Orange Eggs and Ecstasy

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Creative Nonfiction
Today I had orange eggs for breakfast.
I thought it was strange so I looked it up and found that an especially happy chicken lays eggs with orange yolks. It saddened me to think of the countless pale yellow yolks I’ve eaten from chickens that were less happy, maybe even sad. I’d lived almost twenty years and never seen orange yolks before. Then I thought, if I laid an egg right now--what color would it be? Would it be a pale yellow, mild and mundane, devoid of true happiness? Or would it be an ecstatic orange, radiant with joy and the freedom of running wild?

Mike the concierge interrupted my sleep-deprived musings, bringing me a stack of Band-aids from the front desk as I ate, slurping up one tangerine yolk after another to bring life back into my aching body. I briefly stopped shoveling food in my mouth to peel the Band-aids from their waxy paper prisons, smoothing them out in double layers over my heels. Note to self: never wear high-top Vans to a music festival again.

About two swallows of eggs cooked over-easy, sunny-side up beamed up at me from my plate. One yolk had been punctured by my greedy fork and was oozing like the sunrise spilling over the sky just hours before. I could still feel the rising sun’s warmth on my cheeks, and the tickle of it on my fingertips. I felt the dryness of my sleepless eyes, and the lingering, sour aftertaste of a man that could only be described as milk gone bad.

Before that, there was the 3am McDonald’s drive-through happy meal we waited an hour in the car for, where I also ordered sixteen tap waters because I was thirsty and the entire car gawked at me like I was a madwoman. Balancing four trays of ice water on my lap, I washed down my happy meal as I let the cold water slip down my throat like silk and cool my veins. I thought about the DJ tent, where it was raining sweat and water. Water was inevitably sprayed in the mosh pits, where people were headbanging with their bottles open. We danced until our bodies were soaked with sweat and our clothes were damp and clung to our skin. Our shoes were muddy and our toes were mangled. The DJ was wearing a panda head, and I wondered if he could breathe.

The Adderall and adrenaline pumped through my bloodstream as the bass from the tent began to shake the ground and strobe lights shot through the night sky. It was like a beautiful supernatural disaster, an earthquake and a storm with neon lightning. I was hand in hand with a shadow, who was apologizing to me about a song. We had met at a stage across the campgrounds.

“You’re way too pretty to be sitting down. Dance with me.” The shadow, wearing a sports jersey and a backwards hat, extended its hand to me.
I was sitting cross-legged on the dewy corner of a stranger’s blanket. My legs were numb from standing, walking, and dancing for the last forty-eight hours. And now I was waiting.
I blinked up at the hand. It looked large, friendly even.
The shadow’s companion was twirling my friend, Antonia. Her bleach-blonde ponytail swished around as she giggled, the fringe on her bralette top flaring out with it.

Chance the Rapper was performing, but he was mid-set and we were so far from the stage that he was just an disembodied voice, and only echoes of the Gospel-y hip-hop music reached us. Around us, people were swaying in the dark like trees in a soft summer wind. Some were sprawled on the ground in inflatable hammocks, passing around blunts. Some others were making out intensely, swapping spit and acid tabs with their tongues.
“Praise Jesus!” Chance’s voice called out from the stage.
“I’m not taking no for an answer.” said the shadow.

With a sigh, I threw a smile of labored assent into the darkness and reached for the hand. Warm, steady fingers enveloped mine as they pulled me up, and began to twirl me.
We all danced. The shadow and I, Antonia and the shadow’s friend. We exchanged names, where we were from, where we were staying, would we like to hang out afterwards? Me and Antonia told them fake ages and they probably lied to us too. It wouldn’t matter in the morning anyways.

I told them I was waiting for a song. So we all waited. Song after song played, until the set finally ended. Maybe I’d already missed it before we had even come.

We were late because Antonia was on a mission. She wanted to find ecstasy, whether it came in a feeling or in the form of a pill, or an unexpected interaction. We had spent the day wandering from stage to stage, becoming golden brown under the bright Delaware sun. We applied glitter to our hair and faces, and sparkled as we walked, clad only in short-shorts and tiny bralettes. We met a girl who had claimed she hooked up with Jesus, who was definitely rolling on molly. We walked with her awhile until we found Jesus, a drunk guy in a wig and Birkenstocks wearing a dirty robe. She gave us mini-bottles of Bacardi she’d smuggled in as a thank-you as we parted ways.

Antonia had approached a dread-headed hippie guy, who was barefoot and lounging on the grass next to a sign that said “Get High With Me” in Magic Marker. They whispered for a while and finally he pressed something into her hand with a knowing smile, caressing her face. She ran excitedly back to me as the hippie raised a hand in a lazy goodbye wave, his red-rimmed blue eyes half-open slits while a faint smile rested on his face, swaying to a song we could not hear. Was that what ecstasy felt like for him?

For me, it was spending the night in a house in the middle of Delaware, ditching the shadows when the sun came up, and listening to Kesha blasting in the car at top volume at 5am, screaming at us WE ARE WHO ARE ARE as we drove by a still-slumbering Dover. Ecstasy was the morning sky on fire, as we rolled down the windows and stuck our arms out to be licked by the flames, burning fast and bright, driving double the speed limit all of the way back to our room at the Red Roof Inn, where orange yolks awaited.