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I know I shouldn’t take shots but I’m doing it anyway.

It’s not that I’m afraid it will impair my function. In my three years of college, I’ve never had a hangover or even slept in–alcohol has an insomniac effect on me. If I pass out at one in the morning, I’m up by seven and can’t get back to sleep. Weird, I know, and that’s not the weirdest thing.

The day after I take shots, I’m clear-headed and sober, only, I’m an emotional raw nerve. If I hear a joke, I’ll laugh ’til the cows come home, and the minute a sad song comes on the radio, I’m in tears.

Yet, I continue to do it every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and, against my better judgment, Tuesday night, if only because it cures me of my more troublesome compulsions.

With two shots in me, I forget the urge to pop vitamin C tablets like candy even though they make me puke after the tenth or eleventh consecutive pill.

After three shots, I lose my fear of eating a sandwich I haven’t prepared with my own two hands.

Four shots is all it takes to make me stop looking to the sky every few minutes to make sure a bomber plane isn’t about to drop a load of kaboom on my head.

I wasn’t always this irrational.

And I’m not that irrational on a Tuesday in Matt’s dorm room as he gently pries an empty shot glass out of my hand and replaces it with a bigger, weightier glass. The fog in my head, all I can say is, “Wuzzat?”

“This is razzmatazz and coconut rum and Schnapps Buttershots and Diet Coke,” says Matt. “We all had a hand in making it.” He gestures to Mark, Landon, and Kyle, who are also there. “We know how much you hate the taste of beer. Thought you might appreciate a silly girly drink. A pick-me-up for our little pick-me-up.”

The four of them are chemical engineering majors. That field of study is ridiculously hard at our school. I, on the other hand, opted for psychology, which is ridiculously easy here. The guys refer to themselves as ‘troopers’ and occasionally call me their ‘army nurse’ for how I’m always able to sort them out when they’re stressed. I can’t say I like the comparison, but I’ve never complained.

Evidently I haven’t looked up fearfully for a good stretch of time because Landon says, “I see the imaginary planes have gone away.”

The booze in my head, all I can say is, “Yuh.”

“D’you really think they’d take the war onto our soil?” says Mark or Kyle, I don’t catch which.

“Well no, I mean yes, I mean, haven’t they already?” I blurt. If I don’t know what I mean as I’m saying it, I have a clue afterward.

“That’s so true,” says Matt. “It’s hitting us right here when our friends are sent off to die.”

Oh God. This is my breaking point.

I nod. I don’t want to disclose this but, like shit or sweat or vomit, I can’t hold in the memories. “My best friend from high school, his name was Bill Wilson…really brilliant guy. He goes to Westpoint,” I say.

Kyle shakes his head. “Aww.”

Somebody says, “What a waste of potential.”

“Ahhyeah. Brilliant guy,” I say again. “Like, for our final project in stats, he brought in like, like, this wacky wonko proof that nobody understood including the teacher.” I try to smile, but like a handgun with a cartridge jam, my face is just stuck, and my eyes are hot. “When I think of what could happen if he gets deployed…if he doesn’t come back…or if he comes back missing limbs…or if he comes back with PTSD…”

I’m bawling in earnest now but it’s not as bad as it could be because I haven’t pulled the pin on the grenade. I haven’t told the truth.

The truth is, Bill was deployed and killed on the battlefield in our sophomore year.

The truth is, I’m so anal about my sandwiches because he used to share his lunch with me when bullies would take my lunch money, and now I can only eat sandwiches the way he used to make them.

The truth is, I was the first girl to ever ask him on a date and he said no because he was headed for an uncertain, military future and didn’t want to get my hopes up only to have them torn down by a wall of artillery fire.

And I haven’t been entirely honest with you. The truth is, when I look up at the sky, I’m not looking for planes. I’m looking for angels.

My chest heaves as I cry, which means I must need more to drink. “There there, girlie,” says Matt, and he tips the glass so the ice-cold liquid inside goes smoothly down my throat and creates a pit of warmth in my stomach. I’m swaying on my feet as I cry, so Landon puts an arm around my waist and eases me into a chair. I’m about to pass out, but in the morning I’ll remember exactly how I got here, and I sure as hell hope they only play happy songs on the radio tomorrow.


Solstice Stevens studies psychology and biology in Houston, Texas. She lives as a shut-in and writes on the side to fund her plethora of vices. Not everything she writes is completely true, but it’s not completely made up, either.


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