A man's descent into madness
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The Girl in Black
Rough Draft 1
I have been avoiding writing this story for months. When I was writing the “Alienation from….” series, I had mentioned tidbits of this story, but now it is time to go ahead and lay this all out. Until the after the conclusion of this story, I still maintained the illusion crafted in my head that I was a protagonist in life going up against the evils plaguing this world. Maybe I had subconsciously tried to continue that narrative with these thoughts I typed down over the course of my writing. Today, I am sure that illusion will be shattered. This story took me from the innocence of my high school days to some of the darkest moments in the depths of my addictions. The aftermath of these events gave me the worst feeling of guilt that I have ever experienced in my life so far. Guilt and resentment overflowed and the ensuing self-hatred is what eventually led me to sobriety.
In February, I wrote an entry called “Ideal Woman to not so Ideal.” The premise was self-explanatory. In high school, I “fell in love” with every girl in the school who fit into the emo/scene/goth subcultures. There were not many people who fit that stereotype due to living in a rural community, so whenever that person came along, I jumped on the opportunity. In that entry, I described having a crush on Jessica who was the epitome of the stereotype of the “emo girl” of the late 2000s. The Jessica saga lasted a few mere weeks which ultimately did not have an impact on my life. However, the subject of today’s story was in the same crowd that Jessica belonged to. Here is the story of Miri.
My anxiety was beginning to tear me apart because in three days, I was going to travel to Louisiana and perform my audition at Northwestern State for a potential scholarship. My friend from band Michael, asked me to drive him and a friend to a get together party at a house on the lake that was being hosted by his extended family. I agreed to go in an attempt to lessen the anxiety. The first thing that comes into mind about that day was the bitter cold. There was not a cloud in the sky, but the wind was coming in strong from the north. I kept the heater turned on the highest setting even with my jacket thrown on. The new stereo in my car happened to have an iPod hookup and Michael played this shit early 2000s rap music and I can remember rolling my eyes hard on the ride down to the lake. I gripped the steering wheel tight as the Impala crossed the massive bridge on the lake before turning off into a neighborhood called “Hideaway Cove.” We pulled up early afternoon to the lake house after half a mile of zigzagging through the subdivision.
This house was massive with the façade covered in white Texas sandstone. I was quickly overwhelmed with both the size of the house and the amount of people there. Other than Michael, I did not know anyone at the party. Standing at the front of the house, it appeared to be two stories tall, but around the back, there was a 3rd floor on the bottom that was built into the side of the hill sloping down towards the lake. In the back, there was a giant patio that was on the roof of the bottom 3rd floor with stairs going out into backyard. Inside the double doors from the patio was a massive gameroom and minibar. The backyard flattened out at the edge of the hillside and went out about 100 feet before ending at the edge of the lake. At the shore, a pier and boathouse protruded out into the water. The boathouse was larger than my house and had the pier encircle it on three sides with an awning overhanging the pier.
My social anxiety was debilitating when compared to today. When we arrived at the party, Michael had to force me inside and go mingle. I kept me head down while he introduced me to his family. After only a moment, I thought I was going to pass out. Both of us felt out of place because the party was mostly Michael’s extended family who were all grown, and there was a bunch of little kids who were crowded around a bouncy castle that was set up in the middle of the backyard. The few people there who were close to our age were all sitting at the boathouse. We made our way to the boathouse, and I felt the brown dead grass crunch under my boots. At the pier stood Michael’s friend from another school, Michael’s younger sister, and someone who I didn’t recognize. This last person ended up being someone who would change my life forever.
The girl was sitting alone on the pier with her legs hanging over a few feet above the freezing black abyss of the lake. Michael yelled out: “Hey this is my cousin Miranda” to his other friend and me. Miranda’s long dyed black hair covered her eyes which were sporting a pair of wide black framed glasses, which was not the common style of the day. She was dressed head to toe in black clothing that made her the poster child of 2000s Hot Topic. In the years to come, I would refer to her as my “girl in black.” The sun peeked out behind the clouds for a few hours and the light made her porcelain skin look as if it were glowing which was contrasted by her black hair and black clothing. Miranda stood about 5’6” and as my usually type was heavyset. I would be much more nervous talking to a nerdy weird girl than some skinny blonde. That still holds true to this day.
Michael and his bunch were standing across the pier talking while Miranda was clutching and scribbling something down. I walked over and asked while muttering what she was writing down and she showed me the poetry she was creating. The wind was blowing, and I was shivering in my jacket. I could not tell if I was shivering from the freeze or from anxiety.
My mind was racing thinking about my newfound dream girl. I excused myself and walked up through the house and back up to the car. Being the little alcoholic that I was, 17 year old Zach had a hid a flask of Canadian Hunter hiding behind the passenger seat in my car. I took a few swigs and went back inside. I felt the warmth entering me and I has a slight respite for the time being.
Throughout the afternoon, I made a few more attempts to talk to Miranda, but I was not able hold that much of a conversation due to my anxiety. We started to head out around dark since the younger people and kids cleared out and the party became a rager for the adults. Michael and Miranda’s moms were both inebriated when we cleared out (of course I wanted to stay and party!)
Michael was playing more awful rap music in the car as we drove back across the lake back towards town. Anger started to rush out because I was too nervous to not only make a move, but I could not even hold a conversation with her. I stewed the entire trip back.
Miranda attended the same school as me. I wanted to try talking in hall on multiple occasions, but again I was a nervous little shit and was unable to even approach and say hi. Three days later I had my audition at Northwestern State and made the decision that I was skipping town after graduation. The quirky cute girl with whom l I was too nervous to strike up a conversation stuck in the back of my mind for a while but eventually faded into the back of my memory and that afternoon felt more like a dream than something that really happened. The allure of college band, fraternity life, and the fact that nobody in that town knew me was the new focus of my life.
With tuition prices being raised 20% in a year and not being able to find a job so I could make the payments on my truck, I regretfully made the decision to transfer back home to Texas and would attend the local community college. This was to be my last semester in Louisiana, and I decided to live it up by, …drinking and being depressed that I had to move back home. I was well on the journey to becoming a full-blown alcoholic. Most nights I sat on the porch of the trailer house where I rented a room sipping a drink, dipping snuff, and talking with my roommate Kevin.
On a random October night, I was sitting on the porch drinking. The night was unusually warm with a light breeze. Leaves were falling from the few oak trees that were in the trailer park while the pines and cypress trees cypress trees rustled in the wind. It was about as picturesque of a fall night as you can get in Louisiana. I was in my rocking bench that I took from a fraternity brother, and Kevin was sitting across the porch in a plastic patio chair. The porch was illuminated by a set of Christmas lights and low yellow light from the streetlamps, while the smell of cheap marijuana seeped across the porch as Kevin smoked.
Half drunk, I pulled out an old Windows XP laptop that Mom picked up from a garage sale. I logged onto Facebook and saw: “Miranda wants to be your friend.” A flood of memories from high school came out of nowhere and hit me. The picture was a cute girl sporting a smirk, black hair with bangs covering half of her face and thick wide framed glasses. The only difference in her appearance was her clothing. The pure black attire was replaced with a bright yellow Death Cab for Cutie shirt. I quickly accepted the request and checked out her profile. It was filled with typical now cringe emo girl stuff including several black and white pictures, and yes, pictures of her Converse littered the page.
I sat on the bench and clutched the laptop. I felt unsure of what to say. I wondered if I should even message her, and why did she even add me? After all, I was the random cowboy guy who crushed on the emo girl at a party almost two years prior. After I pondered for a moment, I clicked the send button and messaged: “Hey, what’s up.” By this time Kevin came over and started to look through her pictures, and after a few seconds of snooping, he told me he approved and thought I should go for it.
I was surprised that she actually responded back to me. In my drunken daze, I loosened up and sent messages without the critiques and second guessing that I would normally give myself when attempting to talk to a girl I liked. The alcohol fueled bliss overwhelmed me considering that for one of the first times in my life, someone who I found stunningly gorgeous seemed interested in me since I viewed myself as nothing more than “chick repellant.”
Over the coming weeks Miranda and I began messaged more and more. I told myself that my long wait was finally over and soon I would begin my first relationship. I would wake up in the mornings and immediately start to text her, and I spent so much my energy in a daydream being in her presence. We made plans to meet when I returned home for a weekend. We set a date for early November to meet up.
November 6, 2010
The big day arrived when I would meet up with my emo queen and I would once again meet the girl of my dreams in person. Miranda wanted me to pick her up and take her to my house. We would talk, cuddle, lay in bed, and then I would ask her to be my girlfriend. This was the best plan that idiot 18 year old me could come up with.
That afternoon, we had some of the worst thunderstorms that I could remember being that late in the year. The rain just wouldn’t stop pouring down. Miranda wanted me to wait until the weather lightened up. My anxiety went through the roof, so I made my way over to the refrigerator and cracked open a Coors Light. After that first beer, the shaking in my hands began to settle down but my anxiety was still not dissipating. Since my hands started to steady, I grabbed three more beers from the fridge, took a steak knife from the cabinet and walked over to the sink. I stabbed the first can, popped the top, and shotgunned the beer. It took me roughly 5 minutes to shotgun all three beers. Now the weather began to clear changing from massive thunderstorms to an autumn mist. the time came to leave. I threw on my old jean jacket, pulled my Nebraska hat over my head and walked out the door into the cold.
Unfortunately, just as I was leaving, my mom and my best friend Andy pulled in the driveway. Although Andy was an engineering major, he attended a Baptist university that required him to take a religion class every semester. Being at the time my mother was a Sunday school teacher, Andy called upon her to ask for help with his term paper. My plan was ruined.
When I picked Miranda up, my nerves were gone even though I just drank four beers. She climbed out of the mist and into the truck. I could not believe that I was sitting in the same car as my dream girl; She was here and I could not believe it. I leaned over and put my arms around her pressing her black Nightmare Before Christmas shirt into my chest. “Soo... change of plans” I muttered while being engulfed in her perfume. In my brilliance, I made the executive decision to take us back to the house and sit in the driveway while Andy and my mother were inside.
We drove less than a minute across my small town and pulled back in the yard. After I turned off the truck, I pulled her into my arms and we just sat in silence hugging for what seemed like an eternity. With the anxiety flaring up out of control again I had to make the decision to go for it or not. The moment was here, there is no way to turn back. I leaned in to kiss and pulled her in close. I felt her breath blow against my face as she got close to me, and finally I felt her lips press against mine and I felt a rush of ecstasy release from my being. That was one of the most amazing kisses I have ever experienced. We escalated and turned into a full makeout session. She pulled me close and started kissing me aggressively. Her glasses began to fog up and she tossed them onto the dash. The soft grip from her hands turned into her fingernails digging into my back as Miranda held onto me. While short of breath, she blurted out that she was waiting for this moment for almost two years, “me too,” I blurted out while I caught my breath. Now the hot moisture from inside the truck began to fog up the cab due to the cold humid mist of outside.
I felt short of breath and thought I was on the brink of passing out. We kissed for a few more minutes. Knowing about my weird stomach fetish that I have, she grabbed my hands and placed them just under her shirt onto her pale and clammy stomach. I began to run my hands across her stomach and waist. I was in heaven. She ran her hand across me and touched me on the outside of my pants before having me lie down across the bench seat of the truck. My emo dream girl then laid her head on my chest while I tried to relax and get my heartrate down. We weren’t going to go any further than that, but I honestly didn’t mind. We were going to be together so there would be much more time to get more intimate in the future.
We laid in silence as I watched Miranda close her eyes. Out of nowhere I heard a knock on the driver side window. Miranda bolted up and in a single motion jumped back into the passenger seat. I rolled down the fogged window worried that I just got busted by my mother. Andy greeted me with a huge grin on his face and looked over at Miranda yelling out: “Hi! I’m Andy!” Miranda did not seem to be amused by Andy making an attempt to be a smartass. Now that we were busted by my best friend, Miranda decided that it was time for me to take her back home. Andy trudged through the mud and walked right back inside the house. As I started up the truck, I felt my phone go off and it was a text from Andy: “Party hard Mr. Hardy 😉.” We drove back and Miranda held my hand tight. We agreed to meet next week and maybe we would meet up in town or get dinner. She leaned over to kiss me as she got out of the truck.
I felt that everything was going my way. Feeling full of bliss, I walked back inside the house seeing Mom and Andy who were sitting at the table working on Andy’s paper. Andy grit his teeth while trying not to laugh and get me in trouble. I grabbed another beer out of the fridge in celebration.
The next day, I had a few messages from Miranda, but I was driving back to Louisiana and noticed that I never heard back. Once I got back to the trailer, I fired up the old laptop to send a Facebook message, but still no response. I did not hear from her at all on that Monday, so by Tuesday, I labeled this whole event as another rejection and went on my way. That night, I blacked out drunk at the TKE House in despair leading to an event that warrants its own story. Exactly one week after meeting Miranda in person, I went to a party and met Stephanie. I started the relationship that I desired for so long. Miranda again faded into a memory.
During this time in my life, things were not exactly going to plan. I was living with Stephanie in a cramped nasty apartment in a run down complex about a mile from the trailer where I stayed two years prior. I was angry that Stephanie was spending most of her free time at her classmates’ apartments while completely ignoring me in the process. Stephanie became distant and while I didn’t know at the time, she was busy cheating on me While I was working my job making $7.95 an hour cleaning floors on the nightshift at Walmart
Since my off days were Sundays and Mondays, my “Friday night” started around 7am on Sunday morning. My “weekend ritual” kicked off when my shift ended, and I bought about $20 worth of malt liquor which usually lasted for a few days. After getting home, I discovered that Stephanie stayed the night at a (male) friend’s house. Being livid, I started to drink and listened to the lectures from a random history class that I signed up for as a futile attempt to get back into the university. While listening to the lecture I got on Facebook in hopes to take my mind off the bitterness and loneliness that I was feeling in that moment when coming home from a long night at work to see that the person I was with stayed the night somewhere else. As I was scrolling, I ran across someone who I had not crossed my mind in ages, it was the girl who vanished out of the blue, it was Miranda.
I decided to message her, and we hit it off as if not missing a step in two years. We messaged throughout the morning and into the afternoon. Stephanie still was not home so I continued this hours long Facebook conversation. Finally, around 5pm, Stephanie returned home, and we got into a fight about her staying so long at the friend’s house. I stumbled and grabbed my keys with Stephanie yelling out at me: “Where the fuck are you going?” I replied: “I am making my way to destinations.” I staggered my way outside, used a bottle of Listerine that I had stashed under the truck seat to mask the smell of alcohol. I somehow drove to Walmart and walked around the store buying even more alcohol in the process. An hour of walking down the aisles went by as I was drunkenly texting Miranda.
The next month flew by and I started to rely on Miranda heavily. Stephanie was completely emotionally gone at this point spending almost most of her waking hours at friends’ houses. My days were spent drinking and hating my life. Around the beginning of October, Miranda started to ask me to come home. She told me that Stephanie was treating me awful, and I needed to leave before I completely fell apart. Throughout the month I heard: “Zach please come home, you can do better than her, I am here for you.” My life did not improve, and I had a complete emotional collapse that led to Stephanie finally dumping me the day after Halloween.
One day after Stephanie broke up with me and I was back home, but I had someone here that was willing to start a relationship with me as soon as I healed. Miranda asked me to take her to dinner. My nerves were jittery as usual, and this time I did not have any alcohol to numb myself down.
I drove up to a random house and Miranda jumped in the truck. She was wearing black skinny jeans and a black Adventure Time shirt. I reached over and grabbed her hand tight. I felt a weight being lifted of me as her hand touched mine. She asked me to take her to Chilis. I felt weird about it since Chilis was the spot that Stephanie and I would have our date nights plus, Chilis in Texas did not serve Abita so I had to settle for Bud Light. We talked about the first day we met all those years ago, we talked about her life. She just came home a few months prior after living in Austin with a family member. My Miri looked like perfection sitting across the table from me. The neon lights were reflecting off her glasses as she was talking and smiling. I asked her where she wanted to go after we finished eating, and she wanted me to drive her to a girl’s house who we went to high school with about 30 miles away. “Sure?” I blurted out.
I had an ace up my sleeve. I asked if I could take her to a place that was special to me on the way to her friend’s house. I turned off the highway with one hand on her and one hand on the steering wheel. We pulled onto the old country road, I felt the familiar texture of rocks as I pulled into the farm. We got out of the truck and walked around with the dry cool air surrounding us. Miranda walked over to me and I put my arms around her. I felt her gloss covered lips press against mine as I held my arms around her waist. I could smell her perfume as I held her tightly while she whispered in my ear that she missed me. My hands reached over and I rubbed my hands across her stomach over her shirt. My dream girl got back into the truck and as I sat beside her she continued to kiss me and then began to unbutton my shirt then softly bit my collarbone. I placed my hands on her stomach again as she pulled off her shirt.
I couldn’t hold on anymore and I started to kiss her body, her chest and stomach and she breathed heavily as she took off her jeans. My pants started to come off and I felt her hand grab me. I waited for that moment since we were in school together. Sweat was starting to from across her body as I moved from kissing her stomach to her inner thighs. Miranda laid back against the door as I kissed her pasty chubby legs. As she leaned back, I kissed her lightly over her underwear before I pulled them off and tossed them on the floor.
Miranda was now covered in sweat as I was my face was trapped between her legs. I was in heaven. Her moans were light and shallow at first until her breathing became heavy. Suddenly, she sucked in a gasp of air and she finished to completion. Now, Miranda pushed me down on the seat as she got on top of me. I closed my eyes and thought to myself that this was poetic justice. I waited on her so many times, but now she is all mine. I opened my eyes as she started to kiss me again. After everything started to wind down, we laid our sticky bodies against each other and I embraced her again. After a few moments of sitting in silence she asked me to go ahead take her to her friend’s house. After getting dressed, we took off.
The drive was silent as Miranda laid her hand on my lap as I drove while my arm was around her waist. By now it was dark, and we were alone on a country road. A sense of calm peace that I have not felt in ages overcame me. When we made it to the town, I sat there with and hugged her one last time and as she was leaving, I yelled out “I love you, Miranda.” Gazing back at me she softly spoke: “I know, I love you too Zach.”
The events of the next few months did not go as planned. One of the strongest depression and binging spells of my life engulfed me the weeks after moving home. After messaging me about a week, Miranda eventually ghosted me. On the day after Thanksgiving, I made one last attempt to get in touch with her. I sent around a dozen texts proclaiming my love towards her, but I never received a response. After all, who wanted to hang out with a crazed drunk? After witnessing the silence of my phone for a few hours, I attempted suicide. Fortunately for me, I woke up the next day I wrote in the handwritten journal on that day:
“11/23/2012, I went to the hospital on 10/18. Stephanie left me, I am back home. Miranda won’t talk to me.”
The next week I started working in housekeeping at the hospital and I wrote:
“11/26/2012: First day at the hospital, really depressed, Miranda wont talk to me.”
Life sucked. The same patterns of working nightshift, coming home, and getting drunk until I pass out did not change, in fact the only changes were that I was now home again; instead of talking to Miranda on Facebook, I tried to fill the void that was caused by Stephanie leaving by getting involved in craziness. Alcohol numbed me and I tried to unhealthily jump back into a relationship seeking female attention, so I created profiles on Plenty of Fish and Meet Me which are both places where healthy people meet to form stable friendships.
One such night around 3am, I was on Meet Me and was messaged by Kinsey. The profile picture staring back at me was a blonde heavyset girl wore big black framed glasses. While not my type at all, I talked to her to stave off my loneliness. Kinsey was ditsy, and I would classify her as someone who tried to capitalize on the emo aesthetic but not entirely met the stereotype. The fog of time has started to creep into my mind so I cannot remember what our conversations consisted of. After a few weeks of talking, we decided to go out to dinner.
On a freezing night in February, Kinsey arrived at my house, and I took her out to dinner. We went to Chilis, and it was uneventful for the most part. I became drunk, we went to a movie, and then we went back home. Well… While driving to go eat, Kinsey looked over at me and said: “I asked my best friend Miranda about you.” I felt the hair on my neck standing up. So random girl that I am taking to dinner is friends with the person that I loved who ditched me not once but twice.
I can’t say what I did next was revenge or if it was just stupidity, but over the next week I committed what I considered to be the biggest transgressions in my life.
Three days later as I slept off a hangover between shifts, I woke up to climbing into bed with me; I left my door unlocked. My mind just was not there since I was hungover and newly awakened. She began talking and I was just going with it. After a few minutes, Kinsey asked me how I felt about her. Well, I thought to myself, “I suppose I like you a lot.” I lied through my teeth with no shame. Kinsey asked me if I wanted to be with her and I tried to hush her up saying “yeah sure.” What happened next was what I can only describe as passionless sex. In essence, I lied to sleep with someone’s best friend as revenge. Kinsey was a nice person, and maybe I would have actually liked her. Instead, I became spiteful and committed an act of petty revenge. Two days later, I told Kinsey I wasn’t interested. To make matters worse, I told her via text. Her response is what you would expect. I got the “I thought you were different” speech and was told to go fuck myself. It took until I quit drinking a little over a year later before I ever felt a tinge of guilt. I rationalized all the events as some sort of poetic justice. Life went on.
It was a cooler than average afternoon. My AA sponsor Kelley and I were sitting on the wooden bench in front of the AA house. After a few days of gut-wrenching soul searching while completing my 4th step, I found myself completing Step 5 which is telling another person your past mistakes or as they say in AA: “the exact nature of your wrongs.” Tearing up, I began to spill the story about Miranda as well as all the other wrongs I committed while drinking. I expected Kelley to affirm my awful behavior of the past. He looked over and laughed at me. Kelley, who in my opinion, is the embodiment of the Dude from the Big Lebowski, sat there and laughing yelling out, “Your shit isn’t that bad bro, just forget about it!”
After calming himself down from his laugh, Kelley told me something that stuck with me. The touch of wisdom from my hippie AA sponsor was as follows: “This entire situation with these people of your past seems like it is a huge deal to you at this stage in your life. A year from now you will not think about it as much. One day in the future, you will go an entire day without thinking about her, in fact you might even laugh about everything yourself.” Those words hold true to this day. Someone that made a huge impact in my early life is now no more than a bad dream.
It was time to write a 9th Step Letter. Unfortunately, what I wrote was lost to the sands of time. I logged onto Facebook and wrote out a novel laying out my wrongdoings against Miranda. It took me about 30 minutes to write the letter due to adding in extra information including “well you ghosted me at my lowest.” After several attempts, I laid out a note seeking to make amends for only my fuck ups without mentioning any of the things that she did to me. Holding my breath, I pressed the send button. I was left on read; the “Read at 2100” appeared on the screen as I felt my mood drop. I wanted closure and conclusion to the story; I wanted to know why Miranda walked away from me when I was at my absolute lowest point of my life. Regardless of not receiving a response, I felt a weight being lifted for this saga to finally come to a close.
Tiffany walked up to me as I was sitting at the hard plastic table and chair in the psych ward dayroom. I was dozing off and she slammed a stack of papers down in front of me. “Zach, do my taxes.” I grit my teeth while I rolled my eyes. I completed the routine patient monitoring round. “Of course, the patients were all asleep,” I thought to myself as I sat back down to document my rounding. Tiffany sat down beside me as I started to rummage through tax papers. While I tried to find my HR Block password, I heard snickering and giggling coming from beside me. Tiffany was blushing with her face turning as pink as the frames of her glasses. I was beginning to feel annoyed while tears were rolling down her face. After a minute of her laughter, I finally asked what her problem was. She showed me her phone: “You wanted to kill yourself over this girl? Seriously? Can you believe that Zach’s dream girl now works at a call center and has a kid?” My face shot a scowl in Tiffany’s direction as I punched in the tax numbers. I peeked at her phone while she was looking in the other direction and saw a rough but familiar face on looking back on a profile picture. “Wonder what it would have been like if things worked out?”