Appetite


My emotions are paralyzed. Fingertips are numb. Insides ache. The darkness lifts and instantaneously everything falls into a blurred focus. I stare at the sleek, white ceiling, like a blank canvas waiting to become something more. The air reeks of alcohol and musk. I’m numb. I ache. I yearn. I’m cold. I understand. My head hurts. I don’t really remember how I got here. Something grazes my left hipbone and I feel a fragile softness intertwine with my right leg.

To my left is a naked young woman. Her charcoal hair reflects thin slices of sunlight fighting to get through the closed blinds. She reminds me of the antique porcelain dolls my Saba kept locked away in even older glass cases. I want to hold her but instead I run the tip of my thumb across the bottom of her full, rosy lips. She’s limp.

Slowly, I turn to my right, freeing my leg from the clutches of her fleshly entrapment. The entrapment I ached for the previous night. My vision falls on a blonde. She is on her back. Her golden tresses hang over the edge of the bed, motionless, as is she. Her nose is a jagged slope that plummets into her forehead and her cheekbones sit high and prominent. I look at her unclothed slinky, slender flame, wildly collapsed and wonder if she has ever modeled. Did I already ask her that?

I lift myself up with as much force as I can collect. My head is on fire so I momentarily close my eyes. I reopen them and look around. All of the blinds are drawn but the intricately designed curtains are open. I wonder what time it is. The room is a necropolis littered with the debris of the night before; empty liquor bottles, red plastic cups and half naked bodies stuffed into corners and piled on top of one another like forgotten rag dolls that have lost their intrigue.

Sliding to the edge of the mattress my toes grasp the shag of the once pure white carpet. I scratch my crotch just as my stomach roars for sustenance. Where are my pants? I try to piece together last night. I remember a room cloaked in a blanket of crimson, littered with a sea of sweaty, half naked bodies smeared white with cocaine and crystal meth, and dripping with alcohol; groping and pressing against themselves…trying to achieve a feeling…any feeling. I miss Amy.

Suddenly a familiar sound… my phone. It’s going to wake people up. Where are my pants? I arise quickly and scan the ransacked room. They’re on the side of the bed. I rush to my frayed jeans and fumble with them until I manage to pull my cell phone from one of the back pockets. I open it without a second thought.

“Hello?” I whisper.

“Hey.”

“Who is this?” I pinch my nasal bridge with my index finger and thumb in hopes of easing the throb in my forehead. It doesn’t work.

“Aarlo.”

I fall silent.

“Hello?”

“…Yeah?”

“How is everything?” He sounds concerned.

“Alright.”

“So, uh…I was just wondering what you were doing for lunch.”

“I haven’t even had breakfast.”

“It’s almost three.”

“Shhhhhh.”

A few people lethargically twist their necks and protrude their elbows at the sound of my voice so I scramble through the waste-coated floor, avoiding jagged chunks of last nights broken souvenirs and sharp points of tampered syringes.

I wander around for a bit, silence devouring the conversation. I spot a half open door and take notice of the shiny golden faucets on the sink and the colossal bathtub next to it. As I near the door I spot a blur of golden flesh and become aware of a gangly, ragged man in the shower. A bushel of frizzy curls pour from his wilted head which lies awkwardly on his right shoulder. His lime button up is torn in the front and his chest hair is noticeable as are the sweat stains beneath his arm pits. I notice his lip twitch. I’m sure he’ll be fine.

Alex?”

“Yeah.”

“What’s going on?”

I close the door before saying “nothing.”

“Are you hungry?”

“No.” I lie.

“You’re always hungry..C’mon. I want to take you to lunch.”

I lose interest in the banter once I spot my reflection in the mirror. My once olive skin is now pasty and transparent and looks like it’s sagging from my bones. My long, thick, chocolate hair is matted down on one side. My nipples are hard beneath my stained white t-shirt. There are lively purple rings under my lifeless blue eyes and my face is hollow of any emotion. I rub my jaw line before I wipe the dry saliva from the corners of my chapped, dejected lips.

“Alex! Are you listening?”

“Yes!” I lie once more.

“Can you please just come to lunch with me?”

“I said I’m not hungry.”

“…It’s very important.”

“Then just tell me over the phone. It isn’t life or death.”

There is a long pause.

“It’s not something you tell someone on the phone.”

“You can tell anyone anything over the God damned phone.” I grow aggravated.

“I’m serious, Alex.”

“And I’m not?” I wedge the phone between my shoulder and ear and I prepare to slip into my jeans.

“…Why have you been acting so shitty towards me ever since—“

“I haven’t been acting shitty towards you since anything.”

“Yes you have! Ever since we—“

“It was a mistake, Aarlo.”

“I don’t think it was.”

“Well I didn’t ask about your thoughts or feelings. I’m telling you it was.” I button my jeans up.

“This is exactly what I mean, Alex! You’re always doing this to me!”

“Aarlo, dude, I—“

“Don’t say it…”

“The truth?” I close the bathroom door completely.

“…You know how I feel about you.” I meander to the man slouched over in the shower. He hasn’t seemed to move much the entire time. I look down at him and once I’m close enough…I kick him in the kneecap. I pause before doing it again and wonder if he’s dead.

“Alex!”

“What?!”

“…I love you.”

“No you don’t. Stop saying that.”

“It’s true.”

“It’s not.”

“It is.”

“Well, I don’t care.”

“Of course you don’t, but it is true. I love you. You know I’ve loved you ever since—“

“Look. Aarlo, you’re an awesome guy. Really, you are. But for the last time, just stop it. I’m not like that. I’m not like you. I wish you’d stop fucking calling me and bringing that old shit up…” I walk back to the sink and to my surprise I find droplets of crusty blood sprinkled about the inside.

“Fuck you, Alex! I hand you my heart and this is how you act?”

“Dude, did I ask for your heart?” He falls silent. I start running water from the sink and run my free hand under the icy cold liquid. I feel it glide over my fingers and my body shakes for the moment. “…I love you.”

“I’m hanging up now.”

“Alex, don’t do this.”

“Do what?”

“I’d hate to have to tell Amy.”

My chest grows tight.

“…Are you threatening me?”

“This is serious, Alex! Take it as you will, but—“

“If you even go near Amy, I swear to God, I’ll stomp your fucking head into the curb.”

“I don’t have to be near her. Remember, that’s what phones are for. You can tell anyone anything over the phone. She deserves to know this too.”

I sense sarcasm. I look around frantically and face the man in the shower who still hasn’t moved. I want to kick him again.

“Listen to me, you fucking waste of life!” I whisper harshly “Leave Amy out of this. She has nothing to do with it.”

“Actually, she does…A, Alex listen to me. I really need to tell you something.”

“Are you on something?”

“No! I should be asking you the same thing.”

“Look, I don’t—“

“Just shut the fuck up! Shut the fuck up and listen to me!…Remember when I went to the doctor?”

It’s a relief that he stops mentioning Amy. I run my fingertips across the faucet and leave a trail of moisture that trickles into the sink and is immediately consumed by the never-ending drain leading to the unknown.

“Uh, sure.”

“…I got blood drawn for some tests.”

“Yeah?” I wonder if I should go get a check up. It’s been a while.

“Well…you know how I’m allergic to latex.”

“Uh, yeah, sure.”

“Well, I went to the doctor, see…and, well…Alex, I really…I don’t know how to say this.”

“Say what?

“Are you sure you aren’t hungry?”

“Aarlo, I’m not hungry. Just tell me whatever you have to tell me. I have shit I need to get done.”

“Are you sitting down?”

“No,” I roll my eyes, “that’s so random. Aarlo, what the hell?”

I turn the other faucet on and watch as the amount of water gushing out increases. I then reach for the doorknob and twist it but before I push the door open I hear a beep.

“Well, Alex—“

I pull the phone from my ear and look at the screen. I see A-M-Y. It’s Amy calling. I place the phone back to my ear.

“It’s Amy, I have to call you back.”

“No, Alex, listen…Are you listening?”

I push the door open.

“I wonder where my shirt is.” I mutter under my breath as I step out of the bathroom and look around.

“Alex, I have—“

“I have to call you back. I have to take Amy’s call.”

“Alex, if you’d only—“

“Hey..hey, dude. I think you’re on top of my sh—“

“Alex!… I’m HIV positive…”

The phone detaches itself from my ear. I hear it collide onto the ground and I stare straight ahead at the bed of women I had once slept in. The blonde is now awake. Her silky hair falls over her bare breasts and she twirls a strand with her finger. The corners of her lips curl into a furtive grin. I recollect their delectably disgusting taste…their horribly sweet scent…their tender touch.

“Alexandra…Come back to bed.” She says.

I see her lips move…but all I can hear is running water.

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