We sleep where we can. Make pillows out of the sidewalk curb. We’ll go to sleep right here, thankyouverymuch, we don’t need your help. The sounds of people yelling all around is our blanket; the pulsing colors of a nearby party our night light.
I wake up on the couch, mascara crusted onto my lids. A sea of other couches spread out in front of me. The kitchen. It’s closed now, the cook not yet in. He’ll be in soon, they tell me. He makes us breakfast every day, they tell me. I wonder what the cook looks like and what he makes and how he feels about feeding them.
I wake up and string together last night, each memory like a glass bead. Threatening to break if I handle it too roughly. If I try too hard to remember, I might just forget.
I don’t remember their names but I remember their frat nicknames. I started calling them that and I felt like they accepted me. Like I was an insider, a close friend.
I woke on the couch and looked over at him and wondered how old he really was. He was old enough, thankyouverymuch, he said last night.
Before we got lost in each other’s bodies I took him outside for air. When I opened the door I accidentally hit something on the other side. It was a guy whose nickname I knew—it was his head because he was lying down and he was just fine, thankyouverymuch.
I wondered how much force it took to give someone a concussion.
The fresh air felt piercing in my lungs and I held back a few of his little hairs as he gripped both sides of the trash bin with his hands. The heaving felt like it was far away from me; I didn’t smell anything, didn’t feel anything, didn’t see anything. Just held onto him even though my hands felt numb.
I told the girls about this story the next day and they laughed.
In the morning you wouldn’t even know we’d been there. Unless you saw us walking down the sidewalk with eyes squinting, covered in bruises, heels in hand. Sometimes we knew why we had purple blossoming on the side of our thigh and other times we didn’t even remember the fall. Once in a while one of us would wake up in our bed but with our underwear missing, the sour taste of alcohol in our mouths and a strange shaking in our bones.
We find strength where we can. In the choice we make to do it all again next week; to meet in a crowded bathroom, the steam from hair straighteners and hair dryers clouding the mirror. We prime ourselves for the flashes of delirium, for the security that we might not remember it all the next morning. Because that’s what we want. Blackout. The feeling of rising right out of your skin, weightless, with no idea of time. You’ll find us in the night. But we won’t see you, not really. We’ll look right past you with glazed eyes. Soon we’ll be asleep. Soon we’ll be alright.
By Eva Recinos.
Illustration by Ariana Goldsworthy.