A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
BY CHEYA WASHINGTON
The streets were tucked into bed with a blanket of white snow, but that didn’t stop the anxiety from pumping through your veins. You were walking down the empty street, shoes making soft, clumping noises against the cold pavement. Your body swaying side to side almost like you were flowing with the steady rhythm of the wind beneath you. You heard footsteps trailing behind you and when you turned your head and blinked your eyes slowly, your free hand trying to touch the foreign body, you found yourself grasping nothing but thin air. You turn your body back in the direction you were walking and dug into your pocket to release the the small white tablets out of their confinements only to down them all at once with the liquid sloshing around in the green bottle. The overriding need to get to her blocked out any of your thoughts. Her short bubblegum pink, dyed hair smelled like warm vanilla, her giggles would turn into cackles that lasted after the joke was told ,and her delicate frame that you held in your hands like a rose with its thorns needed to be protected at all cost. No matter where you were, or who you were with, you would go and find your bubblegum haired beauty. The endless nights of watching romantic comedies while drinking beer and eating pizza burned deep into your poor memory.
You were never good at remembering the important things. The bills would be stamped in big letters, “FINAL NOTICE,” but none of that mattered. You had her. Her petite form would drape over you like a warm blanket to cuddle up with, her natural mint and cigarette smell would intrude your nostrils in the deepest part of the night, and those random mornings where she would go and make breakfast in one of your t-shirts with a beer in her hand made you worry about a future with her but you didn’t dwell on that too much, and the slight smirk she kept on her face at all times drove you absolutely crazy.
She consumed every part of you to the point where your family no longer came around, the bills weren’t getting paid, the endless nights of lovemaking and cuddling turned into endless nights of screaming matches with regretful words tumbling out of your mouths, the left side of the bed being empty for longer periods of time, and the constant alcohol coursing through your body making your skin buzz at the very surface. None of that mattered in the beginning right? The small things became more prominent as the empty nights echoed with your regrets.
You can feel yourself starting to tremble again. The distant footsteps sounding closer, but they aren’t there. They can’t be there. You can hear the sarcastic shrill of her voice pushing you closer, closer to the bottle currently nestling in your hands. Her smile clouded your mind and another memory of her began to play. Her pearly whites never got stained with all the coffee she consumed and cigarettes she smoked, and they always managed to distract you from the serious situations. Her lips began to move slowly, purposefully. The regretful words were spilling out of her mouth with such a soft tone. You can see the tears welling in her baby doll eyes. Her pale green eyes dripping with the memories that we created. You used the pad of your pale thumb to wipe under her dripping eyes. She immediately flinched away from the soft touch. Her body shaking under the dim yellow light, leaving a glow on her pale skin. Her voice grew louder and louder. The soft tone of her voice was long gone, missing in the tense air of our kitchen.
You took a chance on her. You loved her with every fiber in your being. The memories started to grow more vivid and more violent as the night drawled on.The bottle of sanity becoming your best friend.
You were yelling louder and the neighbors started threatening you outside the dingy door. One swig. She started screaming out to the world how much she hated you. Two swigs. The picture frame shattered into thousands of smiles you shared, the kisses you had, the laughs you released, and the tears that escaped your eyes. Three swigs. Four. Eyebrows furrowed at the odd clicking noise echoing into the chill and distant air. The sound amplified with the alcohol and drugs coursing through you. The drugs only made you see things. Realize the old memories. Making you remember her. The alcohol made you feel complacently numb. You couldn’t feel your fingers grip the bottle as some sort of defense. You felt eyes burning holes into the back of your head. Your pace increased with fright. The mysterious person began going faster as well. The bottle dropped out of your hands, shattering onto the pavement like the picture that was living in the frame she used when she painted a picture of you in the living room.
Where was she now? Can she be your new safety net? The footsteps were right behind you as you stopped abruptly. You can’t smell the mint and cigarette anymore. The warm vanilla long gone from your senses. No. This can’t be happening to you right now. Your legs starts to grow numb as you began to scream for someone to save you. That turned out to be nothing more than a broken sob caught in your throat. You lost the miraculous green bottle somewhere in the dark night. You laid down on the cold pavement, feeling the alcohol and drugs taking turns, changing the outcome of the night.
Your body began to tremble at the frigid temperature of the pavement. Your brain started to cross over the memories, getting the dates wrong, the faces becoming blurry. You couldn’t remember the way she smelled like mints and cigarette buds. You couldn’t remember that you met her in a subway station, singing your favorite song. You couldn’t remember how passionate she got when she was talking about a new book she read. You couldn’t remember how much you loved her. Your heart started to beat slower, your brain working wonders on the rest of your body. Your body began to twist and curl at the unexpected turn of events. The laughter died down, and your heart stopped beating. Her face wasn’t the last thing you saw before you closed your eyes.
The trees were swaying gently in the chilling breeze of winter with airy clouds hiding the gaunt branches. You were sitting on a park bench with your tiny pea coat wrapped tightly around your developing body. The kids were laughing, some were screaming, and you couldn’t place your finger on it. It was so calm. You began to welcome the breeze as a form of comfort. You get up from the park bench, and began to leave the park with a small smile on your face, and your hand grasped tightly in your mother’s own.
Cheya Washington is a sixteen year old junior at Homewood-Flossmor High School.