I’ve never been drunk or high in my life, but at this very moment, I am regrettably both. And I hate the way it feels. And I hate that I hate the way it feels. So much for hoping I’d be the type who was bold enough to dabble and experiment. The kind of girl who brought the “good shit” to the party instead of the girl who was on the verge of a panic attack because she should have eaten half a gummy instead of a whole one. But this is me, in a nutshell. Always desperate to be twenty degrees cooler than I actually am. I’m an isosceles triangle and my sine, cosine, and tangent are anxiety, insecurity, and irrational fear—all hidden away in uneven angles.
“Are you feeling it?” Gabriela asks me, the slightest trace of a smirk on her face.
My best friend, Gabriela, and I are fully clothed, in our pajamas, sitting in the empty Jacuzzi tub in my bathroom. Even though it’s big enough to fit us comfortably, I told Gabs she wasn’t allowed to fill it with water. I was too scared the mixture of edibles and vodka would lull us to sleep and we’d drown. Dead in a tub with my best friend is not the manner in which I’d like to leave the world. In fact, I don’t want to leave the world at all. But these are the thoughts that spurn the current internal debate I’m having in my head: Should I play it cool or should I tell Gabs that she needs to get my parents, because I’m almost one hundred percent certain that my heart is going to stop and I’m going to take my last breath in a bathroom? I do my best to accomplish the former because I’m so scared she’ll be disappointed in me. Gabs looks so happy. I don’t want to spoil the mood by informing her that I’m about to die on her watch. I knew she would handle our alcohol-and-drug binge better than me, because that effortlessly cool girl I want to be? She’s sitting right in front of me.
“I’m not sure,” I manage to say. “Are you feeling it?”
I think I got the words out, but my intense case of cotton mouth makes speaking a challenge. Why didn’t we think to grab a pitcher of water from the kitchen when we pilfered my parents’ bottle of Tito’s from the bar cart? I guess we didn’t know that thirst would be a side effect of edibles. Or maybe thirst is not a normal side effect but merely a sign that my organs are shutting down. There’s no point in scaring Gabs because she won’t have the answers anyway. She may be more confident than me, but when push comes to shove, she’s just as inexperienced.
There’s a reason we’re doing drugs alone, in my bathroom, and not at the party across the street at Lizzy Pearson’s house. We are flying solo in a bathtub while virtually every other senior we
know (including Andrew Nanaka—our former best guy friend) is probably taking shots of Fireball in Lizzy’s kitchen and finding a dark corner of her house to make out in. But I try not to dwell on those facts. After all, we’re probably safer cooped up in my bathroom.
According to every news outlet in America, the world is on the brink of a global pandemic, one that disproportionately impacts people our age, and if that actually turns out to be true, then I don’t think it’s safe to be trapped in a house with a hundred teenagers. I’d rather be irrelevant than get invited to a death trap. And as much as I’d love to be kissing anyone right now, it’s a hard pass if it means contracting a fatal disease. At my high school, no one’s mouth or tongue or penis is worth dying for. On that topic, I think Gabriela and I can agree.
“Oh, I’m definitely feeling it.” Gabs giggles in that adorable way she always does when something makes her inexplicably happy. “I wish Wes hadn’t bailed on hanging out tonight.”
“Me too,” I manage to say. Wes Bowen is our other best guy friend. Unlike Andrew, he still graces us with his presence at lunch. Mostly because he’s madly in love with Gabs, and because he knows that if he ever tried to ditch us for greener pastures, I would find ways to make him regret it for the rest of his life.
“If I knew I’d have this much fun, I would have done this freshman year. We’ve really been wasting the last three years. What a shame,” Gabs adds wistfully.
She’s right. This is fun. Don’t ruin it. I should be grateful that I’m spending my last few minutes on earth with my best friend. The girl who’s always made life not just bearable but better. Gabriela gets me more than anyone—even my own family. Especially my own family. She doesn’t poke fun at my anxiety or the fact that I’m neurotic about everything. She has this way of reminding me what’s important with a simple, profound observation. I always try to look for the best in the worst people, but Gabs refuses to let me. Case in point: A week ago, in English class, Cornelia Martin told me that she thought my hair looked good when I wore it curly, then offered to let me borrow her Frizz Ease.
“Cornelia’s nice,” I told Gabs.
“Bullshit. Anyone can be nice,” she responded.
And she was right. Why was I always rewarding people for doing the bare minimum? After all, I can afford to buy my own Frizz Ease.
I reach for a bag of chips that’s on the bathroom floor and tear it open. I am desperate to eat. Maybe food will slow down the heartbeat that has taken up residence in my forehead. Maybe Cool Ranch Doritos will make me feel like my brain is still connected to the rest of my body. As last meals go, processed, cancer-inducing junk food wouldn’t be my first choice—but right now, it’s all I’ve got. I think about the tahchin my parents order from the Rose Market. The saffron-infused rice. The sweet and
sour notes of the barberries. The chicken that is cooked so slowly in turmeric and onion that it falls apart in my mouth. It’s so sad to think I’ll never get to eat it again. I think my last TikTok post was a video of the perfectly golden-brown tahdig. It didn’t get a lot of views, but I’m pretty sure that’s only because the algorithm favors videos with people in them. I wonder if I should take a selfie, so my last contribution to social media will be a little more meaningful.
Maybe the caption could be something nice about my mom and dad, so they’ll know I was thinking of them during the end of my life. I know that most parents wouldn’t be able to handle losing their child to a drug overdose, but my Iranian parents will never recover. The shame alone will kill them. My older sister will become an orphan and write a bestselling memoir about how one pineapple-flavored gummy destroyed her entire family. I will die, and she will go on to accomplish my dream of becoming a published author. Life is so unfair.
“Are you okay?” Gabs asks. She leans in and squints at me.
“I’m totally fine,” I lie.
“Then why are you crying?”
I touch my face, and she’s right. There are tears rolling down my cheeks. And now my whole body is convulsing—deep, guttural sounds escape my mouth. It sort of feels like I’m having an out-of-body experience. There’s a girl in a tub sobbing and another disillusioned girl watching the whole thing go down...
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