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Julie's Meds

February 11, 2018

 

from Freshmankind

 

Julie hurried into the lobby of Crumley, head down, not looking at anybody. She didn’t want anyone to see her, to know she’d come through, to remember her. She needed her meds. She needed her meds and her door behind her and her covers on top. She had to get under the covers or she didn’t know what might happen.

 

The lobby was bustling. Every chair was occupied. Seinfeld on the big TV. She needed it to be empty. She needed the TV to be off. Someone was playing guitar somewhere in the back where she couldn’t see. Voices came through singing the Beatles in a bad harmony. “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” She needed her meds.

 

The creepy guy was there. He was always there. He saw her. She brushed past him. It didn’t matter. It was all right if she was rude. It was all right if she hurt him. All she wanted to do was hurt herself. She needed her meds.

 

The ache. She had to kill the ache. She had to push his words out of her head. She had to push her head against the wall to get them out. She needed to pound her head against the wall, until the wall gave or she did.

 

She needed her meds.

 

She couldn’t wait for the elevator. She had to run. They were looking at her. She took the stairs. Two at a time. She would do three if she could. She was going to throw up. She was going to fall down. She was going to fall backward on purpose. Just an accident on the stairs. Poor girl. Just an accident.

 

She needed her meds.

 

Her fingers weren’t strong enough to reach into her head and make it go away. It was there like a cloud, a thick black mist sifting down her spine and filling her lungs. Choking her. She should never have told him. He wouldn’t have thought she was crazy. She was so stupid. If only she had a gun.

 

She needed her meds.

 

Senior year, Evan took Julie to the homecoming dance. They dated for three months, and he was her world. All her plans revolved around him. Every thought included his name, his face, his smile. She couldn’t imagine a day going by without him. Then she got pregnant, and Evan pressured her to have an abortion. She was confused, didn’t know what to think, too weak to stand up to him. So she did it, in secret, just like he told her. Then he broke up with her in front of everyone during second period. Said she was needy, clingy, suffocating. Told her she was ugly. She left school between classes and woke up in the emergency room with her wrists stinging beneath bloodied bandages, weak and light-headed.

 

They wouldn’t let her go – watching her, suspecting her.

 

She needed her meds.

 

She was alone in her dorm room, every bulb burning. Of course she was alone. She was always alone. She kept the place so tidy and neat and organized, and she didn’t know why she cared. She passed from meal to meal and class to class, eating and learning, but she didn’t know why. As soon as she was alone she could never stop crying.

 

The walls were covered in black. Black posters, dim pictures, black wallpaper. She didn’t understand her roommate’s obsession with black, but it clawed at her, sucked the air out of her lungs. She sat on the edge of her bed, trying to block out the black, block out Adam’s words.

 

You’re…so…crazy….

 

She could never stop crying.

 

Her skin flushed cold, the opposite of coming inside on a winter’s day and feeling the warmth wash over her. She grasped the empty pill bottle, trying to comprehend how she could have let the supply deplete. Maybe her roommate had swiped some. Maybe she’d ordered a refill and forgotten to pick it up. That had happened before. Maybe the bottle was full and the pills were invisible, weightless, silent. Maybe they had abandoned her. Everything abandoned her in the end.

 

She threw away the empty container in disgust and dread. She couldn’t do anything right. There were no more meds. She would know it if there were, but she turned her neat and tidy room into a pile of debris in the hopes of finding another pill.

 

All she found was the vodka.

 

She stared at the bottle. Almost half full. She couldn’t take her eyes off it – it was so beautiful. She should have known better than to hide it there. Or maybe she was a genius. She wanted to crack open her head and scoop out the pain and sew it back together with whatever she had. Dental floss was all she had. She couldn’t sew up her head with dental floss.

 

Her meds.

 

She went to the medicine cabinet to find the floss. Looking for the floss. She couldn’t find the floss. She’d forgotten why she was looking for the floss. She couldn’t even see straight. There was no floss. But there was aspirin. Her roommate had a bottle of aspirin.

 

And Julie had a bottle of vodka.

 

Maybe she could make her own meds.

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Freshmankind

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Coming to paperback May 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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