My knuckles ached as I ceased my persistent rapping on the metallic door. Rustling could be faintly heard through the heavy barrier before me. I waited, impatient anticipation my only companion in the empty hallway. Slowly, the door handle clicked and turned, the door opening creakily to reveal Benji’s spectacled face through a small opening. My stomach lurched as butterflies slammed their heavy wings against my insides.
“What do you want?” He demanded coldly, making no efforts to mask his annoyance. “I thought I told you I wanted to be alone.”
Consumed with a relentless drive to overlook his indifferent, chilling attitudes, I continued with my intentions of coming there. “I wanted to see you,” I stated sweetly, determined not to reveal any effect from his rejection. “Can I come in?”
“What for?” he inquired with a sneer, effortlessly attempting to repel me. A notion was cemented in his mind that if he was consistently mean to me, I would simply stop haunting his days.
“Well, you said we could be friends-” I began, only to pause immediately. I had to resist my urge to continue my earlier appeal to date him. I looked from his eyes, to the ground, then back up again. “I just figured we could hang out. I’m not doing anything right now…and I wanted to spend some time with you.”
Benji’s chilly demeanor was unmoved, yet he moved aside to make way for my entry. Elated, I entered, stricken with hope and curiosity.
Plopping myself down on his bed, I asked what he had been doing. It appeared that video games were the order of his day. I fought to remain dignified when I realized this is why I was blown off. Looking around, I began inquiring after a few posters of Asian women he had pinned to the walls. I always have enjoyed observing my surroundings, born with an insatiable interest in novelty. After a few minutes of noting the slight differences in our rooms, I found my eyes were glued on him again. Slender, tall and handsome, he possessed a strange, effeminate air about him. His searching brown sunburst eyes seemed to penetrate my soul, as only eyes of a Scorpio can. Warm and smooth, his complexion was framed with messy black hair. I was uncontrollably attracted to him.
Benji and I met on my second evening of drunkenness thanks to the company of two silly girls I had latched onto. One of them recognized him in the midst of an all ages club, tearing him away from a tall, Chinese beauty he was dancing with. I was briefly introduced and he was coaxed into joining us. From that moment forward, we began to see each other on a nightly basis, engaging in the world of wild parties. I was smitten almost in an instant.
The party pursued every night since we met, and it drew us into each others arms. We continuously kissed and whispered, despite the sea of peers around us. It was a strange dance that occurred every evening. I vaguely recall sharing my first cigarette with him, my heels barely able to support my unbalanced figure. He blew the smoke into my mouth, pinning my slim body against a brick wall whilst continuing fevered kissing. Through confessional, intimate talking, it became apparent that he had not been with a woman before. And through my drunken, happy babbling, he discovered I was studying the arts. These were things we wished were different about each other. These were things we wanted to change.
And after the conclusion of every night, after limited hours of sleep, after feeling closer than I had with anyone in my life, he changed.
By day he was a cold, shrewd and logical man. Every hangover was greeted with the clarity that he presented, ensuring I was aware that nothing would evolve from his nightly missteps. He would pledge repeatedly not to cross the line again, barely allowing a friendship to develop. Yet, by night, as the liquor flowed from bottle to belly, foggy gazes were cast in each others direction. Memories and inhibitions drowned with each drop, and we flew together, each enthralled by the other.
Challenged and pained, unrequited feelings of this magnitude were foreign to me, fueling a pact with myself. I was going to tear down his walls and pull out his feelings, taking him for my own. Though in appeared impossible, I was certain I’d succeed.
We sat in his dorm and began to talk. He bragged of his intellectual pursuits in the field of engineering, believing the only useful fields to be math and science. I believed in the usefulness of the arts, though that was overshadowed by his strong dislike of such notions. We spent some time smoking weed and playing a game, though I was an amateur at both. The arrival of our high brought out his warmth, allowing for fluid conversation. It appeared that we were friends after all, bonding with ease.
As we smoked and spoke, he began to unfold his interest and history in drug experimentation. Though I was alarmed, I felt compelled to listen.
“So I am going to a rave at the end of the month,” he mused between puffs, grey smoke spiraling around his head. His features had softened and a smile broke through, one that had been hiding since the night before. “Its going to be awesome…they are going to play happy hardcore!”
I had never heard the word rave used as anything but a descriptive words, though in context I concluded it was an event. Curious, I fumbled out an abrupt “What’s that?”
Benji’s dark eyebrows lifted in awe as he examined my clueless face. “A rave… well its a dance party. In like clubs or warehouses. And they play electronic music. I like the ones that play happy hardcore,” he explained. “Lot’s of candy kids.”
“What’s a candy kid?” I asked, intrigued yet still confused. There was a vague memory of a rave creeping in my mind from a movie I had watched. All I could recall was a scene filled with drugs, guns, and gangs.
“Well, most of them do E. They wear colorful bracelets and clothes, dance at raves, and are really friendly. It is an awesome time. Opened me up.”
He went on to explain how the rave culture changed his life. In eight grade, Benji fell ill with what appeared to be mono. As weeks turned into months, his illness progressed. Doctors concluded he had been stricken with chronic fatigue syndrome, confining him to home schooling and bed rest. To occupy his solitary hours, he delved into study and gaming, developing a tendency to be antisocial. By the time he had recovered, he was in the eleventh grade, stable enough to return to school. Unfortunately, having only associated with one childhood friend and his immediate family, he realized he was socially petrified. Numerous psychologists were visited, the general consensus being that Benji had Antisocial Disorder or Aspergers Syndrome. His mother, being a sensitive, thoughtful woman, decided it was best to cease the investigation into what ailed him. She did her best to encourage his reintegration into society.
Macintee, his childhood friend, was a socially adapted genius. Unfortunately, he was plagued with cystic fibrosis. He had a knack for seduction and a heartless attitude, yet valued his friendship with Benji. One day, Macintee decided to take Benji to the throbbing heart of the big city, right into the pounding pulse of a rave. Stricken with his paralyzing fear of people, Benji was mute and uncomfortable. Macintee had come equipped with a very useful tool, a little pink pill with a smiley face pressed on it: Ecstasy. He handed his anxious friend one, stating it would help if he took it. Within an hour, words and warmth flew from Benji, talking, hugging and dancing with the colorful people that slid through the seedy nightclub. This behavior hadn’t emerged since his childhood.
“It cured me,” he told me with an undeniable sincerity, sitting back down on his chair. ” After that night, I could talk to people again. Now, I can socialize again. The high is such a wonderful feeling. Like all the warmth and love in the world. Its just no good if you are feeling bad…it seems to magnify that.”
I was floored. I had never heard of this drug or its magical effects. I had always been shown that most drug use caused death and addiction. Yet here stood an intelligent, stable person who had used drugs and was fine. Contemplating this tale, I remained in a stoned daze.
“You know what…you should come,” Ben interrupted, smiling at my stupefied expression.
“Huh?” I mumbled, confused by the interruption.
“You should come with me to the rave. It’ll be fun.” He continued to smile, melting my insides with each passing second. However, a nagging nervous energy was trying to snap me out of it.
“Do I have to do drugs?” I asked him, in a worried tone.
“No,” he chuckled, “but you should at least give it a try.”
With a a frown, I queried, “Won’t I get addicted, or get brain damage…or maybe die?”
“Ha ha…that’s highly unlikely,” Benji laughed, touching my leg reassuringly . Sparks flew up my leg, heat and desire flushing my face. Realizing what he had triggered, he abruptly withdrew. “It is like a one in a million chance of death, and that’s if you have a rare allergy or something. Besides, I’d only give you half to start. And your body is resilient.”
Resilient. I thought on this statement. He was the smartest person I had ever met. Resilient. It made sense, but I was still battling my anxiety. Resilient. He made me feel like I could walk through fire and not get burned.
“But what if…” I began, trying to find the reassurance that would abolish the last of my fears.
“Stop. Don’t be paranoid. I’ve researched it. You’ll be fine.” he snapped, sharp coldness returning to Benji’s voice.
With a deep breath, I tried to bury the remaining doubts I held onto, simply replying, “Ok, I’ll come.”
As I left his room and started on my way home, I analyzed all the events that had transpired that day. In the midst of my musings, it dawned on me that this was an opportunity. Maybe, I could get him to admit he loves me, or maybe it would be ok to show him. Maybe his walls would fall away as he soared into euphoria, with me by his side. Maybe this would be the beginning of my great romantic adventure.
With every step and every thought, I could no longer hear my fears. The voice of my former self was being overthrown by new knowledge. My frantic, excited thoughts distracted me from the silence. I began to realize I could have anything I wanted.