I never thought vomiting could be classy. I was emptying my insides on the faux marble floor of the newest bar in town, my hands slipping against the tiled walls. The lighting was right and the bass of the music thumped through the soles of my feet. It was an ugly picture, but I was trying to do it in style.
“Okay, buddy, c’mon, you gotta go-” Fingers closed around my forearms, sticky and gripping too tightly. I was thrown back, my posture erected, and I was shoved away from my safe little corner. More voices.
Disgust, “Dude, did you fucking puke?”
Recognition, “Adam? Adam, man, what did you do?”
Frustration, “Get that fucker out of here!”
My head was still reeling as I tripped over the threshold and onto the concrete outside. “Get some rest, go home,” the fingers released me and patted me on the back. They left me alone, sitting in the parking lot.
I had gone through three cans of Four Loko and I downed enough shots of Smirnoff I could’ve finished off a bottle. When I go out, I drink what I’m given. I’m still young, still invincible. Nothing has ever torn me apart or eaten me whole.
I staggered to my feet with my hands reaching into the night air. Summer has never felt that long. Eternal.
Wiping residue off of the corners of my mouth, I stumbled out of the lot, pushing the neon signs behind me. Dark trees and shadows embraced me, hovering above as I made my way down a sidewalk. Houses stood aback, quietly and observant, harboring sleeping families. I had no idea what time it was. Even the roads were abandoned.
Yet I was relaxed. I was strolling, lazily, hazily, I was relaxed. Floating around the town I grew up, I recognized windows and porches and beaten cars. It was familiar.
Living in a small town guarantees on thing: the promise that you always come back. Growing up, you know you have to get out. You have to leave as soon as possible. High school ends, and you bolt. Only for you to realize the fact that you have nowhere to go. This is it. You stay prowling the same alleyways you grew up with.
Berkeley Street, a short turn off of Main.
Eloise Keller was my best friend, at 433 Berkeley Street, the wide-faced, yellow-sided house with a well-kept lawn. When I was fourteen, I decided I was too cool for her. My legs became too long and my brother dropped out of college, and when I started smoking weed, she stopped hanging out with me. She wasn’t disappointed in me; rather, I was too high for anyone to grasp and bring back down to earth. She just couldn’t sit around with someone who was gone half the time.
When we met in the first grade, I told her I loved her. As would any sensible six-year-old, I proposed and we married at recess. We kissed on it and made plans to watch Nickelodeon after school.
It was difficult when we hit fourteen. I kept my awkward frame and sloppy grin throughout puberty. Her sister started driving and we would camp out in the backseat of their minivan. There was one point where I could look at her and want to kiss her, and there was another point where I actually did. We would kiss and touch and stay behind closed doors. She never brought it up in front of anybody, so neither did I. Maybe she was ashamed of me.
Eloise would listen to me praise about the band I never had, the fame I always imagined once I learned guitar. But she would be blunt. There was no bullshit.
She found out about the weed when she was playing Mario Kart in my room, and I got a call downstairs. Walking back into the room, I was halfway through a joke before I saw the bag in her hands.
I choked. “What?”
But she didn’t have an answer. I don’t know how she found it.
She smoked with me a few times, where we would sit in the same darkness I found myself in now. And touch and kiss and fade away. But after awhile, she didn’t ask anymore. She didn’t ask if I was busy, or how I was, or if I wanted to hang out. I didn’t ask her either. I let her be. I stayed away. I found different people to sit in the dark with.
We turned fifteen, and then sixteen, and then seventeen. So on.
I wondered if she ever liked me. I wondered if she ever loved me.
I don’t think I ever felt more alone than I did standing outside of her house, horribly drunk. I decided I didn’t want to be alone anymore.
“Eloise,” I stage whispered, my voice slurred. Her room was the top right window, with the green curtains drawn back.
I coughed, throwing up my arms. “Eloise!” No response.
“Goddammit Eloise,” I wheezed, chucking myself forward. I was on my back, lying on top of her lawn. Cold clumps of grass prodded into my neck as I craned it to look to the sky. The stars were beautiful.