D he acts like he didn’t but he did, I remember. He was and elf. This makes me giggle so fucking hard I can barely stand. “Hey! Hey! Do you see them?” I’m collapsing in laughter, but I can’t get the sound out and I sound like a hyena.
“You sound like an animal like one of those laughing dogs.”
“Oh my god!” I can’t believe he could read my mind like that. “I can’t believe you could read my mind like that! This shit is magic.” Even though I’ll never do it again.
“What?” He looks like a man to me, and I’m coming down a little, and I know I’m not going to do anything stupid, but I don’t want to leave his side. And I’m not sure if I’m coming down, once I stand up, but I could be. Maybe.
“Can I come.” I ask. Tilting just a little to the right.
“Yeah hurry, or they’ll leave without us.” He says look out into the woods.
“Who?” I ask.
“The Ones.” He says.
“Okay.” I say.
I want to take his hand, but I don’t I just follow behind him and it is nothing like it was on the roof where the power was on my side.
There was this moment in the woods when we could hear the music. It was Vacation by the Go-Go’s, and Zen and I started dancing in the middle of the forest. It was at this time that we could hear Kara calling to us from somewhere beyond our safety zone. The fine line we called it. We were not as far into the woods as we thought and Kara found us. We made her dance the song with us. She was telling us the party was over, and we all knew that meant she was going to go to bed with Philip, but we made her dance with us in the middle of the woods to the Go-Go’s. Music coming in between the pines and the three of us dancing like witches under a full moon. Laughing. The ice of the air stripping our flesh to the bones but none of us could feel it, and for that moment we all could forget that we were trapped. At least I could forget.
And that was the end of the memory of my night. I blacked out. Swoosh good-bye brain, you’re useless here in this place.
Gran woke me early in the morning. It doesn’t matter how deeply I am sleeping I can always feel her staring at me. She is looking for her daughter in my sleeping face. I know this because I can feel it.
She was staring at me, but when I opened my eyes she was already walking out my bedroom door. I rolled onto my back and stared up at the wood paneled ceiling of our trailer. I’m not sure how I got home. I’m glad I am home, but the last thing I remembered was dancing in the forest with Zen and Kara. Zen. I have this sickening feeling over Zen. I can’t believe I even thought he was cute. That is enough for me to swear off acid forever. I actually don’t like doing drugs, but I just get so bored sometimes, and also I feel like doing something completely fucked, like something reckless. I don’t know why, but I’m done with acid. I never liked it. The last time I did that shit I swear I saw some guy eating his own fingers like he was a zombie from Night of the Living Dead. I knew it was chicken, but I couldn’t stop seeing him cannibalize his own hand. Not to mention he totally knew I was fucked up and he tried to mess with me all night. At least my last trip ended with the Go-Go’s.
I wonder how I got home.
It doesn’t matter if I was loud or not. My gran doesn’t care. She’s never been able to get over my mother’s death. She waits for her to come home and I think she is slightly disappointed when it is me. I know she loves me, but she loved her daughter more, and when she died something in her broke. Some people think that the children of children who die make it bearable, but for my grandmother I think her connection was to my mother, and I am a reminder of who is missing from this planet. My dad sees me as a reminder of his mistake of sinning. I wish we didn’t share blood. He wishes it too. He told me. Several times. I’d bleed it all out of me if I could.
I can hear gran moving around in the bathroom. It sounds lonely. I feel like I understand her because I broke too.
My gran is a very young grandma. She must have freaked out when my mother told her she was pregnant. Gran came to this town when she was seventeen. She was moving away from her abusive mother and was on her way to Seattle. She had heard her father was living up in the silver city somewhere and she wanted to meet him and start a new life, but she got lost and found herself in the middle of the Northern California pines surrounded by a bunch of ignorants. Apparently one of the ignorants was attractive because she had sex with him and wouldn’t you know it she got pregnant and here it is the late 50’s and she’s seventeen and she’s pregnant and far away from anywhere that can give her much help so she marries the guy and moves in with his family. He’s okay. He’s a mechanic like his father and his grandfather, but he likes other women, and well gran doesn’t care because she has this baby girl that she calls her little angel and her only reason for being and she tell’s her angel to fly away and become whatever she wants because gran only wants the best for her, but little angel gets pregnant at fourteen, and who get’s pregnant at fourteen? Especially in the seventies? It may have been the biggest scandal to hit this little town ever. Although I’m thinking at one time here that fourteen may have been a normal age to get married, but now and in the seventies you did not have premarital sex. hell this town is so evangelical I’m surprised kids have sex here at all. But mom did and at fifteen she had me, and that made my gran a grandma at thirty-one. Crazy. Thirty one seemed way old to me, but now my gran is not even fifty when all my friend’s grandparents are in their sixties. My gran lost her only child when she was only 44.