Monstrous Femme

It’s 2:12 AM and I’ve been listening to “Piece of Me” on repeat for, God, how many minutes? Twenty, thirty, forty-five? My mind lays in shards around me, and all I can hear is the thumping melody in my ears, the autotuned hiss of you want a piece of me? now the only voice in my head. For the moment, I’ve managed to escape myself, to blow up my brain with a stick of dynamite labeled Blackout. It’s enough to keep me from taking a Xanax, the only kind of candy that’ll soothe your inner storm without adding to your weight. I could drown in Xannies: dive headfirst into a pool of them, mouth agape, until they crowd my stomach and lungs as I sink below the surface. That’d be a nice way to go.

People think I’ve got my shit together but I’m a train wreck in a cocktail dress, someone whose soul would be depicted in torn fishnets and smeared makeup. When Britney sings me lullabies, I listen, because her 2007 self is somebody I recognize: a hot mess in hooker heels, drugged up and dressed down, killed by her loneliness yet somehow still alive. What an icon. She’s the girl who lived, who clawed her way out of the grave in order to provide her fans with more bops, the undead Barbie who’ll smile for us and dance until the world ends. For Halloween, I wear her red latex bodysuit and trick-or-treat for benzodiazepines.

I fantasize about going to one of 2020’s shuttered nightclubs, a casualty of the cruelest year, and rubbing coke on my gums before grinding up on strangers, thinking that would clear my head, offer me some brief respite from the intrusive thoughts that hound me like paparazzi. I’d pound scotch or rum or bourbon, if I had the taste for it—or better yet, tequila, since you won’t plump up from that—but I’m a drug girl, not a drinker. Since the time I was eight and saw my best friend’s benzo-addled mother swaying atop skyscraper legs as she slurred her words, her champagne hair flat-ironed and her body needle-thin, I’ve always known which poison to pick: the glamorous kind that empties your mind and keeps you pretty and kills you slowly. I’ll try any pill you can scrounge up, all I need is the promise that it’ll make me feel better, shut off my brain for five fucking seconds so I can catch a breath that may be my last.

Let me micro-dose on acid, let me snort lines of fairy-dust powder, let me take anything and everything that will give me a moment’s peace. Perhaps I should try cigarettes next, because they’re enriched with the glamour of Old Hollywood, and if they kill you, at least they kill your appetite while they’re at it. Saint Britney chain-smoked during her breakdown, like the world’s most beautiful piece of white trash. If I could, I’d ask her how she did it, how she walked to the edge of the cliff without falling off. And maybe I’d ask what drugs she’d recommend.

I’m already dead, but my soul is revived by a tenuous connection, a dealer with an endless Xanax supply. I get a new batch and my heart starts beating to the tempo of a Britney song, but the tune fades once I realize that I keep needing stronger doses, that the thrill isn’t thrilling like it used to, and I know I’m liable to get worse from here. To spiral out, unfurling away from myself, until I take an umbrella to someone’s window or perhaps shave my head, until the AP readies my obituary. Just another lost child, another Anna Nicole, another pretty girl with an obsessive desire to stay skinny and a hopeless love of anything you can find in a medicine cabinet. I would worship at the altar of pharmaceuticals, pray to the god of benzos; I would fuck a psychopharmacologist, force a doctor to write me a prescription at knifepoint. I would jump off the cliff with a smile on my face, if only a sea of pearly-white pills awaited me at the bottom.