short fiction, six
Your best friend, one half of your intervention, lives across the hall from him and the two of you hear his music playing when you come home one night.
You walk into his loft around three am. You play it cool because you don’t want him to see how impressed you are by his space. (He sees, and he sees that you already don’t want him to think that you’re easily impressed, and he smiles at the game.) Walking into it feels overly intimate, but he designed it that way – to feel like the inside of his head.
You’ll learn later that, just like his head, it is capable of sudden and complete change, that the yellow bulbs that drew you in and made you feel real will change to red neon around six am when he’s been up for days and the mocking encouragement leaves his smile and he’s angry enough to throw furniture or fuck and you’ll take it in the king-sized bed in the middle of the loft, or on the old leather couch under the shelves and shelves of his work, catalogued in manila folders and on VHS, published and unpublished, because you’ll be afraid of him. But you’ll like it more. You’ll love the power in him, even when it scares you and makes you scream, because it’ll be new. Because you’ll feel it. Because it’ll be real. Because it’ll be such a contrast to the man you love who hasn’t experienced an emotion half as raw in the entire time you’ve known him, who accidentally hints that he once had a power like this but buried it so long ago it’s probably died, who carries that void around with him and can’t decide if he’ll let you fill it.
But this violent desperation, this violence is terror in bliss coming at you with the full force of a man who wears the strength of his flesh proudly. The tattooed hands will close around your neck with an anger and vitality you’ve never known.
And later still you’ll learn about that space during the day. The cold blue morning light will wake you naked in that bed in the middle of all that open space except the space will be filled with people rushing around you, packing lenses and batteries and cameras and flashbulbs into cases and shouting questions to him. You’ll feel exposed to these strangers, but they won’t see your face. They’ll just see another bony naked girl stretched across his bed, one of the many you’ll find out about even later. The whole strange ten am circus will rush out the door and you’ll catch his eye as he grabs his bag to leave. He’ll tell you to order groceries if you get hungry, that the FreshDirect guys know him, that you can stay until six but then you’ll have to go because his family is coming over.
“and for god’s sake, clean up all the fucking dope.” before the door slams.
And he’ll go to work on whatever project he has going and you’ll roll over. That deep emptiness in you will ache and you’ll look at your body in the clinical morning light and know the new bruises aren’t causing the new pain and you’ll wonder how it got like this.
But right now you’re just sitting in his space. You take the pill he offers you even though you’re sitting next to the friend who’s trying to get you off drugs because he tells you it’s a pharmaceutical. that warm yellow light drips over you like syrup, eroding your insides. He and your best friend are exchanging stories and you’re laughing and feeling the pull of both of them like you’re balancing between good and evil but you don’t know yet which is which or how completely sinister and wholly pristine each of them can truly be. You’re just sitting on the floor, looking up at them, the blonde one with the perfect skin on your right and the dark haired one with tattoos and an energy like a black hole on your left, and they’re both smiling down at you.
You’ll be on your bike the next night at one am going back to his loft because you’ll have spent the whole day wondering about him and on the way you’ll get a text from the man you love even though you haven’t heard from him since the intervention.
It’ll say “just dont do drugs w/ him.”