A half hour later I sneak back into the living room, concerned because Jon hasn't made a sound since I left, mad at myself for reacting the way I did, and confused because I've never seen Jon act like that before.
But I don't see him anywhere and finally, after thoroughly searching the apartment for a full ten minutes, I give up and wait nervously on the couch until Jon comes back from wherever it is he snuck off to.
My head spins wildly as I stumble up the stairs to my apartment. The door, it seems, is even harder to open than usual and I find myself straining against it, trying to get the old piece of wood to give way.
Finally I manage to pry it open and walk inside to find Rob curled up on the couch, fast asleep. I contemplate waking him up, but decide against it and instead grasp for the wall blindly as I stumble into our bedroom and collapse on the bed.
I smile in my drugged haze and roll up my sleeve, revealing the angry red needle prick. I feel slightly guilty about shooting up again for the first time in years, but it's not like I had any other options. I had to forget about… What was it I was trying to forget again?
Giggling, I sit up and hide my needle in my decrepit dresser drawer, finding humor in the fact that I no longer remember why I felt the need to use the heroin in the first place.
Suddenly a tentative voice breaks through in my racing mind and pulls me back towards reality. I quickly roll my sleeve back down, just in time as Rob sleepily walks into the room and sits down next to me.
"Where were you, baby?"
I swallow hard, trying to pull myself together just enough to form an answer to his question.
"I just went out with the band."
"I'm sorry. About before. I didn't mean to say those things… I was just mad…"
"What things?" I ask, confused.
Rob raises an eyebrow at me. "You don't remember?"
Uh oh. Is this something I'm supposed to remember?
"Oh! Oh, okay. Don't worry about it, Rob," I reply, still not knowing what he's talking about.
"Why did you do it?"
Rob sighs. "Jon, have you been drinking?"
He laughs a little and pushes my chest down lightly so that I'm lying next to him on the bed.
"Go to sleep, okay? We'll talk in the morning."
*~the next morning~*
The next morning I awake with a pounding headache, sweat drenching my body and the sheets twisted around me. My hands are trembling at my sides and despite the sweat dripping off my convulsing body, I find myself shivering at the lack of temperature in the room.
What the hell did I do last night??
I haven't felt this way since… Oh shit. And that's when it comes to me. Ben, purging, Rob, heroin…
As if on cue, Rob enters the room carrying a breakfast tray containing a small microwave bagel and a steaming mug of coffee.
"Hey Jon, how do you feel?"
I shrug and grab the bagel off the tray, pretending not to notice the look of delight on Rob's face when I eat it all without hesitation. I must have really scared him last night.
"Jon? About last night… Why did you… Um, well, why did you throw up again?"
I sigh and place the now-empty plate back on the tray, as I sip the hot back liquid in the mug to avoid answering his question.
Of course, I could always try the truth but… No. Then things would be weird between us, and Rob would probably want me to press charges or quit the group or something. And I don't want to do either of those things. I just want to let the issue drop, I want to forget that it ever happened.
I don't have any other excuse though, so instead of wracking my brain further for the false words that will put Rob's mind at ease, I simply mutter, "I don't know."
"You don't know?" Rob raises an eyebrow at me suspiciously.
"No! It's just… I just did it. I don't have a reason."
"Well, have you done it before? I mean, since last year?"
The question hangs heavily in the air. The silence, it seems, is even heavier. I know the answer: No. And I don't know why my lips refuse to take the shape of the words. Isn't that the answer Rob wants to hear? Isn't it the truth?
Luckily, the maddening silence is broken by the waves of nausea churning through my stomach. I stand quickly, shoving Rob out of the way as I run to the bathroom and throw up any remaining trace of heroin in my body from the night before.
The whole time I'm kneeling above the porcelain toilet, I pray that Rob won't think I'm forcing myself to throw up. I pray to the God I don't even fully believe in that Rob doesn't think I'm purging. And doesn't know that the vomiting is heroin-induced.
When I'm finally finished I lean back and let my head drop back against the tiled wall of the bathroom, letting my body slip to the cool floor beneath me. A second later Rob is by my feet, kneeling above me, dabbing a damp paper towel to my forehead.
"Are you okay, baby?" he whispers, taking me in his arms.
I nod against him but keep my eyes closed, a gesture that negates the former.
Rob tightens his embrace and I allow my body to fully relax, leaning all my body weight against my lover, not even caring that for once I am showing my vulnerability.
Suddenly a thought enters my mind and I sit up abruptly, looking at Rob's face.
"Rob, you know I wasn't…"
He doesn't even let me finish my question.
"I know. Hangover, right?"
I nod and smile, a defense to keep myself from blurting out the truth more than anything else.
"Do you want something to eat?"
"I just had something."
"I know, but… Well, it didn't exactly stay in your stomach."
I sigh and pull away from Rob slightly, a frown tugging at the corners of my lips. Although I'm better and can eat three meals a day – sometimes more – the thought of eating still scares me a little bit. Not enough to cause me to starve myself again, and certainly not enough to make me relapse, but I still don't like to eat that much when I can avoid it. And Rob knows that. I know that he's suspicious after what happened last night (even though I technically wasn't purging) but I think two breakfasts is going a little overboard. I know that the only way to avoid this situation and to calm Rob's suspicions is to tell the truth. Tell him what really happened last night and why I was throwing up in the bathroom.
"Rob, about last night…"
I'm cut off by the ringing of the phone and the words I was about to say get stuck in my throat as I hear Ben's gravelly voice on the answering machine.
"Jon? Are you there?" He exhales deeply and I can tell he's smoking something – probably pot – before continuing. "Listen, I just wanted to say I'm sorry. About last night, I didn't… I mean, I was wasted, I didn't know what I was doing. You know how that is, man. I'm sorry… I don't know what else to say. Give me a call, all right? I don't want things to be weird between us."
As his voice trails off and the answering machine beeps again, cutting him off, I don't know whether to laugh at his words or vomit. He doesn't want things to be weird between us? He should have thought of that before he fucking raped me! And yeah, I do know how it is. I was a junkie for three and a half years, but I never did that to anyone!
"Jon? What was that all about?" Rob asks, standing up next to me.
"What? Oh… nothing."
"Seriously, what happened?"
"Nothing!" I exclaim, stalking out of the bathroom and into our room. Rob follows moment later and wraps his arms around me from behind.
"Jon, please… I wake up to find you throwing up in the bathroom, and then you go out and come back two hours later the most drunk I've seen you in three years. What's going on? What happened last night?"
Rob's warm breath sends a chill down my spine. There was a time, not long ago, that that chill would have been one of love and desire. But today it's chills of fear, of horror, and panic. I tear myself out of his arms and step away quickly, refusing to meet his eyes.
When I finally do raise my gaze to meet his own I can see the same panic and fear reflected in my own. He raises an eyebrow and tries to come closer but I jump away just as quickly.
Rob is not my rapist, Rob is not my rapist…
But repeating the words doesn't make the images go away. Because suddenly it's not Ben with me in that alley last night…it's Rob. And I have never been so scared in my life.
Rob, knowing when to back off, steps away from me, sensing my fear. But his gaze penetrates mine as he stares me down, looking for some kind of answer.
But I can't give him the answers he's searching for. What am I going to say? 'Rob, I was raped last night, and now my mind perceives you as my rapist?' Yeah. That'd go over real well.
So, giving him no explanation for the phone call, the purging, my "hangover", or my actions this morning, I step away from the bedroom quickly and flee from the apartment before he knows what's happening.
When I was in rehab four years ago I remember all the group therapy sessions. All the lectures and speeches, the dull mantra "once a junkie, always a junkie," being drilled into my brain every day for the 60 days I was there. They compared it to alcoholism, warning that if I was ever to go back to heroin – even if just one more hit – I would be hooked. This does nothing, though, to stop me from racing down the street in pursuit of my old dealer.
I don't know what else to do. Every time Rob so much as comes within three feet of me I'm brought back to last night… Rob becomes Ben, my apartment is suddenly transformed into that empty alley. What else am I supposed to do? I need to forget, I have to make this images go away. Because I love Rob. More than anything in the world, and I went through hell trying to show him just how much I adored him. And I am not going to let Ben ruining this for us, ruin two years of love and happiness.