You know sometimes there’s that point in a party when a particular song comes on and the whole night changes up a gear? Everyone gets up to dance, the booze starts going down a lot easier, the laughter grows louder. Well there was one particular party where that happened for me but it was my entire life that changed.

The song had been 3s and 7s by Queens of the Stone Age and that was the night I met Maisie Connel. I saw her across the room and she saw me. Her sharp, olive eyes told me she was trouble straight away and that there was nothing I could do about it. She came over, helped herself to a swig from my Corona, grinned and said she loved my Cowboy Bebop t-shirt. I replied that I loved the fact she even knew what Cowboy Bebop was. We danced for awhile and then we smooched. We chatted away about all the awesome things we had in common – films and old TV shows, obscure bands and places we’d both visited or wanted to visit in Europe. Later, in one of the bedrooms we ended up screwing. The buckles and belts of other guests’ coats dug into our bodies but I didn’t care. All I could think about was the warmth of her, the coconutty taste of her lipbalm, the feel of her silky, short hair clutched between my fingers and the way her legs hooked around mine like I was trapped and might never escape.

So we started seeing each other. I tried to do the whole courting thing – going to the pictures, cooking for her but she was never that into it. Instead we mostly just went to more parties or gigs, hanging out with her gang of friends and usually passing around a joint. I’d never really gotten into hash. Had tried it a few times at school and never really seen the appeal. But there was no harm in it, it lubricated the conversation and as long it kept me around her I was happy. More than happy in fact – just watching the way her face creased when she laughed or listening to her debate why Radiohead were overrated tripe, filled me with boyish butterflies. She was my girl and she was amazing.

Acid came next. Some old pal of her’s called Irish Kenny produced a handful of them at a club one night and we all slung them down like Smarties, Maisie flinging her arms around me and laughing with manic glee. I told her I loved her that night. She grinned back at me in reply. The rest of the night was smeared in my mind.
There were moments at this stage of my life I wish I could have framed and just hung on to. Days chasing Maisie about in the park like kids, before falling to the grass and snogging. Or sneaking into the local arthouse cinema and throwing popcorn from the back. I’d finally found someone who felt like my equivalent in terms of tastes, outlooks on the world. And filthy sense of humour. When I was with Maisie I felt like I’d finally gotten to where I wanted to be in life, even when we were doing the stuff I didn’t want to be doing.

They say drugs are a slippery slope but for me they were always an uphill struggle, the clown in the box coming out leering as often as he did smiling. But Maisie and my adoration for her, always got me through. Through the downers and hangovers and over the hurdle into heroin. She’d said she next something more, that meth wasn’t doing it for her anymore, though I could no longer remember when it ever had. Days and months melted into one another; my old friends and interests lost somewhere along the way. I moved in with Maisie though when exactly had grown fuzzy in my mind as well. It was just me, her and a varying number of her friends. Most nights turned into impromptu partying, the days just hiccups in between.

I started to struggle to hold down jobs. Most days I got in late and things like being efficient or polite to customers just seemed trivial to me. I could understand why employer’s grew tired of me but I couldn’t bring myself to care, as long as the money came in from somewhere even if that meant slipping a few notes out of the till every now and again. At one point I managed to swing myself a job in a music store, something I’d always dreamed about. But on the first day I discovered they wanted me to wear a branded polo shirt. The moment they saw the punctures running up and down my arms I was gone.

Often I’d wake up in the strangeness of night, wonder where I was and lie listening to someone whimpering in the next room – or was that Maisie beside me? Or was it me? No doubt the neighbours would complain soon enough – they always did even, banging on our door and telling us to cut the noise. We would just scream in their faces and laugh. Stupid fucks. In the mornings I’d usually pick some of the broken glass from the sink before abandoning any intentions of doing the stack of dishes, go collapse next to my Maisie and watch whatever was on Ceebeebies.

In the end it was Maisie who saved me. Coming back from the shops one day, weighed down by tins of Tennants and microwave food, I could hear sex noises for all of my ascent to the third floor. They’d left the flat door wide open and we’re doing it on the living room sofa. My Maisie and some guy with an eyebrow ring who I’d never even seen before. She was riding him, her little breasts sliding around against her emaciated ribs like jelly fish. Her squandered arms were stained with black dots like some awful pox. Even her face had no beauty left in it, sullen and spotty. Her shallow eyes met mine and just continued to gaze vacantly as she panted away. She didn’t care about the guy she was shagging and she didn’t care that I could see. Nothing seemed to matter to her anymore I realised. Her dynamite smile just a memory, music a background noise and me – another face in the crowd. She had destroyed herself and now she was destroying me.

The plastic bags fell from my hands. I could have shouted or screamed or hit the guy – maybe even her as well. But I didn’t. I just turned around and left the flat, not pausing or looking and she never followed. Even though my laptop and most of my clothes were still there, I never went back. It wasn’t somewhere I wanted to be anymore.

I went cold turkey which was easier than you’d think because really I’d never been hooked on any of the drugs. It had only ever been Maisie Connel I’d been addicted to and now she, the girl I’d obsessed over, was gone. The girl who told blue jokes and tied little knots in her hair. She’d died somewhere along the way and a shambling wraith had slipped into her place. I used the last of my savings to check into a cheap travel hotel and spent a week just sleeping, crying and eating at the Chinese round the corner. Then, once I was feeling clean enough, I went home to mum and dad’s and told them just how I’d managed to miss the past three Christmases. The look of pain and disappointment in their eyes was almost too much to bear but that was part of the reason I’d done it. The dread of disappointing them again would be one more good reason never to relapse.

A few years went by and I slowly got to a point where I didn’t feel sick or disgusted with myself all the time anymore. I went back to college and trained in IT, starting my own business working from home. Eventually I met a nice girl, plain but pretty, who didn’t drag me down into dark places or judge me for the things I’d done in the past. She said I should think about giving talks or helping people like me but I could never bring myself to do it, choosing to just blot it all out instead.

I read about Maisie’s death in the paper. The photo staring out at me in black and white was old, probably from before she’d even met me. The article said she’d fallen from a sixth floor window, somewhere on the other side of town. I wondered whether she’d known what she’d been doing or just been so high she’d thought she had wings. I felt sad for her but only as a fellow human being. There were no regrets that I had left all of that misery and poison behind. In hindsight I blamed my obsession with her on pheromones, that was all. There had never been love between us, only chemicals.

Title image courtesy restlessglobetrotter

Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 9:56 PM  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. No ghosts, no zombies, no magic. I’m surprised at that. This one had a ring of truth to the details though, also, it was a very sad story.

    • Cheers Tessa. Yeah I wanted to do something very different from my normal output, hence it the completely real-world setting and a taking a very different angle to romance as I usually tend to do. My next story will be more upbeat I promise!

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