TW: Drugs, Loss, Death
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Everything was pitch black and then the lights came on. Blindingly bright lights from somewhere up above, possibly directly over his head. He knows he should be here, but he can’t remember why. What are his lines? His eyes strain down towards the audience, but he can only make out oval shaped blobs that are faces staring back at him. What are his damn lines? He curses silently under his breath, trying to remember how he got here, but silent his words are not. Instead, his swear rings out loud. The heads stay perfectly still. He reaches up and touches his face, trying to figure out where the mic is. He cannot find it.
He starts to panic. His lines are completely lost to him. Vomit fills his mouth, but he swallows it back down and swipes his rough hand over his face. He looks to the left, to the right, he swivels around and looks at the back of the stage. There are no curtains or exit where there should be. Each step he takes rings out towards the audience, he is sure they can hear the panicked beating of his heart as well. He turns back towards the audience and now there is a chair in front of him.
“Take a seat.” They speak. He can’t pinpoint who said it, but it did sound like multiple people said it at once. The blurred heads are perfectly still. Is this an audition? No, no, the audition is over. He knows that but he can’t remember when the audition was. His mind races as he takes a seat, a bead of sweat rolling down his forehead.
“Tell us.” They speak again. This time he realizes they aren’t actually speaking, but he is hearing the words anyways.
He laughs nervously, “What would you like me to tell you?”
It all floods back to him and he suddenly knows his lines. He does not want to speak them. He wants to run, hide, beg, but he finds himself stuck to his chair. He knows that there is only one option. He does not know why he knows this, but he does. So, he starts.
“I was born in nineteen ninety-seven to Joe Anderson and Christy Leem. I was born addicted to coke and given up for adoption. Mike and Tim Christenson adopted me three months after I was born and brought me home to their three-bedroom, two bath farmhouses. Mike was ‘Dad’, Tim was ‘Papa’, and I loved them very much throughout my whole life. I don’t remember much from birth to six, but I have been told that I always loved the horses they had. Fire Striker was my favorite, but he was old, he died before I ever got a chance to ride him.
“In elementary, I had a schoolteacher that I very much disliked. Mr. Jackson made us sit still for hours on end, he didn’t understand that kids need to run, explore, make mistakes, and learn from them. I also didn’t like his mustache, it creeped me out. He gave me detention five times that year because I was passing notes to Molly. She was my first crush.
“In middle school, I finally got the nerve up to ask Molly out. I was young and didn’t really understand what it meant to have a girlfriend. I didn’t treat her very well. It was eighth grade when I kissed the next-door neighbor’s girl, Samantha. Dad had been mowing the back yard, but something had gotten stuck in the blades, so he came up to the front where he saw Samantha and I kiss. Later, Papa pulled me aside after dinner and handed me the phone. I started crying but he did not care about my feelings, he only cared that I had messed up and had hurt someone close to me. Molly cried when I told her. She kept asking ‘why?’ but I did not have a good answer for her. She left the necklace I gave her on our door step the next day and ignored me for the rest of our school years.
“My sophomore year of high school I met Angela. She was a transfer student from Vancouver, so very far away from Charleston, South Carolina. She had the most beautiful brown hair, olive skin, and these dark chocolate pools of eyes. I lost myself in her. I found myself in her. By the end of our senior year, she was pregnant. Dad and Pop were not happy with us but let her live in our home when they found out that her parents had kicked her out with only the clothes on her back. They bought her new clothes, a cell phone, and helped bring us to all her doctor appointments. We both got jobs and my parents helped when they could, though they weren’t exactly happy about it.
“When our daughter was born, my parents instantly fell in love with her. They babysat any time we asked and cried when we told them we had found an apartment. Three weeks before we were supposed to move in, a house fire destroyed the house I grew up in.” Tears start filling his eyes and a sob escapes his throat. “It killed Dad, Pop, and our little Denise. Angela took her own life two weeks later. I had everything I had ever wanted and then it was all taken away. I hadn’t even gotten a full year with my little girl. I no longer had a future in which I could be happy.” There are tears streaming down his face now, rolling down his cheeks and dripping from his chin. There is no sound as they hit the ground.
“I tried to kill myself too, but it didn’t work. The police showed up before the rope could fully kill me. To this day I still don’t know who called them, but I am still mad that they did. A long hospital visit and a ten-thousand-dollar bill later, I went to our apartment alone. I had a pocket full of oxycodone for the pain the rope caused, and I fell in love again. I woke up and took a pill, went to work and took a pill, drove home and took a pill. This went on for months until the prescription finally ran out.
“I didn’t want to get sober, so I texted my old high school friend, Greg. He had dropped out of school before Angela had gotten pregnant and I knew he had what I needed. I caught him up on all that had happened and invited him over. He brought the medicine.” He hangs his head. Now he really doesn’t want to continue. He looks back up and the face shaped blobs stay in the exact same position they were in when the lights came on. He wants to stop but the words come out anyways.
“He walked into the apartment and handed me the baggy. I walked him into the kitchen and opened my wallet again, no cash. He asked me how I was going to pay. That’s when I hit him over the head with the rolling pin Angela had used to bake her home-made peanut butter cookies before her death. I didn’t kill him, but I knew he would be out for a while. I plopped myself on the couch and turned up Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. I heated the heroin up, put it in the syringe, and pressed it into my arm. Now, I am here.”
He looks up and sees the blobs nod. “You may continue.” They say in unison.
“Wha… What?” He stutters, but it doesn’t matter. The lights become brighter; everything disappears. He floats, 'comfortably numb' he thinks to himself. He senses his body being pulled apart, but he can not feel it. He watches his hands turn into colorful strings and float up above his head. Up, up, up, now all he can see is colorful strings. Then, he can no longer see.
“Upload complete.” They speak to no one.