This Is Not For You by @jpaulmassengale

Jazz danced from a record player behind him, everything was in black and white, it was nice.

he was sitting on a couch in what was either late July or early February, he was wearing a sweater and shorts, so it could be either.

he could hear laughter and muted shrieks of ecstasy, alternating male and female, both and all followed by half-hearted shushing and reminders to be quiet.

thirty minutes earlier all three of them had huddled on the balcony, sharing a blunt a fourth person had rolled, trying not to let the neighbors find out.

now he sat on a couch, listening to the classic American love story take place upstairs.

they would be a while,

he might as well enjoy his night too.

***

He walked aimlessly down the messy network of back-alleys that made up this neighborhood. His surroundings had color now (he didn’t find that odd), and he could still hear the music playing. Well it wasn’t really the same music. The same song, apparently everyone in this neighborhood was listening to the same station.

He hadn’t felt this way in a while.

Blissful, dazed, and happy.

He wasn’t high anymore, probably, just feeling at peace. He wandered towards some steps and rested in the doorway of someone’s townhouse.

The sky was pulsating, colors he couldn’t place… How do you describe a color no one has seen before?

Pulled out his phone and began to write

***

he was back now, staring at the colors on the wall opposite.

but they were different than they were before

more vivid and intense, almost as if they were pulsating, swirling

he couldn’t tell one from another anymore.

-“fuck”

he forced his gaze down as his eye burned, the colors too intense.

he found himself out of breath.

the woman was still sitting next to him. stroking his hair now she whispered into his ear

“you’re not well”

his eyes still burned

“you don’t die until your name is uttered for the last time. that thought haunts your dreams. that’s why you do this”

staring at the ground and blinking his eyes began to feel better. he wanted to look at the colors again it felt good to look at the colors.

“you aren’t going to get better.”

-“yes I am, I’ve been better lately.”

“the tide goes out every day, that doesn’t mean the ocean isn’t still rising.”

he needed the colors.

“you won’t find what you’re looking for in them.”

he had to try.

***

his eyes burned slightly and his vision was blurred to the same degree.

It was harder to come into this one. he blinked and rubbed his eyes until they watered.

the sun was falling behind the hills

him in the passenger seat, her driving

he was drawn to her, they weren’t together but they might as well have been

the drive was bliss to him,

not a high but just peace.

the music soothing and transcendent,

it matched the visuals that surrounded him.

the sky vibrant and pulsating, it felt familiar.

the signs they passed said they were four or so hours outside of a city that he didn’t recognize the name of, it didn’t matter.

as they drove he made her laugh, nothing felt better than to make her laugh.

the color started to fade, he didn’t notice it at first.

they stopped for gas and he offered to drive

she fed him something, it didn’t matter what

he couldn’t take his hands off the wheel so every time she fed him a piece of whatever it was he bit her fingers softly; it was nice. The songs that played melted together and the sky was dark now. Even though they only had about forty-five minutes left on the drive she had fallen asleep.

he rested his right hand on her curled up legs,

just above her knee.

she must not have been completely asleep because

she grabbed his hand and pulled it closer to her.

he could see the illuminated silhouettes

of the towers

of a city in the distance.

fading more,

he began to notice it now,

but pushed it out of his mind.

a record scratch

they drove to an apartment in the middle

of the city.

she read off directions to him

he tried not to get mad

her friends really liked him

strangers usually did.

they went to too many parties that night to keep track of.

five.

at the last one they laid in a hammock together on the roof of the building the party was at. they watched the party unfold in the courtyard below.

 

it was all black and white now,

everything except for her blue dress.

he asked her to dance.

 

another record scratch

he didn’t know how so he swung her around for a few seconds before pulling her in close to kiss her.

like a dispersing fog everything faded away

***

he looked up from his phone to see her walking down the alley towards him

his eyes lit-up and she gave a sly smile

“what are you writing?”

-“just gibberish, random thoughts”

she laughed

they weren’t together like that anymore, it was better this way.

“you shouldn’t write when you’re high, you’re terrible at it”

she had a point,

he made room for her in the doorway.

-“gum?”

she smiled and nodded

he leaned against the door,

she leaned against his shoulder,

both looking at the sky.

“…what color is that?”

you, he thought.

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