If she wasn’t hurting anyone, it was perfectly fine, right? Faith lifted her pen to her lips and took a long drag, taking a seat on the beanbag on her porch. This was the only thing that calmed her “compulsions”, as her mother called it. She was so happy when Faith started to become calmer about her disorder that she didn’t seem to notice that Faith practically drowned in fumes of smoke. No one knew that she vaped; it was one of those things where it was better not to know how Faith was getting better. It’s not that no one cared, they did, enough: it’s just that they never noticed.
Today was different; after days of itching fire crawling in her throat, she set out to find something stronger. Her clothes seemed to stare at her, uneven, two-toned, slightly wrinkled. Even worse, the cracks in the sidewalk pleaded to not be stepped on, the stars begged to be counted, the weeds smiled and grew unevenly, and so much more. It made her want to scream, all of the things she needed to keep track of, though they were useless and stupid. She fell into an endless loop of Groundhog days, forcing her closer and closer to the brink of pure exhaustion. Tiredness enveloped her life, but she still couldn’t stop this impulse. Knowing that she couldn’t even help herself made her want to cry. She endlessly wanted for herself to stop, to get away from it all, to just run, and never look back. Even though she couldn’t, this was the closest she’d ever get to freedom.
The need wasn’t an itch, but an impulse. Like flailing when you start to drown in water, she scoped for opportunities to live, and this was one of them. Impulsively, over and over, she caved into herself. Soon enough, vaping made its way on her list of basic living necessities, ranked near food and water.
A need to live brought her to text her friend, one who knew a small amount of people with strong importance. He told Faith that, coincidentally, he knew a guy with just what she needed: if she was willing to walk there.
Walking wasn’t a problem, and she got there quickly. Money wasn’t a problem, either, and she handed it over. With a thick tongue, Faith said a name which she had found on the internet and hoped he had it. Her eyes darted all along his figure, watching euphorically as he reached into his coat. Impatience grew in her chest, accompanied by her beating heart, caused because of how slow he had been. Paper was replaced with gold, in a sense, and as the honeyed amber gold wafted away in plumes of smoke, she didn’t miss a penny.
Faith smiled, something that was rather rare these past few weeks, but it was for all the wrong reasons. First, she had just snagged a fantastic deal on a dab pen from the guy. Secondly, she noticed that, on top of his mysterious attractiveness, his hoodie strings were completely aligned, a feature that Faith very gladly appreciated.
She wouldn’t have even noticed the person who had given her the precious treasure, except for the peculiar way he stood and wore his clothes. His hoodie had parallel strings and a straightened hood, his pants fit as they should; not baggy like a distressed skirt, and he stood with the utmost perfect posture. She’d like to know him better, perhaps exchange translations of obsessive compulsive-ridden speak about inanimate objects. What a joke.
Faith glanced at the clock, a chuckle still remnant. Bright red numbers screamed 1:07. Her breath caught. Oh no. Not a seven, it can’t end in a seven. Her motions were rigid as she sat down and took a desperate drag. Her breath hitched again. She coughed and spittle danced in the air with the smoke, which were both blown away by the wind. Deep breaths went in, but gasping sighs came out. Her chest was heavy and the room spun: the room was uneven, nothing’s alright and– when she turned again to face the clock again: 1:15. That was better, much better. She quickly got up and set the pen on her desk, perpendicular to the table, of course.
Now, the routine was brush teeth, brush hair, wash face, sleep. It was rather simple, in theory, but she could drag it out for extremely long periods of time. After that commotion, however, it seemed to be daunting. Faith stood at the top of a cliff, staring at her list of duties. How long could she stay with her head in the clouds? Ready? Start, and jump.
Faith walked to the bathroom, exactly twelve steps, preparing to brush her teeth. She then fell into her dazed pattern, counting, memorizing, and detailing, but something broke her trance; something was off. Dark spots fluttered in her vision like blurred phantom butterflies. She needed to fix it immediately, whatever was wrong. She hated the word: wrong. Everything needed to be absolutely perfect. Whatever was off needed to be fixed; needed to be put straight.
She smelled smoke.