So she compiles her bucket list, her To Do Before I Die list. Number one is sex. Released from the constraints of 'normal' life, Tessa tastes new experiences to. 1. Before I die Jenny Downham 2. For Louis and Archie, with Love 3. One I wish I had a boyfriend. I wish he lived in the wardrobe on a coat hanger. Whenever I. Before I die. byJenny Downham. Publication date Topics Terminally ill For print-disabled users. Borrow this book to access EPUB files.
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He opens a drawer, pulls out matches and gets up to light the candle on the desk. He turns off the main light and sits back down. Here is a real breathing boy, looking up at me, waiting for me. This is my moment, but I can feel my chest ticking. Maybe the only way to get through this without him thinking I m a complete idiot is to pretend to be someone else. I decide to be Zoey, and begin to undo the buttons on her dress. He watches me do it, one button, two buttons.
He runs his tongue across his lips. Three buttons. He stands up. Let me do that. His fingers are quick. He s done this before. Another girl, a different night. I wonder where she is now. Four buttons, five, and the little red dress slides from shoulder to hip, falls to the floor and lands at my feet like a kiss.
I step out of it and stand before him in just my bra and knickers. What s that? He frowns at the puckered skin on my chest. I was ill. What was wrong with you? I shut him up with kisses. I smell different now I m practically naked — musky and hot. He tastes different — of smoke and something sweet.
Life maybe. I ask in my best Zoey voice. He pulls up his T-shirt, over his face, his arms raised. For a second he can t see me, but he s exposed — his narrow chest, freckled and young, the dark shine of hair under his armpits.
He chucks his T-shirt on the floor and kisses me again. He tries to unbuckle his belt without looking, with only one hand, but can t do it.
He pulls away, looking at me all the while as he fumbles at button and zip. He steps out of his trousers and stands before me in his underwear. There s a moment when maybe he s uncertain, and he hesitates, seems shy. I notice his feet, innocent as daisies in their white socks, and I want to give him something.
Not all the way with a guy. The candle gutters.
He doesn t say anything for a second, then shakes his head like he just can t believe it. Wow, that s amazing. I nod. Come here. I bury myself in his shoulder. It s comforting, as if things may be all right. He wraps one arm around me, the other creeping up my back to stroke my neck. His hand is warm. Two hours ago I didn t even know his name. Maybe we don t have to have sex. Maybe we could just lie down and snuggle up, find sleep in each other s arms under the duvet.
Maybe we ll fall in love. He ll hunt for a cure and I ll live for ever. But no. Have you got condoms? I reach for Zoey s bag and tip it upside down on the floor at our feet and he helps himself, puts the condom on the bedside table ready and starts to pull off his socks.
I ve never been naked in front of a guy before. He looks at me as if he wants to eat me and is wondering where to start. I can hear my heart thumping. He has trouble with his pants, easing them over his hard-on. I pull off my knickers, find myself shivering.
We re both naked. I think of Adam and Eve. It ll be OK, he says, and he takes me by the hand and leads me to the bed, pulls down the duvet and we climb in. It s a boat. It s a den. It s somewhere to hide. You re gonna love it, he says. We start to kiss, slowly at first, his fingers lazily tracing the lines of my bones.
I like it — how gentle we are with each other, our slowness under the candle s glow. But it doesn t last long. His kisses become deeper, his tongue thrusting quickly, like he can t get close enough. His hands are busy too now, squeezing and rubbing. Is he looking for something in particular? He keeps saying, Oh yeah, oh yeah, but I don t think he s saying it to me.
His eyes are closed, his mouth is full of my breast. Look at me, I tell him. I need you to look at me. He leans up on one elbow. I don t know what to do. You re fine. His eyes are so dark I don t recognize him.
It s as if he s changed into someone else, is not even the half-stranger he was a few minutes ago. Everything s fine. And he goes back to kissing my neck, my breasts, my stomach until his face disappears from me again. His hand works its way down too, and I don t know how to tell him not to. I move my hips away from him, but he doesn t stop. His fingers flicker 24 between my legs, and I gasp with shock, because no one has ever done that to me before.
What s wrong with me that I don t know how to do this? I thought I d know what to do, what would happen.
But this is spiralling away from me, as if Jake s making me do it, when I m supposed to be in charge. I cling to him, wrap my hands round his back and pat him there, like he s a dog that I don t understand. He eases himself up the bed and sits up. All right? He reaches over to the table where he left the condom. I watch him put it on. He does it quickly. He s a condom expert. I nod again. It seems rude not to.
He lies down, moves my legs apart with his, presses himself closer, his weight on top of me. Soon I ll feel him inside me and I ll know what all the fuss is about. This was my idea. I notice lots of things while the red neon numbers on his radio alarm move from 3: I notice that his shoes are on their side by the door.
The door isn t shut properly. There s a strange shadow on the ceiling in the far corner that looks like a face. I think of a fat man I once saw sweating as he jogged down our street. I think of an apple. I think that a safe place to be would be under the bed, or with my head on my mother s lap. This is it. It s really happening. I m living it now. When it s finished, I lie under him feeling mostly silent and small. We stay like this for a bit, then he rolls off and peers at me through the dark.
What is it? What s wrong? I can t look at him, so I move closer, bury myself deeper, hide in his arms. I know I m making a complete fool of myself. I m snuffling all over him like a baby, and I can t stop, it s horrible.
He sweeps his hand in circles on my back, whispers Shush into my ear, eventually eases me away so he can see me. You re not going to say you didn t want to, are you? I wipe my eyes with the duvet. I sit up, my feet dangling over the edge of the bed onto the carpet.
I sit with my back to him, blinking at my clothes. They re unfamiliar shadows scattered on the floor. When I was a kid, I used to ride on my dad s shoulders. I was so small he had to hold my back with both hands to stop me tipping, and yet I was so high I could splash my hands through leaves. I could never tell Jake this. It wouldn t make any difference to him. I don t think words reach people. Maybe nothing does. I scramble into my clothes.
The red dress seems smaller than ever; I pull it down, trying to cover my knees. Did I really go to a club looking like this? I slip on my shoes, gather the things back into Zoey s bag.
Jake says, You don t have to go. He s leaning up on one elbow. His chest seems pale as the candle flickers. I want to. One arm hangs over the side of the bed; his fingers curl where they touch the floor. He shakes his head really slowly.
Zoey s downstairs on the sofa, asleep. So is Stoner Boy. They lie together, their arms entwined, their faces next to each other. I hate it that it s OK for her. She s even wearing his shirt. Its sweet buttons in little rows make me think of that sugar house in the children s story. I kneel beside them and stroke Zoey s arm very lightly. Her arm is warm.
I stroke her until she opens her eyes. She blinks at me. Finished already? I nod, can t help grinning, which is weird. She untangles herself from Stoner s arms, sits up and surveys the floor. Is there any gear about? I find the tin with the dope in it and hand it to her, then I go to the kitchen and get a glass of water. I think she ll follow me, but she doesn t.
How can we talk with Stoner there? I drink the water, put the glass on the draining board and go back to the lounge. I sit on the floor at Zoey s feet as she licks a Rizla and sticks it to another, licks a second, straps that down too, tears off the edges. How did it go? A pulse of light through the curtain blinds me. I can only see the shine of her teeth. Was he any good? I think of Jake upstairs, his hand trailing the floor. I don t know. Zoey inhales, regards me curiously, exhales.
You have to get used to it. My mum once said that sex was only three minutes of pleasure. I 27 thought, Is that all? It s going to be more than that for me! And it is. If you let them think they re great at it, somehow it turns out all right. I stand up, walk to the curtains and open them wider.
The streetlights are still on. It s nowhere near morning. Zoey says, Have you just left him up there? I guess so. That s a bit rude. You should go back and have another go. I don t want to. Well, we can t go home yet. I m wrecked. She stubs the joint out in the ashtray, settles herself back down next to Scott and shuts her eyes.
I watch her for ages, the rise and fall of her breathing. A string of lights along the wall casts a gentle glow across the carpet. There s a rug too, a little oval with splashes of blue and grey, like the sea. I go back to the kitchen and put the kettle on. There s a piece of paper on the counter.
On it someone s written, Cheese, butter, beans, bread. I sit on a stool at the kitchen table and I add, Butterscotch chocolate, six-pack of Creme Eggs. I especially want the Creme Eggs, because I love having those at Easter.
It s two hundred and seventeen days until Easter. Perhaps I should be a little more realistic. I cross out the Creme Eggs and write, Chocolate Father Xmas, red and gold foil with a bell round its neck. I might just get that. It s one hundred and thirteen days until Christmas. I turn the little piece of paper over and write, Tessa Scott.
A good name of three syllables, my dad always says. If I can fit my name on this piece of paper over fifty times, everything will be all right. I write in very small letters, like a tooth fairy might write to answer a child s letter. My wrist aches. The kettle whistles. The kitchen fills with steam. We get the lift up to the eighth floor, and usually there s a moment when she opens the door and says, Hey, you! Dad usually loiters for a while on the step and they talk.
But today when she opens the door, Dad s so desperate to get away from me that he s already moving back across the hallway towards the lift. Watch her, he says, jabbing a finger in my direction. She s not to be trusted. Mum laughs. Why, what did she do? Cal can hardly contain his excitement. Dad told her not to go clubbing. Ah, Mum says. That sounds like your father.
But she went anyway. She only got home just now. She was out all night. Mum smiles at me fondly. Did you meet a boy? I bet you did. What s his name?
I didn t! Dad looks furious. Typical, he says. Bloody typical. I might ve known I wouldn t get any support from you. Oh, shush, Mum says.
It hasn t done her any harm, has it? Look at her. She s completely exhausted. I hate it. I feel dismal and cold and my stomach aches. It s been hurting since having sex with Jake. No one told me that would happen. She s refused to have her blood count checked for nearly two weeks, so phone me if anything changes. Can you manage that?
Yes, yes, don t worry. She leans over and kisses my forehead. Cal and me sit at the kitchen table, and Mum puts the kettle on, finds three cups amongst the dirty ones in the sink and swills them under the tap. She reaches into a cupboard for tea bags, gets milk from the fridge and sniffs it, scatters biscuits on a plate. I put a whole Bourbon in my mouth at once. It tastes delicious. Cheap chocolate and the rush of sugar to my brain.
Did I ever tell you about my first boyfriend? Mum says as she plonks the tea on the table. His name was Kevin and he worked in a clock shop. I used to love the way he concentrated with that little eye-piece nudged into his face. Cal helps himself to another biscuit.
How many boyfriends have you actually had, Mum? She laughs, pushes her long hair back over one shoulder. Is that an appropriate question? Was Dad the best? Ah, your father! I once asked Mum what was wrong with Dad. She said, He s the most sensible man I ve ever met. She sent postcards for a while from places I d never heard of — Skegness, Grimsby, Hull.
One of them had a picture of a hotel on the front. This is where I work now, she wrote. Dad said. I hope she bloody bursts! I put her postcards on my bedroom wall — Carlisle, Melrose, Dornoch. We re living in a croft like shepherds, she wrote. Did you know that they use the windpipe, lungs, heart and liver of a sheep to make haggis? I didn t, and I didn t know who she meant by we , but I liked looking at the picture of John o Groats with its vast sky stretching across the Firth.
Then winter came and I got my diagnosis. I m not sure she believed it at first, because it took her a while to turn round and make her way back. I was thirteen when she finally knocked on our door. You look lovely! Why does your father always make everything sound so much worse than it is? Are you coming back to live with us? I asked. Not quite. And that s when she moved into her flat. It s always the same. Maybe it s lack of money, or perhaps she wants to make sure I don t over-exert myself, but we always end up watching videos or playing board games.
Today, Cal chooses the Game of Life. It s rubbish, and I m crap at it. I end up with a husband, two children and a job in a travel agent s.
I forget to download house insurance, and when a storm comes, I lose all my money. Cal, however, gets to be a pop star with a cottage by the sea, and Mum s an artist with a huge income and a stately home to live in. When I retire, which happens early because I keep spinning tens, I don t even bother counting what s left of my cash.
He goes to get a coin from her purse, and while we re waiting, I drag the blanket off the back of the sofa and Mum helps me pull it over my knees. Will you come? Isn t Dad going? You could both come. She looks awkward for a moment. What s it for?
They want to do a lumbar puncture. She leans over and kisses me, her breath warm on my face. You ll be fine, don t worry. I know you ll be fine. Cal comes back in with a pound coin. Watch very carefully, ladies, he says. But I don t want to. I m bored of watching things disappear. In Mum s bedroom, I hitch my T-shirt up in front of the wardrobe mirror.
I used to look like an ugly dwarf. My skin was grey and if I poked my tummy it felt like an over-risen lump of bread dough and my finger disappeared into its softness.
Steroids did that. High-dosage prednisolone and dexamethasone. They re both poisons and they make you fat, ugly and bad-tempered. Since I stopped taking them I ve started to shrink. Today, my hips are sharp and my ribs shine through my skin. I m retreating, ghost-like, away from myself. I sit on Mum s bed and phone Zoey. Sex, I ask her. What does it mean? You really did get a crap shag, didn t you?
I just don t understand why I feel so strange. Strange how? Lonely, and my stomach hurts. Oh, yeah! I remember that. Like you ve been opened up inside? A bit. That ll go away. Why do I feel as if I m about to cry all the time? You re taking it too seriously, Tess. Sex is a way of being with someone, that s all. It s just a way of keeping warm and feeling attractive. She sounds odd, as if she s smiling. Are you stoned again, Zoey? Where are you?
Listen, I have to go in a minute. Tell me what s next on your list and we ll make a plan. It was stupid. It was fun! Don t give up on it. You were doing something with your life at last.
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When I hang up, I count to fifty-seven inside my head. Then I dial A woman says, Emergency services. Which service do you require? The woman says, Is there an emergency? I say, No. She says, Can you confirm that there is no emergency? Can you confirm your address? I tell her where Mum lives.
I confirm there s no emergency. I wonder if Mum ll get sent some kind of bill. I hope so. I dial directory enquiries and get the number for the Samaritans. I dial it very slowly. A woman says, Hello. She has a soft voice, maybe Irish. Hello, she says again. Because I feel sorry for wasting her time, I say, Everything s a pile of crap. And she makes a little Uh-huh sound in the back of her throat, which makes me think of Dad. He made exactly that sound six weeks ago, when the consultant at the hospital asked if we understood the implications of what he was telling us.
I remember thinking how Dad couldn t possibly have understood, because he was crying too much to listen. I want to tell her. I press the receiver to my ear, because to talk about something as important as this you have to be hunched up close. But I can t find words that are good enough. Are you still there? No, I say, and I put the phone down. Give me the pain, he says. My spine is parallel to the side of the bed. There are two doctors and a nurse in the room, although I can t see them because they re behind me.
One of the doctors is a student. She doesn t say much, but I guess she s watching as the other one finds the right place on my spine and marks the spot with a pen.
He prepares my skin with antiseptic solution. It s very cold. He starts at the place where he s going to put the needle in and works outwards in concentric circles, then he drapes towels across my back and puts sterile gloves on.
And a five-millilitre syringe. On the wall behind Dad s shoulder is a painting. They change the paintings in the hospital a lot, and I ve never seen this one before. I stare at it very hard.
I ve learned all sorts of distraction techniques in the last four years. In the painting, it s late afternoon in some English field and the sun is low in the sky. A man struggles with the weight of a plough. Birds swoop and dive. Dad turns in his plastic chair to see what I m looking at, lets go of my hand and gets up to inspect the picture. Down at the bottom of the field, a woman runs.
She holds her skirt with one hand so that she can run faster. The Great Plague Reaches Eyam picture for a hospital!
Before I die
A cheery little The doctor chuckles. Did you know, he says, there are still over three thousand cases of bubonic plague a year? No, Dad says, I didn t. Thank goodness for antibiotics, eh? Dad sits down and scoops my hand back into his.
Thank goodness. The woman scatters chickens as she runs, and it s only now that I notice her eyes reaching out in panic towards the man. The plague, the great fire and the war with the Dutch all happened in I remember it from school. Millions were hauled off in carts, bodies swept into lime pits and nameless graves. Over three hundred and forty years later, everyone who lived through it is gone.
Of all the things in the picture, only the sun remains. And the earth. That thought makes me feel very small. Brief stinging sensation coming up, the doctor says. Dad strokes my hand with his thumb as waves of static heat push into my bones. It makes me think of the words for ever , of how there are more dead than living, of how we re surrounded by ghosts.
This should be comforting, but isn t. Squeeze my hand, Dad says. I don t want to hurt you. When your mother was in labour with you, she held my hand for fourteen hours and didn t dislocate any fingers!
There s no way you re going to hurt me, Tess. It s like electricity, as if my spine got jammed in a toaster and the doctor s digging it out with a blunt knife. I ask. My voice sounds different. Held in. No idea. I asked her to come. Did you? Dad sounds surprised. He frowns. That s a strange thing to think. I close my eyes and imagine I m a tree drenched in sunlight, that I have no desire beyond the rain.
I think of silver water splashing my leaves, soaking my roots, travelling up my veins. The doctor reels off statistics to the student. He says, Approximately one in a thousand people who have this test suffer some minor nerve injury.
There s also a slight risk of infection, bleeding, or damage to the cartilage. Then he pulls out the needle. Good girl, he says. All done. I half expect him to slap me on the rump, as if I m an obedient horse.
He doesn t. Instead, he waves three sterile tubes at me. Off to the lab with these. He doesn t even say goodbye, just slides quietly out of the room, student in tow. It s as if he s suddenly embarrassed that any of this intimacy happened between us. But the nurse is lovely. She talks to us as she dresses my back with gauze, then comes round the side of the bed and smiles down at me. You need to lie still for a while now, sweetheart. I know.
Been here before, eh? She turns to Dad. What re you going to do with yourself? She nods. You know what to look for when you get home? He reels it off like a professional. Chill, fever, stiff neck or headache. Drainage or bleeding, any numbness or loss of strength below the puncture site. The nurse is impressed. You re good! When she goes out, Dad smiles at me. Well done, Tess. All over now, eh?
Unless the lab results are bad. They won t be. Try and sleep now, baby. It ll make the time go more quickly. He picks up his book, settles back in his chair. Pinpricks of light like fireflies bat against my eyelids. I can hear my own blood coursing, like hooves pounding the street. The grey light outside the hospital window thickens. He turns a page. Behind his shoulder, in the painting, smoke innocently rises from a farmhouse chimney and a woman runs — her face tilted upwards in terror.
Get up! Cal shouts. I pull the duvet over my head, but he yanks it straight off again. Dad says if you don t get up right now, he s coming upstairs with a wet flannel!
I roll over, away from him, but he skips round the bed and stands over me, grinning. Dad says you should get up every morning and do something with yourself. I kick him hard and pull the duvet back over my head. I don t give a shit, Cal! Now piss off out of my room. Noise invades — the thunder of his feet on the stair, the clatter of dishes from the kitchen as he opens the door and doesn t shut it behind him.
Even the smallest sounds reach me — the slosh of milk onto cereal, a spoon spinning in air. Dad tutting as he wipes Cal s school shirt with a cloth.
The cat lapping the floor. The hall closet opens and Dad gets Cal s coat for him.
I hear the zip, the button at the top to keep his neck warm. I hear the kiss, then the sigh — a great wave of despair washing over the house. Go and say goodbye, Dad says. Cal bounds up the stairs, pauses a moment outside my door, then comes in, right over to the bed. I hope you die while I m at school! And I hope it bloody hurts! And I hope they bury you somewhere horrible like the fish shop or the dentist s! Goodbye, little brother, I think. Goodbye, goodbye.
In the last few weeks he s established a little morning routine. After Cal leaves, he makes himself a coffee, then he tidies the kitchen table, rinses the dishes and puts the washing machine on. This takes approximately twenty minutes. After that he comes and asks me if I slept well, if I m hungry and what time I m going to get up.
In that order. When I tell him, No, no and never, he gets dressed, then goes back downstairs to his computer, where he taps away for hours, surfing the web for information to keep me alive. I ve been told there are five stages of grief, and if that s true, then he s stuck in stage one: Strangely, his knock at my door is early today.
He hasn t had his coffee or tidied up. What s going on? I lie very still as he comes in, shuts the door quietly behind him and kicks his slippers off. Shove up, he says. He lifts a corner of the duvet. Getting into bed with you. I don t want you to! He puts his arm around me and pins me there. His bones are hard.
His socks rub against my bare feet. Get out of my bed! I push his arm off and sit up to look at him. He smells of stale smoke and beer and looks older than I remember. I can hear his heart too, which I don t think is supposed to happen. What the hell are you doing? You never talk to me, Tess. He shrugs.
Would you like it if I came into your bed when you were asleep? You used to when you were small. You said it was unfair that you had to sleep by yourself. Every night me and Mum let you in because you were lonely. He may have gone mad. Well, if you re not getting out of my bed, then I will. But destiny is a funny thing, and in this novel, structured as a series of clever e-mails, letters, notes, and a trail of missed opportunities, Alex and Rosie find out that fate isn't done with them yet.
Cecelia Ahern. Love, Rosie 1 of 5. Love, Rosie 2 of 5. Love, Rosie 3 of 5. Love, Rosie 4 of 5. Love, Rosie 5 of 5. Cecelia Ahern - Love Rosie. Best audiobooks in English Sep 26, at When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister's disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister's life - and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face.
The police, Beatrice's fiance and even their mother accept they have lost Tess but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.
Rosamund Lupton. Sister 1 of 6. Sister 2 of 6. Sister 3 of 6. Sister 4 of 6. Sister 5 of 6. Sister 6 of 6.
Rosamund Lupton - Sister. Best audiobooks in English Oct 19, at 6: Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, and drugs with excruciating side effects, Tessa compiles a list. And number one is Sex.
Released from the constraints of "normal" life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Tessa's feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, are all painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa's time runs out. Jenny Downham. Before I Die 1 of 6. Before I Die 2 of 6. Before I Die 3 of 6. Before I Die 4 of 6. Before I Die 5 of 6.
Before I Die 6 of 6. Jenny Downham - Before I die. Best audiobooks in English Dec 27, at 8: One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. A lot. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages. Jojo Moyes. The One Plus One 1 of 6. The One Plus One 2 of 6. The One Plus One 3 of 6. The One Plus One 4 of 6. The One Plus One 5 of 6.
The One Plus One 6 of 6. Best audiobooks in English Jan 10, at 8: No way does she want anyone to know she can talk to spooks. Being a foster kid is hard enough without being labeled a freak too.
Expand text… Normally, she just ignores the ghosts and they go away. Apryl Baker. Ghost Files 1 of 6. Ghost Files 2 of 6. Ghost Files 3 of 6. Ghost Files 4 of 6.
Ghost Files 5 of 6. Ghost Files 6 of 6. Apryl Baker - The Ghost Files. Best audiobooks in English Jan 21, at Kelly Feinman, who pays a terrible price to understand the nature of true evil; and Matt Connor, a classic anti-hero who captures the reader's sympathy. Expand text… Kelly Feinman: Once a brilliant FBI profiler and field agent, Kelly went rogue on her last case, hunting the serial killer known as the Acid Man.
Now, still recovering from the madman's brutal assault, regarded by her fellow agents as a weak link, Kelly struggles to find her footing on a new case: Making matters worse, Kelly's husband has taken their daughter and left.
Kelly fears she cannot even trust her own instincts. Matt Connor: Deeply in love with his girlfriend, Matt is devastated when Amy leaves him for another man. He plots a diabolical revenge that begins with his apparent death. By the time Matt is through, Amy--Jimmy's mother--will know the intensity of Matt's pain, because it will have become her own.
And Matt…Matt will pass through the fires of hell and, in the eyes of baby Jimmy, will recover his soul. Christopher Pike. Falling 1 of 8. Falling 2 of 8. Falling 3 of 8. Falling 4 of 8.I wonder if there s a way of getting air in here. Andere Kunden kauften auch. I press the receiver to my ear, because to talk about something as important as this you have to be hunched up close. Before I Die Autor: It wouldn t make any difference to him. You re pathetic! Stop being so horrible!
There was the afternoon, the tops of the trees, the sky. Stoner Boy will come closer to check us out. Even if I beg you not to, even if Im horrible to you, you must make me do it.