This is Not the Beginning
About the Writer
V. Fryer is a Texas native living in rural Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. She has a degree in writing from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas, and her work can be found in Epigraph Magazine, Akashic Books' Thursdaze flash fiction series, Gutter Eloquence, and Gravel. Find her on Twitter at @extoria.
We're in the dining room, sitting around a big wooden table with heavy legs, meant for a family to gather around it and break bread. We are a family, I think, in some ways. There are six of us, seven, eight, and the room is filled with our voices. I’m sitting on his knee. He rests his heavy head on my shoulder and talks around me.
We’re in his apartment: a one-bedroom, one-bath, first-floor unit, white walls, beige carpet, builder-grade and standard. If you’ve seen one apartment in this city, you’ve seen them all. You can go anywhere and never have to ask where the bathroom is.
The sliding glass door leading out to the patio is covered with a sheet—blue satin. We used to sleep on it until it ripped from nights of rolling and feet moving and on and off and on and off. We kept sleeping on it for a while but the rip kept growing, and then our toes were rubbing on the mattress underneath.
He snakes his hand around my waist and smiles.
And in the beginning everything was beautiful. It was fast cars on the highway, music in our ears, his hand on my knee. It was shining, haloed lights shooting and pulsing, and the gleaming steel of the skyline. Vibrant colors exploded out of the green of the trees and the depth of his light brown skin, the sound of life bursting up from the concrete. Our voices are just a piece of it.
But this is not the beginning.
The best time to do almost anything is the first time-—unencumbered with the baggage of the thing, its expectations. The first time we did speed together, it was like breaking open the door to the basement you've been trapped in all your life. There's a sky out there, you discover; there's a whole world. It is fucking beautiful.
But this is not the first time.
We’re sitting in the dining room, around this heavy wooden table. It is three in the morning but every light in the apartment is on. Everyone is talking; the room is filled with our voices. A dismantled DVD player is strewn across the living room floor.
He holds a pipe in his hand, spins it over the flame until the crystals sizzle and smoke. The smell of it is acrid. “Watch this,” he says, as he exhales onto a sheet of plastic wrap. The smoke melts right through it.
I prefer to snort it, to shake out the crystals onto the glass top table and crush them underneath my driver's license, vertically oriented because I am not yet 21. It's a ritual, this smashing and scraping, forming the dust into a line as long as I dare.
When I bend over it, straw poised to my nostril, I can feel the hope of it, the rawness of wanting. The burn as it shoots through me is a promise fulfilled. The burn of having.
We are sitting in the dining room, around a heavy wooden dining table. There is drug residue under the glass panels—flakes of weed, sparkles of crystal. There are six, seven, eight of us talking at once. We are alive now. I think this must be what family feels like.
I gaze up at the sheet hung over the patio door. Does the rip look bigger? He snakes his hand around my waist and smiles.