It’s a concoction of sorts—her first drink. A mix of everything the two girls could dredge up from a mini-fridge in the garage. It wasn’t Corinne’s idea but Cleo’s. Cleo was the savvy one of the duo; she dressed in bold prints (lions and tigers and sequins, oh my), flaunted manicured acrylics, and had already beaten a cigarette addiction. On opportune evenings, the insurgent pair shimmies through the window of Cleo’s bedroom, clinging to the shingles as they crawl across the roof, a sloppily twisted joint illuminated by the mix of pale moonlight and streetlamps. But tonight they are somewhere warmer. Skin tanned, hair streaked with amber tones—stinking of the lemons, which Corinne discovered to be a natural elixir for the dowdiness of their Jewess tresses. Cleo masterfully infuses Jack with Jose with Adams with Beam—a true American orgy—in a crystal chalice. The two girls fervently gulp down the suggestive combination, another metaphor of eroticism upended. In hushed tones they discuss their next move: one, “I feel sick,” the other, “lets go to the pool!” Corinne is intoxicated and it’s not just the booze, her skin prickles as Cleo strips down completely, sans one imperative seal: the slim knotted tail of womanhood dances between her legs (Cleo was an avid tampon user since the first emergence of her period). Corrine, bashfully, follows suit. Her nipples harden as she chases after Cleo, sprinting across the dewy grass, she convinces herself to fault the twilight chill. Engulfed in water, the inhibition takes hold. They writhe against one another, taking turns squealing as they press against a faltering jet. Now watch as Corinne valiantly dives into the deep end, splattering water against Cleo’s flushed cheeks as her friend wraps her legs around her. Abruptly their laughter turns to the incoherent acknowledgement of what’s to come, Corinne gently places Cleo on the ledge. Her friend is half her size, more nimble, and Corinne appreciates this as she watches Cleo contort around her shoulders. She draws her in. A sharp intake of breath, a gush of water, the taste of pennies—Corinne vomits the next morning outside the screen door, an exquisite array of vices marks the porch, she swears they were the color of the sea.
Early morning light pierces through the shades; the house is filled with the bloated silence of vacancy. Corinne is stirred awake by a faint, persistent pattering somewhere in the distance. She woozily thrusts herself from bed; graduation and her impending uprooting had ignited a festering anorexia within her—leaving her perpetually wearied and agitated. As she draws closer to the front door the disturbance escalates to a pummeling, she peers at the vibrating wood intently, anticipating it’s splintering. It isn’t until she recognizes the inaudible groaning of Otto that she remembers it had been exactly two weeks since she’d last heard from him. She snatches at the doors handle and flings it open, his gaping eyes welcoming her. “Baby”—this is what he initiates his onslaught of rhetoric with. She finds herself trapped between the spite in his intonation and the void tranquility of his face—a juxtaposition further punctuated by words that speed past her like bullets. Struggling to obtain lucidity, she strings together the following: “kill,” “your father,” and the rhythmic “I watch you watch.” Someone promptly smacks him across the face—neither of them coherent enough to realize it had been her. Her breath is ragged; she vaults past him in attempt to flee his threats. Otto remains stagnant, ceaselessly reiterating his plot while unearthing a machete from the sheath of his coat—in hindsight these two factors in particular are the most confounding: the winter coat amidst the sweltering July and the 22 inch crocodile-hunter glinting under the suburban sun.
His chest heaves as he swallows his words, they emerge garbled between stale tears, “I--can’t do this anymore.” Corinne’s jaw drops, her heart attached to an anchor that sinks her below the depths of his drab apartment, she settles in under the Hudson. Dirt and sand pile around her, a grainy cage. She screams, “FUCK.” Levi, that’s his name, merely continues violently trembling. His hands tighten into fists and she wonders if he is going to do her the courtesy of heaping the final mound of soil into her fabricated grave. Levi pounds at his chest, the way the Jews at temple did on Yom Kippur—vidui—, which they had observed with stifled grins. He raps at his head in a grave attempt to spawn more words but Corinne has heard enough. She seizes Levi’s wrists and pins him down, mutely demanding answers through the tears cascading down her face. He brushes her off, assuming the mature role he crafted for himself over their yearlong stint. “I tried to cut myself, Corinne,” this is his plea. As any decent lawyer would do, he provides evidence, peeling down his sleeves to reveal delicate scabs prickled with dried blood. Her mind is elsewhere—it has drifted off above shore to The Night. The rundown: a weeklong break ended by a lofty proposition, pathetically she concurred, Levi and his fellow attorney-at- law, drinks at a dingy bar—crudeness whispered in her ear, back to hers, a bottle of tequila divided among three mugs, her body divided between two. The defendant walked to the stand, ready to make his motion, he requests the prosecutor’s permission—not the girls—receives a warrant from neither. He thrusts, the girl sobs, the prosecutor sees her inaction as compliance and rests his case. In this moment she acknowledges his conceit, studying the rusty stains on his shirt—Corinne’s conscience snaps awake. It had been languidly pestering her for months, arising in moments of brief clarity such as at three in the morning when she awoke in a sweat and marveled at the figure curled around her. She assumed it had been infatuation. But then why had her heart persistently clenched when he pressed himself inside of her? “I have been agonizing,” Levi begins, preparing to launch into his brief—this sends her into ecstatic anguish. Her stomach lurches; she chokes up seawater in the form of laughter. Levi gazes at her quizzically, “We will be happier after this.” She sputters, “Surely.”
Hannah Aronoff is a senior at Tisch School of the Arts and an aspiring adult. She writes to work out the dichotomies of her ethos.