I was with Maria; we had chosen a farce of a coffee shop to sit in. We were sulking simultaneously in our old winter coats. She had just mentioned that “nothing smelled good anymore,” and the next guy she fucked would “buy cologne at least.” What a whore. She'd probably be dead before she saw another penis anyway.
So I said: “You'll be dead before you shake his hand.”
She answered: “Go fuck yourself Kenyon, Really.”
We were silent for the next half hour. On the corners of a newspaper left lying around, she was drawing a sketch of the only other two people in this place—a guy with a big smile full of rotting teeth talking to an uncomfortable woman.
When we first met, it had been nighttime in Central Park. We were never formally introduced but I noticed scars on her wrists—the obvious marks of a fucked up girl—and found a pill that came with an excuse to touch them. She closed her eyes, and I felt the smoothed over ridges and bumps of healing skin. She lifted the pant legs of her loose jeans, revealing more scars. She said, “Will you touch those too?” and moved her hair away from her face. Her eyes were watering, and I remember her saying earlier in the night it was her first time on any drug. I touched her rough scars. Our friends left and we didn't follow. We spent a night tripping under the hot lights of the city.
Two months later, without love, or lust really, she was still my excuse not to go back home. We were listless and annoyed, miserable, and wishing for death every day. We were too cowardly for suicide. We exhausted our time waiting angrily in dirty, unnoticed corners.
Yesterday, I bought the poison I was going to give to Maria. I had been thinking about it for a few weeks now, but realized how difficult it was going to be last week, when she had stopped eating. This was the kind of thing that could be sprinkled onto the old bagels we found in dumpsters after the closing of coffee shops. Lately, she refused the staling bread with a scowl, became more irritable and dazed. But I'd be damned if that bitch was going to kill herself before I did. There were always needles anyway.
Really, I had no idea what I was going to do after Maria died. School was out of the question, the only family I had was my older brother in ‘up and coming' Williamsburg, the rich fuck who I hadn't seen in months—out of the question. What would he think to see me approach his fancy front door looking like this anyway? But when I thought of myself on the subways—stinking, miserable and, worst of all, alone—I got this feeling in my chest like my heart turned to a heavy stone. I guess anything is better than that.
I grabbed Maria's hand and pulled her out of the coffee shop.
She shouted: “Don't fucking touch me! You stink, asshole!”
“Fuck you,” I said calmly, “we both stink.”
People were avoiding us on the sidewalks as usual.
“Where are we going anyway?” I had noticed she was always tired now. Her head looked like it was bobbing on her skinny neck.
“I don't know. I just needed to get out of there.”
We ended up sitting in the subway. She rested her head on my shoulder. I noticed just a while later that she had dozed off. I marveled at how we learned to sleep in the strangest places. Places where no kid ever imagines he will end up: subways, park benches, the occasional abandoned apartment. Most people can't sleep with the sound of the train coming in and out of a tunnel, but you get used to it sooner or later. On the filthy subway bench with Maria, I thought of how we must have looked to the people passing by. Two pathetic teenagers, no place to go. Two stupid kids, two wastes of youth and life. Two stinking piles of shit leaning together. Worthless kids.
I felt woozy, like the length of our lives and the sadness of existing when it seemed stupid to do so, were running circles around my mind. I was aware of Maria's head, which looked larger because of her weight than it actually was, moving uncomfortably against my body.
“Let's go to Coney Island tonight,” I felt like seeing the beach again.
“I wanna cut first.”
“What—are you gonna cut in front of all these people?”
“I don't care; I just have to do it now.”
I took a trembling sigh and said: “I got something for us to trip on tonight.”
Her eyes flashed hopefully. “Oh man! It's definitely been way too long!”
I agreed silently and cringed as she walked away saying, “I think there's a McDonald's around here somewhere where I can do it. I'll be fast.”
You can't see many stars in the city anyway, but I wished for some that night. Anything to take my mind off of what the future held for me. I was sitting on cold sand, with the ocean rolling in front of me. It was a cloudy night; I could barely see a divide between sea and sky. Gray Infinity stretched on before me.
Maria had just finished pissing in the ocean. When she plopped down on the sand, I crawled over and she closed her eyes to receive a kiss on the forehead. I wished I had some cologne to put on.
I handed her a rubber band to put around her arm. She put it on then looked away at the sky, trusting me to inject her with what she had been waiting for.
“Lay down,” I said and she listened without complaint. I held her close.
“I could die like this,” she said, “with you, just there, and listening to the ocean.”
We were silent, and I was thankful for the darkness. She was still breathing.
“Would you miss me,” she said, “if I died?”
“I guess I would,” I answered, trying to control the shaking in my voice.
“What are you crying for, pussy?” she said with a swooning smile in her tone.
I didn't respond, and she didn't push it. We just stayed there for a while until my arms had to tighten around her slight, spasming body. My arms have never forgotten what it felt like to hold Maria that way. I let go, sat up, and began to breathe heavily. The beach became surreal. I began to wonder if anything from the past two months had been real. I wished it wasn't. I spent the night crying on a trip to Williamsburg.