So this is the thing about rock bottom: You think you've hit it, then you tumble down further, scrabble your way up a few feet, and fall even further and by the time you really hit it, if you even do, you've been blindly slamming your head on the stone for hours already, looking for another step down.
There's no second acts, Raquel thinks, and she doesn't remember who said it. She wishes she were smarter. She wishes she was better. She wishes she was fixed.
This place is full of so much darkness, so many broken lives. You learn to unfocus, to delude yourself, to press on with endless optimism. And the thing is, it works. It works when you're still young, and you're still pretty enough, and you still have hope. And then it doesn't work ever again.
No one really has standards. Standards are a goddamn luxury. There really isn't any level she won't sink to now, and now that she'd started, she's going to watching the bubbles rise over her head and disappear, one by one.
Jennifer knows how to sew. She knows how to do a lot of things. The one real benefit to getting older is that every day she is one grain of sand wiser than she was when she was young and dumb. She knows how to cook, if she has to, and how to fix things, if she has to, and how to assemble the weary elements of her life and keep it running.
She's known people like Connor before. His details are his own, but he's just another archetype. Everyone in this whole damn town is typecast to death.
Mental illness is so unfathomably ordinary. It's weird to say, but it's true. Her brother, her mother. Everyone else's brothers and mothers. These days, the scars in her brain are thinner and lighter and more airbrushed by professionals than the ones on her face, but she still can see them all, everywhere, all over her.
Holding him, she feels useful, maybe for the first time in too long of a time. Her heart's already splitting in two, but that's okay.
She knows how to sew.
The table creaks warningly under Sabrina's back and they abandon that idea with giggles and tumble to the floor instead. Nick wonders aloud if Paul's office is unlocked, his eyes glittering, and she shoots him down, but only because she knows that it is. She's already had four hours worth of crushing writer's block, after all. She'd ransacked every secret she could find.
It might be something to file away for the future, she thinks, and then remembers that there isn't going to be a future for them. Not here, at least. But there's a whole world outside full of places that aren't here. She forgets that sometimes.
Nick bites the delicate skin above her collarbone and she yelps and giggles and makes some terrible crack about Edward Cullen, and he kisses her neck instead. Her chin tilts up, hair tangling on the hard office carpeting.
She can see the pasted up pictures of future guests, upside down on the wall, lit all ghostly in the glare of the computer. She can see the blank expanse of ceiling tiles beyond that.
She can see a lot of things from this angle.
The worst way to steal someone's boyfriend, Abby decides, is to sleep with him right in front of her. Because it is not working at all.
Laura is staring at her and Brandon like she wants to eat both of them, and she is going to. And, and... That's not a bad thing, either. But...
Maybe there's something to be said for chastity, after all. Maybe there's something to be said for keeping your freaking legs closed and not getting a crazy threesome with all the strings in the world attached and not having Jesus be disappointed in you or whatever happens when you live in godless hedonism that happens to be tainted with true love.
She can feel all the charges ringing up somewhere. She's going to have to pay for all of this, everything she's taking, and sooner rather than later.
And after she comes and Laura takes her up in her arms and she feels vaguely used and fiercely wanted, she lets herself think that maybe she can do this for real, that when she closes her eyes and feels Laura kissing a trail down the valley of her breasts, maybe she can keep falling all the way until she's fallen in love with her, that there could be nothing but love in everything.
And for a minute, she almost believes it.