Trip and Acid

Trip and Acid

A Story by Evangeline

I was on the damn hill, soaking wet under the gazebo. Again. I knew the person I was waiting for would never come. The rain was relentless, his mom was still mad. Too many factors played into the heartbreak.

Oddly enough, it was freezing that day. A whopping sixty five degrees in the jungle, but the humidity still choked my breathing.

That gazebo was my little kingdom. It was literally an island of concrete, floating in the middle of sinking, waterlogged, crawling grass. Perfect isolation.


I had finished off my last cigarette. Oh, little one, so young and too stupid to know better at that point. I had started up when I was fourteen and hooked myself to a pack a day of long Red Marlboros. Six years later, I’ve grown up.

They’re menthol now.

The buzz from excessive nicotine and robitussin was starting to come down. My phone and its shattered screen was dangerously close to death. I was half high and isolated. And pissed.

In the jungle rain, visibility beyond ten feet is just impossible. I hadn’t seen him until he was attempting to jump over my kingdom’s moat. He sat at the picnic table diagonal from me. Then he moved and sat next to me, soaking wet. I was immediately irritated by the puddle. I spent an hour and a half drying off, chilled to the bone. I didn’t need or want to go over it again at the fault of somebody else.

It hadn’t helped that he was high. He hadn’t been toking, I knew that much. This was a different high. Something unnerving.

I was curious. Found out he was carrying but not selling to anyone from the high school. I left it at that. When I did finally get around to asking his name, all he said was, “Trip.” He knew my name was Tori, and it caught me off guard. He looked much older than I had been. I guessed he was probably getting ready to graduate, and late at that. But he knew Tony and Jibrael and Desiree. For whatever reason, they had never mentioned him to me. I was an outsider in all my personal relationships anyhow.

The next week, I was sitting in the same place, doing the same exact thing. Creature of habit. Hmph.

Trip came back up the hill and sat on the bench to my left and gazed at the elementary school down the hill while taking a drag off a menthol. He offered me one.

Who turns down a free smoke and a friendly gesture?

I got a better look at him that time. He seemed pretty sober. Or maybe just a different kind of high that was a little more familiar to me. He wasn’t wearing the standard DoDea school uniform. Just a plain black shirt, jeans and bar laced Converses. He had that kind of hair that was a little shaggy from neglect but wasn’t usually allowed to grow out to full blown hooligan status, aside from the black hair. I couldn’t tell if it had been dyed.

When he came to the table to hand me the cigarette, time stopped for a moment. Simply put, his face was refreshing. Something nicer to look at. A dazed kindness in green eyes.

We just sat there and smoked.

Once he came around more often, and I spent time alone more often, preparing myself for my inevitable downward spiral, we started to have conversations. He didn’t speak up much. I asked why he called himself Trip. He shrugged and gave me a bullshit story about being caught with drugs once. I knew he was always carrying.

Turned out his name was Caleb.

I never asked where the drugs came from or to buy any. He didn’t like the weed on the island. I didn’t blame him, I had heard most of it was skunky.

He was never in a uniform. He told me he had been asked kindly to leave the high school the year before and had tested out for a GED. I had some doubts as far as that was concerned. Anyone who can carry around drugs on a military installation as he did doesn’t have anyone at home who cares enough. He lived in the back corner of the abandoned neighborhood. Every once in a while, a family will stay put long enough to see everybody move away and have the biggest back yard on base. He just didn’t interact much with the local high school populace. He had no reason to. I was an exception because I also had no reason to really interact with my peers.

In the span of a semester, I was still struggling to find my pace in life, and he was slowly becoming quieter. He influenced my life subtly. He showed me how take care of myself when I was having a bad trip. I never had to tie my own shoes around him. We were minimalists and thinkers and singers together. His hand fit perfectly in mine.

Nothing ever happened between us romantically besides a confession of emotions. We explained it to each other perfectly that December without saying the word “love.” We were friends who held hands. Friends that had races where the winner got to tackle the loser and roll down the hill together. We were friends that sat in comfortable silence and understood that something bad was about to happen.

I was scared that he was scared. Caleb shut down around the same time I did, except he had a few years on me and it took a greater toll on his life. He had presented me himself bloodied, broken, burned and bruised. All the worst things that happened in that time frame started with B. I never found out what had happened, or why he came to me and not a hospital, or why the ambulance never came. (In retrospect, I only ever saw a single ambulance on that island during my time.) His knuckles were swollen and scabbed over. His fingernails were splintered. I had recently had my nose broken for the second time in my life, so I could pick out the black eyes and pooling blood in his face and knew immediately he caught punches with his face. When he did finally allow himself to be convinced to go to the hospital, the list of injuries went on. Two broken ribs, snapped cheekbone, a wound that would have been worthy of stitches had he not been so stubborn and waited, a concussion, cracked ribs, bruised larynx, three broken bones in his left hand… God that list went on.

I couldn’t sit still around him after that. I cared for him on such a deep underlying level that despite having been completely void of emotion for about a month, he made me panic. He wasn’t safe and I was too scared to ask why. I paced, and he would stop me and make me lie down with him and breathe.

It was January, and an unusually wet dry season. The rain fell somewhere close to thirty inches in a couple months by the time I had left the island. I had developed a bad habit of running around ten miles a day, despite the rain. The humidity should have murdered me, but the water helped me stay cool when it stayed at eighty degrees after sunset. I didn’t see Caleb for about a month, but every few days or so, I’d find a new note carved into the picnic table. He was around.

I was running down the cliffs toward the beach and he drove by. A simple, “Get in the car, loser,” was all it took for me to catch my breathe and hop in. He didn’t say anything, and I was trying to get my heart rate down. We reached the beach and boonie stomped to the tide pools. I walked around with the little fish and he sat on top of the reef.

We kept doing that for a few weeks. Caleb stayed relatively quiet, and I’d wrack my brain to see if I could help distract him.

We were sitting in the sand and digging our feet into it to cool off. I was naming all the hermit crabs and helping the young ones find bigger shells by scooting them closer to vacated ones. He quietly told me that he had qualified for the Exceptional Family Member Program in December, courtesy of the Air Force and Navy. That was the death sentence for a teenager overseas, and your parent’s career. It meant a dependant was too sick or unstable to be kept anywhere outside of America. So he had to go back to Minnesota to be closer to his mother and a bigger hospital.

He was two weeks fresh out of a three day hold. His eyes were bloodshot from exhaustion. The contrast of red to green was astonishing and immediately broke my heart. We couldn’t muster a smile, or any stupid jokes. He gave me an unmarked prescription bottle and told me, “Drink up, it’s good for these kinds of things.” I left it closed for a little while.

It was a hug and a kiss goodbye and a flight to Minneapolis.

I received mail a little while later. It had a letter from Caleb, and a separate note explaining what had happened and why I was reading what he wrote.

He wrote on January 20th, and he was found January 23, 2012 around noon. Just shy of his nineteenth birthday. The note from whomever explained he’d seemed perfectly fine and suddenly happier. I knew better. That would have been the biggest red flag for me.

I was distraught, to say the least. I ran to the cliffs where Erynn died a year earlier. I had the letters folded into paper airplanes with paperclip counterbalances. Miraculously, it wasn’t raining that night. The flight strip beacon flashed its eerie lights, illuminating the ocean below, alternating between a dark blue and a blinding white. The ocean was just as angry and violent as I felt in that moment. I hurled the planes off the cliff and watched them glide into the grinding waves with what was left of my sanity.


© 2016 Evangeline

Author's Note

I rewrote this one to be more accurate with the details of the situation. The last one felt angry, and I don't feel angry anymore. Probably going to work on it again. This is the fourth version of this story and I've never quite been able to capture the emotion I want to convey.

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Added on May 16, 2014
Last Updated on December 30, 2016
Tags: Suicide, drugs, love, Guam, memory, casual, story of my life, haunting, deep, addiction



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