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Confessions of a Teenage Opium Queen photo

The humid air mingling with my warmth stretches my sense of self this morning. Settling again into my day, I guide myself to the kitchen to make my breakfast. The routine comforts me. I’m tragically incapable of keeping up with any others; I repeat this one a few times instead. My fingers twitch as I tamp down the coffee grounds; the aroma tickles my tongue. My immediate instincts float away from me as I drink my coffee (black, always) and smoke a cigarette (Pall Malls, they’re cheap) by the balcony. I weigh myself. It’s never an objective measure, nor does it ever reassure me. The satisfaction I derive from completing these rituals is purely superficial. I’m nauseated.

I walk to the couch and trip over some clothes on the floor. My misstep reveals a red stain on the yellowed hardwood. It's either wine I had spilled or blood from when I had compulsively picked at the back of my ankles. I busy myself by testing my memory. When was the last time I was drinking? It could’ve been any night this week. What was I drinking? There were a handful of bottles scattered around the living room that could be missing that drop. The empty bottle of Merlot from the dep was on the floor. Or it could be the Shiraz that had been poured into the carafe, waiting for me on the piano. The latter was a gift for the party I hosted a couple days ago — it was a great party. Although, some unplanned accidents soiled with vulgarity a moment that I had otherwise carefully cultivated. Still, it was a great party. My apartment, swelling with chatter around the walls and smoke dispersing to the sharp corners that waves of voices don’t reach… It was a great party. In the bathroom, some guests left a pile of sad empty baggies by the sink, a couple took a bath, and someone clogged the toilet. The toilet is clogged. It's a mess. Just the thought of filth recomposes me, throws me towards the Macabre. My sense of order thaws and everything preserved in its amberous grip crawls again along my limbs. My body becomes a fertile boundary, itched and pricked by solicitous desires. Overwhelmed, I bite my nails, peel off my cuticles, pull out some strands of my hair, I cry. I pick at the scab on my ankle, I bleed again.

I text my friends. I need to go out. Tickets to any event have gotten too expensive but I tell myself I’m allowed to indulge just for tonight. I don’t want this to become a routine but it hasn’t been able to exhaust me yet. I want to get tired of it. I want to be tired. It’s lonely otherwise. I glare at the Montreal skyline — it’s noon. The sun seems strikingly still. Everything is running mechanically; there’s movement but rarely excitement. As it passes by, time grazes me; it flows around my tensions. I need it to grip onto me, to make me throb along with it. I spend weeks revelling in the artifice of the night, letting the morning chisel me out my stupor. I find comfort in this transcendence of my body’s demands (transcendence sounds nicer than resistance). Nevertheless, it at least feels like a defiance of time. My friends have gotten back to me. I’ll see them in a few hours.

I’m weary of people, I open Grindr. The app’s aesthetics of sex trafficking lack authenticity though novel opportunities come up if I stay active long enough. Blank profiles. Torsos. Cuckolds. Even rarer than pedophiles, I come across a plethora of proud attempts at being earnest. Earnest enough to advertise a checklist detailing the minutiae of their personality and preferred sex positions. It truly shows their age, despite their desperate yearning for youth — despite their disparate need to appear genuine — despite being on Grindr. They respect or envy civility: to get married, etc... whatever people find aspirational about a Hallmark movie. But they neglect the internet’s institution of impermanence. The prognosis of the online subject — a user — is either debasement or refinement, radically, towards anonymity. If used right, I can make some money too. However, the conditions are just not viable for millennial neuroses! I’m nauseated.

A call from the dentist interrupts my lazing. I know I won’t be going. I was about to clean my apartment. Just let me clean. God. I need to finish cleaning before I can be bothered to do anything else. I pick up the clothes on the floor. I scrub the kitchen counter. I make my bed and wipe my mirror. The mirror was a gift from my parents. My cheeks are bloated in its gold gilded frame. And my legs and neck are covered in bruises. You were such a whore last week. I ought to shave as well. I don’t seem like myself: how smooth my skin was over the summer, how flat my stomach was this morning. I need to freshen up. But I’ll finish cleaning before I shower — wet hair absorbs odours.

My mother calls, she must be worried about something. I’ll text her later.

It’s getting late. The sun is setting and people are on their way here. Sunsets are melancholic. I’m upset by them. It’s an astronomical process, the night absorbing the morning. The orange and pink hues blush harder through the clouds. The sky bleeds grief. I beg myself not to unravel any further. I’m trying to be mindful. Pinching or scratching myself take too long to distract me. Prolonged efforts to make myself feel pain are humiliating — they barely break the emulsion of mind and body. And the people who enjoy sunsets must be overly conditioned to function. Either from too much therapy or from Benzo abuse. Whatever it is, it’s pathological. I swiftly bandage my wrist.

The buzzer rings and I let my friends in. I’m tempted to wait and peer through the peephole, then count down from an arbitrary number before I unlock the door. Or I could walk around my rug 10 times until someone arrives. If that’s not long enough, I could do 20 circles. Or 30. I centre the rug. Or 50. The doorknob turns halfway. A handful of hollow open-handed knocks follow. I open the door and everything subsides. We hug. A kiss on each cheek. I wonder if my hyperbolic smile gives away my change in mood. Like pupils dilated by darkness or love. It takes a while for their likeness to film over their bones and weave through their musculature. We drink. They sit around the cluttered dining table. In the centre, there are two candles (one is scented with jasmine, the other — sandalwood). Two capsules of MDMA. A copper bowl littered with chocolate, dried figs, and strawberries. A half empty can of Red Bull. Incense burning. A pair of leather handcuffs. And an out of place bottle of beer that I’m compelled to apologize for. I’m nauseated. It’s messy but clean. It’s ideal. The disarray brings about a shallow discomfort among us that translates in turn into that stupid sense of power that comes with decadence. Nothing more than a depthless demonstration of degeneracy for the sake of a nostalgia for the once unrestrained recklessness of history. Après vous, le déluge! Despite its insipidity, this is what underlies our contrived conversations concerning misogyny in the music industry, or the fidelity of Pasolini’s adaptation of the Marquis’s unfinished manuscript. There’s something to be said about his oeuvre’s significance to queer culture. I need to be fucked tonight. I cut up a line of cocaine to suppress my opiate appetite. I need to deserve to be fucked most importantly. My nostrils slightly burn, it must be cut with speed (So says my friend. I believe her!). I don’t mind. Amphetamines emaciate me even more anyways. It’s midnight. Our wired state reminds us to call a taxi. I think I lock the door.

Entering the venue, everyone seems to be behaving as a caricature of some persona: a club kid from 80s New York, Paris Hilton in the early aughts, Grimes. Except we all take ourselves too seriously. I don’t know what character I’m embodying tonight. Or rather I’m too embarrassed to reflect on it. My friend grabs me by the arm, “Come to the bathroom with me.”

Life is so full. The moment dilates as I’m losing awareness. The heavy bass is bouncing off effervescent skin. I’m hearing one of my friends negotiating with some guy. He wants to take a hit of our poppers. He taps some powder from a glass vial onto the back of my hand and I inhale it before it blows away. I quickly feel lighter. A halo of clouded glass warbles around me, illuminating condensed layers of an infinity of images. Its sillage is marked by terror. Certain areas are flushing with latent colours, others are expanding into virtual shapes. Nothing is intelligible within it except the contortions. “I love Ket,” we moan to each other.

A calloused hand wrapping around my waist disrupts this bliss. My eyes sharpen. Reason takes over. I feel in control. I look at him with suggestive familiarity until I detect the words forming in his gut. I let my smirk fade away from him as I feign turning away. He pulls me closer. I can’t make out his muttering; a vacuous chuckle is an adequate response. He says something about ketamine. We head to the bathroom. He sticks a key in the bag of coarsely crushed crystals and offers it to me. It acts fast, counteracting the harsh lighting that was highlighting his deep set wrinkles; I’d say he’s about 35 years old. I don’t mind, I’ve been with older men. He unzips his pants; I suck him off until I get bored. His attention on me has already validated my worth. I get up to leave and he mumbles something again, stepping closer to the door. His callous hands push me back down to my knees. I comply. I might as well keep going. My memory fills in the sketch that my misty vision etches onto my mind, animating my lips and throat. He finishes on my face. I rush out of the stall — the music sounds too good not to dance.

I’m promptly tapped on the shoulder, “Let’s smoke.”

Our group talks outside as our feverish temperaments leave a frost of sweat under our clothes. The melodies have dissipated into the clouds of conversation happening along the street. Groans are sung, accompanied by the pattering of constant laughter.

“Do you have a cigarette?” someone interrupts. I’ve been trying to learn to say no. I don’t. Being helpful makes me happy. They smoothly blow the first puff directly into my eyes. The ashen taste of smoke browns inside me. I’m nauseated.

This is the best part of any night out. We talk idly and complain (I adore complaining) about the crowd and the music or romance. Everyone has a man they’ve been seeing or a girl they’ve just kissed. Regardless, the romances are always characterized by impersonality, intensity, and instantaneity. The stories — mostly the tangents — keep me entertained enough to passively giggle or hum in agreement. But the entanglements themselves rarely work out. The week before, these roles were all filled by a different cast. The factical details interest me more since the bouts of infatuation are more or less the same. At least I get new recommendations for bars, books, and possible career paths.

Eventually everything starts wearing off. I’m bored. I’m lacking the cohesion of love — a face that fades into mine. I’m nauseous. I want every gesture I make and every word I say and every thought I have to echo from it. I need it to seize me like a Zephyrous wind washing over a field, combing through all the blades of grass and bending every flower. For everything to be new in its light. But, I’m too sensitive. Anything foreign to my heart blinds the weight of love and degrades it into prayer; worship begs for stability, for an unmoved idol with a moving gaze.

I’m wet. Someone must’ve spilled their drink on me. Or it was piss spritzed my way from that man in the corner. In any case, my socks are dirtied — I should go home. I take a second, gathering the clarity so I can say goodbye; it doesn’t have to make sense. I’m gonna Don’t go home I No know Stay I please know I Are know you Yeah sure Aw Yeah I’m just tired. Okay. Love you. Love you. Okay. I’m leaving.

It’s 6:00 am already. I’m approaching my building. I’ve spent all of my self. The fractal dark dissolves indifference. Indefinitely defers my absolution. Inside shut eyes sprawls a medicating black. Although, away by some tree-towered town, a ward with ways to wane away my wayward ways waits for me; i try to persist through prayers to perfection (to subvert my perversions, to protest the profane) : capture me, flatter your pulse, enrapture us; the sky rippling apart renders me red on the wall. Wear me down, wear my warmth — ruin me. The image of death draws forward: Where will the corpse be found? at what angle was the head tilted? are you bruised? clean! bloodied? pure! what were the symptoms of your death and who will interpret them? ruined. until fate repents and Organs deflate and Stop until the whore’s Throat, torn and torsed, trips towards woe and Stop until tears stream along Perineal seams and Stop until unfiled Nails defile a shame-rife life and Stop until nicked Skin and dry drained Veins lie sanctified side by side. The spectacular scalpel and simulated stimulations leave lithe wounds in desire’s womb. Forget all of that. It’s too infantile. I don’t care anymore. I’ve fallen onto my bed.

Whenever I couldn’t fall asleep, I would ask my mother what we would do the next day.

“We can go to the mall,” she would reply occasionally. That would be sufficiently comforting. In my room, in my house, in the streets — mute. In the world too, as far as I knew. I’d be convinced that everyone had died. I text her back finally, good morning. Living in the city, the sounds of sirens help me sleep. They’re frantic. I assume the paramedics themselves are likely exhausted and apathetic. An ambulance had ran by me on my ramble. It woke me up a little bit, but it was mostly the residual buzz of the night that kept me going in the shadows of the closed stores. I know the fluorescent lights are still writhing. The billboards and neon signs are perpetually blaring blue. It’ll all survive for a while after us.

Alone at home now, I need to speak, to verbalize, to utter. I make myself whisper anything. My body clears itself. All thought is expunged. I concentrate just on the texture of noise. I realize that I was repeating the same word, the same name. How my tongue tenses against my teeth. How the vowels swell from my chest to my throat. How I stretch and contract every other syllable to the rhythm of tranquillity swinging to guilt.