Like most weekend nights were at Smith’s. There’s something about being in a dimly lit bar that appeals to writers I guess.
We always start out talking about class; which prof said what ridiculous thing this time, who stayed up the latest finishing the last assignment, someone’s intricate idea for a lyrical essay about their childhood. The usual. Once we’re good and drunk and the edges of the week have smoothed out into tingly faces we talk about sex. When we’re even drunker we’ll talk about writing again, but about how it keeps us alive.
I’m splayed across my couch now, Chris propping me up on my left. Kal’s sitting on the ground with my foot in her hands. With a certain grace she dips a needle into black India ink. She’s touching up the tattoo she gave me a few weeks ago. Three tiny dots line my big toe like perfectly placed freckles. The pain feels distant, ticklish even, like a family of red ants keep taking turns nibbling at me. Still, I pour more cheap whiskey into the tea I’ve made and close my eyes as the warmth blooms in my belly.
Someone has put on Mad Villain’s newest album, and the jazzy instrumentals fill the blanks in between our ramblings. Tane tells us about indigo children and in that moment we collectively choose to believe that we’re all celestial children with the power of telepathy and heightened empathy. By coincidence, we actually do know what everyone else is thinking because we’re all thinking the same thing—what if it is possible?
I get up to go to the bathroom and kiss everyone’s cheek before I leave the room because it feels right. Every other room in the house is noticeably empty and dark compared to the buzzing in the living room and I try to go quickly so I can get back to it. What I don’t realize is that for a year after I graduate I’ll be filled with this exact feeling.
The house is filthy and normally it bothers me but something about it feels appropriate tonight. As I settle back into the couch I admire the orange walls and the crown of white Christmas lights we’ve strung from each corner. There’s an abstract painting hung upside down because it was decided that way was better. A large cut-out cowboy faces opposite, and the rest of the space is covered with peeling band posters.
The bookshelf is filled with books of course, but also a plastic Ent tree from Lord of the Rings, pink, purple and yellow bunny-lights Kal’s grandmother gave her for Easter last year, a magazine for the modern nudist we made for a group project, and a broken ukulele.
And then there’s us. Four or five or six—the number’s always different—of us writing students lounging about between day and night.
Kal has a joint nestled between her fingers and she brings it to her lips. Before she can even lift an eyebrow at me I lift a lighter to keep the ember glowing. Without taking my thumb off I dip a piece of palo santo into the continuous stream of fire. I blow on the piece of wood softly, like I’m telling it a secret and watch the thick smoke fill the room with the smell of the earth. We continue like this into the night, lighting ourselves up like candles at the altar of our youth.