I opened my eyes, shielding them from the thin lines of light peeking through the shades. When I leaned over to kiss Brooke good morning, how shocked was I! To my left there was a guy, and to my right…a guy. The thought—and my hangover—made me vomit in my mouth. Closing my eyes, I swallowed it down hard, then held my breath as I wriggled out from under the blankets. Quietly, I crawled off the mattress, got dressed, and booked it. Correction; this was like running from the plague.
* * *
The mirror was there to remind me of who I was, as always.
“I hate you.” I growled, tears of rage pouring from my eyes. That night, I sat on the bathroom floor and drank. Anything to get the events out of his head.
But even when drunk, that was all I could think about. I wished with every ounce of my being that it hadn’t happened…but I couldn’t change that.
When I woke up, I refused to open my eyes, and instead turned over, trying to re-enter the dream world. I felt someone breathing on my face; my eyes snapped open, and I found myself face-to-face with a guy. Screaming, I sat up, and saw that I was in a bed with nearly ten other guys. They all awoke up to my scream, and began smiling and touching my body. Wildly, I flailed my arms batting their hands away, but they were stronger than me, and eventually I tired, and just lay there, crying, feeling completely and utterly violated…
“Joel! Joel, stop it!” My friend Kyle yelled, trying to grab my arms and stop me from hitting him. My breathing was heavy, and I was dripping with sweat. “Dude, you okay?”
“Where’s Luke?” I slurred incoherently.
“Not here. On his way to Hannah’s. I passed him on the way out.”
Miserably, I rubbed his eyes. “What time is it?”
Flipping open his phone, Kyle answered, “eight o’clock.”
I groaned, “In the morning?”
“No, dude, at night. I’ve been texting you all afternoon to ask you if you wanted to party hop with me tonight, but you didn’t answer, so I decided to check up on you. Good thing I did, too. You look awful. What’s the deal? You never get solo drunk.” He picked up the bottle of vodka and then the bottle of rum, both of which were at least half empty, staring at me warily.
“I don’t wanna talk about it, man.” I death-gripped the toilet and proceeded to puke my guts out.
When I looked up, Kyle was chewing on his nails nervously. “Yeah, never mind about going out. You should take it easy tonight and recover…Maybe I should take you to the hospital and get you checked for alcohol poisoning.”
“No, not the hospital. I gotta go to the park.” I coughed and crawled over to the door.
Kyle looked confused. “What?”
“There’s this girl—”
“Whoa.” Putting a hand up, he interjected, “Let me stop you there. You aren’t going to see a girl like this. You’re in a bad way, dude.”
In the end, Kyle ended up staying with me, and we watched a movie. But I couldn’t focus on the movie. All I could think about was Brooke and those guys, and that girl from the park…
I decided to say a little prayer. I didn’t very often, because it didn’t seem to have ever worked for me, but I was desperate. And still drunk.
God, please, I don’t know what to do. Brooke ripped my heart out… and those guys…ugh…never mind, if I think about that too hard I’m going to throw up…and that girl…man, I want to see that girl again. And Brooke ripped my heart out. Wait…I already said that.
I just want to forget about Brooke and about what happened last night with her and with those guys…actually, it would be awesome if I could just forget about every night recently…ya…that would be greatly appreciated…Ok, bye.
Just then, Luke got home. And beside him was none other then Hannah.
“Ewwwww!” I groaned dramatically, sure to be loud enough for both of them to hear.
Snapping his fingers, Luke pointed at Kyle and me and ordered, “Disappear.”
“You want to come back to my house?” Kyle offered.
“Are your parents gonna care?”
“When are they home?” He laughed.
“Disappear.” Luke repeated, kissing Hannah at the door.
I gnashed my teeth and made loud growling noises in Luke’s face as Kyle lead me, stumbling, out the front door, saying, “Stop it. Joel. Stop it. You’re drunk. Hey. Cut it out.”
The minute my head hit the pillow, I fell asleep.
* * *
In the morning, I felt a little better, but the thoughts hadn’t left. Turning over, I looked at Kyle’s bed, which was empty. Weakly, I pulled myself up off the floor by means of Kyle’s dresser, and held firmly onto the railing as I staggered down the stairs. I entered the kitchen to see Kyle pouring a splash of Kahlua into his coffee.
“Hold the Kahlua on mine, man.” I yawned, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes.
“Hey, the dead has risen.” He chuckled, pouring a second mug of coffee for me. “Did you see how much you drank, dude? You got trashed! I was worried that you had alcohol poisoning…I’m surprised you didn’t.”
Taking it from him, I answered, “Oh, yeah…I remember you saying something to that effect. And how you wouldn’t let me go to the park.’
“Ha-ha, kidding, kidding. I don’t know why I was thinking that I was gonna go to the park like that.”
We sat for a few minutes in silence. The thoughts of how I could’ve very possibly killed myself last night hit me hard, leaving my head pulsating. In fact, recalling again the amount of alcohol I had ingested, I should be dead right now. How was it humanly possible that I’d survived that?
“Joel.” Kyle smacked my shoulder. “Hey, what’s the matter?”
Still caught up in my thoughts, I answered disconnectedly, “I should’ve died…Kyle, I should be dead. How am I still here? How did I survive?”
Shrugging, he answered, “I was wondering the same thing, dude. But you know what, you’re a fighter; you can survive anything.”
But I couldn’t help but think there was something—rather, someone—behind it…
I remembered my conversation with the girl at the park. In particular, it was something that she had said: ‘I trust that God will protect me’.
“I gotta go to the park.”
“Oh no, we’re not gonna do this again, are we?”
“No, dude, seriously. I’m not even drunk anymore.”
“Alcohol can kill brain cells, man. You being drunk isn’t exactly what I’m worried about…”
Ignoring his statement, I continued, “And I didn’t mean right at this moment. Tonight.”
“But Kayla and her roommates are throwing a suite party tonight. They have three kegs and—”
“I know, man, and you can go, no one’s stopping you, but I really gotta go see her.”
I thought Kyle’s eyes were going to pop right out of his head, “Wow, Joel turning down a party…never thought I’d see the day. This girl must be smokin’. Mind if I come with?”
“Awesome. Just a word of advice though, you may want to change and shower before you go. You smell like regurgitated alcohol and old cologne.”
“Thanks, Kyle. You really know how to boosts guy’s self-esteem.”
Smiling, Kyle shrugged, “It’s what I do.”
Miserably, I grabbed my head, and moaned, “My brain feels like it’s going to explode out of my ears. Got any pain killers?”
“Nah, sorry, dude.” He poured more coffee into my mug. “My mom doesn’t buy that stuff. Says it causes cancer or something. I don’t know where she gets her information. Probably from a ‘paranoid people unanimous’ forum or something.”
I laughed painfully.
“You up for anything to eat? It may help your head…”
“…Maybe in a little while. I don’t think I can hold it right now.” Closing my eyes, I added, “I’m gonna go lay down.” My phone buzzed from inside my pocket. I pulled it out and flipped it open. A party text. That’s all I ever got. It made me feel like I was only good for one thing…
“Mind if I watch a movie while you nap?”
“Nah.” I dragged myself off the chair and slouched into the living room.