Final Girls

Inspired by today’s one-word prompt: Glorious

I plucked hair as blue as night off the vomit-stained sweater in my lap, focusing on the tic tac clap of my roommate’s pacing sandals. The ER doors stretched open, presenting the yawning nurse who led us back.

In the medicinal stillness of the hall, I thought of the cold outside and wrapped robe fingers around my waist. In the hospital bed, a boy from our hall lie unconscious as he threw up into a plastic bag tied around his neck. My roommate and I shared a sickened glance. I checked the time, a quarter past three A.M.

Two hours ago, we had been in bed.

“Did you see her Snapchat story?” My roommate showed me a video of a friend of a friend, some boy we knew passed out on the floor, people playing beer pong off his head.

“Is he okay?” I opened the app and went to view the story for myself. “I’m going to call her and see if he’s okay.”

Instead, I got voicemail and a drunken message that the boy’s roommate was driving him back to campus right now. Six minutes later, I got a call from his roommate that they were downstairs, and they needed help. My roommate and I threw on jackets, slid on sandals, and darted down dark stairs.

At the back entrance to our dorm, the boys were there pulling our inert friend onto the pavement. We ran up to them, grabbing shirts and making accusations.

“I can’t believe you drove here drunk.”

“He’s not moving. He hit his head; we carried him down three flights of stairs.”

“What happened?!”

“I don’t know. He was fine. Someone passed him a pipe, and then he passed out. He was drinking.”

They had all been drinking. Besides the sweet smell of half-digested Everclear, the bubbly texture of it chucked up on cotton shirts, I could see the drunkness in their eyes, the red lines of wrong decisions. The smell of gingerbread and weed and Christmas trees lingered as we all stood there trying to lift the guy back into the car as he coughed up more vomit.

“Keep his head up!” “He won’t open his eyes!” “Someone call an ambulance.”

When the police got there, we were all questioned. My roommate and I piled into whoever’s car had driven there and pushed whoever it was that wanted to come in the backseat. I drove to the hospital with the windows down, the two drunk guys in the backseat complaining that it was cold.

“It would be less cold if you kept your head inside the car,” I said.

“But I’m going to throw up,” they complained.

“Then you’re going to stay cold.”

Once we were allowed to see our friend, once we knew he would be okay, I stayed in the room with him waiting for his parents while my roommate went to babysit the other guys in the waiting room. I remember the moment his mom walked into the room, that glorious first sighting at 5 A.M., when I finally started to relax. When my roommate and I drove home at 5:30, knowing we both had finals at 8.

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Better Out Than In

We talked about the value of beauty over content in my American Literature class today, how honesty can be baffling, and how we try to avoid it. Instead, we ramble, describing lines, shadows, and feelings, mistaking these things for the truth. That’s the purpose, I think. How much do you really understand that you see?

People have been asking me about my blog or if I’ve quit writing. Honestly, I’ve been aching to write, but I’m afraid it’s something no one wants to read. I’m afraid that once I start, it will fill pages. A novel forced by fear.

But here it is – here is what I know is true: I have the most beautiful life, and I wish it was someone else’s.

I’m washed away by the disobedience of it all. I write in the night so that I don’t see the words, how they spread with tears. A prayerbook full of pleas, something I know God doesn’t read. And I hope he doesn’t see me now.

I was advised when everything first happened that this sort of thing was more common way back when. “Hell, kid,” I was told, “Haven’t you ever seen Little House on the Prairie?”

So I visit new churches, meet the elders and their wives, and I wonder, “Am I alone?” In the middle of a church, if you can believe it, I’ll scream if one more person tells me everything will be okay.

Grey ladies ask me who I am. I say, “Emily. I’m an English major.” Hands to their hearts, I can see all the rings on their fingers like complete memories. I wonder who gave them each one and why. They fawn over me with their jewelry flashing, “Oh! My daughter studied English in college! Do you have siblings?”

There it is.

When I was younger, I was the outgoing child. Two years in my shadow, my brother Grant was shy. He had a lisp, or a stutter, some issue with his s’s. I don’t remember what it was exactly. He ended up growing out of it. Kids used to make fun of him for it though, so he didn’t talk much.

The first (and last) time my mother ever caught me teasing him, she hissed purple. Shame, silence, solitude.

“You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Don’t ever speak to him like that again. You’re grounded. We are supposed to stand up and protect one another. It’s what families do. It’s a lifelong privilege. Now go apologize.”

And of course, I didn’t disobey. I said sorry, I always do. There were always other arguments, but none so furious, betrayed.

Ruby rings flash, bright off choir lights. It makes me close my eyes, and I see the same dark I write in. Waiting for an answer. The disobedience.

All I have to do is get the words out.