The club was as dirty as the dubstep the DJ was playing. As I pushed my through the crowd, a boy’s long, black, unwashed hair flicked in front of my face, the strobe making it look like someone was snapping a fistful of long, robotic whips. The tips of the hair flashed as they rose, and the boy pulsated in staggered rhythm to the dubstep bass. I shoved past him and he reeked of weed. Or maybe that was me. A girl with plastic fangs attached to her teeth scowled as she stalked me as though I were some sort of prey. She drew my face close to hers and bared her cheap fang installments with intended menace. I pushed her aside, feeling sick from whatever the fuck I had consumed.
I heaved the toilet door open with what was left of my strength and stepped past a Goth girl grinding up against another girl who looked as though she had taken a detour on her way home from school. I lurched forward onto my knees and hurled. It was all liquid, I’d hardly eaten anything all day. Maybe nothing, in fact. I rested my head on the front of the toilet seat. I could hear the girls outside the cubicle making soft moaning noises, and the pounding of the bass against the wall beside me. I rested the back of my hand against the wall on my right and felt the beat caress my nausea. It was strangely comforting. I heard the door open and a set of knuckles rapped on my cubicle.
“Out in a sec,” I wheezed.
I stood up, leaning my weight against the wall with my right shoulder. I dry retched as I stood, but I felt a tremendous amount better than I had before. I straightened out my black leather skirt and re-adjusted my top. I figured there was no point fixing my hair or makeup without a mirror. I unlocked the door and stumbled out, reaching for the bench. I knelt down and rested my chin on the bench. I stared at myself in the mirror for what felt like eternity. My focus kept going in and out, and I smiled deliriously.
I woke up on the floor of my flat, still clutching my handbag and my keys. I had no idea how I got back, but, well, at least I was back. My flat mate Jamal was out like she always was. I could never tell whether she was at work or at her boyfriend’s place. Why the hell did I go out by myself? I stripped my stinking clothes off right there in the living room and chucked them on the sofa, picking a semi-dry towel up off the floor as I headed to the shower. The hot water was such a release, massaging the skin on my back. As I tilted my head back I felt the water slowly creep up from the back of my scalp to my forehead. I closed my eyes. I was unemployed, single, barely in touch with my parents or friends (from a time that seemed like forever ago), I went out only occasionally… What had happened? Where had I strayed from the path of convention? My law degree sat in the bottom of a trunk under my bed, along with a credible CV and my courage. I smacked the front wall of the shower with my fists. Fuck it. My muscles tensed. I shampooed my hair vigourously and washed out the suds. I grabbed my damp towel with purpose and dried myself. I walked to my room, threw back the curtain to my wardrobe then stood there, naked, my hair dripping water down my back. I stared at my vast collection of primarily too-small clothes from a not-too-long-ago phase of self-inflicted starvation. Formal clothes from university. Where are they? I scanned the top shelf and spied an item that looked less like polyester or faux leather than everything else. My black pencil skirt. It looked like I would once again fit into it; at least I was a healthy size again. Admittedly, my skin was looking a lot better these days too. I put the skirt on, over a pair of black undies, and smoothed out the folds. It barely needed ironing, it had been lying folded underneath such a heavy load of crap for so long. I found a collared blue and white checked shirt with minimal effort, and my old blue blazer with a bit more effort. Nothing had gone far since I had moved out of my university flat and into this one – including myself.
With some pretty nasty high-heels on my feet and hair that badly needed a trim, but looking quite neat otherwise, I closed the door of my flat behind me as though for forever. The sun blinded me heightening my throbbing headache. I stepped out onto the footpath and walked toward the centre of town. I felt eyes pierce me from all directions. I felt like such a phony. I was a phony. Walking up the street in work clothes for no reason at all. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have a purpose. No one needed me. I was insignificant and worthless. All I had was a fuck load of debt and a pretentious skirt. My confident stride turned into a slow, self-pitying scuff. I ducked into the first pub I saw and angled for the farthest seat from the door at the bar. It was empty save for the barman.
“The usual?” he asked.
“Thanks, Sammy” I said huskily.
“Wait. No beer actually. Can you get me two Vodka shots?”
Sammy looked at me, concerned.
“Brie, it’s half ten in the mornin’.”
“Just get the damn shots.”
I shoved fifteen dollars across the counter.
He sighed. I tipped my head back and shot them, one after the other.
Sammy leaned across the counter.
“Job interview not go well?”
I looked at him confused, then realised what I was wearing.
“Oh… yeah, fuck, I guess you could say that. ’Nother one?”
“Give it a rest before another one, Brie.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Brie, it’s a Tuesday morning.”
“Is it? How the heck am I supposed to know that? I’m not a fucking calendar.”
“I’m going to have to ask you to leave if you keep acting like this, Brie, you know I don’t want to do that.”
“Only because I’m half your fucking income.”
“Get out.” Sammy said it with a calm fury that I knew meant business.
“Okay, okay, I’m going. Fuck.”
I walked back to my flat. It wasn’t far. I pulled out the bottle of Vodka from the trunk under my bed. I noticed the corner of a yellowed piece of paper with a hint of my university logo on it.
“Fuck you too,” I scowled, and shut the lid. I had what I wanted.
I sat against my bed and unscrewed the top of the bottle. I knew it was ridiculous, and it tasted awful, but I drank the Vodka straight. I rested my head back onto the bed feeling incredibly sick. Suddenly my torso thrust forward and I vomited into my lap. I drank more Vodka. I couldn’t stop. The sickness was a pain that I wanted. I needed it. I fucking deserved it. I was worthless.
Jamal unlocked the door of the flat. I didn’t hear the keys rattle like I usually did. Jamal checked the answering machine. I didn’t hear her pick up the phone off the hook and dial voicemail like I usually did.
Jamal called out to me, “Brie! There’s a message here from The Times! They want to publish your article! They said it’s the best piece they’ve read in a long time! I had no idea you had submitted anything!”
I didn’t hear her.
I didn’t hear her footsteps.
“Br – Fuck.
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