I reached toward the pile of clothes for my rumpled up Nirvana shirt, needing something to wipe the sweat from my brow. After a few quick dabs across my face, I tossed the faded black shirt to the edge of the bed and collapsed back onto the pillows. On the opposite side of the bed, she lit up a clove cigarette. I could see a lipstick stain around the filter as she removed the cigarette from her lips and exhaled a small cloud of smoke. The scent reminded me of senior year, when all the goth kids would hide behind the auto shop building at lunch and smoke the Djarum cigarettes this chubby girl named Alexis–or Starr, as she preferred to be called–had stolen from her mom.
“Well, that was something” she said, leaning back against the pillows. She picked up her phone from the nightstand and began thumbing through her messages. I stared at the stucco ceiling, making images out of the explosion of patterns.
“Oh, Christ. You’d better throw your clothes on real quick and split. He’s on his way back from work early” she warned.
I nodded, then scrambled to get ready. I checked my pockets to make sure everything was in its proper place: keys in my left pocket, phone in my right pocket, wallet in my back-right pocket. She continued to puff away at her cigarette, staring at her phone.
I rushed over to her side and tried to give her a goodbye kiss, but she turned her face away from mine.
“Your breath smells like shit. Maybe brush next time before you come over, yeah?”
“Sorry” I said, embarrassed beyond words. I headed towards her living room, casually tossing my hand in the air to wave goodbye.
“Hey, wait”, she said.
I stopped and turned around, hoping maybe she’d at least hug me goodbye.
“How about not cumming on me next time, yeah? Finish into a napkin or something”, she said, without looking up from her phone.
I slumped my shoulders and headed out the front door. On the way back to my car, I saw some teenagers sitting on an electrical box holding hands. One wore a black denim jacket covered in pins and patches, the other wore a tan cardigan over a purple, plaid button-up. They shared a pair of earbuds. I gave them a nod of acknowledgement as I walked by.
Before driving away, I pulled up the Elton John playlist on my phone. I figured something upbeat might help me shake the cold feeling of emptiness from my mind.
There was a chill in the air, so I turned on the floor heater and put on my torn hoodie.