Are you looking for something?

Affirmative

By Alexandra Svokos

Oh thank heavens you’re here, I’ve been praying and praying for someone to show up and help me. You’ll help me, right? Yeah? They keep it so dark in this bar I can’t see a thing. Do you have a flashlight on your phone? Watch your dress, the floor down here is sticky.

Do you ever feel like there’s darkness, darkness all around you that you just can’t shake off? Like some shadow got sewn onto you and you’ll never see the sun? I used to feel like that all the time. I’m so dirty with … darkness. But then something shone down which helped me to dust the dirt off my body and become clean. Like a loofah of hope and happiness and beauty. And then, I was all lightness, and I felt good and protected. Milan Kundera wrote about this, I think.

If they’d only install the floor lights I asked about! With those babies going you could put whatever you want and the floor, and come pick it up when you need it. Ew, look at my hand, haha!

I forgot that the floor gets covered in brown slime.

While we’re under this table looking around, tell me about yourself. Well, I assume you’re over 21. Otherwise you wouldn’t be in here. You’re here for your friend’s birthday? Ooooh, what’s her name? I’ll light a candle for her to have another prosperous year. And I’ll release a dove for her. Who else is here? Do you have a steady?

Oh, you don’t! You’re “playing the field.” I do hope you know the repercussions of that; I’ll light a candle for you too. No, I absolutely do not “play the field”–whatever you call it. I’ve got one steady who’s been with me for years and will be with me until the rest of eternity. I’m not looking for anyone else to “fill me up” or whatever they say. Wesley and I were built for each other by God.

I can’t believe we’ve been looking this long and still haven’t found it! Sometimes, when you’re really looking for something, it takes a lot of patience. It takes piety. There will be trials and tribulations, and sometimes it might seem like it’s not worth it, but the reward you get—my God!—you could not even imagine what awaits you when you get there, up high. Up high high high high.

Looking is such a spiritual experience, don’t you think? You’re just there, focused, sharp, on a real search for something so important to you. Sometimes you don’t even know what you’re looking for, but when you find it, it’s exactly what you need. My guru always tells me if you take the effort to search, something will find you. And when it does you greet it by kissing every inch of its body.

Are you looking for that experience? Do you want me to help find it? You seem to really be in need of spiritual guidance—your aura feels troubled. It’s looking a little green today, like a pale, pale green. You should get it looked at. If you let me, I’ll lead you out of the marsh and hold your hair as you ride the wave. I’ll give you a sponge massage. Wait, there it is next to that chair leg! Twenty-five grams of molly.

 

Negative

By Virginia Fu

No, I’m all set, thanks. I’m not looking for anything. In fact, I’ve got everything I need. The trick, you see, is to be happy with what you have and to keep it close to you.

Take molly, for example. Now it would be hard for me to lose my molly since I keep it securely strapped on my person. Now, I won’t say where, but let’s just say it’s all there, for whenever I need it: my molly, my opium, my lysergic acid diethylamide (more than three days worth), my barbiturates, my shrooms, my salts. When I wake up in the mornings I unsecure my Adderall from my calf, where it is firmly taped, and down a few milligrams with my breakfast cereal. My forearms are made of pure ketamine and you’re free to rip a few hits of the salvia growing out of my ears.

That’s how come I say I’m not looking for anything. See, you don’t even have to give me back my iPhone, which I see is still clutched in your gently undulating hand. The only address saved in there is Molly’s, my dealer, and I’ve got that number memorized, carved into a brick, and tattooed all over my ass.

Some people spend their lives looking for things they never find. They think they need love, or fame or money. But really, it’s all about the primary action on ionotropic glutamate receptors. It’s about the drugs. After all, what are love or fame or money but ideas? And what are ideas, what are all your experiences, your thoughts and feelings, memories and perceptions, but the firing of neurons? So really, all there is is drugs. We learned that in FroSci; it’s called the “astonishing hypothesis.”

I know that some people think drugs make you dumb. Numb the synapses. But of course this is wrong because synapses not only don’t feel; they make feel. They make this feel, the feel I’m feeling right now as I look into your eyes. Like they’re swallowing me with their brightness. Like I’m dissolving and slowly rising as I’m reconstituted in a new place.

Oh, I see I have fallen. But I can tell you understand what I’m saying. It’s all about stimulation and release. Transport and uptake. Voltage gated sodium channels giving way to sudden floods. Dendrite-curling shocks! We’re like entangled particles!

That’s how close I feel to you right now as you try to help me up but you can’t. Like I’m one of those teeny tiny specifically shaped particle crossing the blood-brain barrier to adhere to another teeny tiny specifically shaped particle because of our corresponding shapes. Like there are no proxies mediating our understandings of each other.

Not that I’m looking for anything more. But, as I said, you’re welcome to come celebrate Molly’s birthday with us! There might still be some of that Oreo-flavored cake left over—or was it heroin cake? Anyway, it’ll be fun as long as you’re not scared of vomit. All I know is that you’re walking away as I’m unbuttoning my shirt to retrieve the rolling papers ozoned over my heart, that I’m finding all that I need.

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