By Hickory

Ecstasy – what a beautiful term. What it meant, even weighted down by what it was, was perfect. Because with ecstasy inside of him, he felt ecstatic. The music had stopped, the DJ disappearing into the bathroom with one of the freshmen girls, or behind the rig with his own dreams swimming through his head.

The dance, however, continued. Couples, trios, and singles lethargically swung between each other, occasionally meeting with lazy collisions that they barely noticed. The high was gone, and now they were reaching their low point. But they were happy, because they were all here. Some simply sank to the floor, embraced, and passed out in each other’s arms.

But Byron hadn’t reached his low. Being so skinny, his highs always lasted the longest. He hadn’t always been so skinny. It had been the drugs and the apathy. He could’ve been a sports god. They all knew it. Coming out of grade six he could wrestle any of his classmates to the ground. Now, at 21, he’d be lucky not to break a bone wrestling a grade six student. But it was his choice to make and he had made it. Now he had friends who had this as their priority – synthetic joy, and mass-produced rapture. And that had, in the course of a decade, whittled away at his frame.

Byron curled up in a ball on his chair, rocking back and forth with a grin on his face, occasionally bursting into laughter when one of the couples fell over. But as the crows began to slow and thin, he found himself looking for more.

He found it, across the room. The dark, bay windows looking into the dank night beyond. He saw someone in the window, someone vaguely familiar. Knowing he was high, he pushed himself from his chair, and measured every step he took, careful not to step on any of his friends or crash into the swaying couples with the wherewithal to keep dancing. As he neared, he saw that it wasn’t actually someone beyond the window, but a reflection – his reflection. But even as he moved, it shifted. His arms were thicker, his chest was wider, and even his stature was different. Without his head hung forward, he looked taller, and more muscular.

And he was. He swore to himself. He was growing even now. His jeans filled out, and stressed at the seams. With his pecs inflating with muscle, his shirt rode up, revealing a ridged six-pack. He looked down. It wasn’t just his reflection, it was his real body. He couldn’t see below his huge chest, initially, that rose and fell with every breath he took. He flexed an arm, and watched the gargantuan bicep bulge beneath his sleeve. Heat rose through his being, and he felt himself become sexually energized. He was so hot, that he began to fog up the window.

This was him – this was him if he had kept on the route he’d been on. This was him after years of working out, of sticking to it, of making that first choice. And he liked it. He was ecstatic about it.

Wanting to see more, he reached out, and brushed the mist from the window.

Beneath the streak his hand had made, was nothing more than himself. His old self.

Byron backtracked, still careful of his steps, until he found his way to his chair. His choices were his, and he had made them. But there was always something he could do about it. It would be hard, he knew, but he could always start over. No one has to stay in one place forever.

But he wouldn’t. He brought his skinny legs up to his chest again, and hung his head in grief over himself. Across the room, the patch of fog was still on the window. But from here, the image left on the streak was blurred, and indiscernible. He looked down. Happiness came too much and too easy for him.

Byron reached into his shirt pocket, pulled out a single tablet, and popped it in his mouth. Clutching his knees to his chest, he rocked back and forth in his chair, and waited to be happy again. •

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