Kettle Corn (Bryce Wallace)

cw: addiction, overdose, suicide

He was given too many Percocets. An irrelevant injury gave him a terse introduction to an endless, but taxable pleasure. He had known the risk but also knew curiosity, and the acetaminophen-oxycodone subterfuge force-fed him dense, weightless euphoria that candied the world around him in a subdued, inexplicable way. He spent his entire junior year within the dull room of his horizontally pressed mind. The grey light that hardy squinted from flush blinds became his favorite color, and he prayed for death in sleep yet woke eager to swallow the benevolent enemy. His mom eventually realized his addiction, and withdrawal quickly became the disproportionate punishment that he found himself asphyxiated by. The second day of opioid-free agony convinced him that this attempt at sobriety would be his demise. For days, he narrowly existed between pain and sweat. He laid face down as the only person in the world feeling. With the fan clicking and the humidifier buzzing, his heaving, grabbled brain told him that the worst had yet to come.

Sleep came, then didn’t, but nightmares were not bound to sleep. He often dreamt that he was quietly dying of an overdose in a public place, but anyone that he bashfully told scowled at him as if they thought he was pretending. He then finds himself desperately affecting the behavior of someone who is dying of an overdose in an attempt to convince those around him that he is truly going to die. This effectively forces everyone to ignore his cries entirely as they assume that he is simply a provocateur with intentions to deceive. The dream always ends with him arriving home to ask his mother for help, but then becoming mute with shame when he finds her on the phone. He spends his last moments in his room dying to the door-softened sound of his mother’s banter.

As the impassable days and nights mock him, his options become clear; acquaint excruciating death by withdrawal, or find his emergency stash and consume it all; to become a felon of himself. There had only been one outcome to his addiction all along.

It isn’t hard to find (considering that he knows exactly where it is). The next step is to secure a lonely spot. After little deliberation, he decides that the bathroom will do. He had been routinely constipated for the past few days, so he had at least ten minutes before his mom would think to check on him. He only needed about three. To say goodbye would mean to risk intervention, and he would not entertain any hindrances. So, he walks casually to the bathroom hiding his haste; his pockets contain his fate, and his face, a pained resolve.

He sits on the toilet seat shamelessly, prepared to do the worst. The lighter ignites his calm, and bliss resurrects before his first last breaths.

She warms his lungs and becomes everything that he longs for. She is the obscured, unrequited love that he submits to. He never sees her face, but she feels like microwaved pleasure, and when burned on foil, smells like kettle corn. She’s violet thunder and he consumes every lungful; impregnating himself with fire.

Two minutes pass. His eyes roll into an excruciating love dream and snow frenzies itself around them. His mom will smell the kettle corn and find him, but he can’t come back and doesn’t try to. In the darkness, he feels his almost weightless body undulate with infinite epicenters and can remember every close-eyed inhale that brought him to this point. In the alone-sound of night in the cold, he watches, with little regret, the elusive face that exists just beyond his vision. She stands before him as a shadow, moonlight glancing through her, not feeling flesh. The snow at night arrives from darkness violently fast and weightless. She faces away from him, the snowflakes are a million stars. He feels himself dissolving into the night. Reaching for her silhouette against lightspeed.


Bryce Wallace is a 21 year old English major. Follow him at @brycewalla.