Iman Carol Fears
There’s five of us, and I hate their names so they’re Really Slutty Girl, Tiny Beautiful Girl, Hair Dye Girl, Dealer Boy, Stoner Girl. We’re all insane.
Stoner Girl is really pretty. Let’s get that out of the way.
So we’re all in group and Stoner Girl is grinning kind of absently because the therapist is asking her what’s made her lapse into an “emotional,” or non-rational, state of mind this week. Stoner Girl doesn’t speak at first. Licks her chapped crinkly lips, chews twice on nothing, and leans lazily back into her chair.
The blond waves tumble down her freckled forehead as she nods her head forward, closes her eyes momentarily as if praying. She’s very high.
The therapist speaks again. “What events happened this week that made you transition into ‘emotional mind’? Nothing?”
Stoner Girl sighs, spins a strand of gold around a delicate finger and says, “My parents are giving me a drug test in two days.”
“And do you have something to worry about?” The therapist is smiling.
“What is it?”
“Not getting caught.” And she explains that she smokes weed four times a day, which doesn’t surprise anyone, and then she tells us that she did cocaine about a week ago with her best friend to celebrate their sixteenth birthdays, which surprises us even less.
I try not to stare at Stoner Girl during group but it’s hard, her eyes are always glinting. And I can’t stop staring at her pink crumpled mouth.
Everyone seems worried for her.
Really Slutty Girl tells her: “Well, the weed will show up, but everyone knows coke falls out of your system in a couple of days.”
We all nod solemnly in agreement. The therapist looks mildly—but not very—alarmed that we know this.
After group, we all leave the room and head outside.
Dealer Boy carries a large electric guitar with loose strings buzzing like metallic tentacles as he plays, strumming blankly. He opens the door for me, leads me out into the half-frozen September day. It’s raining, misting, unseasonably cold.
Tiny Beautiful Girl is wearing a red floral tank top and black shorts over her pale, slightly bruised thighs. She sits cross-legged on the cold concrete ground, retrieves a small purse from her bag. Out of it come a lighter and a cigarette.
We're all three sitting in a triangle, Dealer Boy and Tiny Beautiful Girl passing the cigarettes between them, smoke pouring from their lips and cheeks and nostrils. And it's beautiful.
Stoner Girl opens the door, sees us sitting there, joins us, cross-legged on the pavement. She’s wearing a striped blue button down and her hair is yellow and wild around her ears.
“How did the drug test go?” I’m asking her.
“I got caught for weed, but my parents don’t really care,” Stoner Girl says, shrugging. Scooting in closer to Dealer Boy, who’s still stroking the guitar with rhythmic accuracy, strum, strum, strum.
She pulls out a mostly-smoked Black and Mild. Tiny Beautiful Girl’s eyes light up. “Can we smoke that?”
“Yeah, sure.” Stoner Girl hands Tiny Beautiful Girl the lighter.
Tiny Beautiful Girl lights the blunt, inhales deeply, smiles. Her cheeks are pink and smooth, cherubim.
Stoner Girl pulls a rhinestone-covered bong from her purse, loads weed into it from a little pocket in her makeup bag. She looks at me warily, as if just noticing that I’m sitting there, not smoking, watching. “Are you cool if I smoke weed out here?”
“Yeah, sure,” I say. Of course I won’t tell—the thought of getting Stoner Girl into trouble is not only useless, since everyone knows she smokes weed anyway, but it also seems a bit sacrilegious. She’s the Virgin, the influenza, the sawdust.
“So you’re not going to tell?” she insists. The blue eyes widen, the hair trembles like pollen about her neck. “Like seriously, you can’t tell, incredibly bad shit will happen.”
“I promise. Why would I tell?”
And I’m not a smoker but I love watching her light it—the ritual, how her eyes turn to hooded slits as she lowers the lighter to the edge, the flame, the slow inhale, the sigh.
Iman Carol Fears, aged 17, is a native of Minneapolis. During high school, Fears interned at Minnesota Public Radio, learning the craft of storytelling. Now, she is a member of Columbia University's Class of 2016, where she intends to double major in Creative Writing and Music.
Fears was most recently published in Unlikely 2.0, an online publication that featured her short story “Kara” in their November 2011 issue. She is the author of one novel and one novella, both unpublished, and is currently completing a third novel, Group, which details the friendships and conflicts that form between six teenaged girls who meet in group therapy after each individually attempts suicide.