Find Your Own Way

Find Your Own Way

A Story by Michelle

"Hi… um… I saw you from across the room and I felt like God had a reason for me to come over here... and um tell you that um you have a purpose…….. He wants to love and forgive you… " She trailed off and a smile quivered across her face before she spun around in the direction she came in. She was gone but my gaze stuck where she stood, lowered to the height of a child not any older than eight. I turned back to the empty seat in front of me. It had been twenty minutes and still no one filled it. I let out a loud sigh and ran my fingers through my hair. My eyes caught something below my rum and coke on the edge of the table. It was a flyer the girl must have left it here. In all capital letters it said "Find your way with God." I thought nothing. I am not sure how that’s possible, but I was not in the mood to contemplate religion. My brain was not in any state to be going over my views on complex bullshit with an eight year old or anyone else for that matter. My thoughts about not having thoughts were interrupted by the waitress. "Do you need anything miss." She said pleasantly. My attempt to return her courtesy failed when I replied "Nope, just to go home." I dropped a ten on the table and headed for the door leaving the flyer and two empty chairs behind.
I lived in a tiny apartment with three other girls. Jenny was the perfectionist; the one that bitched about how dirty our place was and left nasty notes on the sink when the dishes weren’t done. She somehow came to the belief that we should bow down to her because she got all A’s last semester. She wasn’t all bad though, she would come out with us on the weekends and attempted to have a good time at least. If she could somehow pull that enormous stick out of her a*s, as unlikely as that is, I might actually like her. Sammi was the s**t, I don’t like calling other women s***s because the only way we can move forward as women is to respect each other, but Sammi has tried to f*****g hard to not be the exception to my rule. Not only does she love to brag about her blow job technique, but she loves to practice it even more. Before we head off to a party Sammi is a blast to hang out with. She is spontaneous and funny, but by the time we get to the party she is on the prowl. Flirting with anything with a penis dangling between his legs. Some how she always manages to stumble home with the biggest a*****e she can find. Every weekend I pray to God that she won’t bring him to our place. Our apartment walls are too thin for that s**t, and if you thought Jenny was a b***h about dishes, she was a psychopath about her bedtime. No one wants to be woken up by Sammi’s panting and moaning and some guy whose name is probably Travis, and drives a pickup truck and wears the same John Deer hat every f*****g day, screaming "Suck that dick." So yes, she had a valid reason to be upset, but starting her bickering before ten o’clock was not okay with me. That brings me to Skylar, the girl waiting for me with a bong when I walked through the door. It was a misty, dark, green color, and she had named it Gargoyle. She gives me a slit eyed, big smile and giggles out "Gargoyle says hello" and for the first time all day I feel a real genuine smile cross my face. I collapsed into the open spot next to her on the couch and she hands me the bong. I suck in and take a huge hit, Gargoyle’s gurgles put me at ease and ignites my lungs with smoke and coughs. I am content with my body sinking into our worn piece of furniture. Skylar turns to me and asks what I’ve been up to today? I desperately want to tell her who stood me up today, and why I was going to see them and about the little girl who told me God had a purpose for me and my thoughts about nothing but I didn’t. I replied with "Oh not much, just at the library for a while then ran some errands and s**t." She gives me a nod, and I don’t bother returning the question. It was safe to assume that she hadn’t moved too far from this very spot. It was Thursday after all, no one does s**t on Thursdays. I turned my focus on the old episode of Grey’s Anatomy playing on the TV. The best and worst part about Skylar was her simplicity. I could turn my brain off and just melt into the non-existence I had needed all day. The only problem was my brain didn’t want to forget things today. I knew she wasn’t the person to discuss religion with or any other major issues that arose from the evening's events. For that matter I didn’t know who would be an appropriate person to discuss it with. Jenny or Sammi wouldn’t care, It wasn’t something my family needed to know about, and truthfully I don’t know if I know anybody who would actually keep their opinions out of it and their mouth shut.
A child’s ability to believe in anything and the 20’s something’s inability to truly believe in anything except their own invincibility or worthlessness is what makes my mind split into a pounding rhythm. My thoughts about nothing had overtaken. Becoming much more like something and only allowing me a few hours of sleep, I held my head with my hands. I don’t know what I was thinking agreeing to a 9 am science class on a Friday. I had already missed too many classes and was not sitting very comfortably with a low D, I had no choice but to go. I did a weird stretch like movement before rolling my legs onto the floor. I didn’t have time to shower so I washed my face and thanked God it was still cold enough to get away with wearing a hat all day.
When I get to class, I take my seat strategically in the back corner so I can listen, but yet still have my freedom to space the f**k out when need be. I sit with my elbows on the desk and use my hands to hold my head up, but it doesn’t take long for them to slowly sink down. Before I know it my head is resting in the crook of my arm and my note taking has drastically slowed. Eventually, it stops and my eyes shut all together. My mind melds into a state of awareness and cluelessness, dreaming and life-like motion. Back where this story begins in a much more dimly lit restaurant. I can barely see the, lonely almost dusty, empty chair staring back at me from across the table. I feel like we are having a show down and any minute we will both hold a gun to the others head and see who has the balls to pull the trigger. I stop staring when my attention turns to the same little girl, but she’s not the same. She’s me. "What’s the point of purpose when you throw it away, what’s the point of glory when you’re lost on your own?" She’s says like a drone; expressionless and robotic. Her eyes are wide open looking right into me and I reluctantly meet her eye contact. Just as I am about to ask her what she is doing here, she is consumed by flames. In seconds she had vanished and the tiny pieces of ash, which remained of her, were slowly falling to the floor. A stream of light from the window lit them up as they fluttered gracefully to their resting place. It looked as if all she had done was sit on a dusty sofa on a sunny afternoon, but the pile of her leftovers heaping on the floor told otherwise. My attention returned to the once empty seat that was now occupied by a dark figure. He wore a cloak that covered his face and body. His hands were all that I could see, their paleness practically glowed in the dark. In them he held a long pipe with a burning ember at the end. The smoke he released rose above us and created a canopy near the tops of our heads. I said nothing and neither did he, the room was silent, and I let it be. I could see a slight grin grow across his face despite his hood’s shadow. “Welcome to the darkside baby!” he said with smoke bellowing from his mouth “I don’t believe in God either.”
“F**K” I said smacking my knees on the bottom of my desk. The back half of the class turned to look at me curiously. I averted the room’s eyes and practically sprinted for the door. I dipped into the bathroom to the right of class. Luckily it was empty and I could have a moment to myself. I went into the middle stall, and was pleasantly taking my time with my business when I heard the door creak open. Somebody walked into the stall one away from mine. Click. Her door locked and the silence ensued. I got my s**t together and pulled my pants up. I headed for the sink, and she followed me just a few seconds later. As we were in the same spot at the same time, I said hi and gave my best polite half smile. No response except the squeal of the automatic paper towel roll ejecting its contents. Like we weren’t two college students with probably an abundance of things in common, and a bundle of conversation starters. As simple as, how are you? Hi. I’ve seen you around my names… Are you in environmental science? Are you the freak that just said F**k in class 10 minutes ago? But nothing seems to be the preferred form of conversation around here. We don’t talk to better understand our initial judgments of a person. It’s a hell of alot easier to think we are s**t when we don’t bother to find out the beauty of s**t. I look into the mirror and wonder about what that little girl meant by purpose. Purpose is an interesting word and what if it’s just not for me. I splash some water on my face, lucky for me, I didn’t bother to wear makeup today. Have you ever noticed that women never splash water on their face during a movie scene? Well it feels damn near fantastic! It is worth it to go without makeup especially on days like this. The plus to looking how I want today is the freedom to ease my headache at a bathroom sink. Again with the squeal of the paper towels and I am out the door.
I decide to go home and try to take a nap or something. First, I grabbed something to eat and started my walk back to our apartment. It’s pretty nice outside but it’s still cold enough for me to wear a sweatshirt and my baggy blue hat that strategically covers my unwashed hair. I stroll down the walkway feeling a little more refreshed by the outdoors and sunshine. It doesn’t seem to take me to long to get back home and I stroll right up to the door. Nobody is really around, so I head straight for my room which is wonderfully empty. I roll onto my bed and decided to watch a movie on my laptop.
I must have fallen asleep because Skylar woke me up when she walked into our room. I shook my head and rubbed my eyes and said “What’s up?” “Nothing right now, but we are talking about going out to this party at Jeremy’s house tonight.” Jeremy was Skylar’s boyfriend, and he was actually a pretty cool guy. His roommates and friends, however, were dicks. I didn’t really want to go there, but I needed a drink after all this. “Okay.” I said “I could use a drink after this week’s bull s**t” We both laughed. “Be ready before 10:00 so we can pregame” “Okay what time is it now?” I asked “6” “I might as well shower now so I can actually get into the bathroom.” I was joking but at the same time I was telling the truth and Skylar knew that but laughed anyways.
Showered, shaved, and all cleaned up, I decided to go pretty simple tonight because I just wasn’t feeling like making much effort, which isn’t all that different than usual. I put on a pair of dark skinny jeans and a green and white striped v-neck shirt. I decided to let my hair air dry and went back into my room to wait for everyone else to get ready, it could be hours. I sat at my desk and grabbed the eighth I bought a couple days ago. It smelled delightful. Clean and green like the stank of a spring day. I grinded up a good chunk of it and pushed it into a skinny pile in front of me. I grabbed the Swisher I had been saving for just such an occasion and two papers for joints. I rolled them all up and took a minute to admire my work. I popped the joints in my pack of cigarettes, and I walked out to the living room with the blunt. I made myself a drink with rum and some Dr. Pepper in an oversized sports arena cup. Skylar and Jenni were on the couch, waiting for their turn in the shower, watching some movie I didn’t recognize. I sat down and took a long drink before I lit up the blunt. Skylar was happy to see the smoke flow up and back into my nose as I passed it over to her. Jenni quit smoking because her boyfriend told her that he didn’t want her to anymore. He was very controlling, the type of guy that made her cry constantly, but she “loved him” whatever the f**k that means. It was hard to see someone so upset about some dude who probably didn’t care nearly as much as she did. He wasn’t abusive, but he was in her head all the time. It’s not like she even smoked with us much anyways. That was the weird part, Jenni was very much in control of her life and didn’t need somebody to help with that. Jenni was on top of her s**t like nobody else that I knew at the time. She accomplished that in some obnoxious ways, but I guess we all fulfil our dreams in our own way. She wanted to be the best and brightest at everything she touched and that’s cool. Sometimes I wonder if what I wanted was to be no one going nowhere because that's the dream I am subconsciously fulfilling. It's not so bad though, people leave you the f**k alone when you are just apart of the environment. We passed the time with TV and drinks. While everyone else circled in and out of the bathroom I stayed put in my spot. I only got up to throw a couple frozen pizzas in the oven that was always my job, because I was good at making sure they didn’t burn. I was a drink and a half a pizza in by ten O’clock when the boys started showing up. It was just Jenni’s boyfriend and his two other friends. We decided to play a couple drinking games before we headed out. We sat in a big circle around the coffee table and played some game, that I honestly don’t remember, but it did get me ready for the night. I grabbed my jacket and we all headed over to the party.
They had a big house that fit about five boys and had a huge basement. The basement was all decorated with strobe lights and black lights. The same stench always clung to the walls, it was a combination of boys who couldn’t get there piss in the toilet, sweat, and stale alcohol infused vomit, but we loved it. Well most of us did, I was content to go anywhere, but I could think of a lot of other places I would rather be. It was mostly nice for the fact that it was a no thinking zone. The haze of intoxication kept the many things I didn’t want to think about at bay. The room was buzzing with people, who were all at varying degrees of stability; laughing and dancing.The bass was heavy to some unfortunate rap song that I didn’t recognize but somehow everyone else did. They all started dancing and I just sat back, poured myself a drink and surveyed the room. It was a classic party night here, the kind every boy dreamed about because of atrocities like American Pie. TITIES AND BEER! Unfortunately, I dreamed of my childhood on fire and the devil inviting me to lunch. That’s why I sat here because as hard as I try to drown my insecurities and misfortunes, bullshit still floats. But f**k it I just wanted to relax and have a good time. I was talking to the guy next to me about music, we could at least find common ground in old school rock like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, when Sami grabbed me by the arm and said she needed a cig. She said it in that way that meant this party sucks, so I need to b***h about it outside to you. I went with her because it wasn’t like my conversation was all that thrilling, and I could use a cig too. When we got outside we lit up and Sami started talking about all the same things I expected. It was easy enough to not pay attention and just like that I was in another universe. I was at that drunk stage where my eyes could focus in on something until it became a blur as the rest of my brain danced in circles. I wondered if this happens to normal people. Maybe it does and we are all just too weirded out by our ourselves to admit it to other people. A beer in one hand and a burning ember in the other, I thought about everything except the words coming out of Sami’s mouth.
We went back to the party and, immediately, Skylar grabbed me. She was attempting what may have looked like a hug, but it was more like a maneuver to gather her feet and stand on her own. “Shots!” She screamed in my ear. In her left hand was a half empty bottle of something, which she handed to me. I took a swig that went down with a burn. Skylar smiled with her whole face and after that shot so did I. I kept the bottle for one more swallow before handing it back. We were drinking and talking in the back corner of the basement, me, skylar and a couple other guys. One of them was in my math class. He was cute and I had mentioned it to Skylar a couple weeks ago, and I am assuming that is why she kept jabbing me in the ribs with her elbow. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the guy paying attention to me. Instead, I could feel the hot breath, that even my drunk a*s could smell the alcohol on, of someone who introduced himself as Roy or Ray or maybe even Rick. I couldn’t actually hear much of what he was saying. Just as his hand reached a low spot on one of my hips I turned to give Skylar the help me eyes, but she was no where to be found. So it was left to me. “Can I get you a drink?” he asked. Now that I understood. “Sure” I replied. He came back with a strong drink, which was just what I needed. I said “I need a cigarette. I’ll be right back” Thinking I was in the clear I started to turn towards the exit. I didn’t even get ten degrees to my left when this a*****e’s lips started inching towards mine. It was like the dark room had slowed down and only these two slobbering lips were left at their normal pace. A weird combination of panic and pure hatred started to come over me. Why is it so impossible for me to catch a break? I thought. Of all the normal people in world I got this guy’s f*****g lips heading right towards me. And in that moment, I didn’t give a s**t about anyone not even myself. I threw my half vodka half some unnaturally colored fruit punch into his face. He stood there stunned, but I didn’t take the time to notice because my fist was naturally aimed for his face. My fingers were curled just the way my father taught me to throw a punch.The same father who left an empty chair across the table. I swung for him and because of him, for no reason and for every reason. I watched the man or boy, whatever you want to call him, stagger and almost fall to the floor. His eyes blazed as they made contact with mine. I don’t know if it was out of fear or anger, but the beer bottle pieces were lightly sprinkling on the floor before I could recognize an emotion or an explanation. The room started to swarm as people went from just noticing to understanding. I looked at the blood and knew this was not the type of situation you stick around for. I grabbed a bottle off an end table and headed for the door. I ran up the stairs and onto the sidewalk and kept running. I ran until I felt my sides scream for air. I placed my free hand on a tree and supported myself as what felt like my life was expelled from my body. When I was finished I turned around and leaned my back against the side of the tree without my puke. I took another drink to wash the taste of stomach juices out of my mouth. I remembered the joints that I put in with my cigs. I rummaged through my jacket pockets and pulled out the one thing I had been able to count on in days. I smoked as I walked, in an aimless direction, the freedom of being without a plan. I knew that there was nowhere for me to go not now or for awhile. The breeze was cool, almost on the edge of too cold, luckily the intoxication kept me moving down a street I knew of but not where it was taking me.
A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a nature program on TV. It was one of those PBS specials that a very select few of individuals stop on let alone watch it the whole way through. At two in the morning however I wasn’t given many other options. So I left it praying it would be too boring for my body to continue resisting sleep. It was about eels. I don’t know anything about eels and apparently nobody else does either. They swim from their freshwater homes to the deep dark depths of the ocean to produce offspring. Soon after, the little baby eels swim back into the rivers and live until that day comes to enter back into the ocean. No one knows how they do this or why they do this, they just do. At the time this interested me and maybe right then in that moment it interested me even more. As we develop we focus on the millions of things we understand, but what about what we don’t. We don’t even know why a fish does what it does how can we know why we do the things we do or did. Our purpose can be distorted under a black ocean. Mine was all too murky. And then I knew exactly where I was going. It felt like my feet had been heading in the right direction all along. I was less than a mile away from the one place that had been haunting me for days. The only place where my answers could be, the place where the questions started.
I drank as I walked, which was becoming more of a sluggish stumble, and smoked the occasional cigarette. I was just blocks away now. I couldn’t even pretend to attempt discretion, I was a 20 year old girl dragging herself and a bottle around the middle of the city. As I turned the corner into the parking lot I was quite impressed that I had made it here in one piece. The restaurant stood the same as it had the day before, one story tall and covered in an assortment of dark colors. The windows were black and empty. I don’t know why I expected anything less it was probably after 3 in the morning. I cupped my hands around my eyes and peaked in through the glass. There wasn’t that 8 year old girl and there definitely wasn’t any sign of my dad. I hadn’t seen him in 2 years. He had been in and out of my life since childhood. I don't know why I let myself get my hopes up when he called and asked to meet up with me. He had a new family now with a wife and better more put together kids. He had found “Jesus” wherever the f**k he was hiding. I was excited that for once he was the one that thought about me and not the other way around. Now I was starting to get irritated. I was tired of being alone and for no reason at all. I knew I wasn’t the only person in the world that was lonely, but why was it so hard to find another person that understood what it felt like to go nowhere? I just wanted some kind of peace of mind that my life didn’t have to be a decision of good or bad. That there had to be a choice of gray, and I could survive with that. I was to drunk to manage all this confusion and hostility. I looked at the bottle in my hand and the one inch of swimming liquor in the bottom of it. I throw it as hard as I could across the parking lot and watched the glass be ignited by the street lights. I sat down leaning against the building and let the tears be soaked up by the jean fabric on my knees. I cried until I had drained all the energy I had to feel sorry for myself. I pulled my phone out of my pocket, it was a few minutes past four. I scrolled through my contacts until I landed on the one that said Dad. I clicked on it and listened to the rings one at a time sing in my ear. No answer. I didn’t leave a message I just let it go. There was no answers for me here and there never was. I pulled my hood over my eyes and lit up another cigarette. Some how it felt good to mimic the Devil.
I must have passed out right there on the concrete because I was woken up by a nudge on my arm saying “Hey wake up!” My eyes opened to sunlight that was taking me longer than usual to adjust to. “Are you okay?” I nodded. I was half rubbing my eyes as he gestured to something across the street and said “I think you’ll find your way over there.” When I dropped my hands from my eyes he was already walking away. I looked over at him and he was nothing more than a homeless man. His shopping cart rattled as he walked away, and disappeared into the alley behind the restaurant. I pulled out my phone to see what time it was and to maybe call Skylar for a ride. Surprisingly, I had a missed call from my Dad. I was still a little drunk and wasn’t ready to face that phone call yet. It was almost 10 in the morning. I had been out here for hours of daylight and the only person who had bothered to see if I was alright was that man. I wished I had thanked him before he walked away. Sadly, that felt like the nicest thing someone had done for me in awhile. It was nice to be noticed even if was just for being passed out in the street. I looked across the street to see what it was he was talking about. There was the glass windows of a bus stop by the stop light on the other side of the street. I figured that must have been what he was referring to. I always kept quarters on me in case I didn’t have a ride or a car. I actually liked riding the bus it’s kind of peaceful and gives you some time to think. I really needed some time to think I wasn’t quite sure where I was going to go. I didn’t know how badly I hurt that guy last night or if he pressed charges. Even if he was completely fine I knew I would never live down the title of a crazy b***h. I decided to opt out of calling Skylar for a ride. I figured she would call eventually and let me know what was going on if she even knew. It was to early anyways, there was no way she was awake. I struggled to my feet as my body screamed in resistance. I could see my reflection in the dark restaurant windows, my makeup was smeared under my eyes and my hair was all over the place. I wiped off my eyes and tried to fix my hair with my fingers. I ended up just pulling my hood over my head and making my way to the light at the end of the block. The light was red when I got there. I pressed the walk button about a thousand times as I stood there absently staring at the tower of lights ahead. The second it changed I thought finally and took my first few steps on to the darker pavement. I wasn’t even given a second to think, but somehow I was able to contemplate just about everything before I was knocked unconscious. The Devil, My Dad, the little girl, the guy at the party, the ashes of me dusting the floor, even the moment between two people with a world of commonalities sharing silence. The answer isn’t given to you until it happens. These events unfolded as if they were aiming for a purpose, my purpose. Right then I knew as the front bumper screamed towards me that this was my answer. I’ll die or survive, but this was where I was going.

© 2016 Michelle

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Added on May 6, 2016
Last Updated on May 6, 2016



St. Paul, MN

I am a 23 year old English teacher. I live in Twin Cities. I enjoy writing of all kinds. I am currently writing a novel but I also write shirt stories and poetry. It all depends on what inspires me in.. more..