Chapter 24

I was weary to take the first sip-- nervous about the second, thought about the third....

And by the time I got back to my room I was toasted.

I never intended it to happen-- I mean I guess I've kinda avoided the bottle since Matt and my near attempt at becoming the third Wright Brother, but it wasn't planned-- hell nothing about tonight resembled anything near order.... But I think-- as much as my alcohol soaked brain will let me-- that may be what I enjoyed the most about it. Like that racecar driver just barely on the verge of control and fate.

My inebriated state simply magnified it.

I lie back on my bed and feel the motel room dip and spin around my prone form. I feel better. But that always was my problem. Drinking made me feel better. I guess I still don't understand it. I mean we teach our children from birth, that when you feel bad you take something-- got a headache-- take an aspirin, got a stomachache--take an antacid, if you're feeling down why not try the natural healing power of St. John's wort-- coughing? Runny nose? Can't stay awake? Can't sleep? Drink this, take that, hell-- does it come in a patch? I was simply curing what ailed me. What's the big deal?

I mean sure-- I saw what drinking did to AJ-- to Jason-- but I am different. I can't hurt anyone.... I'm not big enough, or powerful enough--

There's no one for me to hurt.

This is a different life-- different circumstances.

I hear the toilet flush, and Brent emerges from the bathroom.

"Dude. I must say I've puked in worse places!"

His laughter is strange to my senses, and my chest aches for a moment when I realize how long it's been since I've heard the sound.

He staggers over to the bed and lets himself fall-- the bedsprings under me squeak in response and my body rolls towards his added weight. I lay there staring at the side of his face for several moments. At this proximity, I discover you can see every little imperfection-- every whisker, every crease, every scar. Brent has a little mole above the corner of his eye. I don't know why this is important-- but at the moment it just is.

My eyes slide from the mole, down the side of his face, and come to rest on his lips. I remember the days when the thought of lying in bed with someone of the opposite sex would have caused me to blush. How taboo...



Now I lie in contemplation. I feel familiar flutters beginning in my stomach the more I think, and chastise myself. He hasn't even made any indication that he's remotely interested in me that way.

He turns his face and our lips are inches away.

"Did you have a good time?"

I can smell the alcohol and smoke rolling between us. It brings me back to the club-the people-the laughter-

"Yeah. I did. I really did."

I watch those lips as they curve into a smile.

"That's what it's about..."

"Your friends are really great-"

He turns his head away and gives an abrupt laugh before looking back at me.

"*My* friends?! Man Spencer, you don't get it. There's no mine, yours, his, hers.. you're in. You're a part of it now."

I'm in. I'm in? What the hell does that mean anyway? God, I hope I didn't join a cult...

My eyes drift back to his lips. I don't really think I'm attracted to him, but I still am feeling those nervous jitters in my gut. What if he tries to kiss me? We are, after all, both drunk. My nerves rise in intensity. I try and visualize the scenario-my reaction, how it would feel, what I would do-but it only results in a dulled sense of panic. How far should I let it go? And how should I stop it? Because I will have to stop it-I'm not even attracted to him for god's sake... I barely know him...

My reverie is broken by the waving of the mattress as Brent rolls off the bed and onto his feet.

Wait a minute. Where the hell is he going?! He hasn't even made a move on me yet!

"I'm gonna take off."

What?

He starts for the door. I barely recover from my inflamed sense of rejection as I watch his feet as he staggers away. It looks like they are in some sort of argument, and his left foot is repeatedly chasing after the right in an attempt to attack it.

"Where are you-what?"

Intelligent Emily... Paige... Spencer-whoever the hell you are.

"I'm gonna go to Boston."

His words come out slurred-or at least that's what it sounds like. I don't know-at this point it could very well be my hearing that's impaired.

"Boston?"

"Yeah, I've never been there before. I gotta friend that slummin' it out there-think I might look him up."

"Now?"

"Why the hell not?"

His hand reaches the doorknob, and he turns it with an agility that is unbefitting of a man who can't walk straight.

"See you 'round Spencer."

And he disappears.

I catch the pale pink color of the rising dawn through the closing door. I want to run after him. I want to ask him to stay with me. I want to beg him to take me with. I want to follow him on his journey.

But I just sit on the bed and watch the door click shut.

Alone. Again.