Away With Me
We only just met and I already sound like a cliché, telling her that showers are my safe haven. She is getting drunk like me in this two-by-four prison I call the Cry Club. It’s a group therapy session laced with liquor and some guy who keeps playing noughties music.
We stumble into one another and sit in a stranger’s wardrobe as the security guard goes from floor to floor, driving out the noise. She reeks of cigarettes and male cologne, and later, in her bedroom, I wondered whether she’d inhaled the former and dabbed the latter.
I fiddle with my fingers, eyes darting, as she tells me she loves it when it rains. She says the tipper tapper turns into song and the cold wind accompanies her as her dance partner. I forget why I came to the party in the first place.
When we walk out, it surprises me to see the stars and I look at her suspiciously, thinking maybe she stole all the grey clouds and kept them in her pockets for sunny days. I can’t remember where we were walking to, just the cold and sharp whiff of cologne on her coat and the other one of her lit cigarette. A few people lingered behind us, bending their legs like newborn giraffes learning to walk. Singing and chanting washed over the silence in intervals, until at one point someone stopped and belched.
Then, a storm carried us into a dark house, and pulled the sheets as harbor, tossing our brisk bodies and washing our clothes ashore. That room made no sense as a storm shelter with the sky above us turning into shard hues of grey. I must have adopted the bags under my eyes that night because sleep felt like a waste of time.
Somewhere in the midst of that, I thought about the cigarettes and cologne. I may have even asked her: Did you inhale the cologne and dab the cigarettes? But she probably never answered, keeping her knees to her neck, head buried into chest, her nails digging into my arm.
We slept through noon and I woke up to the stench of cigarettes on my skin and that stinking cologne rubbed in between the gums of my teeth. Flanked by the mattress and sunlight seeping through my yellow curtains, I gnashed our existence into a drain and left the faucet running.
The next day I asked my teacher in college if I could be a writer, and he told me existential crisis would get me nowhere. The funny thing – and I only realized days after we parted – was the way her eyes darted, fingers playing, head bobbing off beat, droplet mouth, and how, damp with sweat she was, I had to daze her with alcohol and nicotine, one cigarette after the other, to coax her into my bedroom.
I heard the following week there would be a party, B.Y.O.B, and I knew she would be there.
After all, I clicked ‘attending’.