Macaroni and cheese was undoubtedly the most delicious food in the world. Its taste was so strong and flavourful, the texture so comfortable on her tongue, she wanted to savour every bite and simultaneously inhale it all in one breath. She couldn’t stop eating. Her fork went up, down, into the bowl cradled lovingly by one hand, and it was like she could eat all the macaroni and cheese in the world if it was right here in front of her.
“I think I could eat this forever,” she mumbled. “It feels like it’s been a century already.”
Tiffany sighed and ignored her, albeit pointedly.
Taeyeon looked over at her and pouted. Then she rolled her eyes, and swallowed. “Thank you for the food, baby.”
This time, Tiffany didn’t even react at all. She just flicked through Netflix. It was obvious she wasn’t considering the options with any care.
Taeyeon returned her gaze to the macaroni and cheese, not really seeing it. It was all texture, no substance – but what a good feeling it was.
“Did you have to do it as soon as you got home?”
The sound of Tiffany’s voice brought Taeyeon’s head to turn again, and she blinked. “Do what?”
Tiffany hesitated before staring at Taeyeon, meeting her bloodshot eyes. “Get stoned. You did it as soon as you got home.”
Taeyeon shrugged. Her eyes widened. It looked like she was going to say something – then she just went back to eating.
“Do you have any idea what it’s like for me to come home and find you like that?”
“I can honestly say I don’t,” said Taeyeon. “Because you’ve only tried it once and I was already with you.”
A sharp shove to her shoulder almost caused her to stab herself with the fork and she froze.
“What the fu-”
“It’s insensitive, Taeyeon. Why did you start as soon as you got home? You’re still in your work clothes and everything.”
Taeyeon shrugged again, exaggeratedly this time, and turned her wide gaze on Tiffany. “It’s Friday. I felt like it.”
Tiffany let out a huff of air and clicked something random on Netflix. Her movements were angry even as she pulled on Taeyeon’s arm to bring her closer and snuggled her face into Taeyeon’s shoulder.
Taeyeon looked at her for a minute, hand still raised with her empty fork, bowl of macaroni and cheese clutched to her chest. “You’re really good at sending mixed signals, do you know that?” She kissed the top of Tiffany’s head and resumed eating as if nothing was different.
Everything was different.
When they started dating, Taeyeon was just out of college, new to America but not as new as she used to be and it excited her to be able to explore this new world as a part of it, having decided to stay. It was charming to Tiffany, that bright-eyed determination to absorb a new culture, make a new life. Taeyeon was attractive, smart, funny, someone she could have fun with and relax with and achieve with. They moved in together three months after graduation, Taeyeon having nowhere else to go without a lot of searching and Tiffany happy to be away from her family (who she loved, but had enough of for a while). That was them – young, fresh, eager, making progress. Their house became host to the blend of their shared and developing cultures, both with ties to Korean and American communities, trying new things together. All kinds of new things. Something that was regular to one person was shared with the group as an unfamiliar experience. Sometimes that thing became part of their habits or hobbies, sometimes it didn’t. If it was good, it stuck, if it was bad, they moved on.
Taeyeon thought this was good. Tiffany was undecided.
“Where did you even get it from?” asked Tiffany, eyes on the screen. “I thought you ran out.”
“Just asked for some more.”
“Generous,” remarked Tiffany, quietly. They’d had this talk before. Taeyeon was getting it for free, and Tiffany didn’t believe something like this came without any kind of price.
“Well he already gets it for free from his brother, so he’s happy to share with friends.”
His brother the professional supplier. Tiffany didn’t say anything to that. There wasn’t any point, anyway. The way Taeyeon’s body still twitched every now and then showed she was too far into it for this to be a productive conversation. She peered up, looking at the blissful smile on Taeyeon’s face, and allowed herself to accept that it brought a certain kind of happiness that maybe she couldn’t understand but she wouldn’t stop just yet.
Once a year, to once a month, to once a week. It was such a simple routine now. Was it an addiction?
Tiffany sat upright, and kissed Taeyeon on the cheek, receiving an absent smile in reply. The macaroni and cheese was all gone, the empty bowl resting on the arm of the couch.
It wasn’t that bad. Not yet. And maybe it would never get that bad. It wasn’t harmful.
Taeyeon leaned closer and kissed her, deep. “You feel so good,” she whispered.
They kissed for a while longer, and Tiffany found to her surprise that she was considering pulling away. Never in the time they’d been together had she ever pulled away from Taeyeon’s kisses. The thought crept up on her, startled her. Taeyeon didn’t seem to notice any shift in the air, but briefly broke contact to put her arm around Tiffany’s shoulder and then her kisses seemed to have some bite to them.
Tiffany mumbled something incomprehensible into Taeyeon’s mouth before slipping a hand under Taeyeon’s shirt, touching the soft skin of her stomach.
Taeyeon’s free hand roamed over Tiffany’s and then along her forearm, and gripped her elbow. She pushed Tiffany gently, making her lie on her back, shifting her own body over her.
“More of you,” she murmured. “You feel so good, baby.”
“Taeyeon,” said Tiffany. She framed Taeyeon’s face in her hands, stopping her from moving her attention to Tiffany’s neck and chest, trying to make eye contact.
Taeyeon’s eyes, while bloodshot and dilated, met her own. “Yeah?”
“I love you, Tae.”
Taeyeon grinned, the same grin she always had. “I love you too, Tiffany. I love you so much. Don’t you know? You’re so beautiful. You’re my everything.”
The words made Tiffany feel a little better, which made her realize that she was looking for reassurance about the situation. It wasn’t the first time they were intimate while Taeyeon was high, but sometimes she wasn’t sure if Taeyeon was still herself or if she was too far lost in her own little world; even if that world was centred solely on worshipping Tiffany’s body.
“I want to make you feel good,” Taeyeon was whispering, kissing along her jaw. “I want to make you feel as good as I feel.”
Somehow, that didn’t seem possible, but Tiffany didn’t mention that. She said nothing at all as Taeyeon kissed her and made love to her. She thought a lot, and then not at all, very deliberately.
And when the next morning dawned, with Taeyeon so deep in sleep that she might as well have been in a coma, Tiffany got up and went to work as normal with precise movements.
She told no one how much it worried her what Taeyeon was doing; least of all, herself. The longer she could keep those thoughts out of her mind, the longer they could stay together, she reasoned. The fact that she was even considering it in that way scared her and made her even more determined not to go any further down that path, because the end looked dark and dismal from where she was standing.
So, when she got home from work and found Taeyeon still lying on the bed, eyes closed, looking perfectly at peace, she told no one how that made her feel. Particularly not herself.
And the days kept coming, and going on.