“One will make you grow taller, and the other will make you grow shorter.” The girl is laughing into my face and she is very beautiful, and all I can see is her and the bright lights behind her, and I know I have to choose or she might stop laughing so I drink the shot on the left and she takes my hand.
When I wake, I’m lying on a floor with my head on a painting, the gilt frame digging into my neck. I can hardly remember the night – was it just one night, or more? All I know is that I had the most wonderful time and can’t wait to see the girl again.
As the room comes into focus, I see that it has a very high ceiling, and was grand once, but now it looks as though it was abandoned halfway through an orgy.
There are broken glasses on the floor, and other paintings besides my pillow pulled off from the walls. I don’t know much about art but as I turn the loosened canvasses over in my hands, they look like the real deal to me. They all have stickers from some fancy-sounding gallery on the back.
My head is pounding and, as I struggle to stand, I notice there is splintered furniture and glass all over the floor: it looks like someone had an epic fight in here. I hope fervently that it wasn’t me. I’m only wearing a pair of jeans and there’s no sign of any of my stuff, the rest of my clothes, my wallet…or of the girl.
With a surge of relief, I spot my phone lying next to a painting which has been slashed into ribbons and lunge for it, scrolling straight to my texts and calls which reveal nothing – I haven’t been in contact with anyone in nearly two days.
I check the photos and it’s here that the excesses of my lost weekend are revealed. At first, some selfies with that sexy girl, Alice, who gave me the shot, followed by lots of close ups of her face. And then the pictures are all of me. Me, my eyes alight with violence, smashing a large bow window, me, laughing as I run down the street with paintings clutched under my arms and in my hands, me, looking furious, holding a smashed glass to the neck of a terrified stranger. Then I understand: I did all this damage. Me, under the influence…of what?
The door is slightly open and through it I can hear someone groaning softly. I’ve been pacing up and down as I scroll through these horrible images and when I come to a halt, I realise I’m standing in a trail of blood that leads out through the half-open door. I don’t know what to do but I know I don’t want to walk out into the corridor and see what is beyond. I caused all this destruction, maybe it was me who hurt that person.
I squat on my haunches and open the door a touch further. There, on the threshold is another full shot glass and a post-it that reads: This one will make you grow shorter. I pick it up gingerly. If I ‘grew taller’ when I downed that first shot, would drinking this one mean that I could put everything right? Or would I be plunged into another hellish wonderland? I’m in no fit state for rational thought and a quick fix sounds like the best option going. I knock it back and step out into the corridor; the groaning has stopped now, swapped for short, rasping breaths.