The first thing you told me was of the heroin.
Well, you said it was “opiates.” But I’m not stupid. I know it was just heroin. You told me you lived in Jacksonville, Florida. Who the hell does anything but heroin in Jacksonville, Florida?
You told me it kept you young.
And that’s how, at thirty one years old, you can look younger than me, the twenty year old with the baby face.
I asked you why you were telling me so many secrets so quickly.
You said it was because there wasn’t enough time.
I didn’t know you had our time planned out to the T.
You spoke about “opiates” like it was the lover who got away, that fleeting sensation of hope and future that you knew I never find or touch again, and already I felt a twinge of jealousy. You told me about your breakup with “opiates.” The two days you spent in jail when you got caught dealing some love of your own. The little Jaguar that sits in your driveway which you gave it all up for. Money, you told me, was a better lover than “opiates.” And I wondered what it felt like, to be loved by so many things that you can easily replace them with another. You could pass through them like they were not something that would keep you young.
I don’t give up on anyone.
Not for “opiates.”
Not for Jaguars.
But it is not Jacksonville, Florida, here. If you were cold in Jacksonville, Florida, what could possibly keep you warm enough to get though a winter in the Midwest? It is too cold for you to walk outside to your Jaguar. It is too cold for hot cocoa to stay warm. So instead you fall into me, clawing at my warmth, smearing my eyeliner and ripping my neck like I am just another opiatejaguaronedollarbill that could save you, save you and keep you warm.
My sunshine rises over you much the same way it rises over everyone I meet, but when I met you, it wasn’t cute. It wasn’t romantic. It wasn’t a story you tell your grandchildren. It was a mutual right swipe on Tinder.
“Hey there 🙂 How’s it going?” I say. I like my little smiley face. It’s endearing. I’m endearing. I’m endearing. I can repeat that to myself a million times, but only a part of me will ever believe it.
You reply right away, almost like you anticipated my message, even though I was the one who has just swiped right; no one knows at which point you swiped right yourself. “Pretty good. Trying not to freeze out here. I just moved here. How are you?”
“Where are you from? I’m good. Dying of homework,” I reply wryly. I can see you laughing, somewhere eighteen miles away, even though I don’t know you or how you smile. Because everyone has that one mutual frenemy: homework.
“Jacksonville, Florida. Where it’s warm. Unlike here. Maybe I can distract you ;),” you say. Your winky face sets me on edge. I don’t know what you mean by that. I don’t want to know what you mean by that.
“What kind of homework is it?”
“Reading . Over a hundred pages of Crime and Punishment. Kill me.”
“I won’t kill you. That would be rude.”
I laugh, and scroll back to your profile. Your picture, the only picture you have up on Tinder, looks like you’re sitting on a deck in a sunny somewhere. In Jacksonville, Florida. It’s black and white, and you’re smiling with your eyebrows raised. Thick dark hair that I want to run my hands through, dark eyes that I want to see laughing, tanned skin I want to caress. Oddly, you look the same as every ghost in my memory looks.
I shake off that thought. I don’t want you to be another ghost. You can’t be another ghost. I can’t handle that.
Your bio says that you’re thirty one, and nothing else. I wonder if thirty one is too old for me. I wonder if I can handle a guy who looks like a sunny ghost.
“You look hella young for thirty one,” I type quickly.
“It’s the opiates. Doing them for ten years will keep you young.”
Little sober me can’t handle this.
I laugh at myself. I laugh at how silly I am. I laugh at how badly I want this beautiful dreamboy. He’s just another guy, I tell myself sternly. Just another person. You don’t know him yet. Calm the fuck down.
“I thought drugs made you look older and scragglier,” I say without thinking. Because that’s not insulting or judgmental. Not at all.
“Uppers make you old. Downers preserve you,” you say, and again, I see you smiling. You aren’t pissed at me. It’s all fine.
“Gotcha. I know nothing about drugs. Except that weed makes me sick. But that’s about it.”
“That’s good. Stay that way. I’ve been clean for five years.”
My heart melts a little bit. He’s a bad boy gone good. Just my type.
Just my downfall.
Just the way all my ghosts look.
“You should come over,” you say abruptly. “So we can keep each other warm. I’ll make us breakfast.”
Stop, my brain shouts at me. Stop this! He wants to have sex with you! You don’t want to have sex with him! Make it end!
“Haha,” I type resolutely, ignoring my brain and my reason. “How about we get to know each other first.”
This is what one of the ghosts said, isn’t it? That I should give guys who want to hook up with me a chance to date me, so they know that there is an opportunity for them to find love?
I’ll listen to that ghost.
I’ll listen to anyone who can pretend to love me.
“Sure,” you reply. “No problem.”
So we get to know each other. Not too slowly, either. It’s like you want to jump me, jump me and take everything from me. But there’s only one way you really want to jump me, and that becomes apparent when you start talking about porn. And me? I’m lonely. So I let you.
I guess I said yes because I was afraid to say no. Saying yes is easier than saying no. If you say no, they have the potential to rape you. And I knew, somehow, that’s that what would happen if I said no. So I let you. I said yes.
Because if you say yes, it’s not rape, is it?
So I said yes.
And then you left me, cold and dry, curled up on the bed ghosts in my mind and an anchor in my heart, wondering who and what you were and why you had to go so fast.
I know why, now.
It was because you had our time planned out before you even met me.
Somehow, you knew.
You knew that you would find out that I’m different. And you would want to change me. And you would try everything, try everything once, and I would lie down and cry and my tears would make you happy because that is just another THING you wanted. Just another “opiate.”
And I’d be the bad one. Just for once. Just in your eyes. And you would leave.
And you had that all planned out.
There are all kinds of guys out there. There are nice ones and tall ones and skinny ones and fat ones and short ones and mean ones. And no matter what, I go for the mean ones. I go for ones with dark hearts and dark souls, itching to rub their darkness all over me in rivulets of white creaminess.
It’s still cold for me. And I don’t have any “opiate” to keep me warm inside. I don’t have any drugs. I don’t have you. I don’t have any warm body next to me, any something to keep me from freezing during this cold winter. So I sit here, and I freeze, and I’ll do so until you come back to me, come back and feel like a real body and warm me up some more.
© Chapin Langenheim, 2019