Twelve

Cocaine came back to me. I can't place how. It was like, one day, I woke up and everything tasted like coke. The saying goes, Once an addict, always an addict. And it's true. At that party, when I saw those lines being cut before me, I couldn't tear my eyes away. I shelled out money two days later. It was so easy, so typical. At first, it was just like everything else. A drug we pulled out for kicks, Saturday night at the party. All starry-eyed and silly. The night I introduced her to coke, officially, we got busy on the floor of a stranger's master bedroom. But then, we wanted more. More and more and more. More until our heads exploded, because without it, reality seemed to hurt more. We began to go crazy on it. All of the sirens in my head, blinking and spinning red and white emergency lights, but I couldn't stop. It felt so good, so insane, so appropriate. We were awake for days, and sleeping for the rest. Time had altered. Days and nights seemed the same. They were filled with parties, parks, and my bedroom. And when our tired, over-extended bodies finally slowed down, we came home feeling nauseated and constipated.

I started to lose weight again, but this time it became like an internal competition, rather than another reason to feel sorry for myself. I wondered how fast I could lose a couple of pounds after a coke binge. For the first time in months, when I stared at myself in the mirror, hip bones jutting out and rib cage showing through, I felt like I was the one in control.

I went to the pharmacy one last time, and I refilled all of the prescriptions. We each were allowed to refill once, and since I had taken all of them anyway, I figured nobody would notice if I pretended I was doing them all a favor. I pulled up the floor board next to my bed, my usual drug hide out which now beared only an empty box, and filled it with prescription bottles, and then coke. But the coke never lasted very long.

I showed her how to do it. How to cut it, and how to roll the bill. I showed her how to do it incognito. How to pour it out on the back of your hand and snort it as if you were just wiping your nose. I showed her how to do it when we were having sex, a line between her breasts, or over her shoulder. I told her to lick all of my credit cards, and when we kissed our tongues would go pleasurably numb. Even if her Dad beat her mercilessly, she would never feel an ounce of pain. In our cocaine bubble, I could be sick, she could be hurt, and nobody would tell us there was anything otherwise. We didn't need anything better, as long as we had each other.

It had happened so fast. I was dizzy. She was dizzy. We were spinning, spinning, spinning, spinning. A perpetual merry-go-round. We were at our worst, then. Locked up inside of each other as if our lives depended on it. Everything: Eating, sleeping, family, school. Everything became secondary to our love for each other, and our love for blow.

I avoided my family on most days, but when forced into a confrontation, it was dealt with like skating. It seemed that now, in this household, we all had something to hide, and we were all so afraid we'd be found out that we spent little time paying attention to anything else. Small alliances had been developed. A comradery of common interest. It was my three youngest siblings. My parents. And then Isaac, Jessica, and I, each looping around and around miles away from each other. And beyond the set companionship, nobody spoke. We each had our own walls to climb, it was too much work to focus all of that energy on everyone else. The family was rarely together for dinner, anymore, and anyway, I had stopped eating nearly all together. I was sure I wasn't the only one. The fridge seemed to be sparsely stocked these days, because the food actually sat in there long enough to go bad. A rarity in a house of nine. Or eight.

We had a therapist that we were supposed to see, individually, once a week. As a family, once a month. I had found an excuse to skip most of my appointments, and my parents could never get it together to get us all in one car, heading to one destination. I was gone most of the time, and my little sister, Jessica, vanished simultaneously. She had come to an intense rebellious period of her teen years. My depressed mother and exhausted father were constantly trying to surround her, but she fought hard. Running away and disappearing weekly until they just gave up. The younger kids were the ones who needed attention. My new cocaine affliction had gone nearly unnoticed. They believed that, although I was constantly on the bound, I was an adult. And all those bad things were behind me. It may have escaped my parents, but Isaac? He knew. He knew right away.


Annissa was banging on the bathroom door. "Taylor! You've been in there for ages!"

"Go to another bathroom!" I shouted. There were five bathrooms on this floor, and they were put in place specifically so I didn't have to deal with this nonsense. I regarded the noise nonchalantly, absorbed in a book. I turned the page.

"Well... are you planning on coming out anytime soon?"

I checked my book. Five more pages to this chapter. "Maybe."

"What are you doing?"

"What do you think? Jesus." And when there was no response I said, "Taking a dump, go away."

"No shit!" She said.

"Are you trying to be witty?" She opened the door, and I looked up at her, completely shocked. "Dude! Go away!"

"You're reading!" She said, snatching the book from my hands, and then kissing my face. "Liar." I didn't know how to respond. "Oh, please, Taylor..." She said, "It's not like I haven't had your balls in my mouth. Besides, I had to see it to believe it."

She had broken all of my rules. All of them. And I had let her. Every day, when I lifted up her school girl uniform skirt with a joint in my mouth, I wondered about it. I loved her, I knew I did, but behind the drugs, I couldn't feel my dick or my heart. We had no shame around each other. It was a dynamic enforced by sleeping, breathing, and living in the same atmosphere on a near constant basis. Just when I thought she couldn't surprise me anymore, she always did. I was as turned on as I was embarrassed by her intrusion. It was these moments that kept things interesting, even in our deepest lull. It was these moments, also, that reminded me why I loved her. In spite of myself, I couldn't avoid smiling.

"Yes honey," I said, "I shit. Now could you please stop watching me? You're freaking me out."

"It's intriguing." She said, resting her chin on my knee. I blushed. "I love every part of you. Even your shit. Perhaps I love the shit the most."

"Annissa..." I said, "Taylor Hanson doesn't shit very often and you're making him nervous."

"Aw," She said, "Is my angel constipated?"

"Um. Sort of."

She smiled.

"You're making it worse."

"Blame it on me..." She said, and quietly left me alone again in the bathroom. I picked up my book again and relaxed. Maybe it was true that I was constipated, but I could hardly tell because I didn't eat much in the first place. Mostly, I was exhausted. And kind of sad. I almost didn't want to move for a while, but the promise of a line under the floor board was motivation enough to at least leave the room. I fantasized, momentarily, about tossing her onto my bed and having my way with her. Again and again and again.

I emerged, triumphant. "Success!"

"Well... Okay..." Said Isaac, who was sitting on my bed, looking at me queerly. I said nothing. My first thought was that I would have to put off my line, and my second thought was that I was in trouble. I knew how I was. One look, and he knew. The guilt was painted all over my face. Whatever guilt I may have ever had, even once ten years ago, welled up all at once, seeping to the surface of my skin, and spilling over.

"Where's Ani?"

"Getting breakfast." He said. "Do I want to know what you guys are up to?"

I was blushing again, "Oh. Well... anyway... What do you want?"

"To talk." He said.

"About...?"

"You. Zac. Hanson."

"What about it?"

"Taylor... I don't think you're feeling very well."

"What? But I'm so chipper." I said, baring my teeth. "Watch me jump around the room."

"Stop it. You know exactly what I'm talking about."

"Nothing's wrong."

"You sound pretty guilty to me."

"Well, what then? What's wrong with me? I've been dying for your analysis! You fucking anti-social prick! You've lost as much weight as I have."

"I uh... wasn't going to say anything about that." He said, uneasily, a bit surprised at my outburst. "Is there something else I should know?"

Dumb fucker. I hated myself today. I just admitted my crime. I'm the fuck that gets called in for thievery and admits to murder. Isaac eyed me carefully.

I stood silent, refusing to answer him, and he continued on, taking note of what had just occurred in his mind. "I'm talking about the drugs, Taylor. And how you ate all of my, yours, and even our little sister's Valium! That stuff is for emergencies! Not so you can be fucked up all of the time!"

"I can't sleep without it."

"Because you pop speed, too." He snarled. "And the coke. Do you think I'm stupid? Do you really think I'm that stupid?" When I opened my mouth to retort, he cut me off strongly, stomping his foot on my loose board. He knew. "Don't deny it. I found it all. Taylor, when the fuck does this stop?"

"Isaac this isn't a big deal okay? It's not a goddamned problem. Nor is it any of your business."

"It is my business, Taylor. It is my business when this time I have to drive you to the hospital and watch my other brother die."

"I think you're overreacting."

"I don't think I am at all." He said, "If Zac were here..."

"Well, Zac isn't here!"

"So, what...? This is what you want to do - just because he's gone - to throw it all out the window? You think this is what he wants to see?"

"What difference does it make?" I said, the volume in my voice rising, "What does he see when he looks at you, Isaac? Somebody who is fucking afraid to leave the house! A cold hearted asshole who plays guitar until his finger bleed! So I smoke a little pot. Who fucking gives a damn? At least I'm continuing on with my life - I love somebody!"

"Who do you love? Her or yourself?"

"I can't even believe you'd say that!"

"Well what the fuck do I know, anyway? If you're not out doing God Knows What for days at a time, you're holed up in this room all day and all night. You don't even come downstairs unless you're leaving! All you do is fuck, snort, and smoke. Just like you always did. You haven't changed a damn bit." He was shouting, his face red. "You're not eighteen, anymore, Taylor! Time to grow up! We're not going to stand around just waiting for you to crack. Nobody's going to save you. She's not going to fucking save you!"

"Get out." I said, pointing to the door. "Get out. Get out of my room."

"Fuck you." He said, exiting quietly, while letting her in. I avoided her questioning eyes by running out of the room and taking the back stairs down into the basement. I took the piano bench and I threw it at the wall. I don't know why. One of the legs broke off and I threw it at the drum set which did nothing more than clatter, as drum sets do. Already, I was tired and defeated. My stomach hurt, and Isaac's onslaught of accusations had only made me feel worse. I wanted to go get high, but in a way, I felt I would be proving him right by doing so. So, I just sat, feeling miserable, and stared at a room I hadn't seen in weeks. I noticed the calendar on our wall and a date circled. I had totally forgotten. When we rescheduled the flight, we had set a date that was now only three weeks away. My heart stopped beating.

"No." I said to the page. "You fuck." Why hadn't anyone told me? Why hadn't anyone considered? It occurred to me that the only reason Isaac would make the great effort and venture into my room was probably band related, but I was so infuriated at him that I didn't care that I never gave him the chance to finish. I felt like he had neglected to tell me on purpose. That he had wanted to take away from me the one and only thing I was sure of while I was still sure of it. This was it. I had found the love of my life, and now I was to leave her behind. Asking to stay would do me no good, we had an album to finish, and I wasn't exactly on anyone's good side. I kicked the piano. God damn it. My fist in the keys created a sour discord. I hit it several times. I didn't hear her enter, as I growled and slammed my fists against my instrument. Why me? Why now?

"Taylor..."

"I'm leaving in three weeks."

"It's okay, Taylor..."

"No, it's not."

I sighed, and I sat down on the floor in front of the piano, crawling partially underneath of it. Who was I kidding? I was such a mess. I was better off alone. I covered my face with my hand, and bit back tears, as if she couldn't hear me crying, anyway.

"So you're leaving for a little while, Taylor. It's not forever."

"I can't leave you now." I said, "Not now. So much needs to happen. I need make sure you'll be okay..." I sat up and I looked at her.

"I'll be fine, Taylor. I'll be fine."

"Come to LA."

"Taylor, I can't."

"Please, please, please, please..."

She sighed, frustrated with me. "I can't just disappear like you."

"Why not? What have you got here?"

"I have friends, too, Taylor. My life doesn't revolve around you!"

"Then marry me." I said. "And you will have a reason to go."

"Try explaining that one to my father."

"Who cares what he thinks? You're eighteen. You graduate in a week. You are no longer bound to him."

"Is that what you told your parents?"

"I had a full-time job at 13."

"You make everything sound so fucking easy, Taylor. You can just float around the world, doing whatever you damn well please. I mean, why not? You have unlimited talent, supply, and family! Well I have my dead beat drunk ass Dad, and no money. I leave, he dies, or he kills me."

"I thought you were saving money for school..."

"Well, I lied."

I looked down at the floor in front of me. "He's sucking the life out of you. Don't you even want to get out? Don't you want to try?"

She was silent. A kind of silence that resisted. I wanted to know, so badly, what she was thinking. But I would never know. This thing with her Dad would always be a scenario that lived inside her head. Buried far deeper than I could dig.

"You will never know..." She said, finally, "What it is like to live with a crazy person. You will never know what it is like to look into the eyes of someone you know and love and see nothing at all. You will never know what it's like to live your life with the memory of something that was good now turned irreparably bad. And you will never know, never, how even though it all sucks, you could never abandon them."

"Then why don't you get help?"

"We can't afford help. We've tried."

I fell silent, again.

"What do you tell him when you come here?" I asked.

"I tell him..." She paused, crying out her lies, "I tell him I am sleeping over Shannon's. She lives a block from the school. I tell him it's easier, because I can walk. It saves money on gas."

"But he knows about me...?"

"Yes. Yes, he does." She said, and her voice dropped off.

"Why does he hate me so much?"

"Because he's afraid you'll take me away." She said, "Just like my mother. His mother. And everyone else. You're just the same, you know..."

"Then what? What are we supposed to do? I can't keep living like this... You can't keep living like this..."

She shrugged. I picked at the carpet.

"Play for me."

I grabbed the stool from the drum set, and pulled her beside me. We both barely fit on each edge, but neither of us minded the closeness. I hummed and ahh-ed, but I had no words. Finally, I was just buried in the sound of the piano. She whispered E.E. Cummings over my shoulder as I played. I heard music in her words, but I couldn't express it. It seemed so unfair to me that this episode ever had to end. I missed her, already.

"the hours rise up putting off stars and it is
dawn
into the street of the sky light walks scattering poems
on earth a candle is
extinguished
the city
wakes
with a song upon her
mouth having death in her eyes

and it is dawn
the world
goes forth to murder dreams...

I see in the street where strong
men are digging bread
and I see the brutal faces of
people contented hideous hopeless cruel happy

and it is day,

in the mirror
I see a frail
man dreaming
dreams
dreams in the mirror
and it
is dusk
on earth

a candle is lighted
and it is dark.
the people are in their houses
the frail man is in his bed
the city

sleeps with death upon her mouth having a song in her eyes
the hours descend,
putting on stars...
in the street of the sky night walks scattering poems"


We went back upstairs when I became desperate for a fix. I pulled up my floorboard and I found nothing but an empty space. She grabbed me before I ran out to go beat my brother. I was enraged, but oddly depressed. "I just want to forget. I just want to forget. I just want to feel better. Just today."

"Shh..." She cooed in my ear, "Taylor, it's okay. It's better this way..."

I shook my head, tearfully. "No," I said, "It was better before everything. It was better when none of this had to happen at all..."

"It'll get better."

I held her close thinking that maybe she could become a part of me, like my siamese twin. And then we would never have to separate, or think about a pause. I needed her so desperately that I imagined I'd die in her absence.

"It'll get better" She said, again.

Promises, promises, promises. Another empty promise.