I did not know I could do this until the last time I spoke to my dads, but I found that there are a couple of bills I can pay online. I know, I sound like an adult now who is lazy, but this makes life so much easier. So there I was, sitting on the couch with my laptop perched on my legs and my credit card beside me, when I was freaked out by a loud song blaring through my thin walls. I nearly dropped my laptop on the floor from a near-heart-attack experience. Feeling the aftershock from it, I almost stormed to Philly's apartment next door and yelled at him for playing Evanescence's song, Bring Me To Life, so freaking loud. Even so, I managed to complete my bills online and mail the rest. That caused a wave of satisfaction I haven't felt in a while.
While I put my laptop away, I heard HIM's song, Wings of A Butterfly, play. Philly must be feeling down because I bet Papa Roach's Scars will play next followed by Breaking Benjamin's So Cold, AFI's Love Like Winter, and Three Days Grace's I Hate Everything About You. I only know this because it only happens nearly every week. It's the same playlist with other songs and it drives me insane because I don't like that type of rock music. I prefer when he listens to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, or someone else. I have caught him listening to Daughtry once and Hoobastank. Again, I am not particularly fans and can agree with Emily that his taste of music sucks. But I have learned to be somewhat used to it; it is nice not having a completely silent apartment.
"Niall," I heard my name being screamed over the music and was so close to bolting to the door.
"Give me a minute!" I yelled back to Emily, grinning madly now before I open the door and have to put on my poker face.
"Hurry up and open the door!" Emily yelled back. I would normally sigh at this point, but my spirit is still way too high to be shot down any time soon.
"Damn it, took you fucking long enough. How the hell can you live next to that asshole?" Emily asked, looking clearly pissed off beyond what's reasonable.
"With high tolerance and patience that doesn't make any sense." I answered and watched a smile peak out on her face, but it wasn't strong enough to brighten her mood. I gotta make her smile; I know she's capable of it.
"Did you hear what I said?" Emily asked and I blinked a few times while feeling a deep blush heat my cheeks. Oh crap, I did not just do that.
"Are you... Oh my gosh, what were you thinking about? Your face looks like a strawberry." My embarrassment quickly faded and I looked at Emily confused.
"I look like a strawberry?" I asked with an eyebrow cocked.
"Well, yes you do because you have a few brown freckles scattered randomly on your pale white skin. Stop avoiding the question, what were you thinking about?" Emily smirked.
"I, um, remembered I forgot to pay the rent of all things. I should write the check before I forget." Emily rolled her eyes in disbelief, but thankfully she didn't question me about my lie.
"What are you doing right now?" She asked.
"I should write that-"
"Put some shoes on and meet me at the stairs."
Emily reached inside and grabbed the doorknob before shutting the door and leaving me standing by myself. I didn't even have to think about it, I eagerly put some shoes on and grabbed my phone and keys. I met her at the stairs just as she said, then followed her outside to the front of the apartment complex. We walked a few yards from the entrance where I watched Emily lean against the wall and pull out her smoke and lighter.
"Do you me a favor and light it for me? I can't spark it because my thumb hurts from trying." Emily held out her purple, plastic lighter for me to take. I nodded and took the lighter.
Emily placed the cigarette between her lips and I brought the flame to the end, lighting it. It didn't occur to me that I was aiding her in probably the worst thing a person can choose to do that will damage their health tremendously; like I'm aiding her in her death sentence by just lighting a single cigarette. I kept leaning against the wall beside Emily, and watched the smoke escape her lips as if it were as beautiful as a butterfly flying through the air so effortlessly. The way Emily made the smoke dance around her face seemed like it took years of practice, and I wondered how long she's been smoking.
"What's on your mind, Blondie?" Emily asked, holding her cigarette away from her mouth.
"When did you have your first?" I asked, hoping she would actually give a deep and wordy answer instead of a brief one.
"I was sixteen. It was in the parking lot of the high school I went to, but after classes ended. I saw some seniors hanging around a car. Three of them were just joking around, but two of them were smoking. You're not supposed to smoke on campus, but rules and regulations never stopped anyone who was determined and needy. I wasn't going to, but it wasn't one of my best times and I was desperate. I also remembered my mom and I guess..."
Emily stopped for a few seconds before she took another drag of her cigarette, this one deeper and longer than the others. She took her time blowing out the smoke. She repeated this four more times before she sighed. Her cigarette fell to the ground and she put it out before she could even finish the rest. It was then that I realized I asked the wrong the question that was a bit too personal, but she surprised me when she looked at me with those brown eyes of hers.
"I smoked that day and at the time I thought it was the best day of my life because I felt like I was being healed. I was too naive to realize I was just being numbed. The next day I smoked again with the seniors and i continued until they told me I needed to get my own. I ended up buying packs off of them, paying them extra for the trouble of buying them for me. It became like my sick addiction. The nicotine would numb me and help clear my mind, but only for so long. I realized after about a month I couldn't keep smoking because you can't fucking smoke all the time at a young age. I forced myself to quit. It was hard, but I didn't smoke again until the day after I turned eighteen."
I didn't have anything to say, but Emily's look caused my throat to tighten and my body to become stiff. I felt like I had to reply even though I knew I would say something stupid to her. I regretted wanting her to be deep and wordy. I should've known when she told me what it was like for her to smoke, that she would only do it for healing purposes. I am pretty sure there was more to her answer, like about her mom, and I wish she told me that part. Just as I was about to say some generic reply, Emily turned away. We leaned against that wall for a few minutes in silence with the smell of nicotine and tobacco lingering between us. I still didn't say anything.
"Are you sure you don't want to-"
"Don't say another word. Just shut up and follow me."
I sighed and continued to follow Emily up the stairs until we reached her door. You could faintly hear Philly's music in the background which could only mean that he's turned it down. In my apartment, it may sound softer than it did before. I didn't know Emily hated Philly's music so much to the point she would let me visit her apartment. To be honest, I'm not even excited. I'm freaking out and scared because I don't know what the hell to expect. As far as I know and from what I've learned, Emily lives by herself and prefers to keep her apartment as her personal safe haven. I am positive a soul, other than her own, has never set a foot inside and I don't want to be known as the idiot who eagerly entered.
"Now I have to warn you, Niall." Emily looked straight into my eyes, letting me know she was actually being serious instead of joking. She actually has a freaking warning. I knew this was bad.
"My place wreaks of cigarettes and is very dull. Oh, and I don't think I cleaned my ash trays yet."
With that, Emily opened the door and motioned me to step inside first. I did, and was hit with the smell of cigarettes like she said. Her place wasn't as dull as she said, though. Her couch was a bright red color where mine was a faded blue. It really brightened the place and I noticed that there was also a matching red rug under her coffee table. The whole place looked liked mine, except for the obvious differences and the smell. Her ash trays on the coffee table were full, but it didn't look bad; it seemed like they belonged and maybe the smell had gone to my head.
"I hate that couch and I hate that rug." Emily said and I turned my head to see her standing beside me.
"It doesn't look bad. I thought you said it was dull."
"Well, it is. I'd rather the couch be brown, a stupid blue like yours, or black instead of an awful red. It looks horrible."
"But it's not dull. It brightens up the place."
"I apologize again if it's not that great."
"Is this why you forced me to come? To judge your apartment? Besides the smell, it looks normal."
"It's not very normal. I have ash trays lying around the house. I don't keep my refrigerator stocked or the cupboards. The television doesn't even work. I actually have windows and blinds, but they always stay closed. The only thing I do in my apartment besides clean up after myself is smoke. This place is not normal and I am not normal."
I couldn't tell if Emily was trying to yell or not, but I knew she was upset. I also knew she only brought me here to prove how different she is. She is totally wrong still.
"Emily, your apartment is fine. You are fine. Stop trying to prove to me otherwise because you are never going to convince me. Maybe you do things differently. Do you really need to classify yourself as different and your life as shameful?"
"I think you're insane, but that's why I like you. And I am not ashamed of my life or anything. I act differently by choosing to be stuck here by myself smoking. This is how I live my life to the fullest. I am satisfied with my life; it's subliminal. I understand it's not idealistic or proper. I wish you would understand that, too."
"I do, I just ignore it."
"Why? Everybody is repelled and it's annoying that you aren't that way. Nobody bothers to ask me questions about myself or takes the time to at least bear my presence. I don't understand you, and that's why I dragged you here. I thought you'd be repelled, too, because you looked scared as you followed me, but I guess that blew over. I tried getting you to leave me alone, but it's really hard. Everyone else in my life I managed to distance except you. It's not that I hate you at all, Niall. I really like you, a lot actually, I just don't know why you're here still."
"I'm here because I want to be here."
"You said I was intriguing. I am not intriguing. Are you really that curious about me?"
"I was, but now I'm not anymore. Now, I find you to be an extremely addictive person. The need to know everything about you makes me stay and the fact that you're always on my mind makes me anxious for the moment I see you. Nicotine may be your drug, but I think you're mine."
It took me less than a second to realize the exact words I told Emily. I can't believe I compared her to a drug of all the things, but it fits. Emily is this drug that's highly addictive, but not nearly as deadly as it is portrayed to be. The chances of survival are one in a million and maybe I'm the one who sets the stage for the chances to be diminished. I didn't BS with Emily and hoped she would actually consider what I told her. Maybe she will open up more and not feel like she always has to be guarded. She has to understand that there's so much to like about her, and I'll show her if she will let me.