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The whole room smells like marijuana and alcohol.

It's his living room, for Christ's sake, and Em would think this is weird - any normal person would - but she's not normal. Clear thinking is a distant memory.

The scent isn't unusual anymore. It seemed out of place when this clandestine relationship began, sure, but there's some things you just have to adjust to in order to get what you want.

In the beginning, if she paid close attention to the mixture of smells, it would distract her too much for the sex to feel good.

There's never any kind of romantic connotation to these acts. It's the physical act of sexual intercourse. Not lovemaking. Though Em has never experienced the latter, she knows the difference between the two and at times, longs for something deeper, just the tiniest hint of love. Even the lust is gone, and they've been left with pure mechanics in the place of whatever tiny spark there once was.

That's not to say Em doesn't feel anything. The sensation isn't pleasure, though she still climaxes by default because after two months of this, Conell knows her body almost as well as she does. But thisthing they do, this sex, has become more of an emotional outlet than anything else. If she's angry or depressed, which is often, she fucks twice as hard.

This is her time to be rough, to take control and clutch it, never letting it go in this world that seems intent on stealing stability from her.

She never thought she'd be a whore.

But she is one and she knows it, believes it with her whole heart. Still, she doesn't want to stop.

This is the only way she'll ever feel anything at all.

And she knows with just as much certainty as she knows the sky is never truly blue in Pittsburgh that if she sinks into numbness, if she stops feeling again, she will die.

-x-

Some hours have passed. She's sinking into a hole of pleasant intoxication brought on by Miller Lite and her own weed stash - the last of it - and her problems aren't quite so pressing as they were when the sun was still up.

Weed, beer, sex, and Adventureland - this is what her life has been reduced to.

Of course there's James, but he is at the very back of her mind because Conell's straddling her and she's convinced herself that this is how things are supposed to be.

By society's standards, this is wrong. There's no room for standards when you just want to feel something, anything, to keep from falling over the edge. She's silently begging for more, because she could take everything from him and it would never be enough.

Her hips buck, thrusting up and she closes herself around Conell's length.

There in the dark, where moaning is the native language, Em thinks she has never felt so dirty or so clean.

-x-

She stumbles home feeling jaggedly whole. There's an ache between her legs and it's enough to keep her alert. Sneaking past the master bedroom and thus escaping undetected by her father or Francy, she falls into bed without making a sound.

As the high wears off, she's bleeding where no one can see, spurting blood that is made not of plasma and red cells, but of guilt and shame.

She hates herself for what she has done, what she will continue to do.

You whore.