“Stop talking like you know shit,” I hissed, growing annoyed. Back then, Alyssa and I had more in common than any two people on this earth. Plus, Sadie didn’t know a damn thing about my mother. Screw her for thinking that she did.

I should’ve walked out of the motel room. I should’ve told her to piss off and find another person to harass, but I really hated being alone. I’d spent the past five years alone, except for the occasional mouse that came to visit every now and then.

Sadie stayed quiet as long as she could, which wasn’t long at all. She didn’t know what peaceful silence was. “So was it true? That you were in rehab?”

She was talking more than I was comfortable with. I hated talking about rehab because half the time I wished I was back at the clinic. The other half of the time, I wished I was back in the alleyway, with a line or two on a garbage can. It’d been so long since I’d used, and I still thought about it almost every damn day. Dr. Kahn said it would be a tough transition coming back to the real world, but she believed I could handle it. I promised her whenever I felt like using, I’d snap the red rubber band she gave me against my skin, as a reminder that the choices I made were real, just like the sting against my skin.

The band read, ‘strength’, which was weird because I felt like I had none.

I’d been snapping the band against my arm since Sadie began speaking.

“There was a bet going around town that you were dead. I think your mom started that one,” she said.

“Do you know how beautiful your eyes are?” I asked, changing the subject. I began kissing her neck, listening to her moan.

“They’re just green.”

She was wrong. They were a unique shade of celadon, holding a bit of gray and a touch of green to them. “A few years back, I was watching a documentary on Chinese and Korean pottery. Your eyes are the color of the glaze they used to make pottery.”

“You watched a Chinese documentary on pottery?” She muttered with a chuckle, trying to catch her breath as my lips moved to the curves of her collarbone. I felt her shiver against me. “You must have been pretty messed up.”

I laughed because she has no clue.

“They call it celadon in the west but over there, it’s qingci.” I pressed my lips against hers. She kissed me back, because that was the main reason we were there in the dirty motel room. We were there to mistake a few moments of touch with the idea of love. We were there to mistake kisses for some kind of passion. We were there to mistake loneliness for wholeness. It was crazy what people would do—who people would do—to avoid feeling so alone.

“Can you stay the night?” she whispered.

“Of course,” I sighed, rolling my tongue against her ear.

I wanted to stay the night with her because loneliness sucked. I wanted to stay the night with her because darkness spread. I wanted to stay the night with her because she asked me to. I wanted to stay the night with her because I wanted to stay the night.

She slid my shirt over my head, and her fingers rolled against my chest. “Oh my gosh!” she squealed. “You’re buff!” Then she giggled. Fuck. Did I really want to stay the night?

Without replying, I took off her pants, and removed my own. As she lay down, I hovered over her, moving my lips from her neck, down to her chest, across her stomach, and pausing at her panty line. As I rubbed my thumb against her panties, she moaned.


God, she was my addiction that night. I felt a little less alone. I even daydreamed about calling her tomorrow, meeting her back at the motel and screwing her again in the crappy bed.

It didn’t take long for my boxers to come off and for me to climb on top of her. I tossed on a condom, and right before I slid into her, she yipped.

“No, wait!” A fear shot through those qingci eyes. Her hands flew over her mouth, and tears welled up in her eyes. “I can’t. I can’t.”

I paused, frozen over her. Guilt sucker punched my stomach. She didn’t want to have sex with me. “Oh God. I’m sorry. I thought—”

“I’m in a relationship,” she said. “I’m in a relationship.”


“What?” I asked.

“I have a boyfriend.”



She was a liar.

She was a cheater.

She has a boyfriend.

I removed myself from over her, and sat up on the edge of the bed. My hands gripped the sides of the mattress, and I listened to her moving around. The sheet winkled with her every move.

She softly spoke, “I’m sorry. I thought I could do it. I thought I could go through with it, but I can’t. I thought it would be easy with you, ya know? To let go, and let loose. I just thought I could forget for a while.”

Not turning to her, I shrugged. “No big deal.” Pushing myself up from the mattress, I moved toward the bathroom. “Be right back.”

The door closed behind me and I ran my hands across my face. I removed the condom from my cock and tossed it into the garbage can before I leaned against the door and stroked myself.

It was pathetic.

I’m pathetic.

I thought about cocaine as I jerked myself. The strong rush it used to deliver to warm me up. The feeling of complete peace and bliss. I stroke harder, remembering how it took away all of the problems, all of the fears, all of the struggles. I felt as if I was on top of the world, unstoppable. Euphoria. Jubilation. Love. Euphoria. Jubilation. Love. Euphoria. Jubilation. Love.

Hate. Hate. Hate.

Deep breath.

I released.

I felt empty in every way possible.

Turning on the sink, I washed my hands and stared into the mirror, looking deep into my own eyes. Brown eyes that weren’t important. Brown eyes that were sad. Brown eyes that were overshadowed by a vague depression.

I shook off the feeling, dried my hands, and returned to her.

She was getting dressed, wiping her eyes.

“You’re leaving?” I asked.

She nodded.

“You”—I cleared my throat— “You can stay the night.” I promised again. “I’m not some dick who would kick you out at three in the morning. Besides, it’s your motel room. I’ll leave.”

“I told my boyfriend I’d be home after I got back into town,” she said to me, a forced smile on her lips. Wearing only her bra and panties, she moved toward the balcony, opened the door, but didn’t step outside. It was a deluge, raindrops hammering against the metal cage. The rain always reminded me of Alyssa and how much she hated sleeping during a rainstorm. I wondered where her mind was tonight. I wondered how she was dealing with the sounds against her windowsill.