In August, all of the pharmacies in New York ran out of Adderall. No one could say why exactly. A supply-chain breakdown. A fraught relationship with Russia. A shipping container filled with Estonian girls. In the absence of Adderall, all of the girls in my class gained weight. The libraries went empty. We all cried constantly. Some of us took vows of celibacy. Many of us pretended to be Catholic, but only two joined a convent. All of us called our mothers on the phone compulsively. I took a handful of caffeine pills. I took a 5-hour-energy. I mailed the rent eight days late. I rewarded myself with a nap.
Right wing nutrition fads fell into fashion that year. An uptick in bovine meat, unpasteurized dairy, seed oil skepticism, vaccine hesitancy. Hem lengths were going down again.
Gregory told me that all cockroaches are capable of flight, provided that the temperature is high enough. Late that summer, it hit one hundred degrees ten days in a row. Someone detonated a bomb on Rockaway Beach. The air conditioning on the subway went out, as if the transit authority had failed to pay its electric bill. No one addressed it, not the MTA, not any of my friends, who I suspected didn’t even ride the subway. This was the weekend that Gregory and his girlfriend Dakota decided to come in from Edinburgh. On the walk from Bendel’s to her hotel in the 70’s, Dakota passed three separate men masturbating and a set of flying cockroaches spellbound, having sex. So nice to be back in the city, Dakota said, pressing her cheek into the chilled martini glass. I was glad that Gregory had found himself a good Southern girl whose mother taught her how to be happy.
Over an extraordinarily expensive dinner, a man told me: women have underlying spoiled tendencies by design; they’re meant to be domesticated by a strong male figure who proves himself worthy of replacing her father by taming her. I told him this seems sensible. A husband is to his to his wife as a parent is to their child. Do you understand? He asked.
This man was unbearable, but because he was the first person to be sufficiently violent with me during sex, I let it go on longer than I should. He would send me lists of rules on Lisa Frank stationary: what I could eat and what I was allowed to wear, write his name on my body in permanent marker every morning, send him daily reports of my dreams and try to have dreamed about me. But sometimes, once we got into bed together, he’d hesitate. He would spank me so lightly it wouldn’t even make a sound, but as a courtesy, I’d cry out as if I was in pain.
Later, in frustration, he carved his initials into the soft flesh above my right (and favorite) breast.
What are you thinking about? I asked him.
I’m just thinking: doesn’t one imagine that by the seventy-second virgin the Jihadist would tire of virgins. Like, another one? The man was prone to this type of pillow talk.
He’s just a bad boy, I said to my friend Frances.
He’s on multiple government watchlists, she reminded me.
In local news, a popular digital artist founds an internet pedophile ring. Pedophilia is wrong, his detractors say. You’re just afraid of making complicated work, say the men from his art collective.
In world news, an m-class solar storm is cooking on the sun, scheduled to reach the earth between August 11th and 13th. The women don’t want to go to work, they all say they prefer to stay home and wash dishes. The New York Times reports: The Future Isn’t Female Anymore. The former Japanese prime minister is killed by a bullet and a gun. The neighbors light up seventy-five thousand dollars worth of fireworks. The approximation of a woman’s voice inside my phone says, hold on, we will send a representative to assist you.
This is excerpted from a novel in progress by Anika Jade Levy, a writer from Colorado. She edits the magazine Forever and is at work on her first novel. She recommends Horse Crazy by Gary Indiana.