A Special treat acts as a catalyst, opening her up and changing her life forever.
I was 19 when I had my first experience with pot. It would be the first of many firsts that year: my first kiss, my first boyfriend, my first (almost) girlfriend... It was a roller-coaster year. And the ride began with a "special" brownie.
It's 4/20, 2011. A beautiful, partly-cloudy day with marshmallow-puff clouds blowing in the blue-sky breeze of a sunny California day. The grass is a new-grown green in the meadow, the hills rolling down towards the bay. And all across campus, weaving through the redwoods, come the revelers.
My eye catches on costume after costume - crazy hats, silly socks, shirts and sunglasses. The seven-pointed marijuana leaf is abundant on necklaces, jackets, and ties. Men go shirtless. Girls sport glitter and gold. An endless parade of happy youth, celebrating life together on the meadow.
But I have eyes only for the self-made vendors scattered through the grass - people selling "specially" made baked goods. I snake through the crowd, puffs of smoke bursting in my nose at random turns, searching. Finally, I settle on a girl in purple jeans selling gold-ribbon brownies by the woods. I make my purchase just as the countdown begins:
"...FOUR!... THREE!... TWO!... ONE!..."
The crowd screams, tambourines jingle and crash, and drums sound as a giant cloud of smoke rises, swirling, to join the white, puffy ones above...
When I get home, I find my roommates there waiting.
I live with my friends from the previous year. I share a room with Tari, a Japanese-Mexican queer man in his upper thirties, back in school to study Art History. In the other room is Mike, a half-professional drag queen and dancer, quiet extrovert and Psychology major, who likes to tease me when he is bored. And finally, there is our unofficial roommate, Janelle.
Janelle doesn't live with us. At least, she doesn't pay rent. But she is always here, every day, my best friend and confidant. She spends more time at our apartment than at her dorm on campus. I never get tired of having her around and wish she would just make it official and move in.
This evening, Mike and Tari have invited their 4/20-enthusiastic friends over. They are waiting for me in the living room, already into the vodka and orange juice, dancing in and out of the kitchen with cups in their hands. I hand over my "special" purchase, not having handled such products before, and Tari's friend divvies it up between us. He hands me and Janelle half a brownie each, the golden caramel oozing out of the side. I catch the drizzle with my fingers and bring it to my mouth, enjoying the sweet, sticky taste. I look at Janelle, shrug as if to say "cheers" - then I down it in one bite.
... nothing happens, of course.
At least, not for a few hours. While my body is busy digesting various substances, I get bored and start drinking some Screwdrivers. Soon I am tipsy, dancing around the house with Jessica, who dances just as crazily as I do, but sober. We waltz about the apartment in a mock show, having the time of our lives, dipping and swinging each other around. As we are taking a break, my face starts to feel numb.
At first, I think I've had too much to drink. My head feels like it's full of helium. Then the helium bubbles up through my head, catches on my throat on the way out, and suddenly I'm laughing uncontrollably, hysterically. I try to hold my breath so I won't laugh and draw attention to myself, but the moment I exhale, the laughs escape. I give in and continue to giggle my head off at nothing in particular, unable to stop myself. There's a huge smile on my face, as if someone had told me the funniest joke in the world.
Mike saunters over, drawn by my laughing fit. I see the sly smile on his face and feel a tease coming on. Sure enough:
"You're high, aren't you?"
I respond with a renewed giggling fit.
Then I'm floating slow-motion through Mike's room, seeing stars. The air feels thick and light at the same time, supporting me, making me feel weightless. I'm an astronaut in space, but where I am, there's air - filling me, comforting me, making me laugh.
I float through the air, dancing slowly, languid. I catch Janelle's hand and we soar through the air, her soft hands anchoring me. As I near the end of her reach, I swing around in a half-circle to land in her arms. We both spin in place with the gentle momentum of my swing, finally landing on the floor, laughing together.
Mike stands, watching us, making fun of my state. But I guess he is high, too, for me grabs my hand, and spins me around some more. I enjoy his more professional dance, and offer a few modern steps of my own. I forget what he was saying, but somehow he ends up challenging me to kiss him, so I do. It is pleasant, with no meaning beyond the friendly, pot-induced affection for another human being. It's fun, and I find myself wanting to do it again.
I float back down to Janelle on the floor, smiling and laughing, enjoying the company of my friends today more than any other day. As I stare into my best friend's eyes, her eyes smile back at me, inviting, curious. Simultaneously, we both lean in, and she kisses me. Her lips are full and soft, clumsy with inexperience, but warm.
It lasts no longer than my kiss with Mike, and afterwards I get up and float-dance around Mike some more. I lose track of time, floating in slow-mo, the air growing thicker and slowing me down.
All too soon, the air losses its comfort. I progress beyond its loving touch. It becomes dry, and I can't seem to wet my throat. I swallow and swallow, but the dryness persists. I beckon to Mike, and he laughs at me. But then he frowns slightly and asks how much of the brownie I had.
"Half?!? You had an entire half? I had a quarter, and that was probably too much. You're in for it now."
The moment the words leave his mouth, Janelle starts panicking. She screams, falls to the floor, and refuses to let anyone touch her. Whimpering, she finally accepts a hug from Mike as he asks her what is wrong. She doesn't respond. She gasps and struggles, captive to her thoughts. She, too, had had half a gold-ribbon brownie.
I want to help, but my mind is distracted. Each time I think to go to her, my body slows until my mind drifts. I am a slave to my own faulty awareness. So I stand and wobble in the strange, dry air, trapped.
Time drags. Each time I look up at the clock, it feels like an hour has passed, but it's only been a minute. I get lost in a moment for so long that when I finally think to check, I jerk, struggling against time itself for a second of consciousness.
Gravity is playing games with me now. The underlying fabric of the world starts to flow to the left, and I must follow or face becoming stuck. Motion is my escape from this timeless torture, so I spin left. I spin and spin until I'm so dizzy that I fall to the ground. The world continues spinning without me. I try to close my eyes, but it makes me nauseous, so I keep them open. Spinning, spinning, spinning...
Eventually I wake from a drowse and realize that the world has stopped spinning. I check the time and am astonished to discover that I had been spinning for four solid hours. Janelle is passed out in the corner, curled up in a fetal position, with Mike's arms around her. Mike looks at me with tired eyes.
It had been a long night, indeed.
A week later, Janelle is in my room. We both have papers due, so, of course, we are not doing them. Instead, we are sitting on my bed, talking. Tari is gone, and Mike is in his room. We are alone.
Janelle was traumatized by her experience with pot and refuses to try it again. I tell her that liked it, but think I should probably cut down on the portion size.
I liked the light, weightless, floating feeling that pot gave me, the way it made me laugh and love freely. But most of all, I liked the kisses.
In fact, I had thought about nothing else since that night.
Every time I saw Janelle, I looked at her lips, wanted to feel them again. I wanted to touch her, kiss her, hug her. I wondered what it would feel like to have her closer. I fantasized, not about sex, but about her soft skin, her smile. I wanted to kiss that smile, feel her happiness. I wanted to make her happy. She was my best friend, and she was more beautiful to me than any other person.
I had held back each time I saw her, nervous about making a move. I went over every scenario in my head, but never acted. Tari and Mike were always around, and I didn't want them to know. It was never the right moment. So I stayed silent.
But now, she is here, next to me on my tiny twin-sized bed, so close. I can feel the warmth of her arm next to mine. My heart is beating fast, and my breath is shallow. When I try to speak, my heart rises up and chokes me. So I don't speak.
Instead, I look at her and think as hard as I can, willing her to touch me, kiss me... to realize that I love her.
Our TV show is playing on my laptop, but I am not watching. I work up the courage to casually caress her hand. She takes my hand, still watching the show - but her fingers are moving against mine. Her hand is soft and warm. I sit there holding her hand for a while. We slowly sink against one another, our shoulders touching. I rest my head on her shoulder and smile at her. She leans down and nuzzles my head, smiling back.
Then I kiss her.
To my pleasant surprise, she responds in earnest, kissing me back passionately. It's not a lustful kiss, but a loving one. I run my fingers through her hair and pull back, looking at her face. Then I gently touch her lips, tracing them with my fingertips, and lean in again.
Her kisses are like puppy dog kisses. She has never been kissed and doesn't know how, but she does it with such love and enthusiasm that I laugh inside, loving her all the more. She delights me. So I spend the next hour teaching her how to kiss.
I slow her down. I spend some time just staring at her and brushing my lips against hers, lightly. For a while, we sit there, not moving at all, just touching. Then, as slow as I can, I move my lips against hers. We are high again, and time is standing still. The show has long since ended. There is only me and her.
... Suddenly, the door opens and we jump apart. Tari is home. We lie there, frozen, unable to move, hoping he doesn't notice anything. He starts speaking and I try to answer in a nonchalant manner. It seems like he hasn't noticed, so we relax. We pretend to be friends watching a show. But under the covers, she is caressing my hand.
A few days pass, and we spend them kissing and cuddling.
Never does it turn into a sexual thing, though I definitely want to explore more of her. She makes me feel euphoric. Her touch is so soft and loving. It's a nice change from the sex-charged touch of my previous boyfriends. None of them ever made me feel this good.
But it starts to get to me. Why doesn't she want more of me? Why won't she let me touch her?
So one day, I ask.
She says she is not comfortable, but won't explain why. Troubled, I ask her what she wants. Does she want a relationship? Is it just cuddling? Does this mean something to her? I tell her that she can tell me anything. She is my best friend, and I love her. If she is not comfortable, I won't continue.
She starts crying. Tells me that it's not my fault. She just isn't comfortable with anything except cuddling.
Confused and sad, I hug her, and tell her it's okay.
One week later, Mike has approached me, suspecting from Janelle's mood that something was happening. He sighed and reprimanded me for being stupid. Said that if I ruined our friendship and made everything complicated, he would make my life a misery.
I told him it was okay. We were still friends. Nothing bad had happened. I didn't know what Janelle's problem was. But I was determined to stay friends. I still loved her, and she was my best friend. I could back off.
Later that day, Janelle comes over. She says she needs to talk to me. She has something to tell me.
What she tells me is completely unexpected.
Her parents had been abusive towards one another. In addition, her mom had had some sexually abusive boyfriends. As a result, Janelle was mistrustful of relationships, and uncomfortable with all sexual advances. That's why she didn't want me to take her clothes off. Why she couldn't be in a relationship with me.
I hug her, holding her close, shocked by her story, wanting to comfort her. I tell her I'm sorry that she had to go through that, and that it is perfectly fine with me that she isn't comfortable with being that close to me. I tell her I love her, and that I want her to have only what she wants and nothing more. We can still be friends.
We are both crying and hugging each other. Then she says jokingly, "We can still cuddle if you like."
I laugh sadly and say, "Cuddling is nice."
One year later, it's 4/20 again. I live alone now. Most of my friends are gone, estranged or graduated. I have fallen in love with someone over the Internet the past few months, but haven't admitted it yet. He is disabled, and I haven't yet decided whether or not I can handle that.
I go down to the meadow and come back to my empty room. This time I have a cookie instead of a brownie. I control my portions and have exactly enough to feel light without spinning. I am high, and I want to share it with someone.
I get on the computer and turn on video chat. I call the friend I have been talking to every day for the last six months.
"I'm high," I say, and he laughs. For the next four hours, he watches me be happy and high, my head lolling about, blinking in and out of trains of thought. I am smiling.
The next day, I call him on the phone.
"I love you," I say.
He says, "I love you too."
I moved across the country after graduation to be with my boyfriend, and have been with him for three years and counting.
Janelle is still one of my best friends, though we haven't spoken very often since we graduated college. I still love her dearly, and don't regret anything that happened between us.
The best relationships are born from love. It doesn't matter who you love - so long as you do. It's worth it, in the end. As Tennyson said, "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
But I don't feel like I've lost anything - if anything, I have gained.
- Short stories only.
- Maximum word count 3,000.
- Stories must not exceed an '18+' content rating.
- Must use one of the listed prompts for the current round.
- Must clearly be of the Gay/Lesbian genre and have characters that reflect that.
- Only one entry per person in each round.
- New pieces only.
- Entries must be posted in "B-item" format (see "Linking Help And Practice" for help)
- Prompt and Word Count must be included in either the forum post or item.
- If there are fewer than 5 entries, only 1st place will be awarded with a MB and the other entries will receive GPs based on their place.
Prompt #3: GOLD
Word Count: 2,695