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I collapsed to my knees, letting out all the emotions I had held in for so long. It was over. It was finally and thankfully over.
I was over at my best friend’s house again and I idly wondered why I’d bothered coming over in the first place. All Angie and her friends ever did was drink until they were dizzy and smoke until they were so high they couldn’t tell the kitchen floor from the toilet. They sounded so proud as they told me of their shop lifting escapades and of how they were going to beat up one of their enemies later, sending shivers down my spine.
A nasty stench pervaded the room; a combination of cigarette smoke, alcohol, and the sickeningly sweet smell of weed, with the faint odour of old cat pee mixed in. Smoke hung suspended in the air and I felt dazed, my eyelids suddenly very heavy. The carpet was disgusting, covered in grime and odd coloured stains. Moth eaten couches were pushed up against the walls, just as grubby looking as the floor. Yellowed walls had taken more than one drunken beating, and a tuft of pink insulation peeked out from one of the holes. Dirty dishes sat piled high in the sink, and a couple of bulging garbage bags leaned against the wall closest to the door. I cringed, imagining what the bathroom must look like.
I shifted uncomfortably, politely declining “No thanks”, when offered a puff.
“Jeez, you really need to learn to lighten up and have some fuuun!” Tyler dragged out the word, and burst into giggles as he moved sluggishly to the beat of the heavy metal music booming through the speakers.
“Yeah,” someone else- I couldn’t remember her name- agreed. “It’s the only thing that makes me happy.” Some happiness that is; getting so drunk you can barely remember what your own name, then waking up the next morning with no memory of the previous night, and puking your guts out all day; becoming so addicted to a momentary high that you literally cannot function without it; oh yeah. Sounds like a real happy time.
Heaving a sigh, I didn’t bother to answer her. It almost brought tears to my eyes,
watching all these teens desperately trying to escape reality, not caring about their future, and living with parents who didn’t give a damn. The girls had piled on tons of make-up, trying to hide behind these masks from the world and from ‘friends’ who would turn their backs on them in an instant. They were all skin and bones, trying to keep up with the latest trends, poor things.
“C’mon,” Angie hiccupped. “Let’s go down to the end of the street and back.” A small group of us congested in the door-way, stumbling over discarded shoes and squeezing out of the door into the cool evening air. I relaxed as the fog in my head cleared, and breathed in deep, refreshing lungfuls.
We must have looked odd, lurching and tripping our way down the street. I strode ahead for once, going out a bit further than the others so I was almost around the corner.
When they turned back, I did not follow, hesitating on top of a small snow pile. Glancing up the dark road that lead to freedom, and then at their retreating backs I…
“Ari?” Looks like Angie had finally noticed I was gone. “Are you coming?” She stared at me with glazed eyes, pupils dilated.
I took off up the road, ignoring the single set of footsteps and calls that came after me.
“ Ari!? Ari, come back! What’s wrong?” She should have known what was wrong, she should have, she should have…
I stopped under a street lamp, already more than halfway home. I bent over, panting hard and wheezing. I needed my inhaler, but it was at home. I could make it. A murmur of voices drifted down to me, and I turned to see that the others had met up with Angie again.
“What’s wrong with her?”
“I don’t know.”
“It’s not worth it, let’s go back.”
Then louder, “Fine!” It was Tyler. “Do whatever the hell you want!” They turned and headed back, leaving me alone under the orangey-yellow light. Tears burned in my eyes and I swallowed hard.
I just had to make it home, just had to make it home, just make it home, make it home-
Fur Elise rang out, interrupting my mantra. I pulled out my phone. Tyler’s name flashed on my screen. I let it ring until my voicemail picked up, and ignored the next three calls before I answered.
“What do you want?”
“Ari, what’s wrong?” He even sounded somewhat concerned.
“Nothing. It’s nothing.” I felt strangely calm.
“Just tell me,” he pleaded, and I wondered why it wasn’t Angie who had called.
“You wouldn’t understand.” I whispered. Why couldn’t he just leave me alone?
“Yes I would…”
“No you wouldn’t! You’ve never understood before, and it’s hard, just so hard,” I gasped, tears coming back fast. “you’ll never understand! Why can’t you understand? I can’t-” my vision blurred and I couldn’t breath. “I can’t. I can’t, I CAN’T!” I took big gasping, wheezing breaths, vaguely registering Tyler say something along the lines of “I think she’s hyper ventilating,” before I hung up on him, stumbling up the front steps.
I struggled to get my pocket open, fumbling with the house key. Shoving off my jacket, I flipped a light on. The smell was all over me. Everything blurred together and I crumpled to the living room floor, barely noticing my cat who was telling me off as she rubbed against me. I let go of everything I had been holding back, all the emotions I had buried for too long. It was over. I had officially lost my only best friend of eleven years. I had walked away from my friend, who had really been my friend for a long time. I cried.