“Fever” by Joseph Han

Martin tells me that he understands death because it just means you get really tired, and that’s why they call it an eternal slumber. Sometimes I care about people when they say weird things. I listen because I also have strange thoughts, so there’s a spot for the strangeys and the weirdos somewhere in my feelings. But sometimes that spot gets irritated and itchy, especially now since I’m so thirsty.  He sits on his skateboard in lotus position, trying to remain still, but he keeps shifting left and right and it makes me nauseated. I give up chewing this burrito and let it roll onto the floor.

“I’m profound,” he says.

“Cute,” I say. “Then that means smoking pot is closest to death.” My face feels droopy and I want sleep bad.  “On the brink of death, we feel most alive.” The last word comes out as a cough.

Martin smokes from the roach between his fingers, the fire small like the way the sun would look between God’s fingers. He burns them on the roach and looks scared. He slips and the board pop shove-its under the bed on his side of the dorm.

“Bullshit,” he says, standing now with arms raised to the ceiling light. “Pot is about elevating the consciousness, transcending the body, and floating in ephemeral nirvana.”

“Get a grip,” I say.

He tosses me the bottle of brandy and I take a sip. After the burn I taste a hint of apple in the back of my throat. My chest cavity holds the sun, large and full. I explain to Martin that the reason we get drunk is so we can go back to that feeling of comfortable warmness bathing in the amniotic fluid of the womb. I tell him that drinking in a hot tub is ideal, but nothing will ever nourish our bodies and health the way mother’s milk does. My skin is feverish and I imagine myself cracking up like desert ground, or my body shriveled, dried jerky for vultures.

“Whack,” he says. Your talk is cheap.”

“Cheap? Cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap.” I keep repeating the word, and Martin tells me I sound like a baby chicken or a small bird waiting to be mouth-fed. But to me it sounds like a sprinkler, one that I would walk in front in every consistent direction, fresh and strong back to the beginning again and again in a cycling baptism.

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