two

“You know,” I say after exhaling, the smoke still visible in the air. “I’ve never felt like that.”

“Felt like what?” He takes a drag out of his own joint, looking at me with that same look of light in his eyes.

“Felt like…” I’m lost for words. I look down, focusing on the substance rolled between my fingers.

“Felt like?”

“Felt like nothing else matter except that single moment,” He looks confused. “The moment on the rocks with the waterfall. That was something else.”

“Ah.” He thinks for a moment.

“It was nice. Just us. No distractions, no stress, no priorities. Everything was simple for those hours. Just ethereal happiness.”

“I agree.” He inhales again, reminding me to do the same to get the same hit.

“God, now we have to come back to reality. Would it be wrong for me to wish for life to stay like that forever?”

“I know we’re stoned, but are you sure you’d want that?” He glances at me lying across his lap.

“Yeah, positive.” I smile at him, nodding.

“But why?”

“What do you mean?” I start to sit up, confused at his reaction.

“I’m just saying, wouldn’t you want to remain in a better place for the rest of forever? Wouldn’t you want to be happy?”

I’m fully sat up now, my legs swung around so my covered feet are touching the wooden floor.

“Well, I would be happy. Happy with you. Happy with the views. Happy with the loss of everything.”

“I don’t think you’re thinking straight.” He stares at me with stone eyes.

“Shut up.” I can’t tell if he’s joking or not but I’m not high enough to deal with this, either way.

I take another drag. This time it’s longer and slower. I enjoy the feeling of the smoke in my throat, bouncing around as though my lungs are trampolines. I take sanctuary in the sights of the smoke, and the smell. It’s almost like herbal tea.

“I think the weed’s affecting your ability to think straight.” He slightly shakes his head as the words pound of his mouth. I can tell he’s being serious. What’s gotten into him? Shouldn’t he be happy?

“Please tell me you’re just really good at acting but you never told me? Please tell me you’re not being serious?” I slightly laugh, scared of the all too honest response I’ll get.

“It’s not a joke. You can’t wish for something like that. For it to be repeated? Forever? Damn, it’s like the joint is fucking up your brain. I know it’s good and all, but it isn’t that strong.”

“Oh my God,” I face his pulled together eyebrows and his dark eyes. The light that once lived there must have decided to vacate without telling me. “It’s like you weren’t even there.”

“What?”

“You’re different. This isn’t you. This isn’t the you that I know.” I’m standing over him by now, the lit joint still glued between my fingers.

“No, I’m not. I just don't think you’d want to be stuck with me forever.” What is he on about?

“What do you mean? What are you trying to say?” The numbness of the feelings that would be running through my veins and to my mind helps me get the words out quicker and with rage backing them.

“I’m just saying, maybe you wouldn’t want to spend forever with me.” He’s crazy. He must be crazy.

I look out the window that the couch is positioned to face. I see the dollhouse neighbourhood he lives in, following the moving toy cars with my eyes. I see the faint colour of the small sea, where we swam constantly earlier this summer. But now we’re here, hours after the best time I’ve had in a while, if not forever, and we’re fighting. Fighting about me wanting to live like that forever. Forever. Forever. Forever. Maybe he doesn't like that word. Maybe he believes he’s not going to be around forever. Maybe he believes in reincarnation.

I snap my attention back onto his stone eyes. “Or maybe you don’t want to spend forever with me?”

I stop and realise what I just asked him. Is it the weed, again? Or is it the truth? Are there doubts coming up into my mind?

“It isn’t like that-”

“Really?” I cut him off, feeling the rage boiling in my veins. “Then tell me what is it like? And I don’t want to hear any bullshit excuses.”

“I don’t know-”

“No, listen, I think you do know,” I’m almost to the boiling point. “Or you think I’m too weak to handle it? Is that it?” I suddenly lower my voice, anxious that that’s the reason. What if that’s how he thinks of me? Weak? But how can I be weak if he knows about all the shit that I put up with? I'm strong, not weak. But then again, here I am, pleading for him to tell me the truth because I’m too insecure to not get an answer. I’m strong. I’m strong. I’m… not sure anymore.

“No, no, no. You aren’t weak at all.” I feel myself perk up a little bit. It’s not like his opinion matters anymore. You don’t need self-assurance.

“Then tell me. Come on. Just fucking tell me already.” I’m basically screaming at this point, eager to find out the truth. They say the truth hurts but I guess torturing yourself by theorising in your head hurts more.

“Alright, alright, fine,” I take another drag while he pauses. I need to soften the blow of what he’ll say next. “It’s just that… Fuck, it’s so stupid.”

“You’re the one who brought it up. You got yourself into this situation.” I remind him.

“Oh God, can we please not do this now?”

“I’m not trying to start anything, I’m just telling you how it is.” I roll my eyes. Another hit is needed at this moment.

“You sure about that? It sure does seem like it.”

“Fuck.” I sigh and feel my head spin.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s not a big deal so stop making it one.”

“Me? Me making it a big deal?” Is he being serious?

“Yes, you. Can’t you just leave me and my thoughts alone?”

“It’s not my fault you brought your thoughts up.” I’m long past the boiling point. I’m exploding with no return.

“Yeah well, it’s not my fault you had to say some fucked up shit.”

“Well, it certainly isn’t my fault for just expressing my own feelings, God damn it.”

“But it isn’t my fault you were keen to smoke up.” Is he seriously this stoned right now? How is that even possible?

“What the actual fuck. You were the one who asked me. Are you fucking kidding me?”

I lock eyes with him, mine filled with pain and his are probably filled with nothing. Nothing but emptiness. Nothing but fucking nothing.

“You could have said no.” Oh, my God.

“Yeah, and you could have said no to Josh, but did you?” I snap back.

“But I could have smoked it another time without you.”

“And how is that my fault? You’re fucked up, you know that?” I scoff, feeling everything still exploding inside of me. This time it’s a mix of emotions. Not just anger.

“This is what I mean.”

“What?” I raise an eyebrow.

“You wouldn’t be able to handle forever.” He’s shaking his head as he stands up. I move slightly back so I can still look into his eyes while trying to understand.

“Do you know what I have to handle? I think forever in a beautiful place wouldn’t be hard to handle compared to the rest of this shit life. So, what the fuck do you mean?” I’m positive he sees a pleading look in my eyes, but I’m also positive he doesn’t care.

“Your problems are superficial. They don’t really exist because you’re just ungrateful for the life you have. You complain about everything but don’t realise that some people would love to have your so called ‘problems’. Like your mother, for example.”

“Oh my fucking God. You’ve literally got to be shitting me right now. I don’t think you know what you’re talking about. God damn it, you know what’s like. You can’t say my problems don’t exist because they sure as hell do. I should know, I live with them every single day. I only tell you some shit. You don’t know all of it and, you know what? I’m glad I never fucking told you. That would be my biggest mistake by far. I guess I can’t trust you if all you’ll do is criticise me for what’s out of my control.”

Asher is crazy. What makes him think he can just say that kind of bullshit? He can’t. He can’t because he doesn’t know. He can’t. He shouldn’t. What kind of asshole says they love you just hours before they tell you that none of your painful problems are real? The worst kind. The kind that makes you fall in love with that facade of light that jumps around in their eyes. The kind that’s able to catch the foolish girl who’s all too giving, with the smallest ounce of red lipped bait. The kind that’s got veins full of lies and sin that go to a beating heart when arms are wrapped around the prey, bodies pressed together, hugging. The kind who has a curtain, ready to be closed on whatever loving personality is put on show into the unrecognisable monster he is. The kind who likes you enough for you to think that the love you feel is mutual. The kind who takes until you’re bleeding, with nothing left in your chest, whole body echoing with numbness. The kind who is nothing but unkind. And who loves him? The girl with nothing but pain and searching eyes, looking for a vice. The girl with more problems than roots poking through her bleached hair. The girl with a soul that pleads for someone to love or someone to lust. The girl who holds on to what ever peace she can find, even if it means clouding her judgement most of the time. The girl who falls for someone with an equally as tortured soul. The girl who falls, head first with no brain.

“Babe, just calm down right now. You’re so mad.”

I can’t believe it. He wants me to calm down. My fists are clenched by my side so hard they’re starting to turn red, my eyebrows are so pulled together they’ll soon be tied, my whole body is emanating my frustration.

“I’m not going to calm down if you keep talking like this. Like, you don’t know a thing about me when I’ve trusted you with things I’ve never told anyone else before,” I look Asher in the eyes, trying to find some emotion hidden somewhere. Nothing. Nothing at all. Just an incredibly calm stance and no look of worry on his face. “Why are you so calm? Do you not care?”

“I care. I really do. I just…” He trails off, but I won’t let him get away with it.

“No, no. Finish your sentence. Tell me.” I plead, desperate to know because I’m desperate to keep holding on.

He sighs and looks into my eyes. I can tell the stone walls aren’t rebuilt yet, so he can see straight into my heart to my pain. My pain that’s freshly risen, the overflow just laying on top. Asher can see through me. How did he get so much power over me? And why did I let him?

“I just,” He grabs ahold of my right wrist that’s settled on my left arm, crossed over my front. Asher takes me hand into his, unwinding my faux self-protection. “I don’t know if you’ll understand.”

I tense my hands that are covered by cold ones. “I will understand. I promise. Just fucking tell me already.”

“Fine,” He takes a deep breath before continuing. “You’re gonna think it’s stupid-“

“I already think you’re stupid.” I cut him off. He just needs to get to the point already.

He gives me a look, that would have usually been attractive to me but we’re here, fighting. No attractiveness here, not a single bit. Okay, perhaps a tiny bit.

“I just think you wouldn’t want to spend forever with me,” Asher mumbles slowly, his words barely finding sound waves to ride in the air. But when he’s done, he looks at me. His head tilted up from looking down at his shoes and his brown eyes are staring right into mine. I see it. Vulnerability. I see pain buried deep beneath the rock hard surface, ready to be dug up again into the light, once again. Is he finally opening up?

I pause before speaking, wanting to make sure I can organise my litters of thoughts into a neat pile that’ll ensure I won’t hurt him in any way. “What do you mean?” That’s all that comes out.

“I don’t think you’d want to be with me for that long. You’d get sick of me. You’d find out what I’m really like and you’d want to leave. But you couldn’t because you’d have to stay there with me forever, and I wouldn’t want to inflict that kind of pain or struggle onto you. I just don’t think I could do it.”

Holy fucking shit.
My mouth falls open, my eyes holding onto his slightly glassy ones and praying the hold never breaks. He’s scared. Asher is scared I’ll hate him. He’s insecure about it. It makes sense now that I think about it. But, it also sort of doesn’t. What makes him think he has to be insecure about that sort of thing? Maybe he’s got a secret to tell me. Maybe his vulnerability is driving his mind crazy.

“Asher, babe. I never knew you felt that way. I don’t think I could get sick of you.” I squeeze his hand, assuring him that I’m here to comfort him.

“I think you could. I’m fucked up.”

“I know.” I’m not losing this staring contest anytime soon. I want to see his true emotions for what they really are. I guess eyes are the windows to the soul. Too bad no one’s made curtains for them.

“No, like, more than you could ever know. I’ve done some fucked up shit. I am fucked up.”

“But that’s in the past. All that matters is right now and the future,” I sigh, realising this is probably going in one of his ears and out the other. “I might not approve of or like what you did in the past, but that doesn’t matter if it’s in the past. I love you now, and I will love you the same, no matter what you say about your past. Don’t stress, either, we’re all fucked up inside. It’s what makes us human and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Asher continued to hold on tight to my hands wrapped up in his. Our body temperatures right now were enough to keep the room boiling hot, however, the sweltering heat from the sun pouring in the windows only accentuated that.

“I don’t know if humans could even understand the level of fucked up I am.” He lowers his head, shaking it slightly. Is he ashamed?

“Babe,” I don’t speak again until he looks up again, eyes automatically locked into position in line with mine. “I won’t judge you for that. I might not fully understand but I’ll always be there to support you. You know that.”

“God,” Asher says nothing else. I wonder what he’s thinking. Maybe he’s thinking about everything that makes him believe he’s this fucked up person that no one but the Devil could understand.

I extend my arms out to the side, our fingers still intertwined, before wrapping them around his back. Encasing him tightly I whisper, “I promise you aren’t that fucked up.”

I take back what I said. Asher isn’t crazy, he’s just scared. He’s scared, confused, insecure, lonely. He’s terrified of himself but who isn’t? Who isn’t scared of who they’ll become if they let themselves be themselves?

“Thank you.” He whispers back, but I’m silently thanking him back. He helped me realise maybe I need to be more supportive and talk with him more. But didn’t you already do that?

We stay like this, locked in this moment of comfort and embrace, for a while. Moments pass by, air continues to circulate through the room and life beyond this room carries on, but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like it’s stopped. Time has. Time has stopped. What will happen when I let go? Will he close himself off again, so scared he has to instantly put up his walls again? Or will he snap at me, angry at himself for letting his guard down?

Asher is the first to let go when I feel the weight from his hands lift off my back. We meet eyes and there’s a spark reignited. This time, I think it’s different from before. Maybe slightly dimmer. Maybe slightly warmer. At least there’s a glimmer. I know he’s in there somewhere.

“We should probably get going soon.” The sound barrier is broken by a deep voice I’ve grown to love.

“Yeah, I guess.”

We both know it’s to cool off. That’s why we gotta get going. We have to take time away from each other, collect our thoughts. I regret my thoughts because he was just hurting, and people say the worst things when they’re hurting. They say things they don’t really mean because the pain inflicting on them is throbbing, pounding even, for them to spread the pain to someone else. It doesn’t ultimately help, although it does temporarily provide relief. But you’re still left completely shattered when all the yelling and insulting is gone, only you’ve gone and done more destruction by chipping at someone you love. That’s the problem with pain. It’s deceiving and it will do nothing but eat you up inside.

And by the time I’m walking out the front door, my handbag clutched in my hand, I’m almost certain that Asher doesn’t have as much control as I once thought. I think he, too, is enslaved into some form of a painful routine. Maybe it isn’t severe, but I know it’s there. Maybe he’s also searching for a way out. Or maybe he’s already got it but you just haven’t looked in the mirror.

Asher and I get into his car, no words being polluted in the air. I’m shaking, though. My heart is pounding at an alarming rate and I can’t stop my leg from bouncing up and down like a basketball being pounded into the ground before the player runs towards the goal to take the final shot - the biggest risk.

I daze off with my eyes trailing the soft movements of the clouds, as the world turns slowly. Although, it feels like my world is moving faster with every passing metre.

No words have been said yet, not even melodies through the radio. I guess this is cooling off for both of us, as we do have things we need to think about. I just didn't think it would be this soon, honestly. Yet again, I didn’t think that we’d be fighting like we just did so I guess nothing is certain anymore.

Asher finally fills the void of silence with his soft words, “Back to your house, I’m assuming?” He keeps his, once again, dark eyes on the road.

“Yeah,” I mutter, making no attempt to regather my energy. I’ll save that for when I walk through the door of my house.

Silence again. It’s okay. Silence speaks louder than words, they say. I guess that means he doesn't want to talk. I’ll just give him time and space, that’s what they suggest.

I see the approaching suburb of houses; some layered on top of a hill, others positioned symmetrically parallel to the road. It’s alright. Nothing fancy. Nothing to elaborate on exactly. But it’s fine. I’ll hopefully be gone soon enough. For now, it’s just a pit stop while I recharge my bank account to be able to take off abroad. To the infamous Land of the Free, where everyone with the same dream of being financially stable and happy with a family comes to let their dreams disappear when they realise the harsh reality of it all. Or to at least the centre of the city that I already live in.

We’re on the street I used to explore during summer, with my little brother on our bikes. Something about the way the shine used to shine on my arms whilst riding and the taste of the ice blocks we’d have when we came back made me happy, for a while at least. Until those days flew like the summer, and before I knew it I was back into a colder winter than ever before, unaware that the coldest was yet to come.

“Oh yeah,” I remember, seeing the familiar gas station and block of stagnate shops dissipate. “Don’t drop me off outside my house. You know how my mum is.”

“Yeah, of course.” Asher looks at me for the first time in a while and I feel that pang of energy hit my chest as though I’ve got a target on my shirt and it’s dart season.

He slows down the car as we reach the compulsory destination. It’s a place to park out of sight from my house. My mum’ll think Kelsey dropped me off. She doesn't know about Asher and the day she finds out, will be the day I’ll surrender myself to the Devil. She won’t like it, I know she won’t. But too bad, because I love Asher. She can’t get in between love, she doesn’t have the right and I will certainly not give her the power by letting her know.

The car stops, just like the last hope of joy I was holding on to. I take a hard look at Asher. He’s looking at me and I’m positive she cannot know about him. I don’t want to lose him. I’m nothing without him. I can’t lose him. She’d do her best to fuck it up, I know it.

“I guess this is goodbye.” I give a small smile, a slight wince is unintentionally behind it.

“Yeah, I guess.” Asher’s being vague but there’s not much else I can expect, considering how much he just opened up to me and considering I don’t want to push him.

“Okay, text me?” I raise an eyebrow. It feels like I’m treading on eggshells.

“Yeah.”

My hand’s on the door handle when I feel a cover has been placed on top of it. I look to my right and can’t help but smile.

“Kiss me before you leave?” He smiles too, the words tranquilly seeping through his mouth as though nothing was ever wrong.

“Of course.” I lean in, eyes closed. Our lips touch and I’m reminded of what it’s like to kiss someone you love. I never knew what that was like until Asher, and now I’m feeling it all again. The spiral you fall down when the tingles in your heart elaborate through all your veins, the heat that rises to your face and pits directly into your cheeks.

We both pull away and I’m scared. Fucking Asher makes me lose my mind, but I love it. I love getting this lost with him, I love getting lost in him. It wouldn’t be the same with anyone else. I love him, I love him, I fucking love this human in front of me.

“By the way,” I grab my bag off the car floor and place it into my lap. “I still mean everything I said earlier, at the rocks.”

I wonder if he’ll get what I’m saying without me having to explain it.

“Me too.” Asher knows and he means it.

“I love you.” I smile, positive he’ll say it back if he told me he meant it when he said it earlier.

However, as soon as the words are left in the cold air floating around the car, I see a flash of confusion on Asher’s face. His face holds no expression, besides a small furrowing of his eyebrows. It takes him a good few seconds, which feels like a few hours to me before I see his eyes light up with realisation and a hint of trying to cover it up, although he can’t hide it from me.

“I love you, too.” He smiles but it isn’t backed up with genuine emotions. There’s no evidence on his face to prove he means the words he spoke. Maybe he doesn’t mean it. But what else could he be referring to? What else did he mean earlier?

I leave the car before any further words can be exchanged. I stand on the footpath, watching as his vehicle drives off. Now to face my mum, who’ll probably greet me with a demand for an explanation.

I walk up the slight hill and feel the cold air wrap around my exposed legs. I don’t care about the weather, I care more about the coldness in people these days; the winter that exists within people’s hearts. That’s the real stuff that causes problems. The coldness that freezes hearts and the thunder that clouds the mind.

Across the road, I see the bricks cladded around walls put together by a broken love. My legs force my body to move in sync, transporting me to the other side of the street. I’m at the top of the driveway, not that it’s a long driveway anyway, and I look at the window that’s in the living room that looks out. The inside is protected by a white curtain, blocking the outside view in but I know all too well you can see out of it.

I slowly creep down the white washed stone while trying to stop my hands from shaking. I grab my keys from my bag, and when I reach the green door, I put it inside the keyhole. Hearing the click, I open the door and peer my head inside.

“Sapphire, is that you?” I hear a familiar voice call from somewhere inside the small property.

“Yeah,” I call back, my energy still low. The high wore off quickly, clearly.

“Where were you?” A dark haired figure approaches me from down the hall. I’m still in the entrance, unsure about what will happen the more I tread into the place.

“With Kelsey. I thought I told you.” My eyebrows knit together as I pass my mum in the hallway, making my way to my room.

“Not very clearly, obviously.” Really?

I turn around to respond, “Sorry? I don’t know.” I sigh, too unemotional to even begin to care.

“Well, you can’t just go off as you please. Why don’t you try staying home for a change sometime?” There it is. The constant questioning that leads to an answer that blames the person asking the question. Then the yelling begins, then the defence, then the screaming from both parties, and it only leads to tears and further motivation to leave home. The cycle. It’s always like this. I’m used to it.

“Because,” I don’t stop myself from ranting. “I don’t want to be here. It’s so negative and I could really do without that. God, I just want to live my life.”

“Excuse me?” My mother’s voice raises.

“I don’t want to fucking be here,” I snap. Here’s to falling down the hole and never coming back. “Okay?”

“Don’t you speak to me like that!” She yells.

“I don’t care. I don’t care about anything.” I storm off, the rage reboiling in my veins like earlier, except this time my anger is directed at the usual perpetrator; my mother.

She’s screeching at me as I slam my door shut. I can’t catch a fucking break, can I? I can’t believe this is my life.

I look around my small room, looking at all the unmovable clutter that shuffles around from corner to corner. I’m sick of it.

I dump my bag on the floor, grab my earphones and plug them into my phone. I put on my usual playlist for these situations and I lie down on my bed. The volume’s on full and I’m screaming inside, fists pounding at the walls to break them down to be free. Inside, I’m decaying with every inch of pain I feel from this environment. Inside, I’m fighting my demons in the form of physical characters and I’m destroying each and every one of them. Inside, I’m slowly picking up the pieces from the war, licking my wounds while rearming myself. Inside, I’m letting all my problems go, burning them up and scattering the remains on a deep, dark lake somewhere far away. But on the outside? On the outside I’m just a being on a bed, music blasting into my ears, probably causing a slight case of deafness when I’m older, with no tears leaking because this dam’s all dried up from all the times it’s broken loose before.