Give Me Your Answer True

By: Suanne Laqueur


THE DAY DAWNED BORED and looking for trouble, and Daisy woke up needing to get high.

Not a breath of air came in through the screened window of her room. The sunlight splashing across her bed was hot and sullen. Against her face, her boyfriend’s back was cool and damp. Erik ran like an engine through the night. His sleep generated a dry thrumming heat that broke like a fever when he awoke. The hair at the back of his head divided into small, wet sections.

“What time is it?” he asked, his voice a croak.

Eyeballs clanging in her head, Daisy twisted back to look at the clock on her bedside table. “Ten after seven.”

They both kicked the twisted, crumpled sheets away from their legs. Turned pillows to the cool side, rolled and rearranged and fell back asleep.

When Daisy awoke again, she knew the morning had slipped away and afternoon now closed around her room like an angry fist. Erik’s shoulders pushed back against her belly and chest. His skin had dried. His hand ran along her thigh.

“What time is it?” he asked.

She looked. “Almost twelve-thirty.”

“I need to turn that paper in by two.”

Daisy set the back of her hand on her forehead, trying to think what she had to do in these last days of her college career. A couple of exams later in the week. Today, though, she needed…

I need to get high.

“God, I feel hungover,” Erik said. He wasn’t. Neither was she. They hadn’t gotten high in a week. No coke, no pot, no ecstasy. And since sex went hand-in-hand with substance, they hadn’t made love in the same amount of time.

Daisy was ambivalent to the loss of physical intimacy. Her brain, however, was a howling dog, craving a fix.

Erik crawled over her to get up. Daisy’s eyes slid along his body with a tired appreciation. He still worked out every day, but he wasn’t eating much lately. Wasn’t feeding the muscle. His chest and arms were defined but his ribs showed.

He bent over, trawling the floor for his clothes. From the gold chain around his neck swung four small charms. A saint’s medal. A fish. A boat with his surname, Fiskare, engraved on its flat bottom. And a tiny pair of scissors. The necklace was an heirloom he was never without.

He yawned as he dressed, tucking things in his pockets. He tugged on a shirt, ran hands through his dark blond hair. Then he sat on the edge of the bed and pulled Daisy to sit up so he could fold her in his arms.

“You feel all right?” he asked.

“I’m good,” she said, lying.

They compared schedules to see where they overlapped but neither seemed to know what was going on. They left it with a vague reassurance they’d meet up at some point. Erik took her head in his hands and kissed her. Forehead. Each eyelid. Right cheek. Left. Then her mouth. Daisy curled her fingers around his left wrist, her thumb running along the daisy tattooed beneath the heel of his hand.

The fog lifted and she saw the golden beauty in his face, tasted the blend of tenderness and ferocity in his love. Her hand slid up the nape of his neck and she drew his forehead down on her shoulder.

“I love you,” she said.

“I love us.” He turned his head and breathed in deep against her neck.

Then he left.

Daisy laid in bed, listening to Erik’s footsteps thump down the stairs, followed by the slam of the screen door. She didn’t move.

She’d missed ballet class this morning but she didn’t care. She didn’t care about anything anymore. She was defeated before she began. The day was a yawning chasm of danger and the only bridge across was getting high.

When the need threatened to split her apart, she got up, dressed and pulled her hair back. She walked out into the hot May afternoon with a fistful of twenties, leaving her little apartment on Jay Street and walking around the corner to David Alto’s place.

She went looking for it.

Drugs, she insisted later. I went looking to get juiced. I didn’t go looking for sex.

David was awake, wet-haired and wearing nothing but shorts. He used to be slightly chunky with bulky muscles. Now he seemed more whittled away than Erik. Not skin and bones but a slimness that came from stress and a drug-quelled appetite.

It wasn’t unattractive.

He didn’t seem surprised to see her. Squinting his bloodshot eyes against a ribbon of cigarette smoke, he batted her money away. “Wish I’d known you were coming, Marge. I already cut in.”

“I want to roll anyway,” she said, irritated by the nickname, David’s version of her real name, Marguerite.

“In broad daylight?” he said, grinning. “I thought you only got ecstatic at night.”

“I need it now,” she said.

“I know, I know.” His voice turned gentle and soothing. “It’s hard.”

He searched a couple pairs of shorts and a jacket before he found his magic box, in this case an old Advil bottle with the label half-scrubbed away. Daisy’s palms started to sweat as he shook it like a maraca.

She hated it.

“Open your mouth, and close your eyes and you will get a big surprise,” he said.

She stared at him.

I hate you.

Her eyes closed and her lips parted. The seconds squeezed by. His mouth pressed hers. A dart of his tongue, depositing an Ecstasy pill behind her bottom teeth.

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