10: Sugar Smolders

ÒThe perfume burned his eyes, Holding tightly to her thighs, And something flickered for a minute, And then it vanished and was gone.Ó Ð Lou Reed

Til wasnÕt at school on Monday. Or Tuesday. At lunch Sugar sat around by herself in the least crowded hallway in her tiniest clothes. Her business class was horribly boring. TilÕs desk was empty. Sometimes she turned to say something to him, half expecting to see him. But all that was there was a rickety desk with sketches and doodles all over it, all done by Til. And Sugar drew spiral designs onto her desk with a sharpie. And this time they were not only spirals. They were also skulls, and satanic creatures, and bloody mangled limbs. Like she had drawn before she met Til. He had transformed her skulls into flowers, her devils into cherubs, her mangled limbs into rich strong trees. She liked it better that way. She liked herself better that way. Even though she seemed to be so much for other people, too much for other people - really she was nothing without Til.

A week passed, and still Til did not come to school. Sugar wondered if he had ever really existed. Maybe she had just dreamed him up herself. Maybe she had always been alone. But then at home in her room she saw things he had given her. Ticket stubs of concerts and art shows they had been to together. A t-shirt with a picture of Nico screened onto it, a bracelet of colorful African beads. The painting still sat on her easel. The globes of paint had dried. The surface of the painting felt glompy rubbery underneath her fingers.

Sugar bought a pack of the stinky black cigarettes she smoked before she met Til. She smoked them as she walked through the dark empty streets, one after another, lighting them up with a pink plastic lighter. She walked 15 blocks and then past TilÕs house to the bridge over the freeway. She stood looking down, smoking the bitter cigarettes. Tears ran down her cheeks, turning cold in the wind. She watched the cars far down below. She watched the glittery skyscrapers far in the distance, over the valley. Streetlamps lit up patches on the road below. The city glitter smoldered below her. Smoldering like the cigarette in her hand. Smolder burning like the entire inside of her body. She hoisted herself up onto the concrete barrier, legs dangling below, boots bumping against the cold concrete. Sugar felt like she could fly, if only because she was burning. The hotness inside of her was bound to at least make her float. She took a long drag of her cigarette.