Early one Thursday morning (five or six in the morning) my sophomore year at University, my friend R.L. and I sat cuddled together on a black beanbag chair. Staring at a candle burning on the bottom rung of my wooden bed loft. There may have been music playing, maybe Sinead O'Connor's The Lion and the Cobra. We were silent. We were winding down.
Hours before, a group of us had (of course) gone out drinking; a Thirsty Thursday. Tony's, O'Hooley's, The Union, a party, don't remember exactly where, but those are the usual haunts. Still up and going after returning to my dorm, we decided to each chew a gram of Mushrooms I had in my dorm fridge.
A strange night/morning.
At one point, we dragged blankets out into the lounge, thinking to sleep out there. Leaning out the lounge windows, staring at the "shoe tree" below and the stars above the Hocking River. Needing to roll, writhe on the floor. I remember giggling a lot. We felt safe in the lounge, about three times bigger than my room 425. And also, since we had convinced ourselves that the entire campus is asleep and no Security would be doing rounds this night/morning. The world loved living, and left loving people alone (or some such shit).
The walls breathed and I felt happy. I could feel the neurons firing away. I could feel my skin, and I felt good in it. My lips quivered as I pulled the smoke through the hundreds of Camel Lights those 6 hours. I kept running fingers through my hair.
At a low point, R.L. began crying softly, then groaning.
"I'm sorry Grandma, I'm so sorry."
I tried to get her to talk about it, figure out why she was sorry. I rubbed her back, like a mother does a child. She shook her head, moaning. She leaned back against me, my nose on her neck.
"I want this trip to be over. I feel like I'm never going to come down."
I involuntarily giggled as I had also thought this trip may last a long while, but wasn't entirely put off about it until I remembered we had an Anthropology class at eight o'clock. I hushed her, and said this'll run it's course like everything else.
She wanted to go back to the room, room 425 held the safety now. We'd been going for 5 hours now. She'd worked out the tortured guilt sorrow in that lashed out earlier at her, and now sitting and listening to favorite music together was a good time. We sighed and laughed and relaxed. Our eyes drooping, but still held the flicker of the 'shrooms.
The candle flickered violently a few times, then stilled, surged up once, and burned out.
R.L. said "Wow, I never saw a candle burn itself out before."
A year later or so, in recalling this moment, R.L. said she had never before heard me say something so sadly matter of fact. She said my whisper sent a chill into her stomach.
We made it to Anthropology and watched a loooooong movie about the Yonemamos (I'll look up spelling later). R.L. and I dozed off and on throughout the two hour class.