The First Time

By Naoise Gale

It was early morning, birdsong and breeze, sky the colour of apricots, when
You took the pill, crunched it under your tongue like a tic tac, imagining
A minty serenity and strong flavours of euphoria. For weeks before the
First taste, you had thought of nothing else, only girls with breath like
Air-conditioning units and barbed wire eyes. A clean high, fresh
As summer grass and eucalyptus. The pill crumbled under your
Bulbous tongue, like a soggy piece of paper in the spring rain, or
An old bus ticket in a purse. It took two hours to hit: two hours of
Bored television and half-hearted wanking, two hours of searing
Consciousness and numb depression. Two hours of the tip of
A nail scratching your perfect white teeth. But when it arrived,
It was all glory. The sun spun and spat fat orange sparks onto
The lawn. The scrawny cat arched its back and meowed, pained.
The neighbourhood Alsatian barked a haunted cello suite. Your legs,
Spindly old things, became malleable as jelly noodles. They wobbled,
Rotten twigs and the scent of decaying wood. Church bells boomed
In the background. Sunset was a watercolour painting, dripping
Like melted candy onto a shimmering horizon. You thought of your
Mother, and the unanswered texts on your phone, and the assignment
You still had to do and all the chores and all the doubts and your mother,
Your mother, your mother and you took more pills. Four, to be precise.
It was strange the way the world unzipped, as though enclosed in God’s
Handbag. You had never seen the trees bend before, supple as arched
Bows, or the clouds fall to the ground like fainting sheep. You had never
Known the colour of the wind – the blue of poster paints, a whisker
Lighter than indigo – or the sound of dusk falling – Indian pipes, reedy,
With the faint clang of melancholic tambourines. You had not known
That a pill could be a whisper, or a shout, or a guttural scream of
“Fuck you!” to the world, “Fuck all of you and fuck me too!” You had
Not known the particular pain of landing, eyes swollen and sore,
Teeth the yellow of literary tomes, and finding your chemical wings
Shattered on the callous ground, flat as pages. You had much to learn.

Naoise Gale is a twenty-year-old Modern Languages student living in Italy. She writes poems, short stories and novellas about mental health and eating disorders. Her work has been published numerous times in Young Writers’ UK anthologies.

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