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I'm Dying for a Cigarette
The concrete was cool against my face. I couldn’t remember when exactly I’d ended up on the floor, but time was useless anyway – right now, in the Parker’s garage, time stood still. My breathing was shallow and silent under the roar of the music blasting from the speakers across the room, and the black light kept f***ing with my vision. As if I wasn’t already f***ed enough.
Though my mind was distant, I still had enough sense to wonder how people kept from tripping over me. Shoes were everywhere; tennis shoes, flip flops, even a pair of black stilettos whose sole purpose must have been to impress someone. Dear God, don’t let me get kicked in the face with those.
The taste of alcohol was fresh in my mouth, and memories were dancing in rhythm to the music. The bottom of someone’s jeans brushed my face as someone stepped over me, and I went from lying on the floor to-
-sitting in my crushed car, looking down at the blood that was dripping from the cut on my forehead to my thigh. The dark stains on my jeans were growing larger by the second… and though it was ridiculous, I was asking myself how I would ever wash it out. Blood was always impossible to get out – an Oxy Clean commercial went wheeling through my mind. Then I looked over and saw-
“Are you okay down there?” A young guy had sat down on the couch I was hiding behind and noticed me laying on the floor. Surprisingly, he actually looked concerned. “Do you need someone to take you home?”
I shook my head. I’d walked here – the last thing I needed was someone trying to drive me. I couldn’t even remember where I lived. I tried telling him that, but all of my words came out in a warm mess, tangled and unconvincing. He shook his head and picked me up off the floor. He must work out, I thought.
“Look, I’m taking you home – half the guys here are a*******. There’s no telling what they might try and do.”
I closed my eyes; I knew that I didn’t have the ability to tell him that I didn’t want to leave – that I didn’t care who took advantage of me, because no matter what happened, I deserved it. When I opened my eyes again, I saw that we were walking across the lawn to a battered car. I couldn’t trust my vision in the dark, but I thought it was blue.
Before I could protest, he opened the passenger’s side door and slid me inside, careful not to hit my head. My heart started pounding – I tried to tell him, No, I can’t be on this side, this is the side that people die on, but only a gargled moan escaped my mouth. He slid in on the other side.
“Hey, you’re the girl that was in that accident last fall, right? Casey? I think I know where you live – the area, anyway. And if I’m wrong, I’m sure someone can point us in the right direction. It doesn’t look like you’re going to be doing any ta-”
I blinked, and the world around me bled out, replaced by my own personal nightmare. I looked over and saw my best friend, her head still resting against the spider webbed glass that had cracked it open. Her mouth was slack and blood was running into her eyes. Even before the paramedics got there, I knew that she was-
Headlights flooded the interior of the car as we passed oncoming traffic, and I let out a scream, bracing myself against the dashboard.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay. What’s wrong?”
I looked over to find the guy that had pulled me from the party watching me with wide eyes. I let out a sob and rested my head above the glove compartment; I didn’t want to look at him anymore. I didn’t want to look at anything anymore. Because no matter what I did, no matter how many times I asked myself how life could have been different if I hadn’t decided to return Erica’s iPod that day, if I had refused to take her to the nearest convenience store for cigarettes… all of those what if’s changed nothing. I was stuck here, and Erica was still-
-dead. I sat still, staring at her, waiting for her to move; waiting for her to jump up and crack a joke about how I was so gullible, how I would believe anything. I looked down – her lit cigarette had flown from her fingers and onto the dash, and by the time the first set of ashes had fallen, I’d already started screaming.
“I think this is you, Casey.”
I looked up. The guy was obviously freaked out of his mind after my little episode, but he had found my house. I exhaled and fumbled for the door handle – screaming had sobered me up enough to manage walking, at least. I wanted to thank him, wanted to apologize for being so rude, so drunk, so… frightening. But all I could do was muster up a half a**ed smile that probably looked more like a grimace. He nodded and shut the door, then pulled out of my driveway without so much as a look over his shoulder - probably wanted to get back to the party.
It took me almost the entire walk back to the door, the only sound the crunch of gravel beneath my sneakers, to remember that I’d snuck out. Going through the front door probably wasn’t the best plan of action. I sighed and started walking to the left, looking for the small basement window at the base of the house that led to my bedroom. When I finally found it, I was thankful that getting back in was a h*** of a lot easier than getting out; gravity had been my life-saver for the past three months. Climb out sober; fall in wasted – physics couldn’t ask for a better example than that.
I fumbled with the window for a moment before finally getting it open: next was the difficult part. I laid on my back and pushed myself feet first through the window until gravity took over and pulled the rest of my body through, too; I slammed face first onto my bed, grateful that after the first few times of going through this that I had pushed it against the wall.
I didn’t even bother to move after that. The window was open, I was lying on my face in filthy clothes, and I didn’t care. My mind was empty save for one solitary thought: Marlboros. She died for a pack of Marlboros.