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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 03, 2019

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 03, 2019



he walks into the building with a pack of cigarettes.

she had told him to meet her at her room, so that’s where he goes; up the three flights of stairs and to the very first door in the north wing. he knocks, even though she had told him to just come in.

a pause.

he wonders if maybe he’s got the wrong room; he checks the number on the door. 348, it’s correct. he hears a voice. come in, it says. he opens the door, and there she is, sitting on her bed in an oversized sweater that makes her thin wrists look even smaller in comparison.

she looks inexplicably picturesque; the posters on the walls behind her are filled with artwork and obscure bands, and she’s got her string lights turned on. if he had looked a little harder he might have noticed the eight empty containers of sugar free jello on her windowsill, or maybe even the faint streak on her cheek from a tear that rolled down and hadn’t been properly wiped away. he might have noticed the fact that, even though he’d last been in her room a week prior, the same number of dishes had been used. she hadn’t cleaned them. she hadn’t been eating at the dining hall. she hadn’t been eating.

he doesn’t notice, because why would he? only a truly desperate and lonely person would look for details like that.

do you want to go up to the roof? she says. he nods, sure, why not. she stands up, pulls a pair of jeans overtop her already layered pairs of leggings. he stands there silently as she adds layer after layer, tucks her shirt into the jeans, pulls on a turtleneck, wriggles into a fleece jacket, and puts her coat on, both arms at once. he waits as she grabs a black tube and a lighter, and as she pulls a beanie onto her head, and as she stuffs a pair of gloves in her coat pocket. he traces the outline of the cigarette pack in his pocket.

do you have gloves? she asks him. he shakes his head. she raises her eyebrows in some faint memory of the sense of humor she used to have. i’ve got some you can borrow, she says. you won’t last a single cigarette up there without them. he thanks her and shoves the gloves in his pocket.

she finishes putting her boots on. sorry, she says. let’s go, she says. she nearly forgets to turn the light off before she goes. they walk in silence up the last set of stairs. she opens the door to the roof quietly, turning the light switch. the lights flicker, and then the room is dimly lit, and he feels the chill settle over him even here, still inside.

she walks over near the door and takes out the black tube and the lighter from her inside jacket pocket. she opens the tube carefully and removes a joint. it’s her last one, but she doesn’t tell him that.

she takes her coat off, to his confusion. but rather than ask, he just watches as she puts her gloves on slowly, making sure each finger is just right, and tucking them over her jacket sleeves. she pulls her coat on and zips it up. she turns to look at him, her face searching, waiting for something.

it takes him a second. the gloves. he pulls them out of his pocket and puts them on, much quicker than she did. he zips his jacket up, too, and follows her as she opens the door in the far corner and steps out onto the roof.

it’s windier up here, he notices. and icier. he wonders how often she goes up here (every night), and then he wonders if you can see the science center from here (you can). she walks to a dry patch near the wall and sinks down until she is sitting, knees bent, back against the wall. she pulls out the joint and the lighter and lights it, taking a long drag.

there’s something about the moon; on nights like this it has the unmistakable ability to elucidate things. maybe it’s the cold, maybe it makes a clear night just a bit clearer. whatever the reason, he feels for the first time like he can really hear her when she speaks.

“do you have the cigs?”

he nods, pulls them out. she reaches for them, running a gloved finger over the letters. she passes him the joint and takes the opportunity to pull one out and light it.

she takes a long drag. so does he. it’s been that sort of week, he decides. well, it is only tuesday. maybe it’s just been that sort of year.

“how was your quiz?” he asks, breaking the comfortable silence. she had been stressed the night before, sending him snapchats full of open notebooks and textbooks, and pages full of strange symbols and equations.

“good.” she takes another drag. “how was the concert?”

“good, it was... it was great. you should have come.” he unintentionally looks into her eyes when he says the last part. she breaks from his gaze almost immediately.

“yeah.” a pause. “i should have. sorry,” she adds hastily, and then kicks herself for always apologizing for everything.

he passes her the joint wordlessly. she offers him her cigarette in exchange. they smoke in silence, watching as snowflakes begin to fall gently over the street below. he wonders if she goes out anymore; maybe she’s just found a new circle of friends, maybe that’s why he doesn’t see her anymore. but the way her eyes stare blankly at some unknown point in front of her suggests otherwise.

she realizes she’s been holding the joint for a long time, and passes it quickly, resisting the urge to apologize again.

he takes a hit. the familiar smell provides some illusion of warmth amidst the bone-chilling cold they stand in.

she regains possession of her cigarette, now half gone. she pulls the smoke into her mouth and pushes it out. it’s her last attempt to maintain a lifestyle in the vicinity of healthiness: like our famed ex-president, she never inhales. no one seems to notice, a fact she is grateful for. somehow she thinks people might find it silly that she smokes this way, especially given her vast array of equally destructive habits.

her mind wanders off into the moonlight, while his is fixed on the present. he continues the rotation of joint, cigarette, joint, cigarette... until both have burned down to the filter.

as they walk back inside, he wonders if maybe he should say something to her. or maybe he should have said something while they were smoking. maybe he missed the chance.

and suddenly it becomes clear to him: suddenly he notices how shaky her fingers are as she removes her gloves, and when she takes her coat off, what used to be elegant thinness appears jarring and vaguely skeleton-like. he notices the way her eyes bulge slightly when he asks if she wants to get fourth meal. he regards her excuse of being “too high to go out” with skepticism.

but he doesn’t say anything.

he leaves, taking the last bit of warmth with him. and she sits alone, huddled up under a pile of blankets, chewing gum until her jaw feels like it might break, thinking to herself,

does anyone notice?

© Copyright 2020 octonopo. All rights reserved.

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