Chocolate Smoke, Wish I were dreaming.

WeÕre in an oddly just-what-the-doctor-ordered basement. Plastered wall to wall in music posters, movie posters and bumper stickers. Two huge futons, slouchy sofas, a computer in the corner, and a bathroom with a vent covered in duct tape.

Everyone in here is almost a real musician but me. And a couple of other girls. One of them is a small freckled rat who moves her hands too much when she speaks and always keeps her voice just louder than everyone elseÕs. SheÕs lying on one of the futons kissing a gorgeous makeup-y pixieÕs long neck. PixieÕs eyes are dark and lined, hair sprouts every which way from her head, pink lace shirt, yellow corduroy skirt. Vintage fake fur trimmed jacket like mine. I canÕt help but watch them. IÕve never seen two girls making out in real life before. ItÕs almost beautiful, though IÕm not sure if theyÕre doing it for themselves or for their audience. But then pixie looks up, bored, at the stucco ceiling. Still rat smothers her hollow cheeks in kisses.

ÒSo are they lesbians or what?Ó I turn to look at a boy next to me with a tweed jacket, blond curls, and a lisp. Nobody says anything.

But later pixie lies on the couch underneath a skinny boy with guitar fingers and a boy-girl singing voice. And they move their bodies together there, long after rat has left.

In the scruffy bathroom with the duct taped vent we use a vaporized to smoke our pot. I inhale almost tasteless air and donÕt feel anything until I stand up from where IÕm kneeling on the cold tiles.

Later back where everything is, somebody turns the lights off and a psychedelic remix of an artsy pop band plays on the stereo. A lava lamp teases me with its changing colors. I can feel his leg against mine. His hand.

Real signals arenÕt as simple as a WALK or a DON'T WALK. Red light, green or yellow. This lightÕs purple and my headÕs spinning.

Later a tall Leo somebody and a slim faced boy in a hat play Neil Young on two acoustic guitars. Their voices are beautiful, the boys, and their fingers sweep and pluck and strum along the strings effortlessly. And theyÕre absolutely everything in the room and I couldnÕt look away if I tried. But I donÕt - theyÕre magic.

Upstairs in a dim white kitchen with cupboards plastered in art show opening flyers we eat poofed out chocolate 17-year birthday cake with spoons, licking the icing with our parched tongues. We swallow nutty powdered Turkish delight, so that it sprinkle dusts our faces and fingers and clothes.

Downstairs pixie and her boy-girl singer toss on the couch. Dance kiss loving to the music and drugs. They are oblivious to the rest of us.

He catches my eye, the boy who looks like a very young Dylan, but also like an elf somehow.

ÒDo you want toÉÓ and he says something about whatÕs exactly on my mind.

She stares at me with huge brown eyes, lashes, tears. The girl who always knows.

She wants to stop me but she canÕt figure out how. I wouldnÕt listen to her anyways and she knows.

I follow him down the hallway. Inside the bathroom he smiles at me, and our faces brush against each other. I have no idea what IÕm doing. I can smell him. And I love the way he smells cuz itÕs just exactly the way he ought to smell. Like a warm body, no cologne, just traces of weed and chocolate but mostly music. ThatÕs what it is, he smells like music. But what really gets me is his voice. ItÕs intoxicating and sweet, almost feminine, and itÕs so beautiful it doesnÕt even matter what he says. Should I turn off the light? The voice asks me. Ok.

His mouth is my mouth. His tongue, taste. I can feel his hair against my face, smell it. Feel the soft inside of his mouth. I have no idea what IÕm doing. I kiss his neck and he shakes. He kisses mine too and I can feel myself sinking. I donÕt know this boy. Only his name and voice and face, his music and hair and lips. He guides me over to the wall, leans, pressing up against me. I wonder how often he does this kind of thing. HeÕs touching my back, moving his hands down my body. Someone knocks on the door.

ÒCould you give us a while?Ó he says easily, and it seems so obvious, this. He keeps kissing me. Voice, what are we doing? He lifts up my leg and I can feel him there hard, right against me.

The door knocks at us again.

I donÕt know if youÕre coming with me or not, but IÕm leaving, she says.

I have to go, I say. Mutter something about her being angry, I know she is.

I never do this. Do what, he asks. I donÕt have time to answer or maybe I just donÕt want to say anything at all. IÕm out. SheÕs putting on her shoes.

Can I have your phone number? He drawl whisper commands me, is that ok? And heÕs tender again. He hands me a piece of crumpled paper and a pen, and I scrawl it down.

Outside sheÕs walking ahead of me. WonÕt say anything, wonÕt even look at me. IÕm not like that, I say, and she spits mean things. But I see tears behind and I know sheÕs hurt too. We cab it home, and lay in silence in my slouchy double bed, both facing away from each other to opposite multi-color sponged walls. I wonder what the shape looks like between us, empty in among the rumpled sheets.

Later she finally talks to me. WeÕre both so angry we dump every ounce of pain everywhere, splatter it all over the walls and our faces, ourselves, smear it into our hair. And it hurts so much more now that we can both see it. So we tell each other everything.

She leaves the next morning with a squinty smile but we both know I screwed up, and somethingÕs changed a bit.

So all day I take a steamy purple chamomile-lavender bath. And I think about fish and lizards and weather and dreamy voices and a trip to the seaside.

Then I tell someone everything.