Tristan Finding Hope

Nova - 3.5

Jessica Sorensen


19 years old…

I think I’ve finally become invisible. That I’ve somehow faded into a ghost just like I pretended to do when I was a kid. It was number two on my list of superpowers I wanted to have, right before X-ray vision—mainly because I wished I could see through Tina Bellonte’s shirt—and right after wishing how to fly. I’m pretty sure the invisibility parts came true. X-ray vision got scratched off because I can see underneath women’s shirts now pretty much whenever I feel like it. And flying… well, I’m fairly sure I know how to fly right now. I swear to God I do. I just need to get the balls to test the theory. Take the last step.

“Tristan man, get down from there. You’re fucking tripping,” Dylan calls out from three stories down where the bottom of the apartment reaches the concrete, proving that I might have been wrong about the invisibility because apparently he can see me. But then again, being seen by Dylan isn’t that great of a thing. I wouldn’t necessarily call him a friend, but probably as close as I’ve ever got to having one. He doesn’t talk much, doesn’t ask me questions about my life, which I like. Although he is kind of a douche, but hey, aren’t we all at some point.

“Leave me alone,” I holler back, the night sky above me, so far away, yet when I reach my hand up, it feels like I’m touching the stars.

“Not until your dumb ass gets down,” he shouts, then takes a swig of his beer.

I shake my head, cigarette resting between my lips, arms outstretched to my sides, the wind in my hair. One more step and my flying theory will be tested. “No way. Not unless I jump. It’s the only way.”

“To what?”

“To see if I can fly.”

Dylan shakes his head. “Not that shit again. Jesus, you do this every time you hit acid, man.” He chucks the beer bottle out into the parking lot, annoyed.

“I’m not even that high anymore.” Sadly, it’s the truth. I’m up here of my own free will. Because I was sitting in a room full of people, laughing, drinking, doing drugs, and I was just there, existent, but nonexistent at the same time. It’s been that way forever, me just living life in the shadows while everyone else seems to be in the sunlight.

“Tristan, the last thing anyone needs here is for the police to show up because your dumb ass couldn’t handle his high and decided to try and kill himself,” Dylan says, getting really pissed off now.

“That’s not what I’m doing.” I stare straight ahead at the trees across the street. I’m not lying either. I don’t have a death wish. I’m just confused and trying to sort stuff out, trying to find a point to all of this. Life. It confuses the hell out of me. People, they confuse the hell out of me. Hell, I confuse the hell out of myself.

I’ve been confused for years, the feeling only amplifying the day my parents found out my sister, Ryder, died in a car accident. A car accident where my cousin, Quinton, was driving and crashed into another car—not his fault, just a freak accident. My parents blame him for it though and have been focusing all their energy on making sure to hate him every single day of his life since it happened. They’ve been telling me to do the same, but I’ve never been one to hold grudges. It takes too much energy that I don’t have. So when Quinton called me up, asking for a place to crash this summer, I said okay without much hesitation. Granted I was fucking stoned out of my mind, but still, I’m sure I would have done it sober too. Besides, from what I’ve heard through the family grapevine, Quinton’s been paying for what happened through his own depressing, drug-induced life. So why should I add to his misery?

When I told my parents he was staying with me, though, I officially got shunned by the family. I’ve been shunned by the family a total of nineteen times or so. It’s nothing new. Being alone is nothing new. I’m sure eventually they’ll talk to me again and I’ll let it all go, because that’s what I do. I’m not even sure why I care to have them in my life. They’ve barely acknowledged me ever since I turned sixteen and started getting into trouble, doing drugs for no other reason than I felt lost in life and alone and drugs temporarily filled that void. I couldn’t find a purpose in anything. Couldn’t find friends. But drugs numbed the confusion and made the people around me doing the same thing relatable enough that I could pretend I had friends. When I’m stoned, I’m not so alone, or at least I can see it that way.

This has been my life for the last few years. Getting stoned, drunk, trashed, and each time I got busted, my parents ignored me even more. I became more invisible. After Ryder died, it only got worse. She was “the good one,” according to them. And maybe she was. She did well in school while I wasted my “intelligent mind.” She didn’t get arrested for being a minor under the influence and get put on probation. Didn’t move out of the house to live in a “shithole trailer park to deal drugs.” And they’re right. She was the good one. I’m the bad and I can’t change it. I am who I am.

“I’m going to fucking do it this time,” I yell to Dylan, taking a few massively deep breaths, psyching myself up as I inch my feet closer to the ledge. “I swear I am. And just watch. I’m going to make it.”

“Come down and I’ll get Mallory to fuck you,” he entices.

“I don’t want a pity fuck,” I say. “I’ve had way too many of those.”

Dylan shakes his head and then throws his arms in the air, exasperated. “Fine. Do whatever the hell you want. It’s your funeral.” Then he storms off toward the entrance to the apartment, leaving me alone. There’s nothing stopping me from jumping off the ledge.

Just move your feet. Do it! Stop being such a pussy and fly.

I wonder if I fell off the roof, if anyone would see me. Or if maybe I’d just fly away to the stars, never to be seen again. I could do it and find out—I should do it and find out. But after standing there for what seems like hours, I realize it’s not going to happen and I step back.

Instead of flying for the night, I settle on climbing down from the roof and going back into the house to take another hit. I hang out with people who don’t see me. Sleep with a girl who doesn’t know my name. Then I pass out, knowing that when I wake up tomorrow, I’ll do the whole thing over again. This is my life. There is no meaning. And I wonder if this is how it’ll always be. If I’ll always feel so dead and disconnected inside. So alone.

So invisible.

Chapter 1

4 years later…

My life is one bumpy roller coaster. The last few years I’ve been getting high, getting sober. High. Sober. High. Sober. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve gotten clean. I want to say I’ll never do it again, but I’d be the biggest fucking liar on the planet. I’ll probably do it again, because I struggle to find motivation not to do it and being sober just makes me focus on life. You’d think after spending years on a downward spiral, almost OD’ing, losing my sister, falling in love with a girl—Nova Reed—who ended up falling in love with my cousin—Quinton—getting hepatitis C and having to go through a bunch of treatment to get rid of it, that I’d finally point the finger to the drugs and say that they must be doing this all to me. Sometimes I can see it, how fucked up I am on them, and so I try to stop. But I still always fall back to them, the pull too strong, the need to block out too great. I’m an addict. Plain and simple.

Right now, I’m supposed to be a builder. I’ve been spending the last several months on the road working for Habitat for Humanity. It’s actually more Quinton’s thing. Ever since he got sober, he’s been all about helping the world. I think he thinks if he is always doing something good then it’ll make up for the accident, which maybe that’s the case. And I’m happy he found his sanctuary, the place that makes him feel whole without being jacked up on heroin and methamphetamine. I think Nova helps with that too—helps him stay clean.

Me, well I’m not that strong. I don’t really have anyone but myself, which makes it easier to disappear and fall off the cliff again until someone convinces me to climb back up for a little bit. Which is why I’m here. Well, sort of. I was basically dragged into this because Quinton and Nova thought I needed a good distraction from my life of misdirection and bad choices. And they’re probably right. I just wish I could focus more on the distraction instead of the addiction.

“Hey, hand me that nail gun, would you?” Quinton says while messing around with one of the cupboard doors. The house we’re working on right now should be finished by tomorrow and then we’ll be on the road again, to I think Georgia.

Quinton wipes some sweat from his brow as I reach down and pick up the nail gun beside my feet with the hand that’s not holding the cigarette. I give it to him and he shoots a few nails in the side of the house. “I’m fucking hot.” My shirt is soaked in sweat and sticking to my back. “When are we quitting today?”

Quinton sighs. I’m sure he’s getting irritated with my lack of motivation. But he’ll never say anything because of my sister. I think part of him will always blame himself for her death, and for some reason he thinks he needs to be nice to me even when I might not deserve it. “You can take off if you want to, but I think Nova had something planned for tonight.” He puts the nail gun on the ground and picks up a bottle of water. “To celebrate you being hepatitis free and all.”