Look! It is a book. That I am in. To benefit SJ. (New readers, this is why SJ needs benefitting.)
He asked me if I had anything to pick up from anywhere, and I said no, nothing. Nothing anymore. Nothing to lose.
We lived in the dark - filthy cluttered apartment with punk-band posters covering the windows because the legal tenants were paranoid. One poster had a kitten on it, and the text read “Who will stop this terrible pain?”
I flung myself farther, deeper. Swan dive into the deep. We emerged at night for street carnivals and runs along the neon of the Strip, its hum setting my teeth on edge. Their laughs were high and brittle, and their eyes were too bright. They were below me, a place I couldn’t reach. He would unroll the kit he kept in a pocket of his torn cargo pants - the needle, the cigarette, the dented spoon, the lighter.
Little bindles he’d fold out of the ads in the back of porn magazines. Colorful origami that, when unfolded, revealed little mounds of glittering fairy dust. Inhale and be transported. Be like them.
“It takes your emotions away,” he said. “When you’re on it, you don’t feel anything.”
“What was surrendered at that gate?”
She hugged herself, desert-night chilly.”I don’t know.”
“You must pay to continue.”
“I don’t want-”
“What?” For a moment, the aspect receded from him, and he was just a guy. “Don’t be scared. Just set it down and walk through.” His smile was wistful now. “We’re not talking about another girl here. A sister or a cousin. I know. What did you give up?”
“Then, or before?”
She looked down, traced the edges of the card. “I think I had it til then, maybe.”
“Put something down.”
She fished around in her bag and set down an origami crane. The edges still glittered with a sheen of white dust over the colorful phone-chat ad. She swept a finger along one edge; it was halfway to her mouth before she realized what she was doing and jerked her hand down, wiped her fingers on her jeans.
“Now take your card.”
And you will have it in your hot little hands in about two weeks.
Also? Spread the word! Save our s00j!