Fuck it, everyone is doing it! Was the thought that ran through my head as the offer was made at 1am (ish) at the trendy club in town with the name no one remembered. The new recreational drug known as ‘REM’ had already stirred my curiosity when I first heard of it in some news story. I only had a vague idea of what it was at the time, but the temptation was already there. Temptation, even as I stood there in the graffiti-riddled cubicle, surrounded by the smell of ammonia with my jeans unzipped.
"Reminiscing? Bro, you remin tonight?"
"Mate, give me a minute. Ideally, I’d like to avoid getting piss all over me."
Back then I had a bit of trouble with OCD, the splash back from urinals was enough to make me go home and take a shower. After an awkward start, the casually dressed stranger in his late thirties explained the product on offer. That was, for the reduced cost of just twenty five quid I would get to re-live a random memory. There would be no comedown, and the vividness would be absolute. As the memory would be one of my own, it would be like stepping into the past, exactly as it was from my perspective. None of this ‘out-of-body’ experience shit. I will at this point admit; I was a bit skeptical. I assumed it would be a hallucination over which I had some kind of control, similar to being in one of those dreams where you suddenly become aware of the dream and begin to shape it as you sleep. If that was the case, I would have definitely chosen to step into my old uni dorm on the night I pulled that hot beauty therapy student, whom I regret not calling the next day.
So, after exchanging cash for vial, no receipt, I returned to the nightclub dance floor. My friends asked me what took so long; I lied and blamed it on a queue. After a night of awkward conversation, a near miss with an average looking twenty-something, and too much caffeine spliced with vodka I decided to get a taxi home. By this time I had forgotten most of the night.
Keys in, door open, and a 'how was your night?' from my half asleep girlfriend. The summary of my arrival home, but you’re judging me aren't you? For the twenty-something. I've done far worse if I am being honest, and I apologize that this isn't a Christian redemption story. Anyway, I engaged in as little conversation with the missus as possible. In a drunken state, a slip of the lips can easily lead to disastrous consequences, and at the time I didn't feel like gambling with my relationship status. Part of the avoidance tactic was declaring I wasn't coming to bed yet, and loading up the Xbox instead. Nothing beats killing off pixels after a long frustrating day. After ruining my kill to death ratio further, I decided to change out of my evening’s attire which had gone from smelling of my generic laundry detergent to reeking of stale cigarette smoke during the course of the night. I emptied my pocket of all the items I had left with, keys, phone, wallet and a ballpoint pen, and then also an excess item. I remembered my impulse buy from only a few hours earlier which had all begun to feel like a fuzzy dream by then. I recalled words ‘re-live’ and ‘memory’ and thought about how it would work. It was one thing to hear about it and imagine the effects, and quite another to be stood there with the physical article in your hands. It never crossed my mind that the random memory would be anything but pleasant.
Maybe in an alternate world, through another trip, that student with her bleached blonde hair lead me up those dormitory stairs again, excitedly gripping my hand, sparing no time to bother closing her apartment door. I still remember how she pushed me against her wall whilst dropping to her knees onto her floor full of clothes and shoes, and unbuckling my belt with an enthusiasm that is lost by most later in life. I often feel like this experience ruined my sex life afterwards, nothing ever lived up to it. Memories are potent, but never more potent than if you can visit one again. 'Bottoms up' I thought, or hoped rather, as I unscrewed the cap to the vial. Downing the liquid content swiftly I proceeded to sit on my living room chair waiting for the trip to start. I stared straight ahead at the television screen which still displayed the Xbox dashboard. The click-able tiles began to blur, I touched my forehead almost as if to stop my head from falling. Every blink became heavier as bright, vivid colours slowly started to bleed into my vision. My surroundings began to change around me. The sound came before the image, and from what I could tell I was in a populated area. Indoors possibly. The multiple colours began to form shapes, and before long a picture started to form. People, furniture and the familiar layout of a building structure. I was sat in a room, surrounded by people, with a table in front of me as someone sat down. A moment later everything synced. The colors became picture perfect, the sound aligned to the correct noise polluter and sat before me was Meisha, my first real girlfriend.
'A little bit of a let down', were my first thoughts. I was back in my home town, a place I left as soon as my student loan was in my bank account. Don't get me wrong, its not that there was anything wrong with Meisha. She was a very bright, attractive seventeen year old girl. Slim, mixed race and full of life. The scene was that of a local coffee shop. A popular hotspot for college students in the area, and a favourite of ours. The mechanics of the drug were pretty simple to understand after a moment or two. Basically, you could do fuck all but watch the memory from your own point of view. Exactly as you saw it on the day in question. It was like watching a TV show, but with an almost intrusive-like quality about it. The conversation taking place was not all that interesting, and if honest it felt a little awkward. My younger charming self seemed determined to arrange their next 'alone time', while Meisha seemed to be trying to pluck up the courage to say something. At this stage I started to wish the trip would end, or that I would suddenly get the ability to select another memory.
"You know the other night?"
"How could I forget, It was great!"
"Yeah, but we didn't use protection..."
Interesting. All this time she was worried about our festivities from earlier in the week, which had clearly shook her up. It was quite amusing from this point on. I listened to myself frantically trying to explain how it was okay because "I pulled out right before finishing", and how she "wiped up" the result immediately. Romantic or what? Isn't it funny how nobody ever talks about the messy side of sex? The final hilarious quote had to be how I would wear 'extra safe' condoms from now on, with a tone as if it were the most heroic gesture of all time. At this stage the memory began to break apart. The colours and sounds started to dissipate as I thought about my failed relationship. I felt kinda guilty for treating the girl like a sex object, and I conceded that it was no wonder she left me shortly after. It was pretty brutal, all I could remember was getting one lousy text telling me it was over and that she was moving away. I realized it was so obvious: I hadn't worn a condom, she broke up with me shortly after and moved away. It's not like that was the last time we had sex, but fucking hell. What if she got pregnant? What if she got fucking pregnant? Reality came crashing back, and I immediately raced towards the toilet. I didn't make it. So much for the 'no comedown' promise. Dizzy and covered in puke I dragged myself back to the living room, heart pounding, and grasped my mobile phone. I loaded up Facebook and tapped 'Meisha Adams' into the search bar. Fuck.
Six hours earlier.
Standing outside a nightclub I felt fed up, lonely and annoyed at a guy who couldn't grasp I wasn't interested. I fumbled around in my pocket as my phone vibrated. It was my friend ringing up to make sure I was okay.
"I'm fine, no I'm not crying, I just wish things were like how they used to be."
"Yo miss, I might be able to help with that."
I put my mobile in my pocket, and there stood a man smiling at me.