First Hit


The stage is dark and bare, save the trappings of bathroom. A sink. A lightbulb, flickering. A mirror with no reflection. A toilet. A mat. The Woman is still young enough to think of herself as a girl. She perches atop the toilet, feet resting on the lip of the cover, knees tucked under her chin. The Man crouches beside her, one knee pressed into the blue bathmat. He looks romantic, holding her hand on his flat, open palm, like a gift.

Her arm is a length of yarn. It flops and wobbles. It is sooooo thin. It doesn’t connect to her; she can no longer animate it. She has given it to The Man. She doesn’t see it now, but that arm of hers grows longer in his grasp. It spans years. It spans a decade. Maybe more. That arm of hers reaches from the toilet to her death, and her death, and again her death. That arm of hers performs a secret necromancy, scrolling across the graven tome of The Woman’s terrible, still-secret future.

Her head is turned toward the audience. She will not look at the arm. The audience can see her face, shining like a moon under the spotlight, as The Man fastens a blue rubber tourniquet around her arm. He wraps it just above the joint, where thin blue veins lift like seeds from the pit of her arm. The Man fills a syringe black. The cast of light around them expands, just slightly, at the edges, as though The Man’s syringe is drinking the darkness around them.

The Man is not young enough to think of himself as a boy, but he does anyway. The Man has orange hair and blue eyes with pupils as small as pricks. The Man smells of cigarettes and metal. The Man likes to weave his motorcycle between stalled cars in heavy traffic. Lately, he carries The Woman in back while he does this. The Man likes to drink beer until he smells of metal and cigarettes and beer. The Man will come close to loving The Woman, but he will fall short, in the end.

The Man slides the syringe filled with darkness into the yarn arm of the girl-Woman, who cannot look, even now.

Blood spits easy into the barrel. This is beginner’s luck, the privilege of a virgin vein. The Woman will not retain this privilege for long.

The Man snaps the tourniquet off the arm. The sound of snapping should reverberate throughout the theatre like thunder, or maybe more like the cackle of hyenas.

The Man pushes the plunger down.

For a moment, the spotlight pools outward. Light washes across the stage like a magic trick, revealing a litter of dusty white corpses. Light washes across the house, revealing an audience that all have the same face. It is The Woman’s face. The light sparks into a blaze. The blaze brightens into the sound of roaring. The house of the world is roaring in flames. The Woman, every single one her, stays still while the flames eat her clothing and lick her skin and leave her burdened with impossible thirst.

The light ebbs. Once again, darkness swallows the house. Once again, the audience has three hundred secret faces. Once again, darkness swallows the funereal stage. Now darkness comes for The Man, who never ever fights it. Darkness comes next for The Woman, crashing over her like a great wave from which she will not resurface for many years, maybe never.


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