The single fluorescent light flickered, creating dancing shadows on the dirty walls of the hotel room. The man watched his own shadow grow tall and small from the whims of the light. He sat on the edge of the steel framed bed, his forearms leaning on his thighs. Under the wool blanket was a young girl, sleeping. Only her disheveled brown hair peeked out from under the thin cover. He let his hand crawl to her shoulder and shook her lightly. She did not emit a sound or move an inch.
The man took out a small leather bag. From it he removed a syringe. It was properly wrapped, still sterile and ready for use. With one hand he held the needle, now ready to be used, and with his other hand he gently removed the girl’s arm from under the blanket. He sweetly stroked the inside of her arm, looking for a vein. At the sight of a delicate green mount on the clear valley of the girl’s arm, the man plunged the needle and drew her blood. Once his quest became a success, he discarded the girl’s arm carelessly and went to the bathroom with his black leather bag.
The reflection in the mirror showed a tired face, unable to find proper rest. His skin was taut over his cheekbones and dark circles made his small eyes look smaller. A half smile appeared on his lips after he splashed himself with some cold water.
“Come on J, just one more time. We’ll quite after this.” His soft accented voice was raw with disuse.
J noticed an old hand print left on the mirror from a previous user. Some blond and black hair could be found in the sink. In the bathtub, there was a circle of grime left. He imagined the cleaning lady was on vacation. Though it was a low priced hotel, the least they could offer was a minimum amount of cleanliness.
After cleaning everything with one of the towels, J sat in the tub, with his black leather bag. He rummaged through it and took out small pouches with coloured powders. He had green, blue, red, yellow, orange and purple powders. But every time he would put it back, unsatisfied with the choice. He finally settled on a burgundy powder. In a small square of tin foil, he poured his powder. Then, ever so carefully, J poured the blood of the girl with the burgundy powder. With a cheap lighter, he brought a flame under the mixture and kept it there until it started to boil. It wasn’t left to cool for long before J took the syringe to the new chemical. Using the same needle, he inserted it in his vein, using every drop of the mixture. As it quickly spread through his blood stream, J sat back in the bathtub with a great sigh of relief.
His body lost all tension, only to be replaced by a euphoric sense of wellbeing. His skin became extra sensitive and so he was quick to discard his shirt. J closed his eyes, ready to be transported wherever his mind desired.
She was standing in a field of tall grass, looking out towards the ocean. Her long brown hair danced around as the wind blew. She wore a sky blue dress that also followed the wind in its musical dance. The whole field had a strange colour. The grass was white, looking like blades of snow. The warmth of the breeze confirmed to J that it wasn’t winter. He looked at her from a distance. In the moment, she looked so beautiful. His heart urged him to reach out for her. It whispered tales of emotions such as love. Suddenly, falling in love not only felt possible but it was inevitable. She was the one who could bring warmth to his limbs with a smile. J craved that smile, to see her mouth curve with joy at his presence. Unable to contain himself any longer, he cried out her name:
She slowly turned to him but before he could see her face, the grass sprang to life. Thousands of moths took flight, camouflaging Adagio with their white wings.
Back in the questionable bathtub, J sat up, looking for the moths. Of course, he was alone in the bathroom.
His arms started to tingle. A burgundy line started to crawl up through his vein. J watched the progress without fear. He knew this would happen, as it happened every time. As the liquid progressed through his body, he sat back. When he tried to close his eyes, all he could see were the moths, flying out to greet the moon.
The feeling came back too; love. J felt it was spreading along with the burgundy chemical. He thought the poets lied when they claimed the heart as the domain of love. This was not a passive emotion that could settle with one place in the human body. Love was all about kisses and caresses; actions. It was an emotion that ravaged the whole body.
J opened his eyes and stepped out of the tub. His whole body now covered in an intricate pattern of burgundy. He looked at it with the mirror, pleased with how it looked. There was a moment of disappointment when he remembered that it would fade away as the drug wore off.
Taking a closer look in the mirror, J saw that his eyes were now completely covered in liquid gold. He started to laugh at the sight of himself.
“J….” her voice was cautious. She stood in the doorway with the blanket wrapped around her shoulders.
“There’s a moth on your back.” She whispered in awe.
He turned around, his back to the mirror and craning his neck. Indeed, the swirls caused by the drug had formed a moth-like figure on his back. He smiled at her and said:
“Butterfly caught,” and started to laugh. He could feel as the drug seeped through his veins.