When Rolemn returned to his room he logged into his computer to check his emails, Facebook and YouTube. Nothing in his emails required his immediate response. Facebook was still pretentious and uninteresting. None of his YouTube subscriptions or recommendations were worth his attention. The bed called for him and he got heady at the anticipation of lying in it. He sat hunched on his desk, debating if he should shower first or jump in again. As his thoughts made rounds between propositions and benefits a Facebook message alarm went off. He switched to the tab. It was Erica.
Erica: Hi there 🙂 .
Rolemn hesitated. Then typed: Hey.
She immediately typed back: How are you?
Rolmen typed: Fine thanks and you?
Erica: I’m well, thanks. Are you with Corklin?
He wondered if he should cover for him. Then decided to be honest: Nope. Haven’t seen him today. I thought maybe he was with you.
Erica: *sigh* Haven’t seen him today. Thought I would find him here but he is not here either.
Erica: His room.
Erica: Do you know if he went for lunch?
Rolemn: No. Then he later added: His bike is gone though.
Erics : Do you know where he might have went?
Rolemn thought including an emoticon his message would be cheesy, but he did it anyway: I have no idea. Sorry 😦 Is everything alright?
Erica: lol…no it’s fine.
Rolemn doubted it, but he typed andyway: Don’t worry. I am sure he will turn up soon. You guys had plans?
Erica: Umm…not really. 🙂 But thanks.
Rolemn: Alright. I gotta go now.
She took a bit longer to respond: What you doing?
Rolemn: Ha…I gotta go shower.
Erica: Okay. Bye Then a bit later she sent: Don’t forget to take picture sexy. Lol.
His heart jumped at reading it. It was hard to tell if the message as merely playful or laden with intentions. He couldn’t decide upon an appropriate response. He wasn’t going to tell Corklin this happened, despite how guilty it started to make him feel. Besides, he told himself, the whole thing can’t possibly go any further. He understood by keeping this a secret and not dealing with it he could be opening a fertile ground for further inappropriately but he subdued the thought. Confident the chances of anything happening were slim, and Erica, being a good girl, wouldn’t go that far.
So he typed: Lol…
That is enough, he told himself.
He surveyed his room while Erica typed. Since waking up, it was the first time he began to acknowledge how messy it was. Two more nights like that and it would look like a hoarders paradise. Empty beer bottles lay scattered from the east wall, the dustbin at the corner overflowed with garbage, the floor was littered with paper cuts, plastics, bread and pizza crumbs. Dust covered the bookshelf top and different dressing table shelves. At the desk powder, dust and green leaves mingled. Drug paraphernalia left carelessly and in sight. Then the grimy metallic tray they had sniffed on all night with pizza boxes mounted on top of it. The numerous paper straws they had used were scattered from the desk to his nightstand (they usually became less effective when they became wet from running noses which created a need to make new straws). Then the bottle of Ritalin on the table, he made a mental note to count them and figure out how he was going to sporadically use them for the remainder of the prescription month.
“Don’t worry,” He recalled a fuzzy memory of Corklin speaking to him late in the night, his hand gently rubbing his back like a reassuring dad would. He had convinced him to let up more pills than he planned. “If it gets tough during the month you can tell me and I will hustle for some caps.”
Rolemn wished he could trust his word but he knew from past experience that they would just end up using those instead of using them like they should be. Mainly because he would be so disappointed in himself and stressed from his inability to cope that his craving for relief and punishment would be great. The binge would be the only thing on his mind then. If that wasn’t the case, Corklin would bring him the pills and offer to trade them for something he desperately needed, toiletries or cigarettes. Either way it wouldn’t help. He knew it but he couldn’t get his act straight despite the falling grades and the gradual mental disintegration.
Erica sent: Bye.
Relieved, he typed : Bye, have a nice day.
Erica: Thanks. You too. 🙂
With a smile Rolemn got up from his chair and began stripping down. With a stroke of a thought he allocated the time in the shower for some introspection. He felt it was best. He also needed some time to recall more details from the night which could shed light on were Corklin went. He wrapped the towel around his waist and opened the curtains to let the light in, on weekdays there would be groups of people using the street in his view but there wasn’t any activity, courtesy of hangovers. He stuck his head out the window to look at the window of the room beneath him, Sandy’s room. There was no sound coming from it, usually music was to be heard. His phone began ringing somewhere on his desk. He trampled hurriedly across. No caller ID on the screen.
Curious, he answered. “Hello.”
“Hallo! Hallo!” His father shouted across the line as he had always done with nervousness excitement.
“Hey, papa.” Rolemn beamed.
“How are you son?” His voice from a chest swelling with pride and love for his son. The first in the family to get to university after a couple of his siblings had failed. Surely he had done something right with Rolemn as opposed to others. Rolemn could see his face burning with uncontainable joy, the kind he only saw when he came to pick him up from the bus stop on his visit home. Love that made him assist and serve his son to the best of his ability.
“I’m well, papa. How is the family? How are you?”
“Alright, son, Alright. How is school treating you? You coping?”
Rolemn wandered to the window. “Yeah school is great. I am coping.”
“Look, son, I’m sorry I couldn’t send you some cash last week. It’s has been hard finding a job. Even now there is hardly any food in the house but I have managed to secure a little piece job in town. We will send you some cash later today. I’m afraid it won’t be much, son.” He was like that with him now. Open about the family’s finances, a status he had earned by being the perfect son. He had never failed a grade in school or got in trouble for anything, he had also showed his responsibility by picking up small jobs here and there to help with the situation at home which had earned him some trust and respect. “Right now, I asked for a call at the place I am working at. So I can’t be long. Just wanted to tell you so you don’t worry.”
“Where is that?”
“Some house. Gardening job.”
“Okay, say hi to mom for me.”
“Alright I will, son. Bye.”
“Bye.” Immediately after the call ended he looked around the room and guilt confronted him. He never imagined he would be the kind downing drinks and snorting powder off a tray every other night. Something had happened to him at some point, too subtle to pinpoint but powerful enough to take him off his tracks. Somewhere between being a poor student who fit in nowhere and the pressures of high quality education something occurred. He stared down from his window again.
“I need to get my shit together,” He said to himself.
He felt the shower would be the perfect place to think about it. Maybe it would cleanse all the fogginess he had been experiencing lately. He needed to mull over some things about his recent life and the destructive decisions he kept taking. Something about hot water running over his face promised he would figure it all out, untangle the complicated web of rationalizations and confusion. He needed a reliable report on his progress in school, this time without a shred of denial and sugar coating. He needed to face reality because for a while he was removed from it, to stop living in the little world of Corklin and Rolemn. He wanted to find his place in the world again, to get rid of the constant feeling that the whole world was moving past them, slipping away from the grip of his brain.
Perhaps I am just tired, he thought, perhaps it’s the drugs. I should save it for later when I am clean and clear.
The thinking began to sound too abstract to match with his experience. Whatever truth lay before him he didn’t feel equipped to uncover it or face it just yet. That is how the brief moments of conscience were subdued each time, he recognized that but that was also a kind of truth he was unwilling to admit to himself.
I just haven’t found time, he thought, it has nothing to do with the drugs.
Thus a cycle of guilt-denial-rationalization reset.
Fourth Chapter of Pyre of Envy, the next one coming next week. If you are new check the ones coming before.