6.7.6.

it sounds like my heart could
lift you to the heavens by
the way it soars when your
spirit even glances in my direction
it flutters at your scent
mundane, angelic, tucked
flush in the crook of your arm
so that the silence will drown my sorrows still

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baby’s first

I sit in silence
alive with nightmares
dreamt last night
the day breaks thin
my bed thick with
your absence
i feel it in every bone
it tears, it pushes me
down in the sheets
the further i fall, deeper
in this madness, your
arms around my midriff
hot on my stomach
in arrays of diamonds
and leaves
searing my skin
marking my heart
claiming my soul
mold my body in gold
your hand plastered to
me lined in silver
kicking covers off
with legs entwined for
lengths to end and meet
a fire burning of
waking eyes to remind me
of your distance

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Molly Jane

I had never done anything like it before – but, as I think about it, I had been doing a lot of things I’d never done before at the time. It was like some new addiction I’d picked up: acting completely unlike the normal self I’d been acquainted with for years. My tongue rolled around the world addiction – so delicious, so energizing, so… frightening. That could be because these “new experiences” I was trying weren’t like riding a new roller coaster or trying out a new recipe; they were a little darker.

I remember the night so easily. It was clear, a star or two was out. I was surprised I was able to park on the road I did, my little Audi cramped in between car after car. I was particularly surprised I parked so well, considering successful parallel parking is one of my flaws. Christie stared at me from the other side of the vehicle, motioning to me with her hand.

“Are we going in or not?” she asked, and wiggled her eyebrows, which made me laugh off my nervousness. Somewhat.

The house was small, yet still managed to look ominous. My gut quivered with an awful feeling. I wasn’t usually one to discard my instincts, but I reminded myself it was my idea to drag Christie out at 2:07 AM, and that I was trying to have fun. How was I supposed to have fun if I was too afraid to put myself out there? I sighed, and made my way over to Christie so we could walk up the stairs to the front door.

“Well, look at you lovely ladies,” Evan’s voice greeted us, and my grimace melted into a smile.

“How are you?” I asked, and gave him a hug. “I haven’t seen you in a long time.”

His hand rested on my back after I let him go, and he replied, “Borderline six months, I’m sure. You must be Christie.”

“Pleasure.” She grinned, and her eyes flickered to Evan’s hand that still rested on the small of my back. I stepped out of his continued embrace and shot her a look that read, Weird.

“Pleasure’s all mine. This is Andrew and Ron. Guys, this is Katrina and Christie.”

“You can call me Kat,” I said, and shook the guys’ hands. Andrew wouldn’t look me in the eye as he shook my hand, and his grip was too loose. He made a face when I shook his hand with a little more strength. Ron’s handshake was firm, his gaze steady.

“Ready to do this, Kitty Kat?”

I flinched slightly. Collin used to call me that.

“Isn’t that nickname clever,” I droned, and I added in an eye roll. “Yes, let’s go.”

Evan smirked and winked at me before he started to walk through the house. He was flirting with me. I didn’t like it.

“You want to smoke before you buy?”
Have fun. “I’m down if you are,” I said, and my line of sight traveled to Christie as I shrugged my shoulders.

She giggled. “Sure.”

The house wasn’t any bigger on the inside – in fact, it was a little cramped, like my car on the street. There were beer cans that littered the floor, and Cheeto bags that held the couch hostage. There was a bed in what I had assumed to be the living room, along with a large TV. Overall, it wasn’t a bad layout. It would be better if they picked up a little bit, but only so much could be expected of college guys. After all, we were just there to buy some weed.

Evan led us through an open glass door and onto a porch, where a bong was waiting. That awful feeling had come back to haunt my gut; the last time I had an encounter with a bong, it hadn’t ended too well. In fact, the entire experience had me so terrified I had sworn off Mary-Jane for months. It had only been recently that I had started to dabble again. Was I ready?

I situated myself in the cushioned chair and leaned over to Christie.

“I’m not going to smoke very much, okay?” My voice sounded braver than I felt. “You can do however much you want, but I want to make sure I can get us home safe.”

She smiled and another giggle escaped. She was a nervous giggler, and these guys were making her nervous. Was it because they were cute, or because she felt uncomfortable? I should have followed my instincts. I didn’t.

Someone – Andrew, I thought? – took the first hit, and passed it to me. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me as idle conversation took place, and I felt the ridiculous need to impress Evan and his friends. I snatched the lighter, lighted up the contraption, and took a hit.

“Wow,” one of the guys remarked as I found myself in a coughing fit. “That was a huge hit.”

“Totally ripped it,” Evan agreed, and eagerly took the bong from my grasp.

On the bright side, I had managed to impress the guys. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop coughing. I thought I was dying. My chest was on fire, my throat was scraping against itself aggressively, and my eyes were leaking pools big enough for small children to swim in. The bong had already made it back around to me, and I waved my hand dramatically. Somewhere along the line, I had stopped coughing. I couldn’t remember when. My entire world was rocking, and it made me feel like I was on a boat. My peripheral vision was completely useless, considering everything around the object I chose to stare at would disappear entirely. What had I done?

Even my high mind could remember that question being asked before. What had I done? There was a pulse in the left side of my head, and each beat brought a flash of a memory. Boom. A vase cracked by my face. Boom. He pinned my arms to my side. Boom. He was yelling my name over and over again: Katrina, Katrina, Katrina, Katrina –

I had to shake my head to stop seeing his face so close to mine. I chose to focus on Christie to keep me from remembering. She was talking so loudly. What about? She seemed to be on the phone with someone – her boyfriend, probably. The guys looked disturbed. Were they uneasy because of me? Had I even said anything recently? How long had it been since I took that first hit? I wanted to go home. Now. I didn’t feel safe or happy. Crap, the guys were talking and looking at me pointedly. I tuned in.

“… inside and watch something?”

I blinked uncontrollably. “What?”

Evan smiled sympathetically and repeated, “Do you want to go inside and watch something?”

I nodded, and somehow managed to lift myself up from my chair. Christie was off her phone at this point, and we followed them back inside the house, into the living room/bedroom area. I heard Evan telling us we could sit wherever we’d like as the rest of them plopped onto the couch and chairs. With little options left, Christie and I climbed up onto the bed. My phone buzzed and I jumped, startled, It was a text from Christie: I don’t think that was just weed. Someone turned on Animal Planet, and I stared at the screen as I mulled over her message.

She was probably right. I had been high a few times before, but never had I felt like this. Yes, I had had scary moments that made me want to swear it off, but never had I felt so out of it. I knew what I needed to do: I needed to text Collin. I needed to apologize for running out on him and ignoring him, and I needed to accept that it was all my fault. I shifted as I remembered that night, that angry night, when I had sprinted out the door, away from the broken vase I had bought him and his hysterical shouts. I couldn’t call Collin. I was proving a point.

Eventually, Christie got up and I looked at her. She mumbled something about leaving, winked at me, and walked out of the room. Panicked, I tried to maneuver my legs to go after her, but they wouldn’t budge from their crossed position. I opened my mouth to call after her, but I stopped to wonder why. I felt great, all of a sudden. My body felt so light, and my limbs were tingling with excitement. Wow, I wanted to do something! If I had known how to dance, I would have been up and doing it! My heart was beating rather fast, actually. It was almost beginning to hurt as it pounded in my chest so violently, but the idea that even my heart was excited made the feeling all the more exhilarating.

I saw Evan smiling at me, and he said he’d be right back, he was going to drive one of his friends home. The words had hit home enough to bring me down slightly from my euphoria. Could he take me home? There was no way I could have driven like that. It was so late, too! It had to have been so dark outside. I remembered the few stars I had seen on the way in, so pretty… I had gotten sidetracked. I needed to ask Evan to take me home! But he was already out the door with his friends; he left me in an empty house.

An empty house? I could dance! I wiggled myself off the bed, my legs suspiciously more than ready to move at that point, and I imagined some good dancing music in my head. I bounced around to the music until I fell smack on my butt, and I giggled hysterically. That was how Evan found me: on the ground and in a fit of laughter. How long had he been gone? Not that long…

“You’re a mess,” he sighed, and scooped me up into this arms to that he could situate me on the couch. “How are you liking the high?”

Could I even string together a proper sentence at this point? “I’m great!”Apparently I could. “I feel… more different.”

Evan’s eyebrows rose. “Have you never had it laced with Molly before?”

The smile remained plastered on my face, but inside, alarm bells were ringing with such fervor that annoying pulsing was back. Lacing weed can be dangerous, Collin had warned me when I asked about the concept after hearing about some people doing it. Never smoke laced weed.

My mind started to panic, and I felt Evan’s hands push me back onto the couch. He grabbed some blankets to put on top of me. At least he was being nice and letting me crash at his place. Where had Christie gone? I checked my phone, and stared at a text message that said: Thought I’d give you and Evan some privacy 😉

Privacy?

He climbed onto the couch next to me. That awful feeling became a huge ball in my stomach and made me want to vomit. Not only had he climbed on the couch, but he had climbed on top of me, and his lips seared my neck while his fingers pushed down the straps of my shirt and bra all in one. He was everywhere as he unbuttoned my jeans and unclasped my bra and I heard myself whimpering, crying for him to stop. He put his hand over my mouth, shushing me, trying to sooth me, which just made me cry harder. I had known Evan for a long time. What was he doing?

My knee slammed up of its own accord, and based off the stream of expletives he released, I assumed I had crushed what I intended to. He rolled away from me and in an instant I was up and running for the door. He was yelling my name, Katrina Katrina Katrina as I fell down the steps in a hurry and sprinted to my car. I jumped in and locked the doors and drove as fast as I could. I had to get home. I had to get home safe, but I wasn’t sure if I could. Funny how, in trying to get away from Collin, I found someone else just like him.

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Nauseated

I wish I could vomit out my addiction

day in and day out i am seduced

promises slither along my skin

up my arms and down my spine

they worm their way into my pores

and build a home inside me

i try to squeeze them out with my nails

but my body harbors them like pets

with my false hopes and crusty dreams

covered in dust and bookmarked

i feel so alive when i adopt another lie

it fills me up with faith while simultaneously

staining a red hand print across my cheek

i claw at myself in desperation

I’ll never vomit out my addiction

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Snow White Timmy

I can remember the night I met my first dead body.

Lord, how it still haunts me. My skin is crawling with spiders just as it did that night, when I stared at Timmy’s tinted eye-lids. The next morning I woke up mimicking the position he had been manipulated into, unable to move a muscle. I was frozen, imagining what it must have been like for him. Had he been there, watching over his family as they stood in a line, greeting every person to step foot into the funeral home? Had he seen the pity in every single pair of eyes as they murmured their condolences and made promises that everything would turn out alright?

Sometimes I still wake up on my back with my fingers intertwined across my stomach. Now, over a year later, I shake out of the position in disgust. It’s disgusting to me that I can feel so attached to someone who was only barely in my life, that I can continue to think about the poor boy like I actually knew him. I didn’t. I knew stories, I’d heard rumors, I knew of him.

I went to the service for Timmy’s family. I had grown up alongside the middle child, Clark, who had slowly become my best friend over the years. We played trumpet together in band, and through the time together, we were able to grow quite close. We turned to each other for advice, comfort, and a good laugh. I always prided myself on being able to make him feel better, but when he pulled me to him and hugged me while he stood managing the assembly line of people that night, I didn’t know what to say. I realized that sometimes, there isn’t anything you can say to make someone feel better. I remember letting an apology for his loss slip out, telling him we could get ice cream and vent and cry, and celebrating a small victory when I saw a twinkle in his eye. That was all I needed at the time: a twinkle.

I mentioned I never truly knew Timmy, and I didn’t. I had heard Clark ramble time and time again about how Timmy did this and Timmy did that, but I had only had a few personal encounters with him. He had been in band a few years before Clark and I were participants, so the upperclassmen took joy in telling us stories of Timmy running over things with his car and smoking weed outside the school. He had a limp because he had been in an awful wreck, because of what I’m still not sure of to this day. He had a problem with vices: alcohol, marijuana, and later on, the harder drugs. After all, Timmy died young; he was only in his 20s. He died of an overdose.

Death due to overdose is a common story and scare tactic to steer kids away from drugs – at least, so I thought. I had listened to the stories a thousand and one times of someone dying of an overdose, but to actually have been acquainted with someone who did die of one feels almost unreal. I was so angry the night of the funeral. How could Timmy have overdosed, leaving his family to deal without him? How could he have been so foolish? How dare he leave them behind? It wasn’t until I was meandering throughout the funeral home that I picked up a story Timmy had written as a kid about a snowflake.

This story was about a beautiful snowflake that didn’t feel like it measured up to its peers. It felt different than every other snowflake, but it wanted with all its might to feel the same. This snowflake had dreams: dreams of making friends, going to college, fitting in. I remember reading this story; I clutched at the paper, feeling ridiculous for having been so angry with Timmy. He didn’t start doing drugs with the intention of getting addicted, he didn’t expect to eventually overdose and pass away. According to this story, little Timmy the snowflake had aspirations, dreams, and expectations that did not end in “and when I’m in my 20s I will overdose on illegal drugs and die.”

Clark was a wreck for months after that. He still is, but he’s better at handling it now, or so I assume. Clark and I aren’t very close now. He went to UC and I went to NKU, and even though we made plans to eat a meal together at least once a month, we could never get our acts together – or should I say, I could never get my act together. I wonder how he feels about that. Does he feel like I left him? Does he feel betrayed? I didn’t mean to stray away, school just harbored all my attention. The last time I checked, he wasn’t very happy with me. He grew aggravated with how unavailable I was, even when I tried to explain I was doing everything I could. But was I?

Clark pushed everyone away after his brother’s death, but at that point there weren’t that many people to push away. Timmy’s death stained Clark’s skin and naturally repelled the people around away from him, including me. He walked around school with his head down, mouth sealed shut, a dark cloud hanging over his existence. His cloud hung in the air, filled each breath with poison and silenced all attempts to make him feel better. While this scared most people away form Clark, I found it almost alluring. It called to me, begged for me to help, and I couldn’t resist. He was my best friend, I had to be there for him. But somehow, I began to experience it all with him.

He had convinced himself that he was an awful brother, specifically remember his graduation party at this house. I was there, and so was Timmy. Clark was outside playing basketball with some other friends, and I was sitting in the grass talking to Clark’s younger brother, Harry. Timmy walked out of the house holding a beer and began to pester Clark to let him play basketball with them. Clark acquiesced, but after a few minutes. Timmy’s voice started to grow louder, slightly mocking Clark and trying to weigh in on conversations he didn’t know anything about. It was clear Clark was becoming irritated, but instead of backing down, Timmy spurred him until he finally snapped. Go away! he yelled. Leave me and my friends alone! I had never heard him so angry, so raw, so frazzled. Harry shifted uncomfortably next to me and picked up the conversation where we had left it. I gathered that this wasn’t an unusual scene for the brothers. After another second, Timmy sputtered a stream of profanities and made his way back inside.

When I started paying more attention, I realized that the two were constantly fighting. Clark and I were out having lunch once, and Timmy called him in some sort of drug-induced state pleading for a ride home. Clark was so irritated he refused to go get him until I finally convinced him he should. Thinking back further, I can remember how Timmy used to tease Clark when coming to pick him up from band rehearsal: moving the car forward when Clark was trying to get in, locking him out of the car, jerking as he drove.

“He was never doing anything wrong,” Clark whispered to me one day. “I was just too sensitive and selfish.”

“Brothers fight,” I had whispered back. “His problem wasn’t because of you.”

But that was exactly the way Clark felt, and he had no intention of feeling any other way. It was as if blaming himself for Timmy’s overdose was the only way he could feel better. It killed me, it broke my heart to know that he had decided something so tragic was his own fault. I couldn’t say anything to make him feel better anymore; I could never get that twinkle in his eye to return, that little spark of hope that I last saw at the funeral. There was only so much I could take before I, too, would get sucked in to Clark’s overhanging dark cloud, drowning in his sadness. It stained my thoughts black, stained my attitude negative. I was seeing the world like Clark was: badly. Everything became my fault, everyone became a pity case, and I became my own enemy. I would take the blame for things that I didn’t even know about, for things I wasn’t even there for. I was so used to hearing how everything was Clark’s fault that I soon associated everything as my fault. It was my fault I couldn’t help Clark overcome the pain of losing his brother. It was my fault that a girl I knew years ago was addicted to heroin, and it was my fault that the world was such an awful place. I was stuck in Clark’s mindset. Even though I wouldn’t admit it, my subconscious knew I was poisoning myself by jumping under Clark’s umbrella. It steered me away from him, one step at a time, until I barely talked to him anymore. I started to see the sunlight, see the good in the world again. It was then I realized I couldn’t help Clark if he didn’t want to help himself, just like he couldn’t have helped Timmy unless Timmy had wanted to help himself. Timmy’s death wasn’t Clark’s fault just like Clark’s sorrow wasn’t mine.

Timmy wasn’t my brother, but I was still sucked in to the depressive, dark state that Clark entered. I couldn’t have felt even half of what Clark must have been feeling, but I still reflect on those days as one of the darkest times of my life. It hurts me to stare at the shell of a person who used to be so full of life and happiness and now only see pain. It hurts me even more to know that I was able to pull myself out from that state, but left Clark there to fend for himself.

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bonaventure cemetery

people’s lives are buried under my feet
people i don’t even know
people i’ve forgotten
people who, at one point, were living
on this earth, too, not beneath it
experiencing the same life i am now
feeling the same emotions
thinking the same thoughts
how insignificant i feel
to be one of another line
of future dwellers of this place
yet how significant I feel
to be one of another line
of future guests of this masterpiece

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one half of me is bathed in sunlight
the other is shrouded in darkness
yet my entire body is covered in goosebumps?
my shoulders are exposed, my knees,
my ankles, my toes and my wrists
but I feel more hidden than ever?
i hide behind my perfect smile that
never sits right on my face
i hide behind my effortless reassurances
that waiver in pitch only to me

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