My head pounded. I could hear my heart beat like a drum in my ears. It was so God-damn loud. For heaven’s sake, I thought hearts belonged in your chest, not your ears. Past my heartbeat, I could hear the distant clicking sounds of cameras and voices. I’m lying flat-faced against a hard floor. I realize I am on a sidewalk, God knows where. This is already humiliating. 

I flop over and groan. Someone prods me with a sharp object. Reluctantly, I open my eyes. The sight is overwhelming. Large men with beer bellies and drool slipping down their chins are all quickly snapping pictures and grunting my name. Someone shoves a mike into my face. I push it away. Then I lurch forward and retch. I use my arms to wipe away some of the vomit from my mouth, and the taste is sour. My throat burns from the act. 

Then I lift myself up. My cleavage is spilling through my green halter dress, which is also riding up my ass. I push my hair back, sticky with sweat, rearrange my dress, and give the photographers my biggest, most charming smile. Then I curtsy delicately. This sends them into a frenzy. 

“Svetlana! Svetlana! Over here!” a man with the most serial-killer styled mustache shouts. 

I gaze at him timidly, and say, “It’s so nice to be of your acquaintance.”

Then I lend out my hand. Confused, he instinctively shakes my wet vomit-covered hand. 

“Fuck! You gross fucking slut!” he shouts.

I shrug. My head starts to pound again. I suddenly just want to go home to the comforts of my apartment. Fame will surely not afford me the comfort of making that an easy deal now. I take off my $1,000 high heels. What a waste of money just like me, I think. My feet are already blistered and bleeding. I can’t think of what else to do so I just pick a random direction and walk. Hopefully it will take me home. 

Five minutes later, Jayce comes to my rescue. She pulls up in her compact car onto the side of the curb. She shouts at me to get in. I open the car door and quickly escape the flashing cameras and old men who have decided to document every step of my walk of shame. I can taste her eyes laughing at me before I see her. 

“I really hope you survive to twenty-eight, Svet,” she jokes. 

“It’d be a miracle,” I groan. 

I cough, thinking I’ll vomit again. Her car reeks. The floor is littered with cigarettes and tiny liquor bottles. I pick one of the tiny glass bottles up. 

“But you clearly are the ideal role model,” I say. 

Jayce laughs, “No babe, of course not, I’m just quick to judge.”

I lean over to kiss her on the cheek while she is driving, my breath still heavy with vomit. I can see all eight metal piercings line her right ear starkly. Then the moment ends and her earrings are just that — earrings.

I sit back and loose myself in thought. They have a saying in Old Pathos — “survival of the richest.” But if that were true, then why the fuck am I doing so poorly? My pathetic, sorry head is only happy when it is filled with dope. And these days, it takes more dope than ever.   

I hate Old Pathos and the stinking grime that flows through its streets. 

And I am pretty sure this city hates me back.

Angela Han