All five of us are sitting in a ceremonious circle on the hardwood floor, but I swear him and I are alone in the room.
I start to bite down on my thumbnail and, without fail, he swats my hand away.
“Stop it,” he says with a furrowed brow.
I sit on my hands in my best effort to obey his wishes.
Sophia and Erin are incessantly chatty from all the wine, soft giggles filling the air.
David is quietly nodding his head to the music and still has his sunglasses on; it’s almost midnight.
I am hot, sweaty, and slowly starting to experience the anxiety planting its deadly seed inside of me.
The nerves are blooming in the pit of my stomach like a pesky weed that never seems to stop returning, even after you’ve yanked it from its roots.
I’m startled when he begins inching closer to me.
My heart objects and picks up speed, causing me to brace myself for his violent impact.
By some mysterious magic, his body’s warmth manages to cool my heat.
“Why are you so worried? It’ll be fun,” he whispers as his cracked lips brush against my ear.
My eyelids flutter shut as my shoulder involuntarily rises up toward the tickle.
“I’m scared,” I say. “What if something bad happens? I’ve never done it before.”
“I have. Nothing bad is going to happen,” he says. “I’m here.”
I swallow the dessert sand that has suddenly invaded my airway and reluctantly nod my head.
Sophia stops talking with Erin and leans her narrow, pale frame into David.
“So, what’s it going to be?” she asks the group as a seductive smile slowly forms on her thin, peach lips.
“Let’s do it,” the words are out of my mouth before I realize what I’ve said.
He squeezes my cold, moist hand and I am overcome with relief. With one simple touch, I am surrendering myself into this bittersweet, familiar abyss that will surely be the death of me.
Sophia then pulls out a crumpled Ziploc bag and struggles to open it.
David snatches it from her and empties the five pink pills into his palm with ease.
Without any hesitation, Sophia, Erin and David all down their pill without a drink.
I glance at him and he smiles that shy but not shy at all smile, waiting for me to take the lead. I hate taking the lead.
My unsteady hand grabs the wine glass in the center of the circle and I take a small sip, letting it saturate my tongue for a moment.
Leaning forward, loose strands of gold hair drape around my shoulders, hiding me from the world. I stare down at the pink pill in my hand, which is shaped like a pair of scandalous, irresistible lips.
“What’s the worst that could happen?” I think to myself.
I bring my hand to my mouth and the pill is gone, dissolving within me, ready to stir up a mystical evening that I’ll never forget, no matter how hard I try.
“Alright,” he cheers as he takes his pill with a long swig of beer, “bottoms up!”