The salty air. White sand and small, broken shells. Did we ever even go to the ocean? Remember. Remember. My head is all codeine and ibuprofen and the images slip away. He's a blur of small, fat hands and crooked teeth. He breathes hot, sour air onto my neck.

Am I numb yet? I can hear the waves crashing – or is it the television set? Are we in his room? I'm so fucking confused. It's too hot, I think. I swear I can feel the sun. My skin is damp, salty. Like I've been in the water. Or maybe it's just sweat from the small, sticky bedroom; maybe it's sweat from having his obese mass far too close to me.

I see in monochrome. This summer day is a gradient of black and white. I'm sprawled across a towel, bathing in heat. I'm feeling nothing else except the slight sensation of pressure. A pressure that moves from the shirt to the pants to the garments underneath –

What's happening? Do I want to know? I'm waking up. I'm starting to become frightened.

My self-induced apathy, my intentional confusion, it's safe. It's a dense fog that blankets me from the world. The clichéd "cruel world" that never gave me the knight I was looking for. My companion isn't my lark. When I'm not anesthetized like this, I realize in brief moments of clarity, I am so scared. Is this really going to be my forever? My happily-ever-after? He's told me yes, that this is easily the best I'm ever gonna get.

Fuck. My ears are starting to buzz like flies. Like ugly wasps. I tell him my head hurts, that I need to more Tylenol, Motrin, whatever the hell I've been downing incessantly during those past few hours.

But he's half listening. Half smiling. His hands are somewhere, but I don't know because I don't want to think about it.

It's not candy, baby. For the first time today he's turned his eyes to me, those shit hole rings of color. He's ugly, I realize, with his jagged yellow teeth and fat face. With his large, heavy stomach, his unkempt hair, and that scaly, cellulite dimpled skin. He's so fucking disgusting and at the same time I've never been beautiful enough for him. How?

Is this my future? Is this really my future? The buzzing in my ears grows louder.

He says maybe I should have a drink instead. My companion passes me a red plastic cup and when I sip from it, the contents taste faintly alcoholic.

This white noise world is becoming too clear. I remember starving myself until he could see my bones, wearing make-up until every imperfection in my face was covered by pore suffocating creams and oils. I tried wearing the clothes that they did. I tried to be beautiful, but I didn't excel in it. And he still threw those dirty, perverted glances at young lean girls. Some of these people were my friends. Others were strangers bound to him in binary. But more often than not, they were fictional girls, individuals starring in some sort of revolting pornography film. They were surreal females that couldn't deny him.

Most importantly, they didn't make him end up here with me – his little ugly duckling with braces, bright eyes, and a bent sixteen year old mind.

I'm tired of thinking. I'm tired of dwelling.

I wriggle away from him and stuff Benadryll into my mouth, swallowing it dry. Clarity soon starts to escape me again and we're at the ocean. We're definitely at the ocean. I think. The smell of salt becomes overwhelming. I'm suffocating on the odor of his body mixed with the sea, and I start to feel sick. A weight slides into my stomach and then rises to my throat.

There's blue everywhere. Wait. Did I just throw up? He looks disgusted, moving away from me, but I can't hear the words coming out of his mouth. I guess the drink and medicine didn't mix well, but it's okay. I'm smiling anyway, glad that I finally have some room. He's gone off, I think, disappearing towards a splash of gleaming, blinding sunlight. It's better this way.

There are hot, burning chunks of something on my clothes. What is this, now? Did I really throw up? Remember. I try to remember and realize it's futile. Maybe he left because he's sick. Whatever. No hard feelings. I try removing my shirt to realize I don't have one on (why?), and instead I swipe my hands across my hot skin. I wipe them off on the towel.

Breathe. Think straight. Why am I so tired? Oh, never mind. I can keep myself awake. Ahead I see the water, clear and blue and so inviting. It's pure. Beautiful. I can imagine it being warm, so tremendously warm.

Why didn't he ever go to the ocean with me before? He said he was afraid to swim, to step away from the shore. Well, whatever. I feel ready to leave. I can now that he's not here.

And so I do. I pick myself up and traverse across hard, smooth sand (is that how it's supposed to feel?). The water breathes the breath I can't. It soaks up all the memories that slip away. I realize this, vaguely. It's the consciousness that escapes me when I'm not sober. It ebbs. It rolls in and away from the shore line like it's thinking. Like it's reluctant to come too close to my world.

But I move forward anyway. If I can touch it, if I can feel its heartbeat and learn its name, maybe –

Oh my God, why am I so tired? I stretch my arm to only have it fall. I'm exhausted and weak. The blue ocean folds back into itself, folds away further than my feet can carry me right now. At any rate, I think it's getting dark. I'm starting to see black. Lots of black. It wouldn't be wise to venture away after da–

I wake up on his bed. He's been shaking me for hours, he says.


I thought you died. You fucking threw up on me, babe. Look around.

His blanket is a canvas for caustic, bile waste. I passed out in it, and it sticks to my skin in obscene chunks. I look up into the filth of his face and I say I'm sorry. So sorry. And he says whatever, just get this cleaned so I can bring you home.