“Come on baby, just let go.” I clench my fist against my knee.
“I...I can’t. It’s wrong,” I say, staring at the pill in Regent’s hand.
“Don’t you want to have fun with me?”
“People will call me a pothead. A druggie. I’m not...” He hands me the pill.
“Who cares what those people think? They’re all idiots anyways. Just this once.”
That’s what they all say. ‘Just this once’. That line is the most convincing lie. Because once you’ve done it, you can’t stop. It’s in your veins. You need more. More. More. Until you’re nothing left but a waste and it’s consumed you whole. Some people say ecstasy isn’t addictive. But one finds that, in the situation I’m in, it becomes a way to get away, so to say. And so even the slightest addictiveness of it is heightened ten fold.
I take the pill.
The high of it isn’t instant, it never is. Just like ibuprofen, you have to let it set in. It comes after fifteen, maybe twenty minutes. Your average lights become bright, pulsing sensations that flash across your vision in colorful dances. The average dirt bag of a boyfriend becomes the sweetest, most erotic of men.
You learn to appreciate a lot more when you’re on the high.
This feeling I was experiencing was unlike any other I’ve ever experienced before. The problems that I faced on the daily were whisked away to the back of my mind so that I didn’t have to worry about them at all. Regent smirks and leans down to kiss me. “I was right, wasn’t I?” I nod. He hands me a self-rolled cigarette, which I gladly take.
“This isn’t an ordinary cigarette,” I say, my head lolling back onto the top of the couch.
“It’s not a cigarette,” he says with a laugh, already smoking away at his own. “It’s weed.”
“You know? You take advantage of my vulnerability...” I breathe in the contents of the joint anyways, despite what I’m saying. “You never respect me.” I turn to him. “I love you. But why? Why?” I stare at the jagged holes in the ceiling. “Why do I love you?”
“I love you too,” he says with a grin once more. He grabs my hand, and I feel how warm it is when he touches me. The sensitivity of flesh meeting flesh. My nerves coming alive. By his face I can tell that he feels it too.
“What song is this?” I ask him with my head cocked to the side.
“There isn’t any music playing,” he says with a laugh. “I think what you’re hearing is the sound of future wedding bells.”
“I’m not marrying you ever,” I say with disgust. But he ignores me and picks me up as if to carry me over a threshold, and sings
“Dum, dum, DUM, DUM...” as he carries me off to his bedroom.
I lay in the bed many hours later, feeling ashamed. But at the same time, relieved that there’s a way out. “I hate you,” I say to Regent, staring up at the white tiles of the upper.
“But you love what I can offer you.”
“You’re a bad guy.”
“But you like bad boys, don’t you Eden?” He grasps my wrist. “Don’t you?” His breath reeks of alcohol, something he must’ve indulged in after I went to bed. “You love me, don’t you? Say it! Say you love me!” My hand stumbles blindly around the nightstand, looking for the pocket knife Regent keeps in case someone tries to break in. He waves it in front of my face with an evil smirk. “Looking for this?”
“Why do you want to hurt me!?” I cry. “I haven’t done anything wrong!”
“Oh, but you have,” he says drunkenly. “You never loved me!” I try to get up but he pulls me back on the bed and climbs on top of me, holding the knife at my throat. “Why couldn’t you just love me Eden? Why couldn’t you just love me for who I was?”
“Stop!” I cry, trying to turn my head away.
“No! Not until you say it!”
“I can’t!” He starts to cry sobs, broken, ugly sobs that reverberate off of the walls.
“I don’t want you to move on Eden. No one can have you but me...” I try to move but he holds me down. “I love you baby...” He flicks the pocket knife open and arcs it down to my throat, just missing my biggest artery when I move out of the way.
I sit in the backseat of the car, trying to hold on to the very string of life that I have.
“I’m so sorry baby,” Regent cries. “I didn’t mean to...” My near death has sobered him up a little. The speedometer reads ninety-five as we head towards the hospital.
“Slow down,” I whisper, trying not to watch the river of blood that soaks my t-shirt.
“I can’t,” he cries. “I can’t let you go!” He pulls up to the emergency room and rushes me inside, not bothering to park his car. The nurse at the front desk looks startled and takes me from him, buckling under my weight. She rushes me through the door and onto a stretcher, yelling for help.
Doctors rush around my lifeless form, their hands probing me, checking my neck, wiping away blood. “What happened?” One of them yells over the commotion.
“I don’t know!” The nurse cries. “Some boy came in with her, and I just...took action.”
“She needs stitches,” a doctor says. “At least twenty.”
“Keep your eyes on me,” the nurse says. “And do me another favor. Don’t pass out.”
Outside the door, I hear a panicked voice. “We got mugged! I would never do that to her! We’re best friends!”
“And how do you know Miss Abernathy?”
“I just told you!”
“How did you meet her?”
“She was my best friend’s little sister. She hung out with me when he wasn’t around.”
“Are you in a relationship with Miss Abernathy?”
“Where were you when you got mugged?”
“8th Avenue and Boulevard.”
“And what did the person look like?”
“He was black with a scar from his left eye to his chin. He was wearing a white tank top and a gray hoodie and blue jeans.”
“We’ll come visit you for more questioning later. I’d like to talk to Miss Abernathy now.” The door opens. “Miss Abernathy? Are you awake?” I nod. “I’d like to ask you some questions.”
Cops always want to ask questions. Where you were, what’d he look like, what’s your relationship? Cops think they’re smart, but they can’t outsmart someone who isn’t complaining.
Isn’t complaining. Why am I not complaining? Because I love Regent? No. It’s because I’m scared of him. And so I give the same crap story he gave to the policeman with the kind eyes and feel bad about it every second.
In your mind, no one knows that you are different. But the moment you have something that shows it: clothing, a whacky hair color, bright orange shoes, that’s the moment they know that you are not like them.
For me it’s this scar. The scar that reaches all the way from my jawline to my collarbone. People stare at it in disgust, not because it’s probably the ugliest thing they’ve ever seen on a body, but because it shows that something happened that shouldn’t have. Something that was probably my fault. Something that says I’m different. And people despise different.
Of course, no one thought of me as normal.
But now that I have something to show it, it’s much more real in their eyes. And they’ll do anything to show me that fact.
Name calling, physical hurt, anything to show me that I don’t belong.
And I really don’t belong at all. I never have.
This is something I used to be okay with.