By Roxanne Pepin
“You want some?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she answered, taking a seat beside him on the sofa.
She didn’t ask him what it was, but she dipped the tip of her finger, slightly wet from nervous sweat, on the end of one of the lines and brought it up to her mouth. The powder had more sting to it than usual as she recalled having burnt her tongue earlier that day on a scalding cup of coffee.
“MDMA,” he said, watching her.
“I know,” she said as she pulled a bill from her pocket and rolled it up, brushing away his offer at the one he had just used. She knew all too well that it was the same one everybody had been sharing that night.
The first time Jane snorted drugs was when she was seventeen and with her best friends, Smith and Bailey, back home. Smith had taught her many things and one was never to share straws with anyone.
“You may know what’s on the table, but you don’t know what other substance or disease has been in that straw,” he had said.
She turned back towards the guy on the couch after she had done the line. The Hello Kitty dinner tray the drugs were placed on gave her an odd sense of nostalgia as she remembered Saturdays spent replaying the same Kitty and The Beast VHS until her mom dragged her out to run errands.
Tasting the drugs at the back of her throat, she motioned to the ice cooler beside the table with a look of ‘may I?’ on her face.
“Yeah, help yourself. You’re Jane right?”
“Thanks,” she nodded. “Is this your place?”
“Yep, Cal said you might be coming by. You’re new in town, right?”
“Yeah, I’ve only been here since Wednesday. I’m staying at a hostel right now, until I find an apartment.”
She had left home to get away from it all. Drugs had surrounded her for the past few years. They were what her relationships were built upon and ultimately destroyed by. She’d lost friends because they’d learnt better and no longer wanted to be part of the constant whirlwind that comes with the life of party drugs. Yet here she was, right back into it.
I can’t help it if it was offered to me. I just met these people and right now I can’t afford to be choosey with friends. When I meet new people that are different I’ll just cut ties.
She had accepted an invitation to a party from a stranger and hadn’t known what to expect. She hoped it wouldn’t be this, but had prepared herself for it anyways. She needed to relax; the first few days in a new city are always stressful. When she’d accepted Cal’s invitation at the coffee shop earlier, she’d told herself that one night couldn’t hurt. This was the beginning of a journey. Maybe she would be faced with exactly what it was she had left behind in the first place, but it was just one night. Easy to forget.
“Bring a friend or two if you want,” Cal said.
“I don’t know anyone in this town yet. I moved three days ago.”
“That’s chill, come make some friends then.”
Looking in the mirror that night, she wondered exactly what made him think she would fit in. She looked over the dark jeans and white t-shirt that she had been wearing all day and felt just like everyone else.
Couldn’t be more plain, Jane.
She thought of changing but didn’t want to seem as though she was trying too hard. This guy seemed pretty laid back and after all, he had said it was nothing fancy; just a few people getting together – “shooting the shit,” as he put it.
Now she was sitting on the sofa and started to feel lighter. The air conditioner in the corner seemed to be throwing snowflakes her way. Jane watched as they caught the light and scintillated mid-air. She sat and imagined them entering her body and making their way through her blood stream, tingling at the end of every vessel until she started to shiver.
“It’s pretty cold in here. You mind turning down the AC a bit?” she called out.
“Hah, no problem, Jane.”
Someone’s laugh echoed in the room as Jane suddenly became aware that the radio had been turned on. The music reverberated on the matte white walls as the stranger’s laughter kept beat with the song playing in the background. She was sure that she’d heard this song before, but didn’t care enough to try and think about where or when. Jane sat in silence nodding as she pretended to listen to the people around her talk. She’d managed to make some small talk when Cal came in but, in truth, she was just enjoying the trip. By her calculations it had been about an hour since she’d taken them. She definitely sensed that she was peaking.
Jane started nodding her head in time with the music and the laughter, but stopped when she sensed someone looking her way. She was craving things she couldn’t pinpoint and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to drink, dance, fuck, or lie down on the cold cement balcony.
A news announcer came on the radio and she couldn’t help but notice the way he pronounced words and the way his tone seemed to imply that he didn’t care who was or wasn’t listening. It reminded Jane entirely of Smith – he was King of not giving a shit. It made her wonder why she should care about any of these people. She bit her tongue, trying to ignore the overwhelming feelings taking over. She then stood up, announcing that she needed to use the washroom. Picking up her purse and walking through the front door of the apartment, she simultaneously heard Cal calling out that the the bathroom was upstairs and the radio announcer monotonously retelling the day’s events causing the death of a young adult in a nearby town.
Jane walked down the lit streets as she searched the sky for a glimpse of the moon. With all the clouds, there was no hint of its existence that night. She watched as the lights from stores and coffee shop signs bounced off of the windows of passing cars. She had nowhere else to go besides either the party or the hostel she was staying in. Jane couldn’t bear going back to either of those places now. The way that people stared at her with a sense of great wonder was something she couldn’t face with these feelings rushing through her right now. People at the hostel wondered where she was going if she wasn’t travelling the world like they were. She kept walking, the streets now completely unfamiliar to her, and decided she couldn’t do it this way. Jane needed to go home and get the help she really needed. She was an addict and it was about time that she stopped denying it.
Leaving was easy. She hadn’t stayed long enough to find a place of her own or unpack her bags yet. She got on the bus and, this time, the two-hour ride wasn’t filled with dread, despite feeling longer than necessary. By now, Jane just wanted to be home. She wanted to clear her room of anything that would remind her of the world she was leaving behind.
Now Jane lay on her bed, the one she’d spent her nights in while growing up. She stared at the same grey walls she could picture with her eyes closed. They were still the same grey shade that reminded her of all the paved driveways on her street. On the shades still hung thumbtacked photos of her, Smith, and Bailey – the inseparable trio from grade five through high school.
Nothing has changed. There’s that same hole from the time I kicked my shoe up to the ceiling.
It was the first time Jane had done cocaine. She and Smith had come back to her house since her parents were gone for the weekend and found no need to be quiet, bursting into laughter as she erupted through her bedroom door, kicking off her shoes. She had a habit of being a little eccentric. It was also the first time they had kissed. They agreed that they shouldn’t make a habit of it. The kiss was exactly what Jane had longed for, and she did want to complicate things, but Smith was right. They’d known each other far too long and too well to go down that road now. Besides, he had a girlfriend that he cared about. This was years ago, yet still it made Jane’s gut clench as she looked up to the ceiling.
She didn’t tell anyone that she was coming back and didn’t plan on telling most of her friends. Jane had decided to keep her distance, thinking that maybe it would make everything easier. The only exception was Smith. She needed to call and tell him she was back in town. After all, he was the only one who knew ahead of time that she was going to leave. He had pleaded with her not to go, having argued that there were many people here who cared about her. Still, Jane had said that this was what she needed and left anyway.
She picked up her phone and held the button down for voice commands.
“Call Smith Jeffereys.”
Her phone obeyed and dialed his number.
Smith’s voicemail was the only answer. Jane didn’t bother leaving a message. She continued to unpack the bags she had just filled only a few days ago, pulling out a white envelope that she didn’t recognize. She sat on her bed, turning it around in her hands and wondering what was inside. Holding it up to the light, she could make out a smaller sized paper with dark handwriting but couldn’t make out what it said. Jane was reluctant to open the envelope though, as she could feel a small shell-like shape inside that she could only guess was a pill capsule. Paying careful attention, she ripped open the end of the envelope furthest from the note inside. The way the paper ripped reminded her of when she was younger, carefully ripping out magazine photos to make collages. Jane found the esthetic of the ripped paper more pleasing than the clean cut a pair of scissors would normally provide.
She took her time, as the perfectionist in her needed the rips to be straight. Jane pulled out the note as the capsule fell onto her bed. She figured it was from Smith, and one glance at the handwriting proved that she had been right:
In case of emergency.
Don’t miss me too much, ha!
I’ll see you soon.
P.S. New stuff, supposed to be great.
She took the capsule to the bathroom without a second thought and flushed it, knowing if she kept it around that the temptation would be too strong. She’d already considered popping it into her mouth as soon as she saw it fall onto the bed.
Jane decided to call Bailey. She usually picked up on the second ring, but this time Jane almost hung up before she heard her reluctant greeting. Bailey’s usual cheer and brightness evaded her as Jane asked how she was.
“Hey Bails, do you know where Smith is by chance? I’ve been trying to get a hold of him.”
“No one told you? Jane, Smith died. He’s dead,” Bailey said, evidently trying to swallow back tears but having failed. “He… he overdosed.”
Jane didn’t know what to say and didn’t need to. She heard it as Bailey started crying and cut the line. She stared at her wall as her phone vibrated with two new text messages:
I’m sorry, I couldn’t keep going, Jane. The autopsy said heroin overdose. It should have been me too. Smith said he got Molly from this new dealer he met. We were supposed to do it together that night, but I was in a bad mood and
didn’t feel like it. He said it was fine and went out with Chris instead. Maybe if I were there it wouldn’t have happened. I should have just gone with him, Jane. It’s my fault he’s dead. I could have saved him.”
Right now Jane wished she hadn’t flushed that pill down the toilet; if there was a moment in life she wanted to escape most, this was it.
Photo Credit: Mateusz Stachowski
I’m Roxanne Pepin and I am a Professional Writer, blogger, realist, cyclist, and cat lover at large studying at Algonquin College, in Canada’s capital city. I am an aspiring fiction writer and copy editor who writes for my fellow fiction lovers, music lovers, book worms, cycling enthusiasts, tea devotees, and real-time, high-on-life junkies.