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THAT NIGHT I dreamed about a girl with indigo hair that swum in spirals around her head like a sea in a storm.

In my dream, I chased the girl through an ocean of golden grass that was tall enough to brush against my elbows. The girl ran and ran and ran, but I was a bit faster. I covered the ground quickly, my feet moving gracefully over the earth.

But every time I started to get close to grasping her—reaching my hand out to grab her sea of hair—the wind gusted. The girl spread her arms, her hair forming a cape behind her, and the wind carried her away until she was almost out of sight.

Once she landed, she would begin running once again, and I would continue to chase her.

I chased her for what felt like ages through that field. Eventually, my legs tired, and I slowed. Pine trees grew from the field, forming a forest around me. The girl slowed too, like she was taunting me. She reached one of the tallest trees, placing her delicate pale hand on its rough trunk. She stopped and waved at me, giggling before she once again turned to run.

I pushed myself to go faster, but the harder I pushed, the more difficult it became to run. The field started to ooze mud, and my feet dragged like I was slowly sinking into quick sand, and I was unsure how I was meant to get out.

Because no matter what I did...

The wind kept blowing.

• • •

I awoke to a terrible aching in my head. My brain pulsed against my skull, swollen and angry. I clenched my teeth, wishing the pain away.

A wave of nausea crashed over me, and I pictured bands of hot steel swelling and compressing inside my skull. Thick drool like molten lead collected in my mouth. I swallowed it down in a gulp. Finally, the tide of nausea receded and my eyes stopped aching. I opened them, unsure of where I was for a second before finally recognizing the scratchy, burgundy fabric of the couch I was lying on, and the thin grey sheet that covered me.

Jeremey's place.

Somehow, in my drunken stupor, I had managed to make it back to Jeremey's house last night. I tried to think about what had happened and how I had gotten there, but the last thing I could remember was talking to Kate at the Cat Shack.

I groaned. My mouth felt like cotton. I ran my tongue over my teeth. They felt gritty and tasted like horribly-sweet mint candy mixed with toxic vomit. My hands stung. Small cuts ran like a tangle of pine needles across the entire surface of my palms. I winced as I placed my finger over a splinter. The flesh was hot and red where it jutted out. I ground my teeth as I slowly pulled at it. Finally, with a small release of pain and pressure, the thin sliver of wood broke free. Holding it up, it was as long as my thumb nail.

I had no idea what I had done to myself. Dried blood caked my fingers and stuck under my nails. Cold sweat collected on my forehead. I needed water.

I rolled over to face the coffee table. Sitting right in front of me was an untouched cup of water, bubbles of oxygen beginning to form around the edges where the liquid met the glass, along with two tablets of ibuprofen, a few slices of white bread in a plastic bag with a do-hickey tying it shut (my mom's word), and what looked like a carefully placed thick joint.

A faint smile crept onto my face.

My head rolled as I reached for the water. I took a sip. It tasted so sweet my throat contracted, but I ignored it. I popped the tablets of ibuprofen in my mouth and swallowed. My stomach protested the sudden influx of chemicals, but I fought off the urge to vomit. I considered nibbling at the bread because I knew I needed to eat, but my stomach clenched itself into a knot, informing me I'd tested its temper enough with the ibuprofen, and anything past that would really be pushing my luck.

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