Meticulously he pours some of the white powder onto the mirror. He chops it into two small lines, one by one the lines disappear. His pupils dilate and he leans back on his chair then collapses onto his bed. Suddenly the room is filled with laughter, hysteria, and then silence.
The next morning, his forehead is throbbing and his nose feels like its on fire. He walks into the washroom and goes into the shower. The cold water runs over his body. He steps out, runs his hand through his long curly hair. When he looks down he can see small droplets of blood staining the white porcelain sink. He uses toilet paper to stop the bleeding. It better stop before he goes to work. When he goes back to his room he grabs his work jeans and work shirt, the top drawer is still open. He slams it shut, the contents rattle around. He turns to face the mirror, slaps both sides of his face. The bleeding has stopped. He looks ready, its time for work. He locks the top drawer and leaves.
He works at the campus book store. Today the store is teaming with people, it’s a big game day for the university football team. There are students everywhere looking to show off their school pride. His noise is still on fire and now his eyes are red.
“Hey Sid? You sick?” His co-worker Joe has noticed his eyes and his constant sniffling.
“Yeah man, allergies.” A great lie.
“So um Maria told me you met her roommate? Halie?”
A lot of last night was a blur, but she isn’t. He remembers how he thought she was perfect. How gorgeous he thought she was.
“Yeah, I met her last night in the library. I think we’re supposed to be getting coffee.”
“She’s hot man.” Joe slaps him on the shoulder and goes back to re-racking crew necks. The crowd in the store starts to dissipate as kickoff looms. The only people left are some lost parents and straggling students. Sidney’s shift will be over soon. Game days’ mean half days. The university has learned the hard way that if on game days the store remains open, drunk students will wander in and steal, or worse. Sidney’s been there for both. When he goes to take out his phone there is a message from Halie. He wonders how she got his number.
“Hey Sid, I got your number from Joe. He told me you guys work together. I’ll be at the coffee shop; I’ll meet you there?”
His shift is over in 20 minutes, “I can be there in 30 minutes!” Sidney and Joe begin closing up the store and asking people to leave the store. Joe is looking over the final counts of the end of day, “So um we’re missing a hoodie.” They both look at one another and start to laugh.
“What are we going to do?”
“Well buddy it says here that you don’t work again this week. Neither do I… Looks like its not our problem!” They both chuckle and share a high five. They finish up the end of day procedures and head their separate ways. Joe is his favourite person to work with. He’s easy to get along with, and pretty laid back. Some of the other co-workers are pretty high strung. How can you blame them? Juggling school, a personal life and a job can be hard.
The coffee shop isn’t far from the campus bookstore. He can see Halie sitting with a coffee, there’s a cup in front of her and a cookie. When he comes in her face lights up. He gives a small smile and a wave.
“So I went ahead and bought you a cookie and a coffee. You can get the next round.” He’s eying the cookie, they’re his favourite. It doesn’t matter what they are, chocolate chip, oatmeal, cream filled, doesn’t matter he’ll eat it. Now that he’s here he doesn’t know what to say. He searches for the words, “Um you look nice.”
She smiles and laughs at him, “I’m not going to bite Sidney. You’re cool and plus, Joe already told me you’re harmless.” He takes a bite of the cookie; she smiles at him. They sit and chat, Sidney buys more cookies, Halie’s friend works at the coffee shop and brings them more coffee. They drink, eat, talk and they both end up finishing their essays.
“Can I walk you home tonight?” She’s finishing the last sip of coffee, “I’d love that.” They leave and take the scenic route through campus. The lawn just outside the student center is littered with red solo cups. It’s a little chilly out for a September night. Halie has her sweater pulled down cover her hands.
“So I have a game on Saturday night. We don’t play in front of big crowds like the football team and no one really follows girl’s soccer here. But what I wanted to know is would you maybe like to come?” Its important to show interest in other people’s interests, especially if you like them. He knows this, he has to make up his mind quickly.
“Yeah, then we could grab something to eat? Or I could make something?” Her apartment building is the nicer one close to campus. There’s a gym inside, a sushi restaurant downstairs and even a nail salon.
“I didn’t think you could cook.” She stops and points to the building, “Oh well this is my place. I guess I’ll see you Saturday.” He tenses up, thinking about what to do is making it awkward. Halie leans in and hugs him. His body stiffens and then relaxes, he wraps his arms around her and returns the hug.
“I’ll make something good. Can’t wait to watch the game.”
He gives a ridged smile and quickly flashes a wave goodbye. The walk back across campus isn’t as lonely, there are a lot of students making their way to the pub. He sees Joe. They wave to one another. Joe asks him to come with them but Sidney doesn’t feel like it. There isn’t much interest in going out and socializing. Staying at home, being alone and with some peace and quiet is nice. Way better than going out. The apartment Sidney lives in isn’t as nice as Halie’s but there is a convenience store downstairs that always sells things super cheap.
Taylor is out and the apartment is dark. He takes off his sweater and throws it on the couch. Unlocking his door is a bit of a struggle because he didn’t turn on the lights. When he gets into his room he glides right to the desk with the locked top drawer. He pulls out the small bag from the night before, the mirror and a razor blade. The edge of the blade seems to stare at him. He holds it in his hand and presses it against his wrist and presses down. A small bubble of blood pools where the razor blade was. He puts the razor down and dips his finger in the small bag and sniffs the white powder. He does it again, and again until all he can feel is his heart racing. The beating rings in his ears. The light in his room is making his head hurt, he gets up to turn it off but trips on the edge of his bed. That’s the last thing he remembers. The next morning there’s a pool of blood on his carpet, his head is still killing him but this time there’s a massive cut on his forehead. Looking down at the blood makes him feel…