The flames stretched up and licked the paper, sending smoke into my throat and lungs. I tilted my head back, laying on the hood of a red Chevy truck, my back against the windscreen, an arm behind my head, the other hand holding the cigarette between my fingers. I stared at the clouds floating above me and it felt as if I was almost floating with them. I pursed my lips and blew smoke rings towards them and I could see myself floating on one, heading straight for the sun. I tapped ash onto my right side and looked to my left.
Monty. He was floating on his own smoke rings. What are wedding rings, when the smoke rings seem just as eternal? His brown eyes met mine, he flicked his fringe out of his eyes. I smiled at him, staring at his perfection. Monty, my best friend since we were thirteen. He was my everything. I always used to stay at his house, smoking weed in his room whilst playing video games and praying his mother didn’t come home early to beat the shit outta us both. Monty was a nerd and never had many friends and I was the opposite. I gave up everything for him and I would do it all again. I didn’t need popularity when I had Monty. Monty makes me feel good, like maybe the world isn’t a shit hole. I tell myself one day I’ll tell him exactly how I feel. I’ll tell him that I love him. I fucking love him.
“You sure That’s wise?” A voice said from my right. I turned my head to look at Nick standing, looking at us.
I put my spliff back in my mouth and blew out smoke as I said, “Is anything wise anymore, Nicki boy?”
Nick stood a little awkward, he scratched his left hand, his hands in front of his crotch, his hair half-up half-down and dressed in a yellow cardigan with a black shirt and jeans. He looked as though he wanted to join, but something held him back. He shrugged, “I don’t know. But what’re you gonna do when it runs out? With the amount you’ve got, you’ll be going cold turkey and that’s never fun. So is it worth it?”
I shrugged, sitting up, dangling my legs over the edge of the hood of the truck, Monty still laid behind me, blowing smoke. I held my spliff in my index finger and thumb, pointing the back end towards him and the lit end towards me, “You tell me.”
Nick stared at it, like it was a gun. I could see the conflict in him. I knew he was an addict to heroin, but this was merely weed. Just like smoking tobacco and you don’t have to smoke to get stoned. It’s like drinking, but without the anger and legality. Nick shook his head, a little sad, “I can’t. I have to be strong now.”
“For them?” I nodded towards Lexa and Alicia, who were sat with Clarke near the flats, helping her to walk to try and strengthen her leg, it’s been two weeks since we came here, Teresa says next week we’ll be gone. Me and Monty were in McDonald’s car park.
Nick nodded, again his tone sad, “Yeah, for them.”
I put my spliff back in my mouth, holding it between my lips as I went in my coat pocket, pulling out a pack of cigarettes, filled with both substances. My fingers pulled out a legal cigarette and I held it towards him with my left hand as I held my spliff in my right fingers. “Here.”
Nick stepped towards me, taking the fag in his index and thumb, he placed it in his mouth and jumped on the hood, sitting next to me. Monty handed him a lighter and he cupped his hands around his fag as he lit it. He gave the lighter to Monty and then blew his own smoke. He looked at me, “Thanks.”
I smiled, “You’re welcome, we’re friends now. Us junkies gotta stick together.”
Nick smiled a little, “I’m not a junkie anymore-“
“Not true.” I cut him off, my tone light, “Once a junkie, always a junkie. You can’t escape it. Once it’s inside you, that’s it. The demon never fully leaves you. But you know that.”
Nick nodded, looking down at his sneakers, which were covered in mud and scuffed, the laces frayed slightly.
* * *
Another day ended. Me, Nick and Month spent it together, smoking, joking and getting to know each other. I jumped off of the hood of the truck.
“Where you going?” Monty asked me, high as a kite and little drunk.
I smiled, “Thanks for the concern, I’m going to piss.”
“Don’t take too long,” Nick said, “There’s still more questions that need to be answered.”
I grinned, throwing my arms out, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world!”
I turned to my right, walking past the front of the McDonald’s, I glanced in the window and saw my brother sat in a booth, staring at Clarke, Teresa and Alicia, who were sat in a booth sat the other side of McDonald’s. My brother was more hopeless about admitting his feelings than I was. He was in love with Teresa, they were together before the apocalypse, but shit happened and they fell apart. But now the world has too.
I turned left, down the side of McDonald’s, my back to the highway as I faced the brick wall. I unzipped my jeans and pulled down my jeans slightly. Suddenly my chest was against the wall, a crushing weight forcing me against it. My jeans fell to my ankles and my cheeks flushed red. “Let me go!” I yelled in fear, “Monty! Nick! Monty! Somebody-“
“Nobody can hear you.” A voice growled, a familiar one. They pulled me backwards, and then turned my shoulders and shoved my back against the wall. Light from the moon shon on her face. Her tanned skin and green eyes, dressed in all black.
“Lexa?” I said in shock, my jeans still around my ankles, my arms pinned to my sides by her hands. She was millimetres away from me and I felt fear crawling up my spine. I tried to think what Murphy or Bellamy would do in this situation. They’d try to make a joke but I’m not a heterosexual and nor is Lexa. I swallowed as it was the only thing I could do.
Lexa hissed, her eyes stone cold and her voice like poison, “Stay away from Nick.”
My brow creased, “Nick? Why?”
Lexa shoved me against the wall, “Just do it. Stay away from Nick and stay away from Alicia. Stay away from my family with your drugs. Nick doesn’t need you and he will never be your friend. We’re not like you. We’re not weak and pathetic, lonely pot-heads like you. So stay away. Or I’ll make you.” She then let go off my arms and stepped back, glaring at me before flashing me a sickly sweet, it was sweet I could feel the booze rising in my throat. “See you around, Jasper.”
She disappeared in the darkness and suddenly I didn’t need to pee anymore. I pulled up my jeans and sheepishly headed back to the boys.