by Jacqueline Logan
We pack our bowls gently, starting with two round buds at the bottom. Then the smaller pieces, then the larger ones, until the bowl is full of ground earthy weed. Then we push the pieces down. Tighter. And tighter. We press until our polish coated thumbs smell like grass. We press until we’ve filled every bit of space evenly, until all that remains open are the carefully created cavities that will transport the air. Out. Then In. We light our masterpiece, admiring the even burn. We inhale. We pass. We used to cough, but we know better now. We suck, and we hold, letting the ripe smoke escape our glossed lips in confident whispers. We know how to be cool.
We smoke in Laura Anders’ car. All five of us meet beside her dad’s ‘96 Accord in the high school parking lot. Laura’s car is our only car, as Laura is the only one who has turned sixteen. Laura’s parents are religious. They homeschooled her until she was eight - until her mom had a breakdown and her dad came home to find all four kids sitting in the front yard, locked out of the house. Laura started going to our school after that. When she got there the teacher realized the only letters she could write were the ones in JESUS. She had to repeat the second grade. Now Laura is the oldest girl in our freshman class. We’ve decided this is advantageous. We’ve decided we’re done being young.
After school we park Laura’s car on Smith Drive, stopping two houses down from the corner where the school bus stops. We watch the familiar losers walk home from that sad yellow bus, each one weighed down with backpacks and school books and lunch boxes and band instruments and other things we discarded long ago in the interest of our freedom.
We wait for Lisa Thorton to walk past us. We remember that overcast day in fourth grade when we played State Tag together. That was a popular game back then. The class would gather at the enormous map of America our school painted on the blacktop. We’d anoint one person to be “It,” who’d then call a state and chase the rest of the class as we rushed to crowd inside the named state’s borders. We remember Lisa Thorton wearing bubblegum pink shorts. We remember being huddled on Michigan. We remember another state being called and sprinting with the group, only to turn and see Lisa still there, squatting over the painted mitten. She faced away from us in embarrassment, but still, we watched her. We watched the tiniest stream of pee run down her leg, hitting the blacktop and sprawling into a dark, imperfect circle over Michigan. And when she was done we stared at her stained shorts until Mikey Roland yelled “She just created Lake Lisa!” Lake Lisa. Lake Lisa. Lake Lisa, the class chanted. We roll down our windows now so we can chant it too.
We laugh as she moves faster to avoid us, darting down the street like a fish escaping danger. We like that we can make her swim.
We buy our weed from Brandon Davis. Brandon’s parents are rich, so they haven’t noticed the recent increase in household income. Brandon is two grades above us, but we all know he was lame until he started selling pot. Carly says she was the first girl to give him a blow job and that’s why he invites us over. We all agree, Carly is the prettiest in our group. We let her tell us what to do with boys, how to kiss down their necks and how to let their hands wander freely. How to straddle them on the sofa and push our hips down when they say they want us. We ask her what it tastes like. “Gross,” she says. “Gross, like when you wake up in the morning and haven’t brushed your teeth yet.” We’re glad to have a friend like Carly.
On Saturdays we flirt with Brandon’s pothead friends. We like the way they touch us, slipping fingers through our belt loops to pull our thin frames closer to their hungry bodies. We usually let them feel up our shirts, but only after they’ve gotten us high. Every pleasure is an exchange. We’ve learned that’s the secret to growing up.
Brandon’s mom is a psychiatrist and his dad is a doctor. They have a huge backyard with a fire pit that’s set-up far away from the house so our weed smoke goes undetected. Sitting in our regular circle, we stare at the golden flames as they devour the logs that built them. We allow our nostrils to fill with charred odor on every inhale, enjoying how the smoke stings. We like how high we’re getting. Brandon leans forward. We listen as his words cut through the haze. “I heard Lake Lisa tried to kill herself today.” We don’t believe him. “It’s true,” he says. “I heard my parents talking about it. They brought her into my Dad’s hospital. She tried to walk into the river with rocks in her pockets. Idiot. No one actually dies that way.”
We look at each other. Not at Brandon. Not at Brandon’s friends.
But we thought that we could make her swim.
Swallowed by the water, we can see Lisa sinking gently, her body uninhibited by the gravity of earth.
We see the rocks in her two pockets, searching for their home at the bottom of the river.
And then we see the water closing in on her. Closing in on us. Tighter. And tighter.
Jacqueline Logan grew up in Delaware County, Pennsylvania and now resides in Nashville, Tennessee. When not writing, Jacqueline works in non-profit fundraising and event planning. She has a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Southern California and a bachelor's degree from Davidson College.