“Acid on the Fourth of July” by Amber Drea
Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)
This week, Amber Drea goes on a first date.
For our first date, we decided to drop acid on the Fourth of July, 1998. Will picked me up from my parents’ house in Homestead, Florida, in his maroon Toyota Corolla. I donned a festive red-and-white ringer tee for some forgettable alterna-rock band and my favorite blue corduroy bell-bottoms. Will wore a button-down plaid shirt and baggy jeans with a chain wallet. He’d initially asked for my number because he played bass and I played guitar, so maybe we could jam together sometime? Which is what every guy said to get into my pants.
We met up with his friends Tom and Katie, who were expecting their first child in a few months. They were only a couple years older, but to a twenty-year-old college student, they seemed like real adults. They’d also invited a girl named Lena, mercifully dispelling the double date vibe. We decided to go night canoeing at the nearby mangrove preserve. Will, Lena, and I trailed Tom and Katie’s truck toward the outskirts of town, and the three of us took the LSD while driving the long, dark stretch toward the woody waterway. Firework displays sprouted along the horizon like electric daisies.
I felt a nervous tingle in my stomach as we arrived at the sandy riverbank. We stepped into the canoes—the sober couple in one, the tripping trio in the other—and paddled into the inky sea a couple hundred feet, where we positioned the canoes side by side. The Miami lights sparkled to the north, and the sky above glowed with an orange radiance. The warm air enveloped us, punctuated by bursts of salty breeze.
Tom took out a fresh mango and offered me a piece. I accepted the wedge and took a bite, but the mushy, stringy fruit got stuck in my teeth and the juices ran down my chin. The acid fucked with my sense of taste, so only an astringently tart flavor came through. I threw the mangled fruit flesh into the water.
With each gentle wave, the canoes seemed to move farther out into the ocean, which freaked me out. “I think we should return to shore,” I announced.
This task proved more difficult than the initial journey. Now that the LSD had fully kicked in, Will had trouble navigating the surface of the water, so Katie held onto one end of our paddle while Will grasped the other end, and Tom pulled us toward land like a tugboat.
Back at Tom and Katie’s house, we listened to the glitchy sounds of the Richard D. James Album. Will and I sat on the couch while Lena crouched in a chair in the corner of the room. Whenever I looked up at her, she seemed to be staring at me with her large eyes bugging out of her hollow face. She probably weighed no more than ninety pounds, and her skeletal frame drowned inside a short-sleeved blouse. I became paranoid and suggested we go outside.
Will and Tom skateboarded on the custom-built wooden half-pipe in the backyard, while Lena and I stood under a large banyan tree, gazing at the stars.
“I want to go home,” Lena mumbled. “I need to be alone.”
Will offered to give her a ride. We got into his Toyota Corolla and cruised the grid of suburban Miami. The green, yellow, and red stoplights exploded like starbursts as we passed each intersection. I didn’t like depending on the impaired abilities of someone I barely knew. I studied the green-and-pink patterns swirling on the vinyl interior of his car and prayed we’d make it to Lena’s house safely. As soon as we pulled into her driveway, Lena ran into her house, leaving the front door wide open.
We stepped into foyer. “Lena? Are you all right?” Will called.
“We should check on her before we leave,” I said.
I followed Will down the dark hallway, passing the kitchen, the dining area, and the living room. When we got to Lena’s bedroom door, Will knocked softly and called her name again.
Still no answer.
He slowly pushed the door open, and her slender silhouette came into view, backlit by the streetlamp outside her window. She reached up and pulled on the chain for the overhead light, revealing Lena’s naked form.
“Oh my god!” I yelled and darted down the hallway. Will and I jumped into his car and tore out of the driveway.
We never went on a second date.
AMBER DREA is a writer, editor, and storyteller who lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been published by McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Hypertext Magazine, The Northville Review, Another Chicago Magazine, and The2ndHand.com. She’s also appeared on storytelling shows and podcasts, including The Soundtrack Series, Risk!, and How I Learned. Find her online at amberdrea.com and follow her on Twitter @amberbdrea.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected], and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series, Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry Stahl, Lydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).
Posted: Apr 9, 2015
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