These events span through the length of a Sade song on repeat. She is dotting us on to cherish the day.
I am recalling the memories from a day I should cherish.
It started like any other evening for Sarah, Leah, Jared and I. Text messages were shared in our WhatsApp group confirming the time and location for the rendezvous, who is to bring what and where we are headed from there. We were to meet at the parking lot at the gaming centre. It was the central location because it was a walking distance from where I was taking GRE classes and Leah's brother owns the centre so she spent most of her evenings there. Jared owns a car and he and Sarah are attached at the hip. It didn't matter where we wanted to meet, he could meet us there with Sarah in tow.
Leah is the last to meet us in the poorly lit parking lot. Once she spots Jared's flashing taillights, she dashes towards the parked black Honda and slides into the backseat beside me.
"Something blue, something borrowed and something new," Sarah announces once she has her full audience. She brings out a packet of blue pills, the key to her parent's guest house and a pack of condoms in that order, making a display of shaking each item under the orange interior lights of the car.
“Eww…” Leah says at the sight of the condoms.
“Oh. Those aren’t for you” Jared says as he leans from the driver's seat to kiss Sarah. He tells her something in her ear that makes her squeal.
"Do we have everything?" Jared asks in the manner a teacher asks if you've completed your work. The question is directed at me.
Leah is in charge of music and just as the trip begins, Sade's voice flows out of the speakers and she transports us to the places in our daydreams.
"Yea, yea," I answer.
Our eyes meet in the rearview mirror and I make a show of patting my self on the left breast pocket of my jacket, where I have neatly tucked in a cellophane bag and its content.
I am recollecting memories of the day I ought to cherish.
Jared drives us to the guest house like we are running from the police. We are running away from growing up.
Sade serenades us through the journey.
Tonight, we are celebrating Leah's admission into med school in Ukraine. It might be the last time we are all in the same place at the same time, so Jared, Leah, Sarah and I have to cherish the day.
At the guest house, we disembark from the car with Jared and me hefting the drinks and snacks that he bought under our arms.
Leah's phone is now connected to the Bluetooth speaker and Sade continues to sing.
Jared bought supplies like we are expecting twenty other people to join us. But really, the night is just for us four to cherish.
In the elaborately decorated sitting room, we drop our supplies on the floor beside the coffee table and begin to peel off the extra layers of clothing. Jared kicks off his Nike air max's and baseball cap, off goes my jacket and vans while Sarah throws off her wig and gives an exaggerated sigh of relief.
There is no host to announce the commencement of the party and so we all rummage through the supplies for our object of concern. Leah quickly places four plastic cups on the coffee table in the centre of the room. She expertly opens the bottle of vodka and pours a finger into each cup. We drink our customary first shot of the night.
"Colorado," I say.
The content in the cellophane bag from my pocket is now displayed on the coffee table and it is the subject of Jared's question.
"Shit. What are we smoking today? This thing smells like it came from hell." Jared said.
"This is called Colorado. It is the best trip you'll ever have." Echoing the words of the dealer.
Jared doesn't seem convinced, he believes the best high you could ever have is from shrooms even though he has never tried it himself.He rolls four joints the size of a regular cigar in quick succession. Our cups are magically full again but the vodka now has a pinkish tint from the cranberry juice Leah has added to the cups.
There are no formalities to start the party. Once the joints are rolled, and the drinks are served, the party has begun. Jared lights the first joint and blows a halo of smoke towards the ceiling. Sarah passes the pack of blue pills around. It reaches me last and I take two pills and quickly take a gulp of vodka to swallow. I drown the rest of my drink before the joint is passed to me.
Cherish the day, cherish the day… Sade drones on in the background while we talk about some other cherished memories of ours.
I take two more puffs but I am suddenly bored, and Jared is right, it smells like hell. I produce a packet of white powder and wave it in front of Sarah’s eyes. Her eyes bulge in excitement but before I could indulge her in a game of fetch, Jared gives me a questioning look.
"Angel dust." From Jared's look of disapproval, I figured this will be a party of one.
I grab my jacket and make my way to the kitchen, hitting almost every furniture on my way. Once there, I light the smallest burner on the gas cooker and proceed with the other part of my experiment. I find a tablespoon and attempt to transfer some dust to the spoon. I am suddenly clumsy and in the process, some dust pours on the sink. FUCK!
I wet the tip of my index finger with my tongue using the wetness to wipe off the powder that fell on the sink and lick the finger to avoid wastage. I can hear the others laughing in the sitting room with careless abandon.
Like we have successfully fled the police.
Like we have successfully fled growing up.
Next, I rest the spoon over the fire. The dust slowly begins to turn brown, like when my mother makes caramel. I feel like a kid again, waiting for some homemade syrup. I drain my caramel syrup into the syringe in my pocket and empty it into a vein on my right arm.
I roll down my sleeves and leave to join the others…
Cherish the day.
Won’t go astray.
Won’t be afraid.
Won’t run away… Sade sings.
Willing myself to consciousness.
Okay. When I open my eyes, I will still be in Sarah's parent's guest house, where the furniture is too massive for the tiny sitting room. I will still be curled up on the only other love seat in the room. I will see Leah just where she has been sitting since we finished smoking in the congregation. Her legs stretched, her tall frame taking the full length of the two-seater, nursing a cup of vodka. If Jared and Sarah are nowhere in sight, then they must be in the room using something new.
Can someone put off the lights? My head is throbbing.
Put off the fucking lights!
Cherish the day, cherish the day… Sade drones on. She continues to sing these words like a mantra. It is like a loop. It never stops. Or I don't know when it stops and starts again. Worse, I do not know what to cherish.
Jared’s mouth moves but I do not hear what he has said even after his mouth closes. I see the words travelling laboriously to me and I could have read them if they weren't coming in those dizzying waves. I close my eyes and will them to reach my ear before someone walks in front of them, blocks their path and causes them to fall.
“Are you okay?” I finally hear.
I have no control of my tongue, it feels heavy in my mouth. If I speak, I am afraid it would come out as a scream, or bark, or a howl. With my eyes still shut, I shake my head from side to side.
“N” and my head falls on my right shoulder. I rest for a beat before I turn my head to the other side.
“O” and my head falls on my left shoulder.
I put all my energy into opening my eyelids to confirm if he saw my reply. I open my eyes and I am hit by a hot flash of white light.