Excerpt 3 - Have I created a monster?
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
I stare at the paraphernalia for a moment, then pull a book off the shelf. Blowing the dust off the cover of a tattered “The Hardy Boys”, I sprinkle some tobacco on their cartoon faces. Then I break a piece of the hash, pierce through it with a rusty safety pin, and ignite it. The rough, dirty smell makes me cough instantly, and I begin to question my decision. Downstairs there is a murmur of a conversation about the right kind of casket to bring her home in. I guess they have bigger problems than to worry about a twenty-four year old choosing to smoke a joint, rather than choosing what his sister will be buried in.
With her words still blaring in my head, I blow out the hash, drop the ball on the tobacco, and begin to mix it with my fingers. It’s been a while since I’ve made a hash mix, but it still comes to me as naturally as taking a shit in someone else’s house – I know how to do it, but don’t necessarily want to, but also can’t help myself.
Eventually I roll a joint even I couldn’t help being proud of. I push open my bedroom window and sit on the cold ledge, automatically scooting over to the right, because she always sat on the left. Tanya had taught me how to smoke. Raza never liked it much, but Tanya was the biggest stoner I have ever known. Well, at least in our family. She could roll a perfect joint with her eyes closed, and she tried to teach me how to as well but I kept wasting too much weed in the process; spilling the mix every time little by little so that towards the end, we only had half a joint left to share. She even taught me how to inhale properly. “Take it in. Breathe it in. Okay now hold. Hold. Hold.” I would cough. “Yeessss. Now breathe out slowly.”
It was terrible the first time I smoked, and I told her I would never do it again. I was only fifteen at the time, and she was nineteen. But by the time I turned nineteen, she would walk into my room, catch me smoking, and say “Have I created a monster?”
She wouldn’t mock me for too long. Before I even had a chance to come up with a snarky retort, she would throw herself on either my bean bag or the edge of my bed and start an animated conversation right from the middle of a story, as if we had been talking for hours already. I would sit back and smile or grunt occasionally as a response, unable to tell her that I prefer silence when I am smoking.
I probably wouldn’t say that to her tonight either. I imagine her strutting into my room right now, a wrinkled button down hanging loosely on her small body, her hair wrapped into a messy bun. I stare at the corner of the room where the carpet is furled but bright under my lamp – where her shadow would have fallen had she entered right now, poking in her head with a cocky smile pasted on her face as she catches her younger brother smoking yet again.
I imagine her walking in now, one hand stretched out with two fingers gently parted for me to carefully place the joint in between. I imagine her lips parting and the twinkle in her eye returning as she gets ready to make the monster comment again. But tonight, in the silent dark I cut her off out loud for the first time, “Am I really the monster here tonight?”
But the corner never darkens and the beanbag isn’t stirred so I stay on the ledge, and try to be grateful for finally being able to smoke here in silence.