It's afternoon, after everything, and the sun's low and lazy. I'm lazy too, but I've been high since I got up, technically since before I got up, and I keep getting lost in the details. Candles in various stages of melt. Crystals in the space where the curtains almost meet, casting rainbows on the walls. The piano. It's my own living room, my own wasted space, but sometimes it feels like I'm seeing it for the first time and I have to catalogue everything. It's been happening more and more lately, familiar things feeling unfamiliar.
"So, you suitably rebounded?" Althea stretches her legs out in front of her and lies forward, reaching past her toes. A dancer, maybe a yoga teacher. I'm not sure and I can't remember if I asked already. I don't want to ask again. It's not that I haven't been listening. It's just the words kind of go past me.
"Getting there. I'm something'd." The couch blanket is a pink landscape over my knees. I'm too close to myself.
"Something'd is better than nothing, right?" She smiles at me while she puts her sweater on and I don't remember her wearing that when she got here, but she must have been.
"Beats more heartbreak. Do you want a smoke?"
"Yeah, I don't have anywhere to be for a while."
"Me neither." I don't have anywhere to be till Saturday but she doesn't need to know that. A sweet, uplifting sativa is exactly what I need right now. If I can wrap the undercurrent of melancholy in enough softness, maybe it'll eventually suffocate and die.
She nods towards the pipe I'm packing. "Is literally everything you own pink?"
"It's pretty. It's the colour of romance." I offer the pipe to her first. I want to watch her smoke, but maybe it's weird to do that. I don't know. It's one of those things I like watching people do.
"So you're a woman who values romance and likes random afternoon hook-ups?"
"I have an unconventional view of romance." I blow smoke at the ceiling.
"No shit." She laughs at me, sort of, but not in a bad way. "Do you do this often?"
"No. Sometimes, I guess. It's not always what I hope for, but some days it's what I want, you know?"
"What do you hope for?"
"From this kind of thing or in the grand scheme of things?"
"Both." She's packing the bowl again. Presumptuous, but I don't mind. I like her. I mean, for this. I don't know her outside of this. I could, maybe. But I won't.
"OK, from this kind of thing I hope for what we're doing, what we did."
"And what about in the grand scheme of things?"
"I don't know. Someone who gets it. Someone who gets me."
"Ever had that?"
"I thought so, but no. And I'm not really over it as much as I want to be."
"I hear you. I guess it happens when it happens. The getting over it, I mean. All you can do is take it easy, be kind to yourself and remember you're allowed to have a good time when you feel like it." She reaches over and tucks my hair behind my ear. The tenderness of it almost breaks me.
"True." The weed hits me, topping up my high. A thought happens and then it doesn't.
"You'll get there though. I know it sounds like bullshit, but you will. It'll feel like crap for a while and then one day it won't."
"Sounds like you've been there pretty hard." I haven't really talked about this to anyone, not face to face, and I don't know how to. I've mostly been avoiding it.
"Six years. I was a mess when it ended. I don't even know if it matters after a while who ended it because it cuts both ways, you know? It was ages ago though and I'm more just about having fun right now. Was yours a long term thing?"
"Not really. No. Not at all, in fact. Just over a year. Sorry. I'm a downer."
"You're not." She nudges me with her shoulder. "Smoke some more."
I do, but it isn't taking the edge off enough, so I dig my dress out from between the couch cushions and go to raid my bathroom stash. When you really think about walking while you're doing it, how you're moving intentionally but all the processes that go into it are automated, unconscious, it gets hard to know if you're doing it right. It starts to feel like time travel.
The bathroom stash does not disappoint and everything fades perfectly. We smoke and we talk or we don't and she leaves. That's probably it for us. She's a real person, or at least she seems to have her shit together, comparatively.
YOU ARE READING
Winter FollowsGeneral Fiction
One month, one city, five lives colliding with the forces of fate. A thrill-seeking tech genius with an appetite for dangerous extremes. A retired contract killer fighting to escape his past and himself. An underworld driver tempted deeper into a li...