It's Monday morning and I'm standing over the hilltop, watching the sunrise. I hate the sun. There's too much brightness, too much vivid color causing my eyes to tear. It stings. But I wouldn't want to be blind.
I take a drag from my cigarette then let it fall to the ground. I ignore the impulse to set my hair on fire (or anything else, for that matter).
What if I set the hill on fire? Let it blaze and burn, pretending to be another baby sun—would it make a difference? Would I still feel so insignificant? These are questions worth wondering. You'd think that having the power to give life or take it away might actually make you feel something. You'd be wrong, though.
Suddenly I feel more estranged than usual, so I get in my car and leave. That's at least one of the good things about being alive: if you don't like where you're at, you can always leave.
I'm kissing her more desperately than intended. I'm rather sure she doesn't care.
We're in the backseat of her silver SUV with my breasts against her breasts and our legs intertwined. Our hands roam beneath the clothing separating our skin. Neither of us really wants to take them off: not yet.
She's beautiful in the way that she's not actually beautiful but you're in love with her, anyway. Dirty blonde hair, hazel eyes. Freckled skin. A birthmark in the shape of an egg on the back of her neck, scarce hairs on her limbs that somehow make her feel softer. All irrelevant details while I'm grinding on top of her, reveling in the way I can make her breath hitch by the slightest of touches in just the right places.
She abruptly stops kissing me and reaches for the bottle of tequila nestled in some paper bags on the car floor. She takes a hefty swig, making a face as she swallows.
"I like how you let me drink even though you know I'm gonna have to drive later," she tells me genuinely.
"Your life," I reply. "Long as you're not puking or passed out, you're good to go."
She smiles and passes me the bottle.
"I like how you let me talk and how you listen, too."
"Well, I like to hear you talk," I say. I place the bottle down and kiss her cheek. "The listening thing is just a side effect."
She cups my face and we're kissing again, except this time I can tell our clothes will soon be coming off. I can tell by the way she's beginning to moan.
I can't remember last week. I can't even remember yesterday—that's just the way it is when you drink yourself to sleep every night.
"What're you going to do with your life, Raquel?" My mother asks me.
She asks me this question frequently. Not always directly—sometimes just with her eyes or a certain fearful expression—but she's always somehow asking me if I'm going to survive. It's a good question. I don't know the answer.
They want me to get a job, to pay rent, to get married, have kids, and achieve goals. That's not what I want. I don't know what I want, but I know it's not that.
Is there no other way of living? Can't I just be free, be alive and feel and think and be without having to contribute, without having to feel disturbed because of it? They put me on pills, you know. Said I had to, that I didn't act rationally enough to be trusted on my own. They drugged me up and shut me down because they couldn't handle the fact that I did what I want even if it meant destroying myself in the process—especially if it meant destroying myself.
They don't understand that I just want to live so badly that I'd be willing to die for it.
Another year passes and I wonder how come I can't feel time at all.
Mental hospitals aren't as sketchy as most people make them out to be. I tried to slit my wrist, but I was drunk and I missed the artery even though I felt for it. You know that pulse you feel in your wrist? That's your artery. And I swear to God that the scar is now placed directly above it, but I still couldn't reach it.
There's always someone yelling in their room to imaginary people or to themselves at the hospital. Sometimes I wonder what it'd be like to be psychotic like that, but then I figure it must be hell. An entirely different kind of hell, one you can't actually escape from with substances or lovers or daydreams.
This one girl, she was nineteen and I didn't understand why she was there with me. She was pretty and funny and kind. She acted like my friends, the ones I wished I could be like. But then I looked at her left wrist and there it was: a cotton white bandage wrapped tightly. This lovely girl and I, we were one in the same.
They also always overmedicate you at the hospital. They'll put you on Celexa, Seroquel, Xanax, Ambien, Lithium, and Depakote if you let them, continuously increasing the dosages the longer you remain there. These are things you begin to notice once you've been to the psych ward a few times. Just like how you notice the coffee is de-caf and that once your 72 hours are up you can go home and try to kill yourself again as long as you just tell the psychiatrist responsible for your discharge that you aren't suicidal anymore.
Maybe I lied before; maybe I don't want to live. Maybe I've actually always wanted to die.
After a while, you'll do just about anything to feel like life might be worth living; even things you told yourself you'd never do.
I was in a new friend's bathroom once washing up when she pulled out a bag with crystals inside of it. She cleared the counter, took out some of the clear rocks, then crushed them. With a credit card she began to separate the powder into lines. I watched with morbid fascination, knowing very well what would happen next.
Why, yes please.
It hit like fireworks in my abdomen. Beautiful adrenaline, chemically-induced well-being. For the first time in a long time, happiness didn't seem like such a myth. I wondered why it was so wrong for me to take these kinds of drugs instead of the ones the psychiatrist prescribed me. What's so wrong about addiction, anyway? That it takes away your life? Well what if you had no life to begin with—what if you didn't care?
We stayed up all night talking about past traumas and scars and how fucked up the world was. It was one of the best nights of my life.
I'm jumping from past to present tense and back because there really is no difference in my mind. I am here, I am there, and I will consistently become lost in-between.
She kisses me and it feels like home. She kisses me, and it feels like everything will be okay. I try to tell her this, try to communicate my inexplicable need to be around her, but it comes out as loneliness and desperation.
Not that it matters. I am not her home.
More vodka, more pills. More endless nights, more morbid thrills. I do not know who I am anymore: I thought I once knew, but that girl, she would never do the things I have done. She had boundaries, defined actions and desires. She was not ambiguous. She was content on her own. She wasn't empty.
It's Monday night and I'm standing on the hilltop, watching the sunset. I hate the darkness of night because I find it so terribly soothing. I do not want to be blind, but I am. And the more I talk, the less I have to say. The more I think and feel, the less it seems to mean. I fall in love with those who cannot love me in return. I am amorphous, floating like a cloud of smoke in a forest fire. Perhaps that is why I wish I were the fire—the fire is the one with all the power. But setting things on fire and being the fire are not one in the same. I cannot change the world.
The sun sets and somehow my feet have grown roots into the soil. I am that which I despise most—a liar. For no matter how badly I wish to move, to escape, I can't. You can't always leave. Sometimes you have to stay.
I stand there and wonder if by sunrise I'll still hate the sun. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.