tw: smoking(?), implications towards suicide. stay safe <3
eu·pho·ri·a /yo͞oˈfôrēə/ noun a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness.
"the euphoria of success will fuel your desire to continue training."
Do you remember that first day we met? I was walking out of the school, head down, after a long tutoring session. You held a cigarette in your mouth and lifted one hand to wave at me. That small paper cylinder fell out of your mouth and I watched, astonished, as you shrugged and grinded it into the floor with your shoe. Smoking on school grounds- unheard of, but you did it, and that was you, and I loved you. You told me that it made you feel better and would I like to try it and I said sure, why not, it would be my last chance. You handed one to me and I stuck it in my mouth and inhaled slowly as you muttered 1, 2, 3, 4, slow. My lungs expanded as I felt that river of sudden drowsiness course through me like a flame in a yellowing grassfield and my eyes must’ve expanded like sponges in water because you laughed daintily with amused pride at my sudden drastic change in demeanor.
“How does it feel?” you asked, grinning. I remember your grin. It could be miles wide, stretching over your edged cheekbones in valleys and canyons, a rare sighting to the public-- that smile was barely shown to anyone and later I would sense pride when I realized that you trusted me at least a little. Through my drooping eyelids, your face had become flatly distorted into chunks of color rather like a Picasso painting-- but more real, and I knew I could reach out and touch you and my fingertips would brush soft skin and fabric instead of canvas.
“It feels like heaven, like a dream, but more exultant, eu-euphoric, but less, like… just a smaller slice of it,” I muttered dreamily. I wasn’t too aware of what I was saying. My lips barely moved, letting the words tumble off my twisted tongue in a slight slur.
You laughed. “Sliced euphoria. I like that.”
As I sat, smiling away those first ripples of pure numbness, a sober part of me was trying to figure out what the hell I was doing to myself and the rest of my brain was screeching into overdrive, basking in this newfound evangelical sensation. I was wordlessly asking my body if it recognized this feeling, and for the first time in a long time, I had a definite answer for myself. Happiness. You drove me away from school that day in your browning 1980s Chevrolet, even though we were only fifteen and you didn’t have your license yet. Both of us were heavy-eyed and oddly elated from the smoke coursing through our lungs that was sure to give us lung cancer at some point but that thought didn’t habit our minds that night and it wouldn’t for a long time. I laughed at everything in my field of vision-- there was gum stuck to the bottom of your cup holder, the world Chervolet was suddenly hysterically funny, your yellow flannel shirt was so old and out of style and had two buttons missing along the hem, and my hands cast funny shadows in the 5pm sunlight pooling in ripples onto the seats. I tried to roll down a window to let in some fresh air but you stopped me and told me that your windows had stopped working due to rain through an open sunroof and I found it hysterically funny to imagine numerous dollops of naturally processed water ruining a whole system of cranks and gears through a hole in the ceiling.
At one point you dug around in your pockets and produced a single dollar bill, to which we entered a dollar store and basked in all the items we could purchase with that small amount of currency, like we were eight year olds who had just received our weekly allowances. Our eyes reached towards neatly coiled slinkys and sealed rubber stamp pads, fragmented puzzle pieces of our childhoods that were now well beyond our fingertips. You led me to the freezer and eased my hand inside with that bright grin masking your features as I grasped around for a vanilla Magnum bar-- a childhood favorite. You placed that bill on the counter with the delight of a child paying for their mother’s birthday present (with their own money!) reflected in your eyes and once we got out, you handed the unwrapped treat to me and I watched the fragile sweet chocolate shell fall apart and allowed the gooey frozen milk to melt over my fingers. My hand scrambled into my coat pocket for a napkin and closed around a folded piece of paper instead-- what was it? I didn’t know, or if I did, I couldn't remember. I crumpled it up and tossed it at you in intoxication while sucking the over sugared cream off my other hand. You were hazy by then, staring at the clouds and muttering that they resembled levitating Ford Anglias, so we went back to your car and leaned against those malfunctioning windows as we breathed as one and watched our balmy breath slowly form a map of fog upon the glass.
Another time, you pulled a wad of gum out of your mouth and I could smell a sugary strawberry flavor that had not yet been completely chewed away implanted in your teeth. You handed me a stick of the same gum, telling me if I blew my bubble to a large extent, it would act as a balloon and we could float above the city and watch the sun melt from a bleeding yellow orb into an orange mask in the horizon. You told me if we got high enough into the clouds and I had my paintbrush, we could paint today’s sunset. My mind instantly decided that I would be coloring it green, a color that the sunset never was, and you told me that green was your favorite color. “Not a puke green. More like that green of the lawn after my sisters roll around on the ground and soak up the grass shavings,” I recall you saying, and I agreed and then asked if you had sisters. “Not anymore,” you shrugged, and I didn’t think anything else of it. I could only smile with the thought of making today’s sunset my sunset, which was something only you could’ve talked me into. I did have a bit of control, I realized. I just had to take it back.
We both chewed vigorously, tainting our teeth and tongues with that strawberry taste that would haunt my senses for years afterwards. It would be marked in my memory as the flavor of sugar and sunshine, of green painted skies and rusty old cars with gum in the cupholders, of ripples in a lake as my toes squished into moist mud, of things that would usually be considered abnormal but were perfectly common that day in our little universe of dyed sunsets-- more a nolgastic trigger than a taste, and I told you all that and you didn’t make fun of me. You said that you were reminded of fresh garments when Momma’s just brought them back from the laundromat and wet rubber boots after stomping around in the rain, both of which resonated that same sticky sweet aura as the gum that danced around in our mouths. You were surprised when I admitted I didn’t remember any of those scents. My momma was gone and rubber boots were a long forgotten luxury of the past, I shrugged, and you told me that you would have to fix that. I didn’t know what you meant as we sat there folding tinfoil gum wrappers into origami cranes, still tasting the euphoria of some previously lit cigarettes on our lips and in our minds. After a few more silver birds were placed carefully on your dashboard, you asked me what I wanted to do and I shrugged and chortled madly, a squeaky “I don’t care” falling out of my mouth at ease.
At that time, I didn’t care. I didn’t care about yesterday, or today, or tomorrow. I didn’t care about needing money for my dinner or the algebra test I had failed even after slaving over a textbook for a whole night. I didn’t care about the letters spelling b-i-t-c-h that had been lipsticked onto my locker so it shone there in a film of waxy Ruby Woo over the hard metal. I didn’t care about the penny-sized bruise on my leg that was due to a few concupiscent boys. I didn’t care about my ‘father’, who was probably driving his truck in some sort of skanky mountain neighborhood hundreds of miles away. I didn’t care that I had left an empty house that morning to go to school, or that I would have to return to it after this grace period of joy had concluded. The world in my eyes had become brighter and louder, and maybe that was just a side effect of the smoke-- but I relished in it as a break from my usual solitary numbness. I went home that night with a small sugar-laced bird in my pocket, the taste of sweet gum and smoky cardboard still ghosting upon my lips, and my mind exploding in a million different directions.
On the second-to-last good day, you pulled us into the parking lot of a dingyish maroon brick building and my eyes were drawn to the glowing red letters like those that had been scrawled on my locker, except these spelled out L-A-U-N-D-R-A-Y and I tilted my head, noticing the obvious spelling error and nudging you in the shoulder. You asked “Where’s the mistake?” and I nodded at the extra A, to which you responded“Let them do them and you do you,” and I thought about those words for a long time afterwards.
You led me into the gleaming laundromat with a jacket under your arm to “wash” and told me to smell-- an odd command out of context, now that I think about it. That blasted smell seemed to smack me in the face with such an inexplicable emotion that could, perhaps, metaphorically knock me off my feet if I hadn’t leaned against a nearby clothes rack. The scent reminded me of dried white linens flapping in the sunkissed air, of splinters from clothespins that adorned Momma’s callused fingertips as she meticulously clipped each individual corner of the fabric to the clothesline because she refused to use a dryer for fear that it would shrink and ruin her delicate imported-from-France silks, of red tinged eyes and snotty noses from that day when I accidentally inhaled some of that liquid laundry powder, and of tissue balls and a headful of white blond hair from an experiment gone right. As I stood there inhaling that magical oxygen, an elderly woman with wrinkles spreading like maplines over her skin told us to leave because we were driving away business and we obliged-- but not before you called “It must be your sunny personality that attracts your patrons,” and we staggered out the door in laughter as that poor employee tried bewilderedly to figure out how we had gotten away.
This is a work in progress but I wanted to put it up to see what people think of it! Obviously it's far from complete though.