The smell of smoke residue from some teenagers inhaling cigarettes the other night clouded my senses as a nightly trail of drool went up my nose, the simultaneous wail of a police siren and deathly red of an ambulance hovering in the distance doing nothing to help them. I grumbled a sarcastic ‘good morning’ to myself before peeling myself out of the cold mattress called ‘my bed’ to brush my face.
I had to rethink that thought as I grabbed the red toothbrush and wiggled the last remains of toothpaste from the shriveled mass of plastic lounging on the countertop. The hue of my toothbrush shifting up and down alongside my miserable reflection reminded me of the last color someone would be seeing today.
I blinked, startled by the fact of how my thoughts could go from doughnuts to death in a few seconds, but decided to suppress the realization instead. I could think of another thought instead, right? What was that thing that tried to kill me the other day?
The door is green. The door has bluejays painted on it. The door is
I opened this door, trying to remember the layout of our tiny apartment since smaller things always seem to confuse me more. Actually, I was just trying to find the room where my roommate stashed drugstore chocolate muffins. I didn't need to, however, since the stale quesadilla sitting across from the bowl never washed served as a reminder of where this acclaimed ‘kitchen’ area was.
Dana, my equally-cheap roommate, stumbled out in her comically oversized sweatpants and mismatched crocs. She twirled into the kitchen and sat across me with a bowl, spoon, box of cereal and morning tomato in hand. No milk. The general notion that she was crazy had clicked inside my head since the first time I met her, yet I had never understood why someone should remind another person what they are if they probably already knew what they were.
Outside the window, a finch barked a screeching tune while a Doberman chirped a condescending howl. A teenager who probably shouldn’t be out after all the screams last night was playing on his busted-up guitar, lungs doing surprisingly well as he sang a couple country songs with a vape pen between his teeth. Some baseballs played streetball with a dozen birdbrain children, and happiness started to spread through the neighborhood.
I stayed inside, not wanting to endure the contagious reality of joy and laughter surfacing two stories down and drank a mug of carrot soup since coffee is just as contagious. I put my glasses on, not noticing the note taped onto the right lens until I actually tried to use my indecent vision. I wasn’t very good at reading--since high school diplomas don’t extend to such necessary lengths--but decided to read it anyway since Dana’s creepy grey eyes kept staring at me in a very disturbing way.
“What is this?” I asked after reading the many faults described in Dana’s note.
“I wanna go on an adventure together!” She unfolded a paper map marked abusively in red ink and handed it to me like I would easily choose to read that instead of drink more soup.
“Go outside and pick a stranger then.” I smiled a somewhat sympathetic smile, pointing towards the open window of passing peasants in oversized hoodies and flattered egos. “Eviscerate them if you need to.”
I drank more soup, not knowing why I wasted all my dark jokes on her. She grabbed the map from my side of the table and tucked it into her back pocket, getting up to do who knows what. For a second, I almost thought she had gotten eviscerated herself by some silent ninja lurking in the shadows. My hopes were obliterated though when she came back with a joyful smile and half my dirty clothes piled in her twitchy hands. She approached me before I could fully make out my situation, examining how I looked in different t-shirts and different ballcaps.
“You haven’t been out of here in, like, forever, okay. So you really need to come with me and see the citylife while you still have your bowels.” She nodded to herself, petting my hair and making me wonder why I wasn’t slapping her half-dead.
“The city is ugly,” I deadpanned.
“So is that mole.” She pointed to the old scar on my face from when I decided to go clubbing that one night. My eyebrows lower, but she only giggles and reaches for a hairband to tie around my greasy hair.
I get up after finishing my soup, not letting her finish whatever she was doing, and grab the stale quesadilla to throw out the window for the doltish pigeons to devour. Tiger Woods hit a golf ball like I wish I done to her head as I flipped on the TV and positioned myself upside down on the soda-stained couch. For a pleasurable minute, I was left alone in golfing silence before Dana’s fingernails dug into my underarms to tear me off the couch.
“But it’ll be fun, blondie!”
“No it won’t, I’d rather be a Raina.” I say, grabbing onto the couch with all my strength.
“You’re always Raina on my parade.” She pouted, her strawberry lipgloss glimmering, making me lose my grip long enough to hit the hardwood floor headfirst.
She threw my Red Sox cap and a pair of black leggings at me while my head was still spinning, dumb pigeons circling my head for more quesadillas. I swatted them off and maybe said a couple four-letter obscenities since the floor was annoying and so is Dana.
“I'm still not going.” I curled into the fetal position just in case she tried to drag me out.
“I know you don’t hate me.” She landed herself on the couch royally, using flamboyant hand gestures to talk. “I mean you haven’t thrown carrot soup in my face or anything.”
“I love it too much to give it away.”
“You just get all mad when someone tells you to go outside. And you’re not even the one with asthma!”
I turned my head to look at her because as far as I knew, nobody in this room had excessive mucus lodged into their bronchial tubes. She stuck her tongue out in accordance with my motivation to turn and took the map from inside her back pocket to show me again.
“But you hate Southie,” she whispered slowly.
I looked up, watching as her face brightened but laid on my back again since smiles are contagious. And I only like my contagious carrot soup.
“You get me wrong,” I flipped a dyed-blue bang from atop my eyes away with my carrot breath, extending on the floor to rest. “I just love this moronic city. I just don’t like going on adventures. Most specifically with you.”
“I had hoped you would say that.”
I raised an eyebrow, trying to see if she was going to grab me again but she did something different. “What the-”
Her energetic grey eyes turned blood red as the floor began to rumble. I tried to move but it felt like the entire world was stabilizing me, throwing me into a bad lucid dream, taking everything I had but fear. Around me, forest animals in striped clothing started to sprout from the floor with rope coiled around their necks. I could feel the rope tighten around me as I started to lose my vision slowly, the universe flipping into different directions as life began to move away.
There is no more smoke residue or drool up my nose. No police sirens or wailing ambulances with red toothbrushes to scare me. I sit in Adventureland with Dana and the forest animals, and everything is happy and glittery and smells like tomato paste.
I miss Southie.