NAME: Katy Upperman
TITLE: Where Poppies Bloom
GENRE: YA Contemporary Ghost Story
I never used to be the type of girl who hotboxes her bathroom.
Sitting perched on the countertop next to the sink, I slip a joint between my lips and lose myself in a haze of pungent smoke that distorts the flower patterns dancing across my shower curtain. My bare feet bounce against the cabinet below, drumming out a staccato beat. I zone in, a microscope focused crisp and clear, absorbing the irregular thudding until it permeates through flesh and muscle and organs, vibrating right into my bones.
Joint to lips. Deep, deep inhale. Hold the smoke until my chest sizzles. Exhale.
Smoking is a solitary thing for me. Something I started doing six months ago, the first time grief clenched my chest, wringing the air from my lungs like water from a wet rag. Trapping blood in the chambers of my heart until I’m certain they’ll explode. Stinging my eyes with hot, salty tears, telltale tracks racing down my cheeks. It’s during these times, when the hurt becomes too much to bear, that I steal a moment to lock myself away in my bathroom. Only then can I truly breathe.
The irony doesn’t escape me—polluting my lungs with illegal herbal smoke shouldn’t comfort me the way, say, a warm hug used to. But the smoke—the simple, methodical act of smoking—kneads otherwise suffocating thoughts from my brain and calms me like nothing else.
I’m drifting today—more so than usual. A wisp of cotton caught in an unpredictable summer breeze.