He shuddered for breath, sputtering a red tinged water from his lips. He clung to the edges of the bathtub. Silence was emanating from the walls, that is to say but the drip that echoed from the spigot. He felt fucked. The cause of which lay naked on his bed in the adjacent room. Her ratted hair was sprawled among pillows. Her mouth was pursed, letting air gently pass in and out. He lay himself into the lukewarm and murky water; he peered at her above the porcelain rim and watched her slumped body rise and fall.
He tempestuously lifted himself and the act made his watery mess violently rush around him. The sounds struck the sleeping girl and she turned supine. He approached her and flicked his hand in front of her mouth to feel the heat of her breath. He dressed and made glances at her, to see if she was awake yet. He wondered if it was too hot, so he pulled the chain of the fan above him. It was fast and the rattle and sway of it disrupted the rhythm the spigot had achieved.
“Hey. Hey you. Get up,” he spoke firmly, but quietly. He flung his collar up and wrapped his black tie around his neck. The girl managed a few moans that sounded like “leave me alone.” He grew irritable, turned for the mirror and frowned in it. He paused, then darted his eyes back and forth, looking…looking for something. He quickly began in one direction, but came back to the mirror to finish the task of his tie. He turned to scan the entirety of his apartment floor. It was a pale cranberry color, dark among the drawn shades. He snatched the curtains and drew them open, letting the 9 a.m. sunshine flood in.
“Fuck you. Let me lay here some, huh?” She threw a pillow over her face. With his newly lit apartment, he now could see where he’d stowed his gun. He lifted from the dresser, examined the revolver and cocked.
“Hey, what the fuck are you-” …her voice trailed into the dissipating explosion that filled the bedroom. The blood absorbed by the sheets around her slowly grew in circumference and trickled to the floor beneath. Stupid bitch had it coming, he thought. He brought her here, he loved her here, but he slowly began to hate her here for the stupid shit she would do. All he could think is how dirty she made him feel and how utterly disgusted he’d become by her. He remembered scrubbing, scrubbing and scrubbing his flesh till it turned raw and pink. The layers of filth fell from his skin, but beneath her dirt lingered still.
It was, however, an unnerving euphoric feeling, albeit surpassingly such cause for hate. Not unlike a soft velvet, cool and soothing in one way, but rows of sharpened needles in the other. He let his eyelids fall and eyes roll up as he remembered the taste and sweet perfume that would send him spiraling into a world of calm.
He almost felt regret pulling out of the driveway, but then he remembered he had too many other things to feel.
There was a man once who had a daughter with his wife. Before this happened, the man loved his wife. In fact, he loved life. He indulged in the simplest of pleasures. He wasn’t an eccentric person, he was actually very much the same person you would expect to run into while ordering a coffee or picking up groceries. You’d never think of him as anything else except a piece of flesh acting as the filling to the life around you. But this man truly did appreciate the squishy texture beneath his feet in the grocery store, he truly did appreciate the busy souls bustling around him in the coffee shop.
He absorbed everything metaphorically, physically, literally and spiritually. The sense of him was overwhelming. You could know in an instant that he was happy. He adored his wife. He adored her humor, her humility and her depth. He was stimulated by her in every sense of the word and longed for her presence every time they were away. Life, it would seem was a wonder. They carried on their way and fulfilled themselves with what they wanted.
The wife was beautiful and timid, often speaking volumes in her notebooks, though most would never have the privilege. She worked a retail job, often mundane she would remember and scribble about in her notebooks, but she was humble and merely did what she was intended to do. She brought home a paycheck and smiled. Though their home creaked and the faucets leaked, it was theirs. They had one small television and couch in the living room, one small oven and fridge in the kitchen, one small bed and clock radio in the bedroom and one small Chevy in their garage. It was enough and they loved it because of this amazing fact: it was theirs.
The wife’s paycheck covered just enough of their expenses, and for this the man worked almost as a sport, playing bartender two nights of the week. This was their play money, the kind of things like movies or dinners got paid for. The rest of the week, the man did many things that he only thought most men should. He was very creative and very smart, so he spent his time sharing with the world. He played his songs, he painted his pictures, he wrote his words, he spoke with strangers, he spoke with friends, he bettered himself- in the classes he took, in the runs he’d run, in the conversations he’d have and in the sermons he listened to.
Then, it struck them like lightning. Their evening of passionate love for each other had a desperate consequence…the woman became impregnated. It was too soon, but they decided that was not their decision and embraced the consequence and took on their new responsibilities. Oh and how easily they adapted to this new life. Nothing mattered but their love for one another and their love for all the things around them. Naturally, the man did more than just bartend two nights a week and the woman picked up several more shifts at work, but this was just what had become.
One day, the man’s father came to visit. He was very much the father of the man with a kick in his step and a sparkle in each eye. Because the woman was so close to giving birth, he wanted to give his celebratory gift. Oh and what a gift it was. It was not just one bottle of Rothschild red wine circa 1890, but two. The man was a connoisseur of course and was deeply humbled by such a precious gift. His father, however, asked he save it for the most important day of his child’s life. This was no question and no discussion followed, for it made such perfect sense to the man and the wife to hold it for such a momentous occasion.
Time passed and they had their beautiful daughter. They bought her several videos for the small television, kept the fridge well stocked, put a small bed in the spare bedroom and traded in their Chevy for a Volvo. They adored her so. Everything they ever were told about children or about the wonders of having them were so very true. They lived comfortably the three of them for so long, until about the time she turned sixteen.
The daughter, was not really like the man or the woman. She was a brat desensitized by the world around her, bitter and full of angst. She despised people. She did not seek improvement or fulfillment in any way and rarely smiled. In fact, the only way she was similar at all to either the man or the woman was because she liked to write-but she wrote trite and awful poetry, often regarding trite and awful topics. The man and the woman encouraged her in her endeavors, always offering bright solace for their troubled daughter, but their attempts were ill guided and futile.
It wasn’t long that the bright and charming man and woman became pale and withered from exhaustion and defeat. But what were they to do? They loved her so. They gave and gave and gave, it literally was as if they gave their heart and soul because the expressions on their face and the demeanor they carried had no such characteristic. Then one day she did the one thing the man and woman hoped she would not.
She took her life. Selfishly, after a trite and awful fight she had with her trite and awful boyfriend, she drove out onto the wrong side of a busy highway. It wasn’t until the man and woman saw it on a local news report that they found out; they just assumed she was out late again without calling to check in. They were devastated. They sobbed uncontrollably and the woman locked herself away from the man for hours. In his frustration and rage, the man searched for comfort in the liquor cabinet, and came upon the red wine. He took the bottle, uncorked it and drank nearly its entirety in one swig.
He wiped his lip clean and called out to the woman and heard no response. In a sort of stupor, he unplugged the television from his living room and threw it atop a chest in his bedroom. He closed the blinds, crawled into bed and the glow of daytime soaps, game shows and court shows illuminated the bedroom. Shortly, the woman stumbled in with the second bottle nearly empty in hand, wiping mascara away with her other hand. She crawled into bed next to him and lay still beneath the covers. They sipped their wine. That’s where they stayed.
So, fuck. There is this intense euphoria gripping me by the throat, screaming incoherent bullshit. Its words drip like sewage waste from its steaming hot mouth. I can only emulate a sense of it, nothing past its tight pus filled boils and stubbly chin. The rest, very much a deep fog glowing a faint green, blue and orange. And still, I stare at it, scanning its black slit eyes, and I make a conscious decision: fear it or embrace it. The answer seems clear as my stomach knots and my palms sweat. Tears swell in my eyes and I begin to speak, but I stop. He smiles, pulls me near and overwhelms me with the truth…
His eyes are black saucers outlined by amber yellow and his wavy hair he tucked behind each ear. I feel a calm ensue as his lips curve into a slight smile,
“It’s more than what we thought, but I’m ninety percent sure I know what’s happening. We need to seriously consider getting the fuck out of here. Drink this.”
I sip on the gallon container of Refreshe water and with unprecedented urgency start to gather our things. Its tingle I feel first in my fingertips, then just below my brow and in between the gaps of all twenty-eight teeth. The tingle grows thick and the throb in my temple pulses harder. Then the surge of tiny needles begin in my neon painted toes, pursuing my thighs, spine and shoulder blades.
I feel engulfed? I feel conquered? I feel frightened? No…I feel…gross. I start a shower I so sorely desired and begin to undress. As I wait for the water to heat up, I grip the sides of the sink and stare into the mirror. My eyes are saucers as well, but with a brown outline. As I examine the blue bags beneath my eyes, the mirror turns convex. I blink, and it turns concave. I try to steady my vision, but the mirror and my reflection begin to rumble.
Is it hot, yet? The water slips like grease in between my pale fingers. It seems fine. Upon closure of the bathroom door, confinement instills a breathy panic. The water is sputtering, and still far too cold. I hate it and stand aside, waiting for warmth. In my patience, I fix my eyes to the shower floor. The bat bat bat of each drop is like a hundred Hiroshimas, spreading their vengeance all across the bathroom floor- the same floor in which I stood.
It’s too much, my breath is quick and short, but I need to clean myself. I brace for impact, the god damn bat bat bat. I take a dime sized amount of shampoo and a bar of soap. I still stand in the furthest, driest corner lathering myself. I stall rinsing for minutes, running the bar along my belly and armpits. But the truth becomes clear: I’m far too soapy.
It’s too much; I furiously wipe the suds away, returning consistently to the dry corner. In a courageous act, I stand directly beneath the stream, scratching the shampoo out. It’s too much; I’ve flooded my face and am gasping for a breath. Blinking through one eye, I turn the dial clockwise and end the brutal siege.
I throw my towel on and flee with great conviction, trying to find him. He’s pacing the living room and dining room floor. Mitch is on the other end of the phone; he had him pressed against his ear. His understanding at such an early hour is shot, but he gives him what he needs: someone to be on the other end of the phone. I hear them echo among the high ceilings as I stand in the empty room, dripping a cold puddle beneath my feet.
The puddle was sucking me in slowly, but I placed my eyes on the dancing colors that lit up the blinds in the room across from mine, almost as an attempt at leverage. I let focus shift from one moving blob to the next, the cracks in the blinds made them so, sucking them in and spitting them out. Moving, like my chest with each breath in and out. Then, I see from the corner of my eye, a black marble fall silently from the kitchen’s faucet. I lose it, but become engaged by the rave like light emanating from the lime green party cup on the table and cleo the gold fish swims in it. I lose that, but play Tetris with the geometrical design of the tissue box just right next to it. Then I lose that, but again am entranced by more blobs getting sucked in and spit out.
My eyes flutter wildly like that for a few minutes and he finds me deep in my puddle. He wonders if I’ll get dressed.
Days later, after the initial shock had ebbed, i think, “If that was an accident, what’s one hit?”
Brows furrowed, head throbbed and words and breaths formed short. The wonder of what was, is and could be become entangled in a thought bubble that floats above a tussled mess of vanity. The stillness is overwhelming and walls around and around her go up and up. It’s too much of something sending thoughts spiraling into a deep. Senselessly making sense of things that ought to have been thought of on several different accounts, but all in question delve deeper still. Among it there were warm and inviting sensations, but no single one had been able to distinguish any other entity from any sort of anything else. It was an endless mess of ideas toppling over one another that drove her into this deep, clinging to the indentations of stone all around, but slipping and losing fingernails as they rose further up. Driving deeper still, it seemed pointless. It’s inexplicable, and yet even more so is the acceptance of such a belonging. For even in every moment of exacerbation, the ensuing grief was tirelessly pursued. Around and around and up and up, searching and hoping for the release. A sort of relief was in itself an entity, not a feeling or an idea, but something sought after…something to believe in. It made sense, but it was the only thing. Its sheer existence proved a worth-while and purpose. Therein was her meaning. It had to be the only thing worth understanding and thusly the only thing worth pursuing. And even still, mottled with rage, she would let the deep take her in. It was only so often, the thought of what was drove her. Clarity begat energy and understanding, but it was never enough before she sat even lower than before in the deep, sprawled in dirt and disgusted by her failure. Relentlessly still, after seeping in the defeat, it was understood what would come next only because it was the only thing left to understand. She climbed and climbed and kept climbing, seeking her something to believe in.
If he gave it to you raw, would you eat it? If it was empty, would you fill it up? If he tossed you one, would you make a pass? If it was dangling from the ceiling, would you knock it off? Take the stairs down to the basement, though it is cold and possessed with something thick. It is here where you would go for him, among boxes of linen and China plates collected. Pour a glass of what will burn you, for what of it if you couldn’t before? Hold back that sense of accomplishment, it’s far from grandeur among these floors. He was a boy from two towns over, who told his stories quite well. But every single one he told, had something said before. It was not what he meant to say or ever really had, but it in fact was truth in turn, for in the basement it was told to you. They were so tightly wound and wrapped- twisted between the ankles, kneecaps, waist and neck. To the floor to the floor, twirl around on the floor. Here they kept eating and filling and passing and knocking. And then this boy left. And broke a China plate. At the top of the stairs was a forgotten caged bird. She was yellow and was intended to sing, and so she did. Then that was it, but that’s okay.
This is not a metaphor. It happened. Someone I know jumped off a bridge. It’s completely altered my state of mind and I feel frightened. It’s an exposed feeling and I feel very vulnerable to the different things surrounding me. My sense of reality is parched and concentration ebbs but for the breathe I take in, and the breath I let out. I didn’t know him very personally, but I think it is for this that I feel most shaken by the situation. We went to school together. I remember always knowing who he was and having spoke to him maybe on two different accounts. He was in my Drama class. He put on a dress for a scence once and made everyone laugh. His friends were mine and mine were his, but we didn’t know each other. This makes me reaffirm the grand idea I hold dear that life is so precious and so full of such detail. I don’t know why I didn’t know him and I wish I had. What if? I know my influence would have been insignificant, but in times like these the thought of what if is inevitable. I feel overwhelmed and was told all I could do for him is pray. I wonder what people feel and I feel it kind of funny that moments after receiving the news, I felt it necessary to type out my thoughts in order to receive solace. I’m scared for people and I’m scared for the awful things that happen to us. It’s so easy to live the way I do…to be carelessly happy and trot along with simple notions and romances. But these demons make themselves present and rattle your understanding and comfort of what life is to its core. The world, though very beautiful, is very ugly. I hate it. I am disgusted by myself. How could one possibly ever go on with the idea of peace and love and happiness when such awful things aren’t retained. They burst in uninvited and toss you to the ground like a rag doll. The sheer conception of anything lit by a bright eminence and decorated by streamers and balloons is stupid. There is no need. It feels like a tired facade for it has been here all the while and no one dared mention it to their neighbor. This then brings my great disillusionment with all things trite and unoriginal. It then makes me think how incredibly scary it is to hold one’s ignorance dear to you. But why? Why are we striving for things we do not know. Why is it that the thoughts already thunk by greater thinkers are revolving around our heads, but when grasped upon it is like a sense of an epiphany, but it is not. It is a reaffirmation of stupidity. I don’t know anymore. I wish for humility and acceptance for myself and friends, but the concept is so silly and so vast. It’s hard to find a point to it all and I know bad feelings go away, but why is nothing retained? Why is it all lost and replaced with such superficial and selfish ideas? It’s times like these I feel very ashamed of the human race. Cynicism is something rooted in me and I shun it so often for hopes of my character to be more pleasing instead. But why? I wonder and am left baffled. So what’s the point of even going on?
Do you ever see a picture of someone and immediately think, “I would like them.”? Sometimes I feel like I want so much out of life, but I forget how much I want from what’s so simply around me. A good conversation always gets my senses tingling. A good movie will often do the same, provoke a sort of notion and let you slip mindlessly into some broken idea of what better company or better circumstances are like. I don’t mean anything by this. I don’t mean there can be anything better, I mean there’s something I’ve got that I can actually fulfill every so often. However, it’s this insecurity that drives me. I know there’s a vast, infinite, grand, astronomical, insert every other word in the english dictionary that means great amount of things that make this world. The places, the species, the plants, the culture, the weather, the sounds, the feelings. Oh I don’t know what’s happened here, there’s no chance of being bored because there is just so much…depth to it all. I swear, in the most minute, tiniest, insignificant, microscopic, insert every other word in the english dictionary that means little things there’s a story of it’s beginnings, doings, purpose, and endings. And that’s not to mention it’s trials, trivialities, embarassments, discoveries, accomplishments and the like. I don’t know. There was a woman I came upon one time. She smiled and I thought, “I want to have a conversation with her.” But I didn’t. So it made me sad that this piece of the world that was offered to me just carelessly slipped by and I’ll surely never get to understand it. This then sparks another thing to mind. The word that immediately comes to mind is ashamed. However, this is not not not not not not true. I’ve been so honestly given an idea of what should be by my dad for so long growing up, that what actually had become is not the case. Sex, drugs and alcohol have indeed been so much of who I’ve been before and no doubt who I’ll be. But it’s who I am that day. Although the negative connotation plagues these things, I can only appreciate what’s been a result from them. And that is me. And that is not to say I solely owe myself to these things, that would be tragic. No such thing can exist only because there’s so much that can fuel a person. I’d like to think therein lies the story that is so intriguing. I don’t know….Take me into the thick mist that is your story and I’ll take you into mine. It’s only fair.
Garble, gufaw, chortle. There is a beat to follow… Listen to life chime. My coffee is done. Ding! The toast is done. Spring! Good morning text. Ring! There is a something written. It lies between the things I do. I take a shower. Clean! I put on clothes. Seamed! I walk outside. Green! I hum along, this beat is getting phat. It sounds something like: Lah lah lah lah ooh oh ooh. It’s something written in the mundane. I see it something plain. I want to get on a plane. Far far far far far away from here. Here I go, away from here. Escape the plain by plane. But when I get there, I’ll hum along to: Lah lah lah lah ooh oh ooh. It’s always the same this thing I thought was plain. Why’d I waste money on that plane? It’s here and now, the things that are happening. These things are bright and ring around me. They tease and taunt and keep me. They keep me sane. Garble, gufaw, chortle. I smile at the noises. I smile at the people. I smile at your smile. It’s all I wanted, anyways. It’s gonna be alright, there’s no reason not to. What I can tell you, however, is good advice is often hard to follow. Things happen. I can’t stop it. It is what is. That’s what I’ve been told before, and I believe it. People are different. People are so much the same sometimes, but people are different. I appreciate this. I appreciate what’s been said to me. It’s helped make me. Besides from the point…I can’t stop this beat. It’s not my favorite song, but it’s always in my head. Garble, gufaw, chortle.
Although overcast showed eminent signs of rain, Marie looked down from the second story building window at friends enjoying their midday cigarettes. Her arms were crossed, wrapped tightly around her torso. She wondered if she should pick up smoking. Greg sat with her in the empty office room and it was almost quiet except Greg’s frantic typing echoed into the halls. One would come upon them and sense a sort of urgency in the room, but this was not true. Although both had much to do, Marie tussled a rubber band between her wrists, and stretched it out as if to aim at the fat pimple on Greg’s chin. Just then she felt the hurricane brewing in her belly and released her gas.
“Gross,” Greg said.
“Sorry Greg, my breakfast just wanted to say hello to you.”
“Well I like my breathing space ‘Marie-Breakfast-Food’ free.”
She laughed and spun around a couple times in her chair. Unfinished assignments scattered the table before her and would probably be left untouched. She wore a big green sweater, tugged on the sleeves past her knuckles and pulled the collar up over her nose. It felt colder in the empty office room today. They live where there is an inexplicable sense of winter. It became a new place recognized by a characteristic taste of cool and a characteristic gray sky. She pit-patted a kind of beat on her thighs to ruin the silence. Greg was tentatively working behind his computer but looked up over the screen to smile at the noises she was making,
“If you fall I will catch you I will be waiting! Time after time….time after time…time after time.” She wasn’t trying to sing. She sounded awful.
“Oh encore! Encore!”, Greg praised and pantomimed wiping tears from his eyes. She took a bow and basked in the silly moment, but quickly lost her tug of war with Greg’s homework. His back was erect and tense as he furiously typed away on the computer. An analysis on A Brave New World wasn’t going to write itself. She then noticed what Greg was wearing. He always pressed his shirts. Today was no different except he put a pressed red vest on top of his pressed shirt.
“What do you want, Greg?”
“I want love and marriage.” Marie scoffed at his outlandish reply. She meant from the vending machine. Intrigued, however, she pursued the conversation,
“Ok, who do you want to love and marry?”
“Someone like Lenina Crowne.”
“Someone like who?”
“Well, someone a little unorthodox and sexy.”
“I’m unorthodox and sexy. How come no one wants to marry me?”
Greg just smiled and didn’t answer the question. This only bothered Marie a little bit. It had only been something she said in hopes of making him smile…and she did so she figured there was no need for anything else.
Marie spun around more and stared at the stucco ceiling above her. Certain figures made themselves present and she pointed them out to Greg. He did his “mm-hms” from behind the computer but showed no real interest in what she was talking about. Marie knew this and wanted to talk so she brought up a topic of greater interest than stucco,
“So whatever happened to Bethany?”
“Um, I don’t know. I like her, but she’s different. ”
“Did you fuck her?”
They craned necks into each opened room and corridor as if to be certainly positive the answer to follow this question would only be heard between them two,
“Yes,” he replied in a short and thick voice. With that they spiraled into uncontrollable laughter.
She made him tell her every detail, and although he protested like he didn’t want to, he only hesitated two minutes before he had her dying of laughter,
“I mean, after we…did it…she might as well have been my dog, you know?”
He said it jokingly but she heard a different kind of despondent tone in his voice. There was something this girl did that had an affect on him. Most girls didn’t seem like they bothered Greg after very long because a loss of interest was eventual. Greg and Marie are what are known as avid daters. They have a friend who has said they are different because normal people like to be in relationships, but neither of them have ever been in one. When this friend asked what’s wrong with them, they both replied on top of each others’ words ,
“I’m picky. Jinx! You owe me a coke!”
Well it was this knowledge of her kindred friendship with Greg that made Marie hate Bethany. In spite of certain anger growing inside her, she wondered if Greg was okay and grimaced a little at her unresponsive friend. What Marie didn’t realize yet was she was not okay. A certain void was filled with the comfort of having a friend like Greg. They were beneficiaries, but that was a taboo between the two of them. No, they don’t hold each other and kiss, but what they had to benefit from the other was that sense of comfort. That sense was beginning to lose itself and Marie blamed that Bethany bitch.
“Well my paper isn’t done but class started five minutes ago. I’m blaming you because I don’t want to blame myself. That’s okay with you, right my love?”
“I love you, too,” Marie said in a pass.
“I mean…go to class,” Marie said trying to recover.
“Well, where’s my hug?”
They embraced and her stomach turned a little the way it did when she was a freshman in high school and first hugged the senior quarterback of the school’s football team. Greg told her how much he loved her perfume and darted off shouting he’d call her later that night. She was alone for a good while in the office and had actually finished most of her homework for lack of better things to do. A couple hours passed before her friend Jeff came into the office. Jeff was someone she’d fooled around with before but could never feel comfortable around. In other words, he gave her the right drinks and got lucky.
“Have you had dinner yet? Want to grab a quick bite with me?”
She hated when people asked two questions in a row assuming the answer to the first question. She didn’t eat dinner yet but since the question thing irritated her, she said she did. Jeff lingered around in the office, so she decided it was time for her to go home. It had barely began to sprinkle outside and the scent of rain tingled her senses. She laughed because Greg told her one time that the scent of rain makes girls horny.
She drove to her parents’ house and ate that meal she lied about earlier. She wandered around aimlessly, poking at the fish in their tank every now and then. After some time, she turned on the computer and signed on to her Facebook account to discover a very confusing update,
“Greg is now in a relationship”
She stared at the screen a moment. Her hand gently shook on the mouse and it slowly elevated up to her lips. She chewed on her nails. She tightly squeezed her eyes shut and filled her entire body with air and let out an exasperated exhale. She longed for a “dislike” button. She signed off and felt an urge to pace, so she did. She paced the floor of her parents guest-slash-computer room and muttered inaudible phrases about what she had left to do today and how she’d never get them done if she let this bother her and how furthermore it shouldn’t even bother her in the first place. It did though and the rest of the day became a blur. She woke in the morning completely unprepared and unwilling to do anything, but halfway made it out of the house in a t-shirt and sweatpants.
“God damn Bethany and her long shiny hair. I shouldn’t have cut my hair.” This was predominantly on Marie’s mind on her drive to school. Greg had told her once he liked her long hair better. She was beating herself up over it and debating calling a hairstylist. Extensions might work, but would she come off as superficial? She then remembered the committee meeting she had to attend today, and this created a domino affect…There was a physiology test on Tuesday, she had a presentation in her public speaking class Wednesday, the club she attended was bothering her to collect donations from local businesses, she had to figure out the library hours for studying in between her shifts at work this week…Oh, and she couldn’t forget her uncle was coming to town on Thursday night. Her mom had asked she make sure to…
She’d become so distracted by her thoughts and tunnel vision, she didn’t realize she nearly trampled over Anthony. Anthony is her boy who is a friend because he said he didn’t want to be in a relationship. Anthony was her something complicated. She didn’t mind it too much because she at least knew they cared about each other. She didn’t even mind sometimes when he was needy and needed her like a girlfriend. She would be that for him in spite of the specifications on what they really were. It was no matter though because she liked his style. Anthony wore v-necks and tight pants, had a beard, played in a band, made her laugh and could kiss. In other words, an A plus in Marie’s book.
“Oh jeez, hey you!”
“You feeling alright?” Anthony asked.
“Me? Yes. No. I don’t know. I’m fine. It was a hectic night. Know how it is…”
“I guess, so what are you up to tomorrow night?”
“Tomorrow I’ve got class from nine to three and work from four to ten. Why?”
He kind of sighed and she knew what he was going to say so she said it for him,
“I know I know, I do too much. I’ll be off on Saturday. Let’s catch up then?
They embraced and she told him how much she loved the cologne he wears and darted in the opposite direction shouting she’d text him later. She took her seat in Biology 221 and wondered where Greg was. He didn’t come to class and she felt very angry with him. She called his phone to cuss him out for being an irresponsible student, but she was mostly upset because she had so many questions that would still remain unanswered.
Some time had passed and Marie was in the library looking over her notes for class and decided to call it a day. She stuck her cell phone in her right pocket and put it up to the loudest volume for fear of missing Greg’s call. Even later still, she was having dinner with her silent phone just adjacent to her glass of milk. Even more time passed and she was in her pajamas in front of the computer.
“Greg has uploaded two new pictures,” Facebook said. They were of him and Bethany. Marie really wanted a “dislike” button. Then her phone rang!
“Call from Anthony,” her cell phone said. She answered and loved that she did. She really does care about him and appreciated the laughs he made her laugh. She crawled into bed and had soon fallen asleep for what seemed like weeks. She slept deep and long and woke not by the alarm clock, but by the sun peering in through her curtains. She smiled and felt good.
She made a scrambled egg and toast breakfast, read the newspaper and figured out four of the answers on the cross word puzzle. Her days went by and she would see Anthony and it would be a good day. Then her phone rang!
“Call from Greg,” her cell phone said. She answered and he was upset. He sounded on the verge of tears and told her how Bethany was moving to another state and broke it off with him,
“She said it wouldn’t be worth it to even try anymore. We’re nothing special that‘s worth headache.” Poor Greg, she thought. She wanted to say something a couple times, but he had so much more to say. She let him slur his feelings until he was weak. He was drunk on misery. Then silence came and she took her opportunity to calm him with calming advice,
“Just forget about her. You have no idea how much more you deserve.” She said this almost in vain. She wanted him to see what was right in front of him.
Then something stupid happened,
“I want to be with you,” Greg said.
She wondered what he meant by that for a moment and remained silent. She knew this is what she wanted, but also knew they loved each other for themselves. She ended the conversation with the request of meeting in their empty office. The time from the end of that phone call to the trip to their empty office proved plenty. Marie thought about Greg and wondered the best way to disclose her feelings. In the office already was Greg. She knew instantly he was a pathetic mess. She knew he needed her, but she could only be what she’d always been,
“No Greg, you don’t want to be with me. You’re vulnerable right now and want to fill that void with me, but it’s not me. I’m not for you and you’re not for me.”
“But Anthony can be such a jerk to you.”
“No he’s not. I like him and I like how we are so that’s none of your concern, right my love?”
“I love you, too.”
“Greg, shut up.”
I look for things that matter more and I’ve only ever been crossed with something truly beautiful and original a couple times. Today would not be that day I thought. I tossed my hair up, stuck a pen behind my ear and proceeded with my normal procession. The pace picked up and colors around me moved about faster. This fast monotony was overwhelming and I felt dizzy. Then a woman entered and brought a sense of destruction with her. It was not in her boldness for she was far from it. It was not in her rage for I don’t think she’s aware of such an emotion. It was simply with this weight she carried with her that made her so curious to me. She was a fragile thing that almost looked lost. Her presence seemed to turn everything into slow motion but I think I was the only one that noticed. She held her arms tight around her chest and squirmed through a crowd of people muttering,
“Con permiso.” She tucked her dark fallen hair behind her ear. It was thick and braided routinely it seemed. She wore a sweater she could swim in and jeans that were not frayed by their manufacturer. She kind of sighed a sigh of relief when she reached my counter. Atop it she flung the bag from her back filled with rolls of film. She lined them up in a row in front of me and said,
“May I have develop please?” I saw her and felt I could truly understand her in such a short moment. I felt that seeing her in that moment was important but I don’t know why. I was being judge-mental for a lack of better words and made her story in my head. I don’t know why, though. I don’t do that for every person I meet. She was this same person asking me to do the same something that every someone always asks for, but I had my idea of her.
I believed her to be someone who lives in a rural kind of way. She seemed like that sad homely and lonely type. I wondered this of her and wanted so much more for her. Indeed a curious person to me, but I remember not wondering what she thought of me.
“Doubles too please.” It was a shaky sort of accent escaping her lips. I helped her file her request and she bid me “adios”. As soon as she’d gone , I took the rolls of film and quickly broke into them. I thought why this envisioned person of mine would take so many pictures. I felt an obligation to see what she was hiding. For some reason this idea of her lingered and it became a game and a mystery. There’s something more to her. I need there to be.
I broke the plastic casings and rolled the film into the processing machine. It doesn’t take very long for negatives to process but I felt it took a lot longer than it should. I was being impatient. The negatives were spit out, I wiped them down, and now could see what was inside. I fed them through the printing machine in which there is a preview window for editing colors. It would be in here that I satisfy my curiosity.
I remember a bare house. You know, the kinds of pictures you’d take when you just bought a house. Before you put anything in your house you have those pictures that show what it looked like before all your things got put in. Then I remember pictures of Yosemite Park. I knew it was Yosemite because she had that picture of the billboard that “welcomes you…” to that place you’re at. I’d never been there before and it looked very pretty. I contrasted the colors in the sky for her. I wanted the pictures to come out nice. Then I found as I developed further pictures from Disneyland. I knew it was Disneyland because she took that kind of picture everyone does in front of the flowery garden display of Mickey Mouse’s face. She was with a big group of people. I think maybe it was her family and they were all smiling. I started to feel a little jealous. I haven’t been to Disneyland in forever.
Her pictures I began to print. They stacked high upon each other and I packed the first roll into its envelope. I still had quite a few more to develop. I hated reloading the damn printing machine with paper because it always confused me. I started to resent her because she was taking my time. Her next roll only pushed me even further into this feeling. It was beautiful.
There was a lake with a sunny sky above causing a shiny kind of glimmer on the water. It was hard to edit these photos but I tried for her because I didn’t want what she captured to be bleached out. There were several pictures of the lake, picnic tables completely smothered with picnic food, and little children running around like orange blurs because of the big fat floaties they wore on their arms.
Even more and more, I saw her pictures and I saw her life. I’d been developing pictures for over a year and I don’t recall anyone else having this kind of an affect on me. Why was she bothering me so much? I wondered why I cared and carried on with these feelings of unease. I really did almost hate her. I cut her negatives and placed them in their little baggies and packed them away for her. With each snip, I envisioned cutting her stupid hair off.
So many rolls of film had passed as well as the hours of my shift. I was tired and despondent. I didn’t want to do this anymore. It becomes a pretty ridiculous feeling watching the life of someone else through a tiny peephole for the matter of editing. Because of it I was wondering what I’ve done with my life and if the way I looked through pictures make people think of me in in the same way I thought of her. I wondered if people looked at me at all. This thought made me feel invisible. It’s a scary thought to be or do something you believe and go on in that way because it is deceiving.
It was lunch time and I ate a sandwich with tomato and turkey in it. It was quiet in the break room. There were old magazines with old celebrities with water stains on their faces. I felt weary. I just wanted to go home. I had no real reason to want that so much, though. There wasn’t much going on because I finished my homework, cleaned my room, and knew there was nothing on the television that night. Lunch was over and I went back to my project. I trudged back to my station and saw that I only had a couple rolls left to develop.
I would finish within the next hour. Here I went back into the peephole to see what she’d snapped that was so much more interesting than what I might have. And yes, it was. I saw pictures of an art museum, a simple day at an apartment complex pool, funny faces at the grocery store, and ostriches from the farm that’s out in the desert.
Then I came upon the last roll of film. It felt like it was the end of a movie, but not in a good way. I had that feeling of using my ticket stub as a gateway to the rest of the world. I love the feeling but hate it just as much because it makes me feel kind of phony. I just want to be and do so much like her, but it feels impossible. I decided I didn’t hate her after all and I felt like I needed to apologize to her, but I didn’t.
The simple fact that my preconceived notion of her was completely shattered in but a few moments made me respect her. I longed for that humility and understanding of things. Once the last roll of film had loaded, I noticed it had the same kind of photo in all its frames. All twenty-four exposures were of a new born baby girl. The woman I’d met before was cradling this child in her arms. Of all the photos before, she looked most like herself in these ones. There was one photo where her hair was messy and her face was shiny from sweat, but the child was in her arms and a smile was on her face that made her look so radiant.
It was at this moment I felt transcendent. How grounded can you be? There’s so much left to do and say in this world and I felt so happy for her. Her cup of life was filled to the brim and overflowing…I packed away the last few pictures and put all her rolls neatly together. My shift ended shortly after and I never saw her come pick them up. I still wonder what she must be living like now. I sometimes feel like when I see a quiet soul pass me by, it’s her. It never is though because I can’t remember what she looks like. It’s funny how forgetful I am.
If there is a worth while after all, don’t keep it a secret. There’s a sort of something lying in the sulci of the mind, but what is it? It gives me troubles and woes trying to grasp onto reality and this’ll get me a scolding. I think I’m doing right, but there’s a sense of wrong doing that creeps in the furnace. It turns on and feels cold at first and I wonder if it’s even working since I’ve a set 72 degree temperature. The roar of its ignition is frightening and I know it’s preparing only for something better for me. A sense of warmth, ease and comfort. Mmm, it’s fantastic. Let it come. I want it around me and on me and I want to be smothered in it. But it’s scares me. It pounds my forehead against the black surface of a coffee table, shouting to do and be and cut the shit out. I’ve also been told to man up…I don’t what that means. I’ve also been told I don’t like to be the leader. These he said she saids are all so overwhelming and it only takes a significant little moment in time to flip these notions I hold so dear upside down. These ideas are all so vivid among the masses. I know it’s too much and too bold for too many. It keeps love out and love is too important. So I think I just want to stop. I really want to stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. Topple over these thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts. I’m building them higher and higher in the cupboards like mother’s pots. Pots. Pots. I smoke too much.
What was said was reiterated in my mind so simply over and over and over and over and over. And over. I’m over it. I’m waiting for what is meant to burst into clarity. What is most magnificently and truly meant. I’m not talking about that in between the lines trendy bull shit. I do sense some kind of relief to an end. It’s almost like an orgasmic peak, holding tight and my fingernails clenching to dirty fibers and filaments of a dark carpet around me, thrusting my entire body forward…Just leave me! Leave me with that overwhelming sense of warmth and security that is so characterstic of clarity. I want it so. I know a book that can be a topic of discussion. It will leave you flabberghasted and jaw dropped at the absurd nothings it says but the absolute truths in the index. The corner’s of your eyes will become but white with dismay. A simply pure color indeed that will fog in a reflection of themselves. I inscribe nothing to you. Take it as it is. No such silly trivialities are needed. You are so silly. Turn your sense upon themselves and truly understand what it is you have done. No. Can you? I want you to. Oh how I always want. I want you to hold my hand across the street. Buy me a great big balloon. I want a swimming pool. Give me all your music and your time. I’ll use it far more wisely. And I’ll take care of it. Promise I will. I’ll walk it everyday, wash it, feed it and love it like it should be. You wouldn’t regret that. Don’t be trite. Just be right. It’s not as hard as I’d always thought it would be. It’s just a matter of doing it. Actually doing something that is a matter of importance to anything. I just want a note to read something as this: Smile for the love you make is greater than anything you could ever hope to accomplish. Live in this and be proud.
My rough draft for life: distortion, manipulation, sheer mutilation. Carry this with me and take it to the baker down the street. Burn it. Feed it to no one but those with enough humility and understanding to taste its passion in between the crust. I want you to have this. Take it from me and enjoy it as it should. Give it to your kid neighbor Samuel and have him take it to the elementary school. He’ll play a silly game of vulnerability with the other kids, smash it into the ground and let the bugs of the playground enjoy something they don’t know is new but know as something to thrive off. Let’s be like the bugs but let’s not be like the bugs. I want you to thrive off of this but I want you to know why. I want to stuff it into every hole and crevice of your body and have that sense of fullness explode and illuminate out every single pore of your body. This to me is great and beautiful and only makes sense to further pursue this sense of beauty. Why doesn’t it happen more often. I want to change things and have these things known to be something better because of what I did. But where do I begin? Do I even? Did I already? I break down… What now? How? Who? It must not matter. I want to see a grand procession of love with streamers and balloons and confetti…that whole nine. I want it to center around a concept of originality and antiqueness but with a certain flair only capable of brilliant minds of my age. If any… To be amazed is a wonderful thing. I want to do it more often.
He said it goes that way in that other place you go. It’s something that is unusual, but commonplace to those that see it in practice every day. It does not interest me and this is no matter of importance. My ears are ringing, my throat is dry, my belly full and my eyes are heavy. The phyiscal decay of my body is something kind of funny. In spite of these things, life is filled to the brim of my life cup. It overflows and the foam of something sweet makes my surroundings sticky. There are these things that escape me and leave me wondering what some people intend for others. People are silly. There are so many people I know and so many more I don’t. I wonder how many of them are the same kind of person… That sense of originality always intrigues me, but I wonder if it’s truly something I’ll see very often. I think I do. I hope I do. It scares me a little. No. A lot. I’m happy but why does it bother me so. There’s something crawling under my skin. I need a bottle of Raid. Or surgery.
This thing upon my shoulders, I need to hold it tight. It would be a silly thing to let it go, but I don’t know that I ever will. This thing is so simply the cause of so much to my being. It is not nearly as well as you imagine it to be. Wellness and goodness come from my heart and are stifled by this thing, but it may not be in so many words. However, these words lack substance and mean nothing to you. But this thing is so heavy and means so much to me. I hate it. It hurts and holds my soul in its palm and guides it. I want it so bad to stop and reflect on the things it has done, but I feel it overcome with a certain sense of accomplishment and brute. This air it carries is so unlike what I’ve always intended. It’s funny and makes almost no sense. I suppose some things are never meant to be understood. This thing is quite the puzzle to me. It is so heavy and I am so weak. I’m longing for that sense of liberation and a decadence of the former. But to launch this thing off my shoulders is oddly not enough. It’s there and a part of who I am and who I am not and who I am intended to be. This is fine. This is character. This is what people strive for I think. Wherein lies a true identity? This thing on my shoulders make it so difficult to figureout. If I never find out, this is fine. I know I know nothing and I’ll just tra-la-la in my ignorance like everyone knows I do. It’s just so heavy. I’m tired of carrying this weight on my shoulders. I want someone to explain these things to me so I can be a better person for it. It’s hard to have that sense of comfort, though. Ya think you do sometimes, but we’ll see…