Audrey stood there, confused. She hadn't expected him to give in like that. She had really been expecting to go home with a funny feeling in the pit of her stomach that would never quite go away.

Brandon was still understandably frustrated, and lit up a cigarette and he ruffled through the papers on his desk. "I don't even quite know what we're going to try."

Audrey wasn't completely sure either. "Try anything, I guess. Try being in each other's lives."

"Listen, it's a fucking Tuesday morning. You're missing class. Go to school."

"I'm already not there. You get in more trouble for skipping a class than skipping the whole day."

"Well, listen, I have stuff to do. You should get out of here, and come back around six."

"Ok." Audrey answered quickly and left, barely saying anything else. What was she gonna do for seven hours? Her stomach was in knots and she was in no condition to do anything. She carried herself over to the mall.

Looking in a mirror in the bathroom, she noticed what a mess her hair was. She adjusted it as best as she could. She grabbed a piece of hair and held it up, imaging what it would look like shorter. Instantly, she grabbed into her pocket and pulled out a few twenties. She put her hair-tie around her wrist, and raced out of the restroom and toward the hair salon.

It was seventeen minutes after two when Audrey walked out of the salon with much shorter, more volumized, blacker hair. The longest parts of her hair were in the front, and barely hit her chin. She couldn't believe that she'd done it.

Suddenly, Audrey realized how weird it would be that she'd gone out and done what Brandon had suggested so quickly. Had there been a way to go back on it, she would have.

She spent the next few hours wandering around the mall and the area around it, with nothing better to do than fidget and walk.

At five fifty seven, she was standing outside of Brandon's office again. She took a breath, and knocked. He shouted for her to come in, and she entered for the third time in 24 hours.

Brandon looked distressed. Like he'd accomplished almost as much as Audrey had since she'd left – pretty much nothing. When he looked at her, he stared in a more vivid manner.

"You cut your hair," to state the obvious.

"Actually, this guy named Chaz did, but he said I was a shoe-in for scenester of the year."

Brandon laughed. "I love it, but you're completely insane."

"It feels… light. Not so heavy. Not that it was very long before."

"Yeah… but really, it looks good."

"Thanks." But within a moment, they were back to not knowing what to say or talk about. Not because there weren't things to say, more the opposite. Neither knew where to start.

Audrey was still awkwardly standing across the room from Brandon, who was seated in an office chair. He was dressed from head to toe in a pseudo-conservative manner, with his hair out of place and a few black jelly bracelets on his wrists that would have looked more at home on a fourteen-year-old girl. His tie didn't match his shirt and his jacket was draped over the seat behind him.

He stood up and walked toward Audrey. "There isn't really anywhere we can go."

"What?" she asked.

"Can't go in public - people. Can't go to your place - parents. Can't go to my place - roommate. "

She shrugged. "We can stay here."

Brandon's office was fairly small and awkward. There was a desk with files and a computer and some posters decorating the otherwise dull walls. There were chairs for clients that faced his desk. There was a small fridge in the corner. There wasn't much to look at, or anywhere to do anything in.

Audrey sat down on the floor and reaffirmed, "We can stay here."

"That's so fucking weird," Brandon observed, as he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a cigarette. As he struggled with his lighter, Audrey just stared.

"Not to go campaign ad on you, but you should quit."

Brandon sighed and sat down on the floor facing Audrey, as he took a first drag of his freshly lit cigarette. "It's the lesser of a bunch of poisons, it's not so bad in retrospect."

"Retrospect to what?"

Brandon exhaled and spoke as he realized it himself, "We don't know very much about each other. I'm not really the great guy you might be thinking that I am."

"Oh, yeah?" Audrey rejected the notion. "How so?"

"Cigarettes are the last of my addictions. They say it's harder to quit than heroin, that might be true."

Audrey pushed herself up onto her knees and forward. She grabbed hold of Brandon's left arm. She rolled up his sleeve further than it already was and examined his inner elbow and noticed countless faded track marks. Her eyes widened and she stared him in the eyes, almost like she was hurt. "How long ago was that?"

"I quit 4 years ago."

"Weren't you in law school then?"

"It never controlled my life, Audrey. I was a chipper, shooting up on the weekend while everybody else was getting drunk. It never made me crazy. But towards the end, I was getting there. I have that perfectly addictive personality where anything can become appealing and compulsive. I used smoking as something to calm the withdrawal symptoms."

Audrey was strangely compelled. "What's it feel like?"

"Heroin? It feels like everything is right and good… the only way to describe it is that it feels good… It probably wasn't worth it, but it felt like it was. Everything always feel wrongs, then you shoot up, and things feel… good."

Audrey wasn't sure what to say, "I'm… sorry."

"Oh, but everybody picks their poisons. You too."


"This is weird. We don't need to talk about this."

Audrey shrugged it off. "Yeah, I guess not."

She reached forward and pressed her entire body against Brandon's and started to kiss him. She pushed him onto the floor and got on top of him.

Brandon moved his hands onto Audrey's waist and then he slid one down toward her right wrist as he exchanged positions with her, now with her underneath him. He strengthened his grip on her wrist as he continued to kiss her, then moved his other arm toward the opposite wrist.

Audrey suddenly yanked at her hands and pulled her mouth away from Branson's.

"Let go of me," she insisted.

He instantly let go and sat somewhat up.

"What the hell were you doing?" Audrey was frantic and clearly distressed.

"I'm sorry. I don't mean to do that."

"It was fucking scary. It felt like you weren't gonna let go." Audrey used opposite hands to briefly massage each wrist. "It felt like you were holding me down."

"I know. I'm sorry. It's got to be some kind of subconscious power thing, I'm sorry."

"I can't even understand why somebody's hands would migrate to wrists like that, it's awkward."

"I know."

Audrey started to stand up. She was on her knees when Brandon grabbed for her arm, this time more gently.

"Wait," he paused, "Please, don't think I'd ever try to hurt you. I'm sorry… look, this is why we shouldn't have even tried."

Audrey smiled with half of her mouth as Brandon pulled himself onto his knees to be even with her.

"It just really felt like you were trying to hold me down."

"I let go right away."

"I know."

"Nobody could ever hold you down, anyway."