By Samantha Toner
(Before reading this out loud, take a sip of wine on an empty stomach and spread your arm to whatever or whoever sits in front of you. You need to greet your audience.)
Be me for a day. Waking up to empty beer bottles and wine glasses with small puddles of red and white pooling in the bottom stems, like honey in a lily flower. Forget which are from what days. Slump under the sheets, pretend they are holding you down. Stay in this position for ten minutes, twenty. Forget how long you’ve slumped.
Bring a hand to your head as if the pain can pulse outward, vibrating through your nails and finger bones. Reach for water, knocking a half-empty glass over in the process. Groan, make a promise to yourself, and throw your covers back. Remember falling into bed without changing. Stare at the sheer black top, the lacy red bra bleeding over your breasts, the leather pants like tar over your thighs.
(If you’re reading this out loud, encase your bare legs in cling wrap and try to squat or sit. Finish your wine and spin twice on slick feet.)
Remember him. The wavy hair curled over his eyebrows, hairs intertwining with one another as his fingers combed it back. Dual black dots like drops of soy sauce over one eyebrow, face tanned by splashes of sun, not hours, with freckles like pin pricks over his nose and cheeks. He smelled of soft cologne, the kind that would have a man on the beach with a surfboard in the ad. He was nice enough. He called you doll, Dancing Girl, Tequila Queen. His hands tangled with yours after his third cup of jungle juice, and soon after his fingernails were tracing your collarbone, your neck, your chin.
(If you’re reading this out loud, ask for another glass of wine. Swirl the liquid in its case, inhaling the aroma, before drinking half the glass in one sip.)
Stand and stumble over towels and your jean jacket. Catch yourself against the wall, the wall he pushed you against, kissed you deep and dark and lovingly. His fingernails scraped up your leather pants, picking at the button and zipper. Remember his arms holding yours until you threatened to scream. Your knees suffocated and ached as you sunk to your bedroom floor, yelling at him until the door closed.
(If you’re reading this out loud, claw at the cling wrap tight around your legs. Scratch and scream until holes grow and grow, until the clear plastic falls from your thighs without help. Finish your second glass of wine.)
Kick your towels and shirts and pants and jackets to the side without stopping, first to walk straight, then in anger. Remember your friends asking what happened, who was he, where did he go. Remember asking for more drinks instead. Now reach the fridge and open a beer. Sprinkle salt inside and grimace with the first sip. Add too much lime juice but drink it anyway.
(If you’re reading this out loud, do a tequila shot before reading further. If no tequila is available, drink a beer with a lime wedge in the neck, fast and powerful and stupid.)
Finish the beer and feel the buzz whispering through your limbs like lying on quivering sand. Feel full, happy. Get another beer and skip the salt and lime juice. Scoff at what little you remember from that night after he left, the loud music, the pulsating bass like electric shock therapy. Smile at the thought of feeling sexy and shudder at the thought of the man with the wavy hair, the eyebrow piercing. Feel false in your skin, jittery, unsafe, and drink more beer to calm yourself. Forget feeling scared.
Settle back in your bed, under the covers, and call out of work. Say you have a stomach ache, it’s worse than last time, you can’t get everyone sick.
(If you’re reading this out loud, finish one more glass of wine before spinning in your place five times. Turn on loud music and jump up and down. Forget yourself and pull your audience to their feet, gyrating and moving through them like bubbles in champagne. You are living life to the fullest, right here and now.)
Forget about the problem people say you have. Enjoy the buzz you think you belong in.