I took stock of my surroundings. There lie a few crumpled bodies and the wake of weed permeating the air. I couldn’t sleep. While everyone around me was content to get stoned the fuck out, my hunger had always been to fight the nightmares that pervaded my dreams. I was on the up and up. At least, that’s how I referred to the various uppers coursing through my veins.
When had I opened this beer? It didn’t matter, the cold condensation clung to the can. I took swigs like gulps, before discarding my empty and going in search of another cool brew. It was the night before Thanksgiving and I had no intention of being thankful for anything.
Most of us would lie to you, telling you we were having the time of our lives. I mean, no responsibilities to go home to. The late nights stretched to early mornings and you would find us, slurring through rap songs and love stories.
It’s hard to understand teenage wasteland, as it stretches its way into young adult addiction. We didn’t know things like addiction or death. Sure, maybe we knew someone older, but it was always six degrees of separation.
I remember hitting my friend in the face. I didn’t want to, he just wouldn’t fucking listen. As he babbled on about invisible monsters and needing to “stay safe”, I hoped a hard hit to the face would bring him crashing to reality. Days strung out on Ambien had gone to his head. The fun was over and the monsters were setting in.
That’s what we were doing, dragging the fun out until it left us broken and alone.
Thanksgiving night, I laid there shaking as I watched the shadows bend menacingly towards me. It had been four or five days of self-prescribing Adderall.
Four or five days. I couldn’t even tell you precisely how long it was. All I remembered was my hands beginning to shake as I tried to bring the cigarette to my mouth. All my focus on smoking my cancer stick, I could hardly hear the words in the background.
Weep for yourself, my man,
You’ll never be what is in your heart
Weep, little lion man,
You’re not as brave as you were at the start
Rate yourself and rake yourself
Take all the courage you have left
And waste it on fixing all the problems that you made in your own head
Little Lion Man had just hit the radio stations and was quickly making it’s rounds. I hate when the radio stations do that. Playing the same goddamn five songs on loop. As I struggled to bring the cigarette to my lips, the music forced it’s way into my brain.
Twenty minutes later, the song stuck with me as my shaky hands tried to remember how to use a fork. I stabbed at mashed potatoes, hoping some would stick to the fork. People had began to stare at me. I don’t know if they knew. But, if they did, they were nice enough not to sling accusations. Mumbling an apology, I made my way outside. I doubt I could have held the food down anyways. Too many days of chasing beer with liquor and liquor with pills left my motor skills failing. I doubt it would have left my stomach in any better of a position. Outside, I sat, focusing on the cool breeze and another cigarette.
How many pills had I snorted over the past few days? I lost count around the forth or fifth. I remembered one point where I decided to play it “safe” and just ingest the pills. Either way. I was crashing. Half a month’s prescription of ADHD drugs were raging through my systems.
Tremble for yourself, my man,
You know that you have seen this all before
Tremble, little lion man,
You’ll never settle any of your scores
Your grace is wasted in your face,
Your boldness stands alone among the wreck
Now learn from your mother or else spend your days biting your own neck
Concern echoed in voices. Lies fell from my mouth to dissuade further inspection. I ate something bad. I was fighting the flu. Excuses flowed broken from my mouth. I just needed some rest. Some rest would make me better. I am sorry, I just am a bit under the weather. Yeah, a stomach bug is going around where I live.
That night, I lay in a big bed, tossing and turning. It wasn’t my bed. At this point, I hadn’t had my own bed in some months. The monsters began to come out of the shadows, ready to take me into their darkness. I lay, frozen in fear, watching them move in on me.
I wasn’t my friend. Maybe I was worse. The woman laying beside me I dare not wake. If the shadows were trying to destroy me, what would she do?
She had always been good to me, and here I was, sweating and trembling as the walls moved in to get me. She left me a few months later, tired of having to kiss the booze and deceit from my lips. I had crashed everything around me and try as she might, there was a difference between seeing potential and having a person realize their potential. She always chose to see the best in me, even if I never chose to act upon it.
But, on this night, her body lay next to mine. While she dreamed, my eyes darted around the room wondering which corner I might be inevitably dragged to. My body needed sleep, my mind refused to shut off. I lay there, waiting for the darkness to consume me.
The song Little Lion Man peaked in 2010, right when I was crashing.
I was nineteen.
This is a follow up to Teenage Angst.