Writing Advice

Help for Authors and Writers

Prompt: Write something about loneliness.

I’m not sure if these are the same characters from the first three vignettes or not. They might be, but I feel that the “she” in this snippet is less guarded than the “she” in those.

“Loneliness,” she said, “is a hell of a drug.”

“What?” he said. “What do you mean?”

She rolled over to face him. The bed lay in complete disarray, sheets rumpled, blankets half on the floor. Her skin still glowed with post-orgasmic sweat. “Loneliness is a hell of a drug,” she repeated.

“That doesn’t even make sense.”

“Fine.” She rolled onto her back once more.

He put his arm around her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to dismiss you. It’s just—-I don’t understand.”

She turned to face him again. Her brown eyes studied his face, as though searching for clues to something, he wasn’t sure what. She brushed his hair away from his eyes. “Why do people use drugs?”

“I don’t know. Escape? That’s what they say on TV.”

She let out a short bark of laughter without any mirth. “Never trust what they say on TV. Not about drugs anyway.”

“So why do people use drugs?”

“Comfort. Familiarity. They smooth the jagged edges off a world made of broken glass.”

“You're saying loneliness is comfortable?”

“Yes, in its way. When you’re used to it, it’s like an old friend. Not a friend who you like, particularly, but someone who’s always been there, for so long you can’t remember what life was like without him.”

“I still don't follow. Isn’t loneliness bad?”

She sat up. The early morning sun filtered through haphazardly-drawn curtains, splashing her body with red and gold. He sucked in his breath. She smiled when he reached for her. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”


She grinned at him, a warm, dazzling smile. “Very good! I’m impressed.”

“Are you patronizing me?”

“No. I mean it. Too many people don’t know the classics. They’re our roots.” She fumbled on the nightstand. Keys, purse, glasses, and smartphone all went crashing to the floor before she found her vaporizer. The end glowed blue. She exhaled a sweet-smelling cloud. “Drugs take you to a certain state of being. You understand? That’s why outlawing them has never worked. You’re outlawing a state of mind.”

“Isn't loneliness uncomfortable?”

“Change is uncomfortable. Uncertainty is uncomfortable. Loneliness, well, once you get used to it…” She shrugged. “Once it’s been part of you for a long time, it’s hard to give up. Even if you know it’s bad for you. It whispers in your ear. ‘‘Come back to me. I will make you feel better. It’s all broken glass out there. I will keep you safe.’ It lies, of course. All drugs lie. But it’s a pretty lie, even if the reality is ugly.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Because I’m an addict. It’s dangerous to love an addict. My drug of choice is loneliness. I will hurt you.”

“Do you want me to go?”

She exhaled a long cloud of white vapor, then regarded him for a while. He sat up and arranged the pillows behind his back. The silence stretched on. Neither of them seemed in a hurry to break it.

Finally, she shook her head. “No. If you could see inside my heart, you might be afraid of how much I don’t want you to leave.”

“I wouldn’t.”

“Then you’re an idiot.”

He looked away. She set the vaporizer back on the nightstand. “You see? I started to let you in, and already the junkie in me is trying to push you out. I will hurt you.”

He frowned. The minutes ticked by. At last, he said, “My mother always told me that when someone tells you who they are, you should listen.”

She nodded. “Good advice. Your mother sounds like a wise woman.”

“She is.” He took her hand. “It’s a shame I never listen to her.”