College – Myles Zavelo
June 29, 2021
It’s probably best if you don’t notice me. I’m an open wound. I think it’s the way they treat me. You shouldn’t leave this dorm room. Never leave this dorm room. Leave it, and they’ll attack you.
In my creative writing course, I am in their stories. I am in a sea of brown eyes. In my theatre course, they’re performing scenes from my life. In my philosophy course, they talk about things that I don’t understand, but it sounds like they hate me.
An American flag hangs on my dorm room wall. The stars are moving. Slowly, but sometimes quickly, too. I’m not eating. The dining hall is no longer a possibility. There are too many eyes.
My door is always locked. I hurry to the bathroom across the hall.
I make a very half-hearted attempt. I swallow every little pill in sight. I wake up in the middle of the night with the worst headache of my life.
At rehab, but I’ll return to college. Maybe it’s my father’s drawings. My dad draws for me on our family week. This is what he does for me. He draws me, my friends. We’re stick figures. We’re supposed to be having (sober) fun. We’re playing, like little kids, on commons lawn. I’m surprised he remembers my school. Mom does, too. I love him, and I love her, too.
My parents are sleeping in a hotel a short drive from the rehab. I’m near them, sure, but I’m also far away. They’re going to remember this. In arguments, they’ll use this against me. They’re sitting next to people in pain, sitting across from people in pain. This is so unnecessary.
Molly won’t meet my parents. Molly’s sick in bed. Molly used to prefer longer hair, but now she wears it short. Molly prefers women to boyfriends. Molly was born in Eastern Colorado and raised in East Africa and attended an art college back where I’m from, but you can’t know which one because of confidentiality. After college, Molly moved to Los Angeles, where she was bullied by coworkers. She wears tattoos to cover the scars. I hope Molly is still alive. I really do.
Sydney is related to her mother and sister. They all look so alike. I meet her small family on her family week. They are disappointed she is here. Apparently, her room at home is a mess, apparently. Sydney is the depressed person with the best laugh. I hope Sydney is still reading on the beach.
Carly only shows up when she feels like it. Carly’s here because she swallowed sixty pills. All the men say they wouldn’t even take Carly home on a bad night because she’s ugly as sin. I hope Carly is still painting her nails. I hope Carly is still taking Hallmark cards very seriously.
Rick is a sweetheart from Memphis. He’s spent the last decade smoking very low quality marijuana in his car. His wife sometimes watches him from the windows in their apartment.
Do they ever think of me?
Imagine: two boys wearing bright red swimming trunks in the sun-drenched Los Angeles backyard of our halfway house. A big backyard. That very cold pool. My terribly confused roommate. We smoke cigarettes. We crack dirty jokes. We sleep in our queen-size beds. This isn’t your typical halfway house. It’s really nice.
My roommate will not share a bed whenever we watch scary movies because of boundaries. We both share cannabis use disorder. We do not share his pectus excavatum. There’s something wrong with his chest.
He still buzzes me, even now, all these days, weeks, months, years later. I still accept the calls. He calls from Boulder. He calls from The University of Alabama. He does not attend The University of Alabama. He’s in trouble. His new roommate is breaking things. Glass is shattering. His new roommate is bleeding all over their apartment. His new roommate is shooting up speedballs.
One evening, after I return from Los Angeles, I am taking a shower and he calls to tell me that he should just do it. That he should just get it over with. But, I’m naked, and my family hates a wet bathroom floor. I dry and then contact the authorities in Boulder, but I’m forgetting his last name, and I don’t know his address in Colorado.
And my parents remove all the liquor from the kitchen and hide it in their bedroom like college students.
High school. I shared a birthday with two older soft-spoken blonde girls that were already having some sex in beds and showers. Lauren had sex in eighth grade but couldn’t finish with Zack because she felt the baby kicking already. Julia had sex on the beach in the early summer morning but doesn’t remember, and Zack wouldn’t tell her if it happened. Zack would later attack Julia in the school gymnasium.
On my birthday, we’re on our way to Lauren’s birthday party. She’s turning fifteen or sixteen. I am concerned I will be denied entry. I do not know how parties work. I have the worst acne of my life.
Back at college, Sitting on my bed. A pile of clean laundry next to me. I’m struggling with a cocaine nosebleed. Blood on my pants. I’m on the phone, describing the state of my dorm room to her. I am not supposed to refer to her as “her,” or “she.” It is dehumanizing, she says. My mother tells me about the neighborhood tragedy.
My parents will drive to campus on Sunday. That’s tomorrow. They are going to help me make my room a lot better. They are going to bring me nice things. Like a lamp. Like anything they can fit into the car. I am trying to communicate this to my mother: please do not tell me about what happened to the babies near the house. But she does not hear me.
I am looking at my pants right now. There is so much blood. I am so grateful she cannot see me right now. I am so grateful she is not here.
Blood on my pants, blood on the sheets, and an almost paralyzing cough, but the driver fell asleep (a new medication the body did not agree with, apparently), and the little bodies were crushed.
No more blood from my nose, but there is still very much laundry to fold and the babies are gone.