Twenty something and full of stupid, sliding into your DM’s without a shame in the world. “Wyd” texts after midnight are a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded, and I’m watching from the bench thinking I might just steal home. I’m the type of guy that needs to set 4 alarms to wake up on time, dressing myself up in moments that don’t mean a thing to me. But I’ve read enough Dostoevsky and Nietzche to make just about anybody think they do. Boredom is an understatement: what I suffer from is an emotional atrophy. When you can’t stand grand-standing any more and need to feel something, so the nearest dead end starts feeling like a welcome sign.
Some addictions aren’t so easy to kick – especially habits that text you back to say they miss you too.
“sure,” her text read. “whats one drink”
“that was hemlock, you fucking nerd”
Like Mogwais, feelings shouldn’t be fed after midnight. It only leads to breaking nights and promises. A north wind swept between getting out of work and having to go back again, and that familiar urge crept upon me. Sensitive instances when I’m compelled to spend those empty hours huddled in dark bars, glaring at the world through the rose colored lens of glass bottles. Something simultaneously new but old, like a hand-me-down, or second child. Losing myself in another so I don’t have to deal with myself is an emotional shortcut, like skipping to the best part of your favorite song when you’re drunk; cheap, and only as good as the whiskey is. And I needed to feel a little needed, even if it was from somebody I didn’t give a damn about. But I don’t tempt the devil unless I’m ready to dance, and that night, I made sure to put on my most comfortable shoes.
“Sex is so stupid,” I said. “Do you want me to choke you or respect you?”
“Why can’t you do both?”
“Only if you call me daddy.”
“That’s gross,” she gagged.
“Do you like it when a man calls you baby?”
“Then make up your mind- do you want to date your father or not?”
Those great passions burn terribly and I am a city of ash. I should be able to resist such an annoying calling, but eventually I let the poor thing in. I feel sorry for it, like a cat scratching at your door, even though I know he’s just going to stare at me and not bother coming in. Indulgence makes me undone, and a new year moves something terrible and primal in me. An impetus only nature can divine and nurture urges to snuff out. The way dogs wander into the woods to die. But before that gentle good night I’m raging in the machine- on the hunt, for what, I never know until it finds me.
Because at midnight you’re either climbing to the top of the world, or on the verge of being crushed by it. There is no in between.
“Where do you get it?” She said. “This confidence you definitely don’t deserve.”
The air smelled like starched shirts, mistakes, and too much perfume. Sex. Such a sick validation of a grotesque existence. My heart strung on the soft tendons of her knuckles that left me wondering where the arches of her neck leads. A feminine physique, the scent of raspberries; wide hips narrowing to fine waist. Divine proportions.
“The smartest disease,” I said. “Is the kind that can disguise itself well enough to look like it’s a part of you. To fool the body into thinking its just another blood cell. That’s the way it is with people too. You gotta fake it til you take over their immune system.”
“You just compared yourself to cancer.” She said.
“But I’m a Taurus.”
So young, beautiful, and cruel. She enriches me as a lover but ruins the writer, makes lighter all those tragedies I rattle with a beer can. Kissed by fire and freckled by 80s rock ballads, she was terrible at the song of vice and liars. Honest to a fault with fireworks in her eyes- Felice. It means happy in Spanish and you had to smile to say her name. Hair halfway down her back and a dip between her shoulder blades. Thin fingernails and long, smooth knuckles that looked like almonds hiding under a bar of chocolate. Smokers lips and eyebrows that were either always sad or frowning. We were coworkers at one point and I used to obsess over all her nuances. She was beautiful to me in fractions, not from the sum of all her parts. Each arch and nook of her frame and body seemed so unique, that I could tell the shape of her from anywhere. We remained light friends, occasional Facebook comment and el-oh-elling at a meme. An acquaintance that never quite made it as a friend, And if she ever had left, I would be a husk. Because a cage without a bird is an empty thing.
“Tell me something.” I said.
“Anything, even if it’s something I already know, even if something I already heard. All the words in the world sound much sweeter when they come from you.”
Her eyes rolled then fell on the crowd, searching, as if somewhere in the sea of strangers she could found what she meant to say. What are you wondering at, you beautiful wonder. But that’s just the way she was- with a hell in her heart and heaven in the eyes, storm in her thighs that consumed you by degrees.
“I don’t want to end up alone,” She said, a bit too honestly.
“You just haven’t met the right person yet.” I parroted, not thinking, just responding in the way some blood cells are supposed to.
“But I hate that idea. Of fucking…presupposing. Like meeting someone is really so inevitable. If people can find happiness in different things, in like, songs, or traveling, or a really good book, why should mine have to come from some other person?”
“They write songs about people who fall in love the way you do.” I said.
My lies are noble. I didn’t think that was necessarily true, but what she needed to hear. Misleading is a treason I’m likely to commit, and although those were never my intentions, then again, what consequences are? She looked back to the crowd a little angrily, ran her knuckles on the counter in a way that made me hungry, and Felice smiled like she had just said her own name.
“That’s only half the truth.” She said.
“So what’s the other half then?” I asked.
“Fake blood cells.”
We sat there, loud, but empty. Like glass bottles clinking. Humanity is a strange enigma, toasting to his or her own empty fantasia- specific instances of precise happiness undefinable by sobriety. An escape endlessly clouded by the myriad of errors that got you there. Forgotten, wasted, and inexplicable. Taken for granted like keys you swore you lost but show up at your bedside.
Her pupils stuttered and whatever emotion that almost revealed itself winced back to the chasm from where it came. No one’s ever been able to meet my eye. Some chalk it up to shyness, others have said there’s too much honesty in them, while my self conscious worries I may secretly be hideous. But logic tells me, whatever the real reason may be, I would not be able to change it anyway. And so whatever flaw or warning my stare carried became an overlooked quality I simply accepted in me. Like height, or never holding doors open for the elderly.
“You’re a good guy,” She said.
“I’m no hero.”
“No,” She replied. “Heroes don’t look like you.”
That’s the beautiful tragedy about women. They never love a man for what he is, but what he has the potential to be.