RAY SPOTS Of sky, the color of purgatory. The thick air hangs around my head and for the past fifteen minutes the only thing I’ve wanted is to die. There was a time I thought I’d live forever, live to see the end of the world. Now, the only thing that seems concrete is the one-inch wide bullet hole right above my spleen.
Kylee looks down at me with day-glow eyes and the look of desperation. She never wanted this. The smoke from the barrel of the gun drifts in and out of her face and I can tell that every bit of love has escaped her body. A few raindrops hit my skin and the metallic taste in my mouth is overwhelming. The pavement below me is unquiet and comforting, the perfect place for death, the end of this pain. The rain mixes with Kylee’s anguish and the last remaining bits of sun circle around her head. Tinges of pink sky break through and I can’t feel the rain anymore.
Two days ago, things were much different. Two days ago, I was a different person.
I never wanted this.
Tuesday gripped the edge of the chair in front of me. I could feel her eyes staring at the back of my skull, eyes that could set the controls for the heart of the sun. She was high again and it was only a matter of a few hours before she’d ask me to leave the apartment so she could cry.
I can’t do this anymore, she said. I don’t want my life to be like this.
Her words were shaky. On nights like this, I’d rather be buried alive than to realize I’m responsible for this beautiful girl’s destruction.
I cleaned off the table with a soapy rag and caught a glimpse of myself in the small circular mirror on the kitchen counter. My face was sullen, tired. Cheeks were like pieces of latex pulled over sun-dried bone. I needed a shower, a shave and a good hour in a confession booth. Tuesday lit a cigarette and its rosy tip inspired me to reach for the pack and light my own. Smoke billowed in my chest, the most comfortable I’d felt all night. My fingers slid across the cracked edge of the table as I searched for any excuse to keep quiet.
You have to say something at some point, Tuesday said. It’s always awkward when you’re here, like you’re not my friend anymore.
My deep breaths responded and I sighed. I remembered the first day I first met her, the chilly autumn wind nipping at my neck, Tuesday’s soft laughter as she kicked the leaves on the ground. Four years later and I’m feeding her heroin.
Britt, you should just leave, she said.
I nodded in agreement and let myself out of the apartment. The dark hallway was surprisingly inviting, the bare touch of silence and the quaint smell of apathy. Pitch black outside the window, I took another deep breath and barreled down the three sets of stairs to the lobby. It was late November but the night wind held small traces of a warm autumn. I finished my smoke and tapped it out on the stone wall outside of Tuesday’s apartment complex. If the stars were echoing the noises in her bedroom, they’d be washed with her tears, the sounds of losing a battle with herself. Nearly forty-five minutes and a long walk back to my apartment later, I unlocked the front door and crept into the living room. Kylee was sleeping on the couch, the top half of her breasts poking out of a purple camisole tank-top. I could tell she was dreaming of me, dreaming of everything that we should have together instead of the mess that I’ve dragged us both into.
I gave her a light kiss on the forehead and brushed her blonde bangs out of her face. Time passed slowly when I stared at Kylee; my breaths were long and sensitive, the air between my lips as smooth as polished glass. She had some of Tuesday’s features but a person not in the know would never agree that they were sisters separated by two short years. Kylee had the qualities that made her a better person than her sister. No erratic behavior, no melodramatic instances of panic.
I poured myself a small glass of apple juice and let the plastic bottle sit halfway on the kitchen counter, just stable enough that it wouldn’t fall on the floor. Kylee hated when I did that. The two pillows on my bed were like giant puffs of heaven. My body was tired and needed to be in bed for a while. I didn’t have the courage to wake Kylee and ask her to hold me, my own heart would defeat itself again after the night I just had.
A Quiet Desperation continues...