You're holding it in your hand. The little green nugget. Your best friend.
This is the only stable relationship in your life, and it's ending. You're going to miss it. You and your friend've been together for ten years. No one else has stuck around that long. They've all come along and lit up your world for a fleeting minute, then they've all gone away again, but this thing in your hands, this little green nugget, it always comes back. It's your private little friend, who understands you better than anyone else and gives you a warm blanket to crawl under when the hard, shivering grayscale of reality gets too much.
It's funny to you, now, how it looks so small and meaningless now, in your palm, out of its bag where it's colossal and rules all.
You miss the old days when it was good and you made each other happy. The highs were new and terrifying and exhilarating and the lows were barely felt. Life was a compelling role-playing video game staged exclusively in your own head. When the rest of the world was off doing their silly commutes and jobs, you and your little friend stayed at home, alone, untouchable. The two of you had long and profound conversations, spending lazy days in bed together, making sweet love, getting engrossed in entertainment, all along forging new pathways for your imagination to wander.
When it was good, what you did together did not matter, so long as you were together. When it was good, you did not need anyone else.
But now, you are an overfed pig. It's over. This time it really is over, just like the other times it was really over, but this time it's different, you know it in your marrow. Those other times you made foolish promises and lasted less than twelve hours were tiny, necessary blips.
The thing is, it's all because of the Constant Tomorrow. You and Tomorrow have a whole shitload of things to do when you finally meet. Tomorrow is the real you, the one you've been waiting for. You've pretty much spent your entire adult life waiting for Tomorrow. When it finally comes you're going to do lots of things: bin your grinder, delete your guy's number, or maybe just destroy your phone altogether, start writing again, go for a walk, talk to people; actually start that real life thing you put on hold in your teens.
What a shame Tomorrow's taking such a long time to get here.
You are here. You are staring at the toilet bowl. Holding the little green nugget in your hand. It has to be this way. The flush. In the bin: you'll root through the dirt, will scrub your fingernails through filth just to find it, pull it out and clean it off and roll it up and light it. Out the window: you'll run out there and get on your hands and knees and search around the damp stony moonlit floor all night if you have to. If you tear the fucking thing apart with your bare hands and scatter the remains: you'll bend over and sift through the carpet fibres, collecting every precious morsel, along with all the dust and skin cells and termites, have yourself a good old floor smoke.
But, hey, that's the old you. Tomorrow is coming. Tomorrow you'll wake up and take in a big gulp of fresh air, you'll see the blue sky hung up outside your window like a goddamned painting, just for you, a personal gift from god, you'll fulfil that potential that Tomorrow's been stealing from you for a decade. You'll rewrite your CV and apply for fifty jobs and eventually get one in the city, one of those corporate dick sucking jobs that pay well and make you feel important, the ones your family told you to go for, the ones you told them you were sending out the applications to every day but really you were spending the weekly money they sent you on your greedy little friend who in the beginning gave so much and took so little but grew more and more selfish, giving you a pittance and taking your mind in return.
You're opening the toilet seat and looking into the murky brown water. You're holding your best friend in your hand, dangling it over the abyss.
You are finally ready to let go.
You're closing your eyes and opening your fingers.
The little green nugget cascades downwards, landing in the toilet water. You hear laughter from somewhere. Before you can wonder if you are making a horrible mistake, before you can fish it out, dry it off, say sorry and really, really try to make it work this time, say things like, Come on, it doesn't have to be so bad, we just need a little space, we just need to follow the Never-Before-Seven-PM rule we came up with eight years ago and never followed; before you can think about getting through tomorrow all alone, you're shooting out your hand and pulling the lever.
A beautiful sound.
You're breathing relief and even smiling. It's finally over.
Now you can go back to the real you, the sharp you, the you full of wit, ambition, vitality and power. Tomorrow is finally here.
You're opening your eyes and looking down. Your little friend is there, still, grinning back at you, floating in the water. It's still alive. It wants to play.
Your shame and sickness have pushed you this far; you need a little bit of determination to complete the execution. The determination which has driven you to find yourself a bag for the day, every day, for the last ten years, has deserted you now, as it always deserts you whenever you try to apply it to anything other than maintaining your exhausting, abusive relationship.
You're moaning. You're flushing again.
You're keeping your eyes open, to see the job through. You're watching your little friend, buoyant, defiant, jumping and splashing around in your waste, having a blast.
You're trying to flush again but the mechanism is worn out, so you must wait, again, waiting is all you've done with your whole life. No more. You cannot take it. It has to end and it has to end now.
You're holding your breath. You're putting your hands into the murky water and scooping out your little friend. You're ripping off fifty sheets of tissue, wrapping it round and round. This is it. You are sending this fucker down to its watery grave.
The whirlpool is still settling. The soft sound of waves. You'd like to just listen to the sound, but you cannot wait another second. You are sick of being made a fool out of every day.
You're throwing in the ball of tissue, with your little friend trapped inside. You smash the lever down, flush motherfucker flush. The whirlpool whips up again, but with a struggle. The tissue quietly disintegrates and dissolves. The little green nugget emerges from its weak prison.
You are staring at it and it is staring back.
It is mocking you.
Maybe you cannot beat it. Maybe you should just fetch it from the toilet bowl, nurse it, roll it up and light it, get back under that warm blanket and simply wait out your days. It would be easier.
Because whether you smoke it or you flush it, the end result will be the same: it will be gone in a matter of minutes. Maybe one last smoke is the better send off, the drawn-out goodbye, one last roll in the sack together, for all the good times you've shared, then you can find Tomorrow.
You muse this idea until you remember that most of your life has been made up of "one-last-smokes". Every smoke is the last one until it isn't.
You didn't see this coming. You try to laugh but instead you punch the wall and cut your knuckles. You're finally feeling brave enough to let go, and the bastard is clinging on, needy and upset, like always.
You must see the job through. Tomorrow is waiting for you.
You're holding your breath again and reaching into the water. You're dragging your little friend from the depths. You are not fucking around anymore. You're ripping off the entire roll off tissue and mummifying the piece of shit. Then you're catching sight of yourself in the bathroom mirror and finding it unsettling. You have not looked at yourself in a long time.
Now, the toilet has is calm and still. It's ready for another round. This is it, the real thing. You're taking one last look at your little friend before you're throwing it into the hungry toilet mouth. You're wrenching the lever so hard it nearly breaks off.
A beautiful sound.
You're watching your best friend get sucked down into the vortex.
Out of sight.
Over, finally, really over.
Relief is flowing through you. You are breathing. You have no more excuses.
Tomorrow is finally here.
First there was Ali. Then Fee. Then Nick. Then Tom, then Jamie, then the guy with dreadlocks whose name you didn't know, then Diego, Sven, Mama, TG, Romero, Josh, and all the others you've forgotten. They have many different names but they are all the same guy, in the end. They all bring you your medicine, keep you hungry and fed at the same time. They all exist only in your phone. You would've sold your phone for bag money a long time ago if it was not the portal to the bag itself.
So. Tomorrow has come and you are still you.
You're picking up your phone. A text from Charlie, Felipe, Gilgamesh, whatever his name is: all the same guy. He's informing you of his latest batch magic, fresh in, right there with your name on it, waiting for you, tucked away neatly in a drawer.
You're thinking that maybe he is not such a bad guy. He wants to send you back under the blanket. He sees you are cold. He wants to tuck you in. You want to whimper and suck on his teat, curl up and doze off into oblivion. Much easier than getting out of bed and going outside and trying to be a real person, walking around with a clear head and a purpose.
You're sighing and typing out the message. You don't even need to type the words as your phone knows you well enough to type out the words for you. You're moving your thumb to press send, but, before you get there, you receive another text.
It is from your old friend, a real friend, P. You have not seen her in a long time.
- Are you free today?
You want to be free.
You sometimes fear you never can be free because even after you flush the green shit away you'll still miss it every second of every day, its absence in your life will become a very real and sore presence, you'll be just as addicted to avoiding it as you were to smoking it.
You'll never be able to live with or without it.
P is sending a smiley face, now. You're thinking, maybe she's the one for you, not Jefferson or Daddy or Caesar or Midnight, not the little green nugget, none of them. They are abusers who think you will always come crawling back, which you always have. But not now. The volcano inside you which you have kept dormant is stirring. It's telling you something: you're not finished yet. The way you used to get so excited about life you could barely contain it, the way you used to feel like music was playing in your fingertips and you were capable of anything. The old you is still alive, in there, somewhere.
You are saying aloud to yourself, Fuck everything.
You're deleting the text from your guy. You're going through your phone and destroying any trace of a link to the guys and their stuff. Calls, messages, contacts. Eradicating all.
You are not going to live waiting for Tomorrow anymore, because it is not tomorrow, it is today.
You're rolling two cigarettes. Oe for you, one for her.
You're both exhausted. You've covered some miles today, all along the coast. You had no destination. It was just walking.
Right now, as the sky is pink, from your little the bench on the hill, you guys can see everything. The big, mean ocean. The little patches of light from the houses. The dots of people flittering about the cobblestone town.
As you walked, you talked, spilling your shit out on each other. You had nothing but time and the vast open of the beach to drown out the sounds. P told you about all the shit she was going through in her life, her relationship falling apart, her debt, the link between the two. You wished you could help her but you had your hands in the toilet last night and are in no position to offer live advice, but it didn't matter anyway, as no answers were needed, just listening.
You were surprised that you didn't even think about your old best friend all day, not until sometime in the afternoon. Today was probably the first time you've been lost in something other than smoke for years. It was when your phone buzzed in your pocket.
Your guy again - Listen man, I haven't heard from you, but, whatever happened, it's nothing we can't talk through. Trust. I know it seems hard now but we've been through so much together. I can't lose you. Call me xxxx
And you surprised yourself again by hitting delete before you could think about calling him and working it out. He was right: you had been through a lot together, but P was talking and you were watching her mouth while she talked, and, man, you were living in Today, and really, come on, when was the last time you were a present, active member of the world, when was the last time you were anything more than a sexless vegetable with a smokehole in your face, writhing in your dirty hole.
From your bench, P is making a joke. You are laughing and you are feeling something. The feeling is strange. It takes you a minute to place it, and then you're remembering: the feeling is happiness.
All the memory loss and concentration problems and the hole are far, far away. You thought your toxic relationship had ruined you, but look at you man, you're doing just fine. Maybe you were wrong about the whole thing. Maybe you don't have to go home alone tonight, like you always dread. Maybe you should just relax. Don't take it all so seriously; come on, look at everyone else, look at musicians and comedians and actors and writers and artists, they have their own little friends they get comfortable with, they do it all the time and they're not falling apart.
Maybe you're not such a lowlife, piece of shit, if you like to get cosy with your friend under your blanket every night, and most afternoons, maybe you should soften that relentless inner monologue telling you you should be a published writer already and you've given away so much of your mind to this stuff and no wonder you can't get close to any kind of real relationship with someone because you're swallowed up in this one.
Maybe you should just take it easy.
And now you guys're leaving your bench. You're walking P home as dusk is falling. She's talking again, but after a minute you're not listening anymore because your attention is diverting to that portal in your pocket.
Because you are doing just fine and there is nothing for you to worry about, you've spent the last half an hour thinking about ways you can retrieve the deleted numbers from your phone. Your guys. You let them down. You got carried away. You were wrong to cut them off, because look what today brought, today is proof that you and your little green friend can live together in harmony.
Then you feel it vibrate. Your guys. They're reaching out. They aren't going to leave you in the cold. P is talking, still, and you're sneaking a look at your phone.
- Listen, man, please. Don't leave me hanging like this, I can't take the not knowing. Is it someone else? Was I not good enough for you? I'll be on time, every time from now on G, I mean it. No more 0.8 baggies neither fam. Give me a second chance </3
You are hugging P goodbye and you are realising that feeling good is dangerous because that's all an addict is; someone who felt good once and can't let it go. That's all it is.
P is leaving you.
You are exactly where you want to be, where you quietly knew you would end up all day. The routine is so familiar it's ingrained into you.
You are reaching for your phone and the message is typing itself.
The flick of the switch is instant. You are straight back to waiting, waiting for his reply, waiting for him to show up, waiting for Tomorrow. Right back at it.
-Meet me on the other side of town. Whatever time you get there, I'll be late.
You are going to do it. You are going to walk for as long as you need to, and when you get there, you are going to get down on your knees.
It's time to go home.
Today came and went and it was not much in the end, the same as them all.
Tomorrow it will be different.
Originally published in The Fiction Pool.