“The beautiful bottle of wine and moldy brie lucidly—enigmatic—furiously…and stumbling into the men’s restroom.” In the thirty seconds it took for the words to twist and trip out of my girlfriend’s mouth, I snagged her $400 purse and dug out the car keys. She hadn’t been that high in a while, and I didn’t want to wait for her to lose my keys in the freezer or her phone in a cupcake. Those weren’t ridiculous hypotheticals; these were things she’d actually done.
I didn’t know what Tara took but I could guess that she got it from her friend Kelly. Partners in college crime until Kelly got expelled and Tara transferred to UH. University of Hawaii was no Brown, and maybe that’s exactly what Tara’s parents were going for. Maybe they thought the island school would be like a tropical rehab from the intellectual pharm that got her in so much trouble on the east coast.
And it worked for a little while. A little.
We met a month after she transferred, through a friend of a friend of a friend. She didn’t speak much, but her face said so much. Amy Winehouse eyes and Scarlett Jo lips widened and pursed and scrunched in their own sort of silent Morse code. I walked her back to the dorms that night, and as she waved at me from her second floor window, I thought, Yes, please.
It didn’t take long before we were this permanently linked, two-headed thing. Our friends couldn’t remember a time when we weren’t together, and to be honest, neither could I.
But Tara had other things on her mind, like pitching in for Kelly’s one-way ticket to Oahu.
At first, I liked Kelly. She made Tara happy. They laughed and spoke in shorthand and inside jokes, and Kelly’s firecracker energy infected all of us. It was a fun summer.
Then school started again, and Kelly didn’t leave, so Quiet Tara didn’t come back. They stayed out later and later, and as I grumbled about having to clean up her messes, I was invited to less and less until I found Tara’s stash. She made me promise not to tell her parents, told me she had it under control, said she and Kelly were gonna start going to meetings. I told Tara I’d keep the promise as long as I was at the meetings with her. I didn’t trust Kelly anymore, and I didn’t care if she knew.
One weekend, I didn’t hear from Tara at all. No calls, no texts, nothing. Late Saturday night, I got a call from someone in that friend of a friend of a friend chain. They were at a party with her, Kelly bailed, and Tara was too far gone to handle. Everyone knew to just call me.
Tara rested her cheek against the car door, airily tracing raindrops on the window colored by the traffic lights. The silhouettes of rain looked like teardrop shadows cutting across her face.