Jed opened his eyes and found himself on a kitchen floor with a thin sheet over him. He was pressed against the back side of a warm body: cloth to cloth in places, skin to skin in others. It was Steph he was pressed against and she had his arm under hers and was grasping his hands. He sighed with a smile and rested his face in the nape of her neck.
"Are you awake?" Steph asked.
He kissed her neck. She let go of his hand and placed hers against his cheek: hand to head and head to neck. "Yes" he said.
She brought her hand back to the embrace of their hands at her bare navel. She removed his arm from her body with the hand that touched his smiling face and threw the sheet over them, away from her head. She exhaled. "I'm going outside."
He stayed for the moment draped in the sheet tossed upon him after she stood up. He watched her brush her hands across table clothes and counter tops, feeling for something useful to her.
Alone in this reality.
She found a pack of cigarettes and took one from the pack. She walked over to the refrigerator and took a bottle of vodka out of the freezer. She poured it into a shot glass and stared at it for a moment. Then she drank it in one gulp and stepped outside to the back yard to smoke the cigarette.
Outside, she adjusted the clothes she was wearing, looking down at her body with smoke drifting upwards from her cigarette, pouring into her eyes. Jed stood behind her in the door of the house.
"Hey" He said.
She turned around to see him as she pulled her tight yellow t shirt down to the low waistline of her jeans. She was startled, but barely showed it in a small body twitch. "Hey" she said. blinking the smoke out of her eyes. "What's up?"
They stared at each other for a moment.
"What are you looking at?" She asked.
"You." he said, pausing before he nodded his head.
She took a drag of her cigarette as she turned away from him.
"Whose house is this?" He asked.
"My mom and step-dad's. She answered while staring at the cigarette in her hand. Her arm was slumped down and bent at the elbow in a ninety degree angle. Her other arm and hand rested upon her hip. She turned around. Chiaroscuro. That beautiful curve our skeleton supports and braces at the human bodies's infrastructure. "Is there something you need?"
He stared at her. His smile fell blank. "No. It's just that your awake."
She took another drag and checked for her phone in her left pocket.
"And so I'm awake now, too."
"Okay." Car keys.
"Would you like something to drink?" He asked.
"I'm fine." Wallet, but she wasn't sure where her purse was.
"Do you want to talk?" He asked.
"About what?" She had been taking inventory of her things, but she was at her house. She didn't know why she was doing it.
"I don't know. Last night?"
"I don't remember most of last night." It was he who would eventually be leaving, not her.
"Really?" He said.
"Yeah." This was her home, or as close to a home as she had. He would be leaving, and hopefully sooner than later.
"Do you want to get some breakfast?" He asked.
"Look." She said. "I'd like to be alone right now."
He stared at her, confused, and then he said "Okay." And then he went inside and sat with his legs crossed on the carpet floor staring silently out the window for about five minutes. A long five minutes. Then he got up and left out of the front door. Quietly, he intentionally left quietly and she could finally go back inside the house.
In that five minutes inside the house, when she had been smoking her cigarette, Jed received a text from the man -are you coming back to work today?
Jed text back -yes.
-what about Zeke?
The night before, Jed walked to the address Steph had sent him. The two of them spent the night there drinking and listening to music.They were quiet around each other at first, taking sips of their mixed drinks, sitting with legs crossed on the decorative rug in front the record player. They faced away from each other while listening.
"Do you want to take a shot?" Steph asked.
Jed looked over at her and said "yes."
"Okay, let's go to the kitchen."
They went into the kitchen and took a shot of vodka, chasing it with vanilla coke. For a moment, they leaned against the kitchen counter smiling, listening to the music from the other room. Jed looked over at her nodding his head. She looked over at him. They made eye contact. She smirked and looked away.
"Do you want to do another?"
They took another shot and leaned silently on the counters. They started listening to the music from the other room again.
"Let's go back to our other drinks." She said.
They went back to the record player and sat down by their drinks, leaning back with their hands on the rug.
"What if there was a fireplace next to us, against that wall?"
"What?" He asked not understanding the context of the question.
She pointed with her thumb at the wall next to them. "What if that wall had a fireplace installed in it and there was a fire going in it right now?"
"It would be too hot." Jed said sincerely. It was the most sincere words he had uttered all day.
"I don't think you understand what I am saying." She said. "What would it look like?"
"The fireplace?" He asked.
"No. The whole room: the rug, the record player, the wood floor, us, our drinks, but also a fireplace against that wall." She pointed to the wall without a fireplace again.
"With a fire burning in it?" Jed stared at her wide-eyed and confused. "I think it would look uncomfortably hot." He said.
She sighed and took a sip of her drink.
He scanned the room as he took a sip of his.
Both of them stared at the ground for a while.
Nothing to say
nothing to do.
Both of them inside their mind for a while.
Nothing to me
nothing to you.
The music was still playing on the record player.
"Something my mom would hang on a wall."
"What?" She asked.
"It would look like something my mom would hang on her wall." He said. "If it were a picture. Like a photograph."
"Yeah." She said quietly.
He took another sip of his drink. "Do you want to take another shot?"
They went into the kitchen and took another shot. Then she asked him if he was hungry. They ate a last meal of organic granny smith apples, gruyere cheese, and water crackers. "This is pretty fancy looking cheese" He mentioned.
"My mom takes food kind of seriously." She responded.
After they finished eating they lounged on the rug with their plates and drinks next to them.
She laughed. She belched. She laughed again. "I'm sorry."
"Let's do another shot." She said.
"I'm sorry!" she yelled unexpectedly.
There was a moment of silence between them.
"Okay." He said.
They went into the kitchen and took another shot.
She looked at her phone a lot. He looked over at her looking at her phone. He looked at his phone occasionally, mostly when she was looking at her phone. When the record ended, it was quiet for a moment. He went over to the record player and changed the record so that there was music playing once more.
"Do you want to take another shot?"
"Do you think we should?"
Cued laughter. Cued gasp.
They went once more into the kitchen and took one more shot of vodka. Then they sat back down on the rug and finally talked. They talked in a way that only isolated and solipsistic minds can talk when they find another extended adolescent mind in the mire of reality. They felt smart, if only momentarily, in each others company. They spoke to each of their dreams. Dreams that would go unfulfilled or would somehow be fabricated. They talked about their frustrations with life, friends, family, and acquaintances, so disconnected with the rest of the known world. They spoke confidently, selfishly, comfortable in the selfishness of their company. "They'll be sorry when I'm dead." "She is the worse person I have ever had to be around" "Everybody thinks he's the greatest thing ever, but he's really just a fucking asshole." "They'll never understand what is really wrong." "That's the problem with this world, isn't it?" "You're so right, I'm so glad someone really gets it, gets me." And with every shameful display of vocalized singularity there was a response of support, of understanding.
They walked back into the kitchen, still talking, reeling off of the flow of shared frustration. Jed poured two more shots of vodka and handed Steph the vanilla coke. They took the shot. The talking had ceased for a moment. And then Steph began to cry.
"What's wrong?" Jed asked.
"A lot of things." She said quietly.
She leaned into him. He adjusted his arms so that they were wrapped around her. She pressed her face against his chest. "Do you want to talk about it?"
A muffled "no." She looked up at his face with wet eyes. She wiped them with her hand. He looked down at her face. He kissed her on the lips. She jerked her head back, but quickly eased back in and kissed his lips. "Can I trust you?" She asked.
"Yes." He answered. "Do you think you can trust me?"
"I think so."
"Do you want to lie down?"
They laid down together on the kitchen floor, covering themselves with an extra sheet from the linen closet. Jed began kissing her neck and face, and she would occasionally turn her head to kiss him back, but she was mostly just still. "Let's go to sleep." She whispered.
"Okay." Jed kissed her neck once more and squeezed her body closer to his. She took his hands in hers and very soon they were both in a deep drunken slumber.
When she awoke in the morning, she already knew it was not going to end well.