One night in December the four of us came staggering back to my place, laughing and singing loud into the deep; as if we could, this time, chase despair away for good. We never had much food in my flat, but there was a battered old acoustic in the corner, a view from the loft window that could be used to see the stars on cloudless nights, and love on tap.
The door was stubborn, but eventually relented to a shoulder barge. This prompted a totally disproportionate cheer from the others. I grinned and shook my head as we shuffled in, shedding our wet winter coats and boots in the landing and talking happy nonsense. I turned the heating right up, and listened to the strangely comforting groans and complaints of the pipes. Sophie danced into the kitchen and began to pour everyone some wine. I watched as she stretched to reach the glasses, and her white tee-shirt rode up a little, revealing the perfect skin around her hips. Mike was at the computer and had put Radiohead on, and Lily was busy with powder and credit card on the coffee table.
I came up behind Sophie and hugged her, feeling her smile through her back. We stayed like that a little while… I closed my eyes. After some time she turned, still hugging, to face me, her forehead resting against mine.
“Let’s drink our wine, Jake”
I breathed a laugh, and we took our wine through to the other room, where Mike was laying stretched out on the floor, grinning at the ceiling, and Lily was sitting propped against the sofa, eyes up, sniffing and breathing out.
“What would we do without MDMA” she sighed.
We all giggled and looked knowingly at each other. Mike spoke from the floor.
“We would stay inside, you know… We would withdraw, and we’d be those petty little creatures that our parents all became, live the 9-5 and get excited when a special of fuckin’, the bill is on, or something.”
“So cynical, Mikey” Sophie purred.
“We’d do coke instead” I said. Everyone giggled again, and we each took turns to sniff a line of those magic crystals. Then we knocked it back with our wine.
I stretched out on the floor like Mike, breathing heavily to keep some control. I think everyone else did the same but I can’t be sure. I know the floor felt more comfortable than usual, and I knew I was in one of those rare spots where I wasn’t out of place. A brief moment of sanity, I thought, and smiled.
At some point all the lights went out.
A t s o m e p o i n t ... a l l o u r l i g h t s w e n t o u t .
The warm waves of Everything In Its Right Place washed over us, and we… simply flowed, with the tide. Problems couldn’t touch us. Not there. Not then. It was the Promised Land that our young minds craved to live in. The moon, the air and all the world gently tingled with attunement and approval, whispering reassurances in our ears, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.
It’s okay, I remembered.
I felt Sophie’s delicate fingertips touch mine and lightly rake along them. I reached for her hand and held it. After a minute or two, she rolled over to me and nuzzled my shoulder. We looked at each other with spaceship pupils, and smiled. I closed my eyes and listened to her contented sighs, wondering how I’d gotten to this beautiful point. After a while, I sat back up at the coffee table, with the idea of having more. Mike, Lily and Sophie all had the same idea, funnily enough. We chuckled.
“Addicts…” muttered Lily, grinning.
Mike hadn’t stopped smiling, and stretched out his big arms, pulling us all into a group hug. Our heads rested together. We stayed like that for a long time, nobody said anything. We swayed a little.
Sophie brushed her lips across my cheek, and then round to my face. Our lips were still but touching for a few seconds, and I held my breath. Then we kissed and kissed and kissed, sighing into each other’s mouths with relief. And then all of us were, Me, Sophie, Lily and Mike, heads turning to one another without discrimination or care as we pressed our lips together and ran our hands over each other, delirious and drunk on indeterminacy, consequences a faint memory in the flush of instinct and absence of fear.
What goes up must come down… The pedestrian hesitation of our interactions the next morning presented itself as it always does; a little jog back out of reality, a reminder that mental health is a temporary pleasure and nothing more. I didn’t care, though. I woke up cuddling Sophie underneath sleeping bags. And besides, we had touched the infinite, or nearly at least. Mike quietly played Blowin’ In The Wind on the acoustic in the corner as I cuddled closer for warmth and comfort, and though the world outside was bright grey and there was scarcely food for breakfast, we were at peace that day.