Lucy had known Ania for ten or so years. They met at a club in the warehouse district, saw each other and knew that if they didn't become friends they would become worst enemies. They were both too beautiful back then, with the intense look of pure things tarnishing in the elements; they were gaining
definition, shadings with each new night out and with every new boy they kissed. Ania's long straight blonde hair gave her a luminous glow, while Lucy pulled things into the shadows of her self. Ania seemed somehow like a firefly, or like a twinkling erratic fairy. The boys were reluctant to try to capture her for there was a sense that she would one day lose her glow, and no one wanted to be responsible for that. Lucy, however, was avoided for a different reason altogether. Her beauty was voracious, the kind which hints at deep secrets and darkness, which would pull a man's soul into the cave of her being and never let him go. She was not destructive to anyone, but it was the fact of her unyielding capacity to hold and to love which kept the boys at bay. She had caramel hair and her skin was a warm pink, but the mystery of a dark inner self showed in her blue eyes when least expected. The ones who dared to kiss her always felt that something had been taken from them, and that, if not careful, they would be willing to give her much, much more. Ania got more attention, but Lucy was the one the boys followed into shadows to confess their true desires.

Ania enjoyed her drugs, her cocaine, her speed if it was crystal. She rarely drank and smoked only cigarettes, though she was completely addicted to those in a way that Lucy couldn't fathom. Ania rolled onto her side in the mornings to reach for her pack of Philip Morris's, lighting one before she even sat up. She was thin, naturally tweaky, at times jarringly active for such a pretty girl. Ania lacked grace, and in that sense the immediate high of amphetamines suited her character well.

One night Ania called Lucy and invited her to come with her to her friend's house in the foothills. Lucy had been there once before and knew that Ania had found herself a source for the evening, this older man who'd line her up then get pissed off when she bopped away on some frail excuse a few hours later. The last time Lucy had been left trying to calm the guy down while Ania revved her VW hatchback engine farther down the driveway. Ania had literally skipped away, calling to Lucy to follow her in a childish singsong. The guy was amped up and livid, but he, as well as Lucy, knew that Ania would be back soon, and that he'd have another chance to catch her off guard.

Lucy drove to Ania's, then drove them both up through the foothill pines to Steve's cabin. Lucy had no idea what Steve did, but most of the people who lived in the hills had secrets one wouldn't want to pry into. It was only a twenty minute drive from quaint and wealthy Los Gatos, but the mountain-people world in which Steve lived was like another universe of broke old hippies and counter-culture crazies.

Steve had a few visitors when they got there, so Ania showed Lucy the creek that ran behind the cabin. It occured to Lucy that Ania knew too much about Steve and his house; Lucy realized that Ania had been going there without her, though she had gotten Lucy to come tonight by saying she wanted some protection. Ania saw nothing wrong with blatantly going to an older man's house to do his drugs without paying, but she did know that there was a danger involved. As far as Lucy knew as they hopped over the small creek, Ania had payed somehow. Lucy didn't want to know with what. Ania played little-girl innocent, but Lucy knew she was a viper, and that was part of the attraction she had for her. That was the essence of their friendship: anything at all was possible.

When Steve's visitors finally left, he called to Ania to come inside. It was just twilight, though deep in the foothill woods it was always as damp and dark as nightfall. They went inside and Steve offered them a Coors. Lucy took one, but Ania flung herself at the refrigerator and dug through it for a Diet Coke she was sure would be there. And it was. Lucy raised an eyebrow over her beer but Ania just shrugged and smiled. Steve went into his bedroom and came out with a line kit, which he set up on the bar counter where Lucy was sitting. Steve tapped coke onto the mirror then began the cut and fluff. Ania's ears perked to the noise of the razor on the glass, but she busied herself with Steve's albums, laughing at his taste in music every chance she could get. Lucy took one of Ania's smokes and lit it with her own Zippo, watching the flex and sway of the razor out of the corner of her eye. Like a true amphetamine lover, Steve took his time, cutting, shaping, lining, piling, cutting, shaping again.

Lucy's mind filled with the sounds, with desire for crystal and for the ghost of a lover. She pulled on her smoke and thought, I am an addict, addicted to men and the rush like the one in front of me, like the lining up. chop chop chop. The clink of thin metal on glass fast like as a hand teases my skin. The rapid scraping sound as my buttons are undone, that high so much stronger than the goal. Lucy's nose tickled as she eyed the fine powder. I feel it as it is pushed into lines, she thought, and in my mind I rush as a tongue flicks my lips. Like a religion I grasp a straw in tweaking fingers and hold it to my flared nostril. Don't ...breathe, gusts caught in my lungs as I lay gasping with his touch. it's all the same.

She looked away for a pause and exhaled. Ania was still flipping through Steve's lps, his Led Zeppelin and Dead and his new Aerosmith, which she pulled out and laughed at. For Ania this moment is like waiting for the ice cream to get scooped onto the cone, Lucy thought. It's not foreplay for her, just a tease. She is a tease. Life for her is a series of waits before getting what she wants. Lucy saw the excitement tensing in Ania's back, saw the hysteria mounting with each chop of Steve's razor. If he doesn't finish soon she'll start hopping up and down and then lick the whole fucking mirror clean, she laughed to herself.

For Lucy though, this was the moment just before a lover plunges. i am here, poised, looking at myself in the mirror just before i start. I look my lover in the eye for confirmation, for a moment of connection. We will die with this poison. Then the long inhale deep deep these crystals drive into my head as a man drives into me...

"Steve, Jesus Christ, come on !" Ania whined just then, and Lucy found herself back there in a musty old mountain cabin with her best friend and a old hippie with a beard. Steve held out the rolled twenty for Lucy. She stubbed out her cigarette, looked at the reflection of his hand in the mirror, then up at him. She slowly shook her head no, then took a long drink of her beer. Steve shrugged and gave the bill to Ania. She pulled two expert lines into her nose, then plomped herself down on a bar stool in front of the mirror. The night had just begun.


© Maria Alva Roff 2007

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