Amanda Hadlock

The first night I spent with the guy I dated last summer, he told me we had just snorted the last of our coke when I asked for more, so I said, “Turn the baggie inside out and let’s lick it.”

So, we did. We tongued the corners and crevasses of the sandwich bag to save every last bit of residue we could, and my teeth and lips went so numb I couldn’t even feel it when he kissed me.

In the beginning, not much happened: We would meet at his apartment, stretch out on his bedroom carpet, and snort lines off the cover of the physics textbook from the class where we’d met that spring, which he would have to retake the next fall. We would take turns playing songs on his laptop we thought would make the other like us. And it worked for a while: sniffing lines, singing off-key, fucking on the bedroom carpet. It was great on nights when we weren’t too numb from drugs, and nights when we were too numb, we were content just lying there, side by side on the floor, sharing the silence as we came down.

Then, suddenly, something did happen. As it turns out, it is dangerous to mix your prescribed SSRIs with uppers you got from some line cook at the Applebee’s where your boyfriend who you barely know works, and there is such a thing as “serotonin syndrome.” The body, ironically, can produce too much of the thing that makes it feel happy, and hurt itself.

A build up of serotonin in the brain can cause a hot, sweaty fever, and muscle rigidity so severe your hands curl up like pincers and are rendered useless, and diarrhea so sudden you find yourself shitting your favorite Eeyore pajama pants in your sleep on your new boyfriend’s bedroom carpet, waking both of you up from a come-down at the ass-crack of dawn and necessitating a drive to the Emergency Room. Likely, he’ll hardly be able to hide his disgust. He might offer you a shower and a pair of his basketball shorts to change into, after you ask. He also might make you sit on one of his crusty towels the whole way to the hospital, and never call or text you back again after dropping you off.

Anyway, serotonin syndrome can cause all these things. That doesn’t mean any of these things will happen to you.

Amanda Hadlock is an MFA candidate in fiction at Florida State University, where she also serves as Assistant Editor for Southeast Review. She is originally from Missouri. She received her MA in English from Missouri State University, where she also worked as the Graduate Assistant for Moon City Review. Her fiction, nonfiction, and graphic narrative work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as The Florida Review, Fractured Literary, WFSU/NPR’s All Things Considered, Essay Daily, Hobart, Wigleaf, New Limestone Review, Past Ten, The Lindenwood Review, Esthetic Apostle, and others. Amanda’s flash fiction piece “Let’s Lick It” was a finalist in Cleaver’s 2022 flash contest.

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