Staring into a fridge full of leftover pancakes, now plastic and cans of rotten condiments and half of a Frisbee pizza, I sighed. Life was shit. Lana was already gone for her graveyard shift at Peeping Tom's Joint. Classy, right? It wasthesleaziest strip club in town, but they hiredanyone.Tom's was the place where any guy could find the right girl, if they just squinted and cocked their head just right.
Besides, Lana needed people who would buy her behind-the-stage product. Even in a shitty place like Tom's with the "frequent feelers" as she called them. The ones who wanna do more than look, Lana knew she had it made. Supplying to her boss at a discounted price and keeping all the girls skinny off her meth, everything was alright.
Why was I even looking in the fridge? It's not like I was hungry, probably wouldn't be for a few more hours. Coasting high above the world on my crystal-fueled jet, I was allowed to visit my Vi in my own little sanctum. I remembered the final kiss we'd shared and all the events after.
"Violet!" I'd called as she quietly closed the door, slipping out of my room and out of my life. Lana stared at me, completely confused.
"What?" I barked, glaring at her.
"Who the hell was she?" She asked, plopping on my bed.
"My ex-girlfriend." I sighed, cradling my head in my hands. My heart had split in two and dropped into my stomach, nearly making me sick.
"Good, I don't like being the 'other girl'." Lana commented. I stared at her in disbelief. Some people just didn't know when to shut the fuck up, and Lana was one of those people.
"Are you ready?" She asked when I didn't respond. What was I supposed to do? I still had no money, no job or one in the works, no girlfriend and I needed a hit.
"Yeah." I sighed, unbuckling my belt. I'd regret it. I'd hate myself for it. But when your entire life is submerged in self-loathing one more strike doesn't really matter.
"Wow." Lana smiled as she rolled off.
"Just leave the shit and get the hell out okay?" She'd ruined it for me. It was almost like being with my Vi again, and then Lana opened her mouth again.
"Fine. What's got you pissy?"
"Just leave, please."
I rolled over on my side and grabbed my jeans and a pack of cigarettes. Lana stepped out of bed and slipped back into her clothes, pouting at me.
"Lana, I'm asking nicely. Get the fuck out of my house."
"Dick." She snorted and chucked a white baggie at me, filled with pure crystal gold. I opened my drawer as soon as Lana stormed out of my room. There, next to my stash was the small velvet black box containing Violet's graduation gift.
"What the fuck is wrong with me?" I sighed, fingering the box. I'd just lost the best thing that had happened to me, ever. The girl that I'd hoped to spend the rest of my life with. Jesus Christ.
Staring at the ceiling of my trailer, I twisted the same black box in my hands, remembering that day. I flicked it open, admiring the gift that had cost me eight weeks of pay. And for what? Vi was gone and was never going to return to me. I saw the moving van just a day after her graduation party. A friend had told me she'd run off to New York, and some part of me smiled. Without me, I knew she'd be so much better off. I knew that no matter what she'd attend her big city school in the fall and I would've followed her anywhere. The only thing I would've done was held her back from her dreams, bringing along my drug habit and pessimistic attitude. Leeches like me suck everything out of people, especially the people we love. What the hell would I have done in the Big Apple anyway? Probably overdose. Probably fuck up Violet's life.
First day began. New environment. New people. City streets filled with people and throbbing with the pulse of life. College classes with kids looking for a hundred different agendas on their minds. Subway trains rushing past a thousand people with a thousand places they were headed. Buses. Cabs. Civilians. Criminals. All things I'd been around for months. All things that I still couldn't fully comprehend. Somehow I was still excited. Adrenaline prickled my nerves as I walked to my first class, stumbling into and attempting to maneuver through a sea of anxious college students.
Somewhere between Avenue A, Building C and Hall D, I got lost. Digging through my purse, I hoped to find the map I'd printed off the website a week prior. Of course when I finally dug it out, it was stained with coffee I'd spilled the day before. After getting turned around three different times, I finally stumbled into the right room.
"You look lost." A friend professor smiled, extending his hand. "Welcome to Modern English. I'm Professor Callahan, pleased to meet you."
"Then I'm in the right place." I smiled, relieved. I shook his hand. "Violet Phillips."
"Well, I applaud you for finding your way. You're early."
"I'm pretty sure I'm late, but I gave myself a little extra time this morning." I blushed. Professor Callahan was young, seemed too young to be teaching at a college in New York City. His eyes were friendly and his voice warm. His smile suggested that his maturity greatly surpassed his age.
He chuckled and gestured toward the room. "Choose your seat."
"Thanks." I smiled, scanning over the room. I chose a seat to the left and near the front.
"You may be sitting there for a while, Violet. I've noticed, in my many years of teaching, freshman are almost always late the first day. Not many of them had the foresight that you did."
"Well, its simple logic really."
"To people such as you or I, but to the common college student, everything is new. They are looking at the world through totally new, free, eyes. Time is the last thing on their minds." From then on, I knew I'd definitely enjoy my three day schedule with him.
Just as he predicted, the bulk of the class was ten minutes later than I was. The class was full of people from everywhere. It was such a contrast to the school I'd gone to. So much diversity on the surface and I could only imagine what lurked beneath. Every class I had was the same way, and all promised to be interesting. By the end of the first week, I didn't miss home. All those things that Prof. Callahan had said about college students were beginning to manifest within me. Everything was changing in from of me, and inside of me. College gave me an escape and encouraged me to be myself. And I couldn't wait to complete the metamorphosis.
It was barely September. The air was brisk and leaning toward cold. Kids across the country were moving on with the next stage of their lives, college. Good kids, smart kids, kids who were on "the right path" headed toward real, sober lives. Kids like Violet. I imagined she'd be staring school soon, if she hadn't already. Her future was looking bright, shimmering and shining. Just like a million other kids in America, but not this guy. Unlike mine, which was flickering, halfway to burnt out. Nope, not me though. I was too busy getting fucked up to think about any future beside the immediate one. The who, what, when and where of my next high. Sulking, smoking, fucking and snorting are all I know how to do. Fuck, I wondered, how did it get this bad?
And that's when I remembered. Everything, the ticking time bomb that led to my downward spiral and eventual crash and burn, began with fifth period English my senior year. In that class I met Parker Alexander. Everything started with that kid.
Background on Parker? Drugs. Sex. Booze. Three things that made up his lifestyle. Up to that point, I hadn't experimented with drugs, except the occasion joint or drink, but I'd never been into much. Parker sat next to me, often times I'd find him staring off into the distance and zoning out, never did his homework. There was no reason that I could think of to talk to someone like Parker, but I found him oddly attractive. Now, before you jump to conclusions, I am not gay. Ilovewomen. But, I did find Parker's freedom and honesty very admirable, inviting even. How could someone with so much to lose care so little? How someone so morally wrong be so confident?
Just like every other student, Parker's daddy was a Somebody. Mr. Alexander was the head of a local franchise and his mom was out of the picture. Daddy was always too busy to be around or support his kid, but always managed to write that annual check to RPA.
"Motherfucker," Parker used to say, "always bitchin' about my grades, but daddy's never once looked a report card. He just thinks I'm a failure 'cause of the way I talk. But language don't mean shit to me. How the fuck does that reflect on my intellect and ability? I could have straight A's if I didn't have a pre-determined future."
At first, we were those casual kids whose friendship was built on the fact that neither of us had any friends in our class. When everyone else had partnered up for our first group project and I saw Parker glance around the room, I jumped at the chance to work with him.
"Wanna work together?" I asked casually, when he looked my way.
"Why the hell not?" He chuckled. Parker slid his desk next to mine, starting a casual conversation that revolved around small talk. Passing over past times and school stuff. We discovered that we were both victims of the rapidly spreading epidemic, senioritis. Between our next few projects, Parker and I began to hang out more and more. Together, we graduated high school as the best of friends. The only downside was Vi's constant worrying anytime he and I spoke, let alone hung out. Violet didn't trust Parker, and in all probability didn't like him. Why? I don't know. His business didn't belong to nobody but him, he'd always tell me. Violet explained that he was just into too many drugs and that she knew a lot of people whose addiction had his name written all over it. She didn't want me to become his new project. Understandable, I guess, but Parker had never once offered me anything except the occasional joint. Her paranoia was completely unnecessary and unprovoked.
The summer following my senior year belonged completely to Vi and I. We spent those warm summer days nurturing our relationship, growing as people and all of that jazz. However, any time that I wasn't with Violet, I was with Parker. Sometimes we'd smoke a little or drink a little, but weneverlet things get out of control. Parker was always there to look out for me, watching my back and keeping me out of trouble. Violet had always had the wrong idea about him. However, my testimony about his character never stopped her from checking in on me every time I hung out with Parker. Even in the fall, when school restarted and Parker got the two of us jobs at a gas station, she remained unconvinced.
I mean, since I'd been hanging out with Parker, yes, I had a new past time or two. The worst was that I'd taken up smoking cigarettes. However, I blamed that on the job not on Parker, even though he was always the one who offered them to me. At first, I didn't like the taste of the smoke sticking to my teeth and gums or the feel of the cancer stick between my lips, but I did grow to love the coarse burn in my lungs and the sweet release of nicotine. I brushed my teeth three times before I visited Vi and I washed my hair and clothes. It was so much that I didn't want her to know that I was smoking, I honestly didn't think she'd care. I just didn't want her to blame Parker for my newest habit. None of that stopped the damnable nicotine from calling my name every time I ditched it for Violet. I never ever tried to sneak one past her. I didn't want to lie to her, but omitting certain details was a totally different matter. What I didn't know was how fast omitting things would snowball into deception and betrayal.