We lived in a two-bedroom duplex, he and I, me and him: a place just big enough for two people. We stacked vinyl on shelves, next to piles of paperbacks, of half-price video games and DVDs we’d picked up for cheap. Sometimes, at the end of the month we’d had enough money to splurge. I could sleep in the other bedroom when things got heated. He’d say something about my family or how I looked shit in the mornings and I’d throw the first thing I could get my hands on at his head. Sometimes he was lucky, it was a pillow or remote control. Other times he wasn’t. He needed to get stitches when I threw a jar of jalapeños at his head and the glass shattered on impact. He could’ve ducked, but I suppose he thought I’d miss. We spent three hours waiting in the emergency ward holding a brown towel to his left temple. I didn’t say sorry, but made sure we had everything we needed: a Medicare card, supply of coffee and a few chocolate bars.
We had a party at our place on New Year’s, he and I, me and him. A few of the boys and their girlfriends came by; we lined the alcohol up next to the kitchen sink. The eight of us drank whiskey out of wine glasses, ashing our cigarettes into an empty beer bottle. Sometimes we missed or couldn’t be bothered and it’d fall on the table. The night moved in fast-motion, probably because of the drugs: three grams of weed, four grams of coke. We were howling with laughter, bumping into walls, kissing forcefully on the mattress on the living room floor.
The next morning I tried to clean up. I found a near-empty bag of cocaine and a lollipop wrapper on a dinner plate: a meal. I swept ash off the table with my hand,and put the empty bottles of whiskey, wine and gin into a plastic bag and tied a knot. I poured half-finished glasses of red down the sink. I thought that lemonade helped settle your stomach, so I drank lemon squash out of a mug. He decided to go to the beach, so hopped into his beaten-up ’92 Subaru and drove off. I couldn’t leave the house; had to be within steps of the toilet, just in case I began wretching. I walked over the chip crumbs and cigarette butts on the linoleum floor. My head pounded and my stomach churned, so I spent the day watching daytime television, sweating under the ceiling fan and waiting. In the late afternoon he came in through the back door and started to wash the dishes.
I didn’t know where we would end up, he and I, me and him. We seemed to be moving towards something, a light at the end of the cross-city tunnel.