How many times do you have to tell yourself that you’re addicted to the feeling, not the drug, before it starts to be true? You salivate thinking about the high, not the powder, the warmth, not the pills. You can stop any time you want, you say. You just don’t want to. You break open a capsule of Adderall and scrape the congealed alcohol and clumps of dirt from the sink before tapping the orange beads onto the porcelain. They scatter like jitterbugs and you gum the strays. You try and do a line but the tiny spheres get caught in the folds of the dollar bill. (Different than cocaine. Noted.) You break open another capsule and tuck it deep in your nose. “Do it hard,” your friend says and you inhale with sick desperation, thrilling urgency. The sound of your sniff floods your ear drums and empties your lungs but you keep it going as you lift your cheek (sniff sniff sniff up up up go go go), chasing the high with anatomical cheats taught to you by senior girls. You lean forward and examine your nose in the mirror for any evidence of your indulgence. All clear. You look away before your eyes get a chance to focus on the sweat lining your forehead, the manic gleam in your misty eyes. You and your friends move to the dance floor and your drunk is buried by your Addy high, and before long your Addy high isn’t enough and it falls victim to its elder brother coke in the basement. One line, two lines, three lines, four.
Back upstairs, you see him with her. You suck in your breath (you’re okay breathe you’re okay) but the drugs force it right back out before you could comfort your screaming heart. You continue (your heart shrieks) like this for a few (your heart moans) seconds, struggling to steady (your heart fucks the flow of crystalline tropane alkaloid that you paid sixty dollars for on the staircase twenty minutes before) the smoke-heavy exchange of oxygen and (your heart roars) carbon monoxide. You’re fine, you tell yourself, and miraculously you are, by some stroke of luck you find it in you to keep dancing and smiling and flip your hair when he looks and pat it back down when he doesn’t. He doesn’t notice you because he’s more fucked up than you could ever dream of being (yet), but you keep your feet shuffling to the beat. You take a moment to congratulate yourself, because it was you who fought those tears, it was you who turned your back on his smile (a smile that he’s only given you while you were riding him at 2pm on a Thursday afternoon while you were both rolling on MDMA). Wasn’t it? Wasn’t it you? Or if you peeled back the layers of drug induced ecstasy would you have found your beer tears? You shake it off. You made it through, and that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?
You wake up from dreaming about fighting with him, seeing him with her, and you have to take a moment to remind yourself that it did not really happen — or at least not again. You roll over and glance at the clock. 8:42 am. What did happen last night? You started the night off in a fancy dress, chugging mixed drinks with your friends and letting the alcohol ignite your belly. You laugh with your date and you make eye contact with a boy you vaguely know. You hold his stare as you pour more Tito’s into your cup, and still when you knock it back with unwavering resolve (there’s no choice. You’re getting wasted tonight. You have to.). You make it to the bar and feel nice and loose but after a moment your stomach sinks. You see familiar faces but not the one you want, not the one who called you by another girl’s name the night before in a drunken stupor as you climbed into bed next to him. You still feel loose but not too nice anymore. You get another drink. You take a sip. Looser. You’re bored. Why are you bored? You convince yourself it’s because nobody’s dancing, because you’re tired of these people. But as you knock the tip of the straw against the roof of your mouth again and again until the spot goes numb, you can’t chase away the thought that maybe it’s the lack of frantic heartbeat, jumpy vigilance. Maybe this loose just isn’t loose enough.
When your date tells you and your friend that someone has coke, you feel your spirit lift. Yes. You stumble outside and your heels sink into the muddy grass. You join a circle of boys and one of them hands you a baggy. You stand confused for a moment — where are you supposed to do the line? — before you see the key. Oh. Key bump. You dip the metal into the freshelectricwhitepure powder and resurface with a microscopic snow man. You inhale it with refreshing force and your friend does the same, turning her back on the group so they wouldn’t notice how much she was taking. You go back inside and the smile is back on your face but you still feel empty and worn. You close your eyes and his face flashes behind your lids. You tear away the image before it can develop into coherent feelings of the same inadequacy you’ve felt so many times before. You check your texts. Your friends want to leave the bar to go get adderall from the room. You breathe a sigh of relief. More. That’s what you need. Always more.
On the way out of the bar, you and your friends run into a boy you used to know well. “Where are you going?” he asks with a smile that is suave but strange, as the boys whose charm is found in their quirks often are. “To get more drugs,” you say, smiling and urging the light to reach your eyes so that your cheer seems genuine. “I have drugs right here,” he said, and the street light makes the baggy glow with minuscule constellations, “want a bump?” Do you ever. You take his key and salvage a hefty amount. You hand it back and mumble a “thanks” in between cheek lifts and gum dabs. You and your friends continue on and when you enter the dorm, you see a girl that you vaguely know dragging her laundry through the hall. You grin at her, trying to be nice, and she gives you a close-mouthed smile that falters after a second of judgment. You furrow your brow, confused. Could she have known that you were on your way to get high(er)? There was no way, you thought, as you followed your friends into the bathroom for a quick pee break before going to the room. As they enter the stalls, you look at yourself in the mirror. Your right nostril is coated in cocaine. You laugh in disbelief as your friends join you in the mirror. “How did you guys not tell me?” you ask, and though you’re still laughing your stomach sinks when they don’t have an answer, having been too coked out themselves to notice your blow-caked nose. You think back to the girl in the hallway. You must have looked scary, crazy, out-of-control. You swipe the coke off of your nose with your thumb and stick it into your mouth. Well. Aren’t you?