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“Bloodflowers” excerpt 1

April 1, 2013

December 29th, 2012

It’s been a year. I don’t even know where to start. I’ve been lying in bed with The Cure’s “Bloodflowers” playing on repeat too loudly. My heart aches for something lost. I light another cigarette, forgetting I have one lit in the ashtray next to me in bed. I drink some juice, pop a Klonopin and Percocet cocktail, scratch my arm some to relieve an itch that won’t stop regardless. Stare out the window. No ghosts stare back in at me, just my own sallow reflection. A recent online magazine article describes me as having a “haunted” look.  I haven’t eaten solid food in 45 days; whether you want to describe me as haunted or starved is all a matter of perspective, I guess. I take a second Percocet.

I scratch my face; the reflection of my wedding band in the window catches my eye. My eyes slide to the dresser drawer full of trinkets, despite my best effort not to look there. I hold the lit cigarette to my arm as the song’s guitar solo crescendos for the 39th time, but I still can’t tear my eyes from the drawer. There’s no pain left in the burn, which is what I most wanted. Please, let the pain dull in my heart and head. Just today.

I throw off the covers, stumble to the drawer, and throw clothes onto the floor until I reach the tiny box in the back that holds David’s ring. I stare at it dumbly: it shouldn’t be in this box. But it is, and I slip it on my ring finger. I’m wearing both bands now, stupidly enough, like it will bring him back to me. I should have had more time with you, David. I should have had forever… My knees give out, and I collapse on the wood floor.

When I wake up, Micah is staring at me. “Bloodflowers” is just starting again, but not at an earth shattering volume anymore.

“Bryan, can you hear me?” he asks, and he reaches out to take my hand.

“Should I call an ambulance?” Lacey’s voice is far away, unsure, concerned.

“He’s awake,” Micah tells her. “Don’t call just yet. He’s awake.” Micah squeezes my hand, and sees both rings on it – I see him eyeing my hand curiously, knowing there’s significance, but unable to recognize it consciously.

“I‘m okay,” I try to tell him, but my mouth feels sewn shut, so dry. I squeeze his hand back.

“Do you want to try to sit up?” he asks. Oh weird… I thought I was sitting up. I struggle to reorient myself, nodding.

He looks at my hand he’s holding, and he realizes what he’s seeing. “Ohhhhh… shit, man. We should have canceled practice. I’m sorry… when you didn’t show, I tried calling, and when there was no answer, Lacey and me drove over to see if you were here. Shit, man, I’m sorry.” Micah won’t meet my eyes, but helps me sit up. He feels badly for forgetting the date, I know. I want to be angry, but I know I should have just canceled practice myself. It’s not his job. I thought I could handle today. Dumbass. I don’t know if I mean him or me. Am I that much of a mess now that they drove across the city to check on me? What have I become?

“Pop… Can you… get me some pop?” I stammer, and Lacey is already running down the steps without answering; always on top of her game, Lacey. In a moment, she’s back with Mountain Dew, handing the 20-ounce bottle to me after unscrewing the lid like I’m a little kid without the required coordination.

“I’m 21,” I tell her after I take a drink. “I can do it myself.”

“Honey, you look like shit. Did you fall out of bed? You look like you can barely hold your head up, let alone open a bottle. Do you want something to eat?”

I shake my head no, and move to sit up straight, just to prove I can. “What time is it, dude?”

“7:45.” There is a long pause.

“Oh.”

Lacey breaks an even longer pause. Awkward. “Um… I’m going to leave you two conversationalists to it, unless you need anything. I’m going to order some food. You want Thai?” She looks at me, narrowing her eyes. “Soup? Tom Kha Gai? Extra spicy? Without the Gai? You’ll eat it.” She doesn’t ask. She says I will eat it. She spares me the joke about gai, Thai for chicken: “Funny,” she used to say. “I thought you liked guys.”

I nod before she leaves the room. “Sure. Micah, hand me that bottle of Percocet.” I struggle to stand up as he retrieves the bottle from by the bed. He stops with it in his hand as I sit back down on the edge of the bed, face in my hands.

“Bryan, man, you know I’m not one to criticize,” he begins, and I shut my eyes as if I can shut out what I know is coming next, “but I don’t think you should take any more of these right now. Wasn’t this a full bottle yesterday? How many have you taken today? You can barely stand. What the hell happened to your arm?” Oh, so he’s noticed the burns.

“Fell asleep with a cigarette,” I mutter. “And I dropped a bunch of pills down the sink by mistake.”

“Did you fall asleep next to half a pack of cigarettes? Really, you expect me to buy any of this?” Don’t be a dick, Micah… just let it go, okay? “Acting like Dave won’t bring him back, dude.”

Aaaaaand, you’re a dick. A piece of shit. I’m not an idiot. “I know,” I say. “That wasn’t the point.”

“So what was? You wanted to see how well the percs work for actual pain?” He sighs. “Take a shower, Witchell.” He calls me ‘Witchell,’ a joke from high school about Wicca and my last name, Mitchell. I’ve stuck with the name since then. “Clear your head. You want a hand to the bathroom?”

“Get off me, faggot.” I take another drink of the Mountain Dew. “Pretending you give a fuck about me doesn’t mean you’re going to get to see me naked.” This gets a smile.

“Ah, there be the fightin’ Irish lad we know and love,” he says with a bad imitation of an Irish lilt. “And I’ve seen you naked. Be still my beating heart.” He rolls his eyes.

“Eh, just because I’ve got nicer features than your girlfriend doesn’t mean you’re going to get with me. I can still kick your ass, and you know it.”

“I’m going to tell Lacey you said that, dude. She’ll bitch slap you clear into-“

SLAM. “Fuuuuuuuuck,” I groan from the floor. I’ve done a complete faceplant off the bed and am back on the ground again.

“Holy shit, Bryan! Are you okay?” Micah’s eyes are wide, not sure whether to laugh or help me up. I start laughing; he knows I’m okay, and he laughs, too.

“Oh shit, Micah, this is the most fun I’ve had in days! I wish you had that on tape.” I crawl to my knees, still laughing, beyond dizzy. “I’m so effing high…” I roll over onto my side and laugh quietly to myself for a while.

Micah thinks, then laughs again, too. “It wouldn’t have been as good as when you got so drunk you fell off stage at the end of our set. And THAT we have on tape. You remember?” Is he checking to see if I’ve lost my mind, done some damage in the fall? Of course I remember. Dave taped it in Buffalo.

“David…” my heart lurches. I wince as the knot in my stomach tightens further.

Micah stops laughing, doesn’t say anything else. There is nothing else. Dave was everything. I pick myself up, grab a towel from the closet, and let out a sob as I slam the bathroom door. I don’t care if Micah can hear me crying. He knows to leave me be.

When I get out of the shower, I can hear Lacey talking downstairs at the front door. “Food’s here!” she calls. Like I care. It smells good, though, and I stumble downstairs toward soup after pulling on a ratty old t-shirt and flannel pajama pants. I don’t plan on leaving the house tonight. Rehearsal is shot. I screwed up again.

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From → Bloodflowers, fiction

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