Chapter 5: Hangover

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 30

CHAPTER FIVE - HANGOVER

Heavy in Your Arms - Florence and the Machine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bo1n6OTKb0k

 

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Ryan sat beside me every day between scenes on the set. He asked me a thousand questions. From my favorite color to my favorite condiment. His interest in me was inconceivable.

As much as I tried to resist, I couldn’t help but be completely dazzled by him. The draw was unavoidable, magnetic.

He “courted” me for a long, long time. Eight months, to be exact. He was relentless, but still polite somehow.

At one point, my mom had stepped in, worried he was becoming obsessive. She didn’t want me around on set anymore, but I threw a fit. I loved watching the movies before they became movies. And I loved watching my dad.

Dad told me to “go out with him already”. Our encounters seemed to make Ryan distracted. He was constantly in trouble, constantly having to be dragged from me to complete his scenes. One day, Ryan asked me out for the upteenth time and I finally relented. I was pleasantly surprised. He was nothing like I’d expected.

He was gracious. He gave money to beggars on the street and tipped generously every chance he got.

He was talented. He recited lines from old movie roles he played. A scorned ex-lover, a prince, a high school jock. And I would clap, thoroughly impressed. And he would smile. Everything I did made him smile. I wasn’t used to the attention he was giving me. It was foreign and I liked it.

Lent et Douloureux on the restaurant piano, his fingers working the keys with effortless expertise. He played it because I told him it was my favorite. His performance earned him a standing ovation from the patrons. The room filled with applause and clinking forks against champagne flutes. Mostly because of who he was, but still, he was talented. And charming. And funny.

After about a year, I couldn’t help it anymore. I let myself fall. And I fell hard. 

 

We’d just gotten back from the opera. I was almost in a trance. Both from the exquisite singing, which embarrassingly brought me to tears. And because I’d had a bit too much to drink.

I was 19, and had never been to a party, nor did I have consistent peers my age to hang out with. I couldn’t help but take a little advantage of the freedom when I was with Ryan. The freedom to be myself, drink, fool around. For once, I was with someone my own age. It was rare for me. Not since Wendy. Not since third grade.

It was 11 pm and we were strolling through an empty park. It was nippy, but not intolerably so. Not enough to need gloves and chapstick. The leaves on the trees had just begun to turn crinkly and brown. My favorite time of the year. The sky was a deep, starless blue. Ryan’s hair was windblown and his cheeks were scarlet from drinking.

He convinced his body-guard, Drake, to remain parked far away. Hidden behind a row of Boxelder trees. With the way Ryan’s hands were all over me, I was grateful for that.

Sonoma Valley Chardonnay we had earlier. Sweet and acidic, like pineapple. Mine probably did too. And his chemically-whitened teeththat I ran my tongue across—were impossibly straight.

My head swam and my senses were dulled, but faintly I noticed how uncomfortable I was. The bench was too hard for the position we were in. But it was far, far back in my mind.

It’d taken me a long second to notice that he’d unbuttoned my cardigan, tugged down my bra. The air that hit my exposed skin was biting.

I fought through the fog in my mind, torn between whether or not I’d put a stop to this. It’s not that I wasn’t ready, but I wanted to be sober for this.

I stared dumbly at the jet blackness, the straight texture of his hair as he bent his head down and took my nipple in his mouth. He sucked aggressively, as if he were trying to draw something from me. It hurt.

Feebly, I tried to pull him away by his hair. He looked up at me then, his eyes a glimmering emerald. There was a small string of saliva connecting us. “I can’t help myself. You’re just so beautiful.”

Me? Beautiful? No one had ever called me that. Except maybe family members.

And Ryan Cameron—the epitome of beauty—he thought so?

This felt familiar. Cliché. I was pretty sure I’d seen this exact scene in a movie.

I pulled his head up to kiss me again, to take us down a step. His lips were not so tender this time, more urgent. I felt his teeth nip my bottom lip. He kissed me so long I gasped for air and the world was spinning. I watched the reaching trees behind his head tilt sideways.

a condom?—and suddenly found my voice.

“Wait. You know I haven’t done this before,” I murmured. Even in my drunken state, I was embarrassed about my slurry, garbled voice.

Ryan just smiled at me adoringly, his hand was up my skirt, inching my underwear down my legs. His weight pressed down on me.

“I know, baby. Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.” He kissed me again, hard, and I could hear the clank of his belt buckle, the swish of his zipper. This was happening too fast.

Ryan nudged my knees apart. When I felt him, I panicked and he must’ve seen it in my eyes. His face went from hungry to soothing in an instant, his eyes large and imploring. The change reminded me of when I watched him perform. When I watched him slip into someone else’s skin. Seamlessly, like a glove. I calmed, my muscles slowing untensing.

He framed my face in his hands, kissed my forehead.

“I love you,” he stated, enunciating each word carefully, gazing pointedly into my eyes.

I felt like I was dissolving. He loved me! He loved me back!

A very small part of me—almost subconsciously—noted again that he sounded just like he did in one of his movies. Which one was it? The one where he played the prince?

When he pushed inside me, it snapped me out of my pleasurable haze. There was a tear and a sharp, searing pain. When he pressed on, I couldn’t help but cry out.

Love is pain? I thought grimly. Was it supposed to hurt like this? Would it hurt like this forever?

“Wait,” I whispered, clutching at his collar. It hurt too much. I needed him to slow down, but the words wouldn’t come out. I was too drunk. All that came out was “wait.”

Did he hear me? He must not have.

Ryan moaned my name, hitched my leg around his waist and silenced me with his mouth. That was the first of many, many times that he silenced me.  I was weak and I let him.

And it turns out I was right, love would hurt forever.


 

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The beams of sunlight streaming in from the windows were way too bright. Practically blinding, even with the thin covering of my lids. My mouth was full of chalk and my pulse was in my head.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

I refused to open my eyes, but I could hear a quiet commotion. Everyone was starting to wake up. Dishes were tinkling in the background, and I could hear the loud purr of the engine. We had to be close now.

The bus was uncomfortably warm and thick with the dry, yeasty scent of burnt toast. And faintly, cigarettes. The smells hit me like a swift punch in the gut.

I rolled over, as if to shy away from how horrible I was feeling. My clothes were clinging to my skin. The sweat that fused them smelled like cleaner, and my stomach lurched from the memory of the alcohol.

“Someone partied a little too hard last night,” I heard Brent say, humor in his voice. Obviously, he sensed I was awake.

I wasn’t sure if it was the terrible dream I just had, or the hangover, but I was hit with the sudden urge to vomit. My eyes snapped open to the leather couch, sparklers of pain temporarily blinding me.

To my left, Landon was still asleep on the other couch. Still in last night’s position, as a matter of fact. Supine, with his arm thrown over his eyes and one knee popped up. The bottle of Jack Daniels sat empty by his hand. On the floor by the couch, there was a tiny syrup puddle from where one of us must have spilled some. 

He reeked of booze. I could smell the Jack Daniels seeping from his pores and from his quiet, rhythmic breaths. He was still out.

My intestines were giving me an “Indian rug burn” and I realized with panic that I might actually vomit.

I looked over at Miles and Brent standing in the small kitchen area. They were eating, smoking and talking quietly amongst themselves. Their eyes were slightly puffy and their hair was frizzy from what seemed like a good night’s sleep. Lucky them.

“You totally burnt my toast, man,” Miles whined when Brent turned to him, handing him a small plate with two pieces of black toast.

“It’s extra flavor.”

Unsteadily, I got up as the burning stomach acid began its dreaded ascent. Even my feet felt sensitive when they made contact to the floor. The carpet might as well have been gravel.

Okay, I’ll just run to the bathroom quietly. No biggie.

I crossed the bus to the bathroom and the boys’ heads turned when they heard me.

 “She’s alive!”

“Barely.”

I couldn’t answer. My head was spinning as I grabbed the silver bathroom door handle. It was locked. Faintly, I could hear the shower running. Steam billowed from underneath the door.

Shit.

Perspiration rolled down my back and my mouth filled with saliva.

“Woah, you’re like, green. Are you gonna barf?” Miles asked me from the couch as he tore the charred pieces off his toast. He smiled a mischievous, crinkly-eyed grin. He seemed much more amused than repulsed.

I scanned the area for a trash can, but I wasn’t quick enough. My stomach heaved.

Dizzily, I noticed one of the windows was down. I clambered onto the couch and popped my head out the window, right into the blur of traffic. My hair whipped around my face from the velocity of the bus.

The contents of my stomach shot out of me with such force, it was almost impressive. I winced internally as I watched it splatter down the side of the bus. Thankfully, it was more liquid than chunk.

I spat the terrible taste out and pulled my head back in. Then I plopped back down on the couch, winded, but ultimately relieved.

Brent reached up and closed the window, waving his hand in front of his nose. “Phew. Smells like gasoline.”

Now that I felt better, the humiliation sunk in. My color returned and flooded my cheeks.

“Yeah, sorry. I had a little too much to drink last night.”

“Yeah, I figured,” he laughed. “I think you could spontaneously combust with the amount of booze you’re drenched in.”

“Looks like she already did,” Miles guffawed, his mouth full.

I forced a bashful smile and Brent patted my shoulder. His eyes were soft, consolatory. “Relax, we’re messing with you.”

Suddenly, the bathroom door opened and wet steam rolled into the room. Owen emerged in a graphic tee and ripped jeans. He smelled unmistakably like Irish Spring soap. Loud, masculine and fresh.

“What’s up?” He asked, dirty clothes in hand.

“Owen, you made her blow chunks everywhere,” Miles chided.

Owen looked at me, then back to Miles. He squinted like he was trying to figure out the joke.

“Mind if I’m next?” I asked no one in particular. I was desperate to brush my teeth and shower.

“Not at all. You kinda stink. No offense,” Miles teased.

I decided to ignore that as I grabbed my clothes and toiletries from the suitcase on my bunk. I closed and locked the bathroom door behind me, sighing in relief.

The shower was maybe two steps from the door, but at the moment I didn’t mind a cramped room. I was relieved to finally be alone. I reached over, pulling down the lever and with a loud creak, it sputtered alive.

I turned, dropping my toiletry bag in the sink, and scrubbed the steam off the mirror.

With a sigh, I took a good look at myself for the first time in months. Scruffy, as usual. 

I’d always hated the contradictions of my features. Unkept, leonine hair, too big and too dark for my white face. Unplucked eyebrows over wide eyes, the color, and depth of dirt or coffee grounds. The Girl Next Door, the magazines said. 

There was vomit in my hair.

I undressed with haste, scrutinizing my body as I waited for the water to heat up. Cupped my breasts, and turned around, inspecting myself. It was a relief to see my body bruise-free for once, though it could’ve looked much better. My skin was almost translucent, I was so white. I looked as dead as I felt.

The hot water was almost too hot, but I liked it that way. I scrubbed until my skin squeaked, and until my hair was laced with the smell of bananas, my favorite shampoo.

Perhaps it was because I still felt a little hungover, but my mind was comfortably hazy. Well, when it came to Ryan anyway.

Did Landon lie to me last night? He was still using? Would he be going through withdrawals now that he’s been on a bus all day and night?

I turned to the stream, deciding I would try to keep my distance as much as I could.

 

 

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It wasn’t until we actually made it to Ace of Spades that the nerves hit.

I paced around in my dressing room, secretly hating the sequined jacket Stephanie insisted I wear. I watched my wild expression in the vanity, willing it to fade. The makeup under my eyes was smeared from my sweat and my fingers when I forgot about it.

My phone had a “good luck” text from Lucy, Stephanie, and my mother. I answered my mother, then turned my phone off and wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans.

Finally, I decided to leave the room. I needed a distraction. I told Rick, who was waiting outside the door, to leave me be. He didn’t listen. I groaned as he and his bald head followed me to Silent Hell’s dressing room.

“Sorry, Riley,” he said. “You know the rules,” He stopped outside the door with his big, crossed arms. The door was cracked.

Inside, Landon was standing at a snack-adorned wooden table. His lanky body was clad in a leather jacket and inky, thin jeans. His golden hair was slicked back. His hair was straight, but some of the ends were finely curly against his neck. There was a cigarette dangling from his mouth. His pale eyes scanned the snacks indecisively.

Tentatively, I rapped my knuckles against the door, to which he looked up and smiled in greeting. When Landon smiled, his eyes did too. How could eyes so light be so warm?

In the back of my mind, I noted that my heartbeat stuttered when I approached him. I hated that.

I noticed smelled much better now. Like the same Irish Spring soap Owen had used.

“I thought you quit smoking,” I commented. You’re quite the conversationalist there, eh Riley?

“I did.” He laughed quietly, a short huff of air from his nose that was barely perceptible. Then he picked up a cookie. “Want anything to eat?”

I waved it away, my stomach clenching. “No thanks. I drank a bit too much last night.”

“Yeah,” he exhaled smoke. “I saw your puke all down the side of the bus. The range there, color me impressed.”

I rolled my eyes, trying to hide my mortification. “Thanks.”

He grinned and tapped the extra ash off his cigarette into a glass ashtray. His fingers were covered in rings. “Nice jacket. I dig it.”

“I hate this jacket.” And I was hot. I meant to slip it off in one, smooth motion, but it turned into an awkward, clumsy battle. Once I finally got it off, I threw it onto a plastic chair by the table.

He pulled another chair over, gestured open-handed for me to sit. Then got one for himself.

He sat down and crossed his legs. “Are you usually angry when you’re nervous?”

My eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What makes you think I’m nervous?” He was right, of course, but how would he know?

“You’re sweating.” Right.

“So are you,” I retorted, wiping my forehead.

“‘Cause I’m hungover. That’s whiskey,” he pointed to the shine on his forehead.

“Uh-huh. Where is everyone?”

He shrugged. “Drinking. Talking to some chicks.”

“And you’re not with them?”

“I’m not really in the mood,” he murmured, tipping back in his chair. I watched the butt of his cigarette turn red as he sucked.

“Can I have one?”

“You smoke?” He looked surprised.

“No.”

Landon handed me a cigarette and a Bic.

Cluelessly, I lit it and took a drag. The heady, searing smoke took me off guard. My lungs shut down in protest. I coughed and quickly handed it to Landon.

“That’s gross, Landon,” I choked out.

He laughed. “It is.” But then he began chain smoking. “You know what they say, when you get out there just picture everyone in their underwear.”

He looked away thoughtfully, tilting his head. “Or is it that you picture them naked?”

“Thanks, but I’d rather not.” I took a deep breath. “I think I’ll be alright.”

“I know you will.” He said it with such genuity, such conviction. His sudden lack of facetiousness took me off guard and I was quiet.

Someone knocked on the door and told Landon he was on.

He ground his cigarettes into the ashtray and said, “showtime.”

My anxiety began to rise again, and he gave me a pat on the shoulder before waltzing out.

I was next. And I wasn’t ready.


Submitted: March 29, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Megan Mackenzie. All rights reserved.

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