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The International Writers Magazine: Life Story

Getting Out Of Bed
Vanessa Telaro

In her reverie, Andie was about seventeen years old. Some parts of her skin were clear and others marred with blemishes. She was thin, always had been thanks to a good metabolism. Her hair had always been in the shades of blonde except for the time she’d dyed it black in an attempt to look different.
Committing suicide was really too extreme. She sort of believed in God, at least in the way she experienced the divine, but taking her own life would be an insult. She certainly didn’t believe in that rationalistic bullshit that dismissed the notion of a living God, as if people could explain everything--as if God could die. Because she didn’t like herself didn’t mean she’d been a mistake.

Deep down Andie wanted to see how her life would end. If everything has a natural course, then her life had one too. And she liked New York City too much. She’d grown up in the Bronx, which she used to hate but had come to love over the years. No more talks of moving to islands and faraway places. New York was the place, even if she could barely afford it.

Andie picked up the phone after ten rings. She was stoned and hung over from last night’s get-together. One of her friends, Nate, was in a garage rock band. He’d scored a record deal after eight years of slaving to his music. He was good-looking with bedroom eyes and a full mouth, but was permanently stoned which made her wonder if he could be as good as he was without drugs. She’d slept with him once on a long ago drunken night. He found a new girlfriend.
She felt as if her head was about to drown from her sad thoughts mixed with toxins from last night. On the phone was her friend Jane, who she’d bonded with recently. She and Jane were on the same page most of the time. Twenty-five isn’t too old to meet your best friend.

A smile crept on Andie’s face. Good friends don’t come around often. Jane had quit junk two years ago and managed quite well, considering she was living as if something irreplaceable had been ripped out of her. She needed people like this in her life-- survivors.
"How are you doing?" Jane asked.
Andie rubbed her forehead. "I’m tired. Craving a smoke."
"How was the party?"
"Great. Sarah was there you know, but they make a good couple. There’s something about her. I can see why he’s with her."
After a pause, she said, "You still love him, don’t you?"
"He’s a great guy you know," Andie said in a monotone voice. "It never woulda worked out between us, but I still love him."
"Same here. I still love Brandon, but hey, what the fuck do you want me to do? We gotta start over, turn the page. Start the year on a blank slate."
Andie’s hands quivered. She was overwhelmed by her jarring thoughts and that her best friend in the world was on the line. Handling too many emotions had never been her strong suite. That’s why she smoked dope on occasion and drank the hard stuff.
She loved Jane, but she wasn’t queer. There was something about female friendships that made life so much better. You could be famous and still feel swallowed up by emptiness.
"I gotta let you go. I have this nasty headache."
"Are you sure everything’s all right? You’re not mad at me, are ya?"

She glanced out the window and said, "I’m not mad. I’m just a little tired. Like I said, my headache’s bad."
Andie wanted to tell her she loved her, but she was feeling too sick right now. When she’d get out of this mess, they’d have a drink in a quiet place in the Village with cozy couches and coffee music in the background. They’d be back to being young women in their mid-twenties.
"Well call me back then," Jane said with casual concern.

The truth was Andie wanted drugs. She was craving a fix of anything that would bring back that invincible high that crushed the lowest of self-esteem. The devil was laughing in her face. Her veins throbbed. She’d rather vanish in thin air than overcome this temptation.

She didn’t feel like worrying about the rent, cleaning up, searching out cockroaches, what to wear, and how to fix her hair. She would rather be creative and doped up and not think about worldly things in a context of post-party dreariness. Such parties nearly always sucked the life out of her.

Andie wiped the film of sweat from her forehead. As her attack began to wane, her rash began to lessen. She was gripped by thoughts of rehab, which she’d had her share of. A single fix would plunge her back into that inferno she’d tried so hard to escape. She didn’t want a life of rehab on and off, meeting with different supervisors who’d look over her case. She no longer wanted a fucking case that made supervisors wonder how she’d ended up a wreck.
Big deal if she slipped once in a while, since that’s not what made her an addict. What made her an addict was thinking that she couldn’t live without junk, booze, and cigarettes, and even coffee.

Andie walked toward the sink, where she ran the tap. The dead cockroach was still on the counter, turned on its back as if it had been zapped and left to roast.
She gulped down water and let out a deep breath, feeling as though each nerve in her body had twinned into one solid mass.
"It’s okay," she thought to herself. "It’s okay."
It was okay to fight temptation, to live with a weakness. All she would have to do is overcome each struggle. With enough willpower, she’d build enough immunity to live a quite normal life.
"I’ll be fine."

She stepped outside on the balcony for a change of air. The sky was a mixture of November-gray clouds and sunny breaks. Despite the motion all around, her street seemed so still. Andie was struck by how dull the day was. How so much goes on behind closed doors.

Then she grabbed her pack of Marlboros on top of the fridge and lit up outside. She took a long drag, releasing what felt like more than just chemicals and smoke. If she were to die tomorrow, she wouldn’t write a rambling letter that risked never being read. Instead she’d call up everyone that had left an impact on her.

She’d call up Nate to wish him the best with his band and tell him not to let fame go to his head if he’d become even just a little famous. She’d also tell him that he could be a good musician and singer and songwriter without being under the influence. Hopefully he’d mention her name in the acknowledgment section of his CD. She’d also ring her three other exes, Matt, Aidan, and Lenny and admit to them that they’d meant something to her despite everything.
As for Jane, she’d tell her that they were insanely good friends and hoped to pursue their friendship till the end. Someday, when they’d save enough money and actually learn how to drive, they’d take a road trip somewhere. Andie wished to live in New York till the rest of her days, with Jane playing a part.

The next big problem was her father, whom she hadn’t seen in over a decade. He’d occasionally pop in whenever he found himself in New York. She so wanted to tell him that he no longer was the source of her heart disease and that his absence, selfish ambitions and womanizing ways were all forgiven, otherwise she’d never be all right.
"You might be my father, but it don’t mean I have to feel like a freaking victim and tragedy because you walked out on Mom, Shelley and me," she would say to him. "And if you’d like to go for a drink sometime just to hang out, I’m fine with that."

Andie’s mother was all right, a good friend even. She’d raised two girls pretty much on her own. She’d made bad boyfriend choices and other mistakes, but she wasn’t bad. She still looked like a model that should have been discovered in the city somewhere. She would thank her mom for having raised her in New York and for never forgetting her birthday. For calling and visiting whenever she had a moment. For having done the best in her circumstances. "Mom, I no longer wish you were different. You are the sweetest person," she’d say.

As far as Andie was concerned, there was a lot to put forth: I am not ugly, though it took me long to realize it. I will stop abusing my body with mindless sex and drugs and clean up for good. Next time, if a guy interests me, I’ll ask him out. I won’t fear rejection. I’ll stop thinking I’m abnormal. I’m not a failure because I didn’t try hard enough to be a rock star and I quit playing guitar and sometimes feel strange and androgynous…

As far as she knew, Andie wasn’t dying. She was beginning to look forward to Christmas, the lights in the trees, and the cozy nights.

And the rain, the sun, the snow. And the moonlight.

© Vanessa Telaro November 2007
vanessa_telaro at

Vanessa holds a degree in Creative Writing and Sociology. My short stories "Long Drive Home," "No Better Place," and "Black ain't Black" appeared in KeepGoing, Prose Toad, and The Circle respectively. She recently completed her second novel Stella Now and Then

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