It's 5 in the morning.
Birds are chirping. The CD repeats itself for the umpteenth time. The sky begins to brighten. I'm drunk and smoking my last cigarette and it's 5 in the God damn morning. We're drunk: laughing, talking. Mostly talking. Talking about her boyfriend. Talking about how she isn't sure if she's in love with him anymore. Talking about how her landlord needs to fix the faucet in the bathroom sink. Laughing about how I'd sprayed myself earlier when I turned that faucet on, not knowing it was broken. Talking about how her boyfriend fucked some other girl when she went down to
to visit her dying aunt. Talking about my new shoes. Hebron, Ohio
I sit and stare at Alison through the haze of cigarette smoke. She's got wavy black hair of medium length, pulled back into a messy ponytail. She's not wearing any lipstick and whatever eyeliner she had on got wiped away the first time she started crying. She's wearing an old t-shirt, yellow, with a few splatters of white paint on the top of her generous bust. The shirt hugs tightly to her stomach, which has gotten a little bigger since I first met her, but I don't mind. Her jeans hug even tighter against her thighs. No shoes, no socks, just bright green toenail polish. In the early morning light her feet are eggshell, stained red on her soles and the tips of her toes. What I wouldn't give to–
"I'm sorry, I have to pee again," she says, laughing, as she stands up and heads to her bathroom.
"Jesus, you've got the bladder of a..." What would be a good metaphor? "...squirrel." Fuck.
She smiles and keeps walking to the hall. I take one last hard drag on my cigarette before stubbing out in a green glass ashtray, filled almost completely over the course of our night in. I get the feeling she's going to ask me to leave when she comes back out, but that's not what I want to do. Keeping myself limited to things that won't get me in trouble, I head out through the glass doors attaching the living room to the modest backyard of her duplex and plant myself on one of the white wicker chairs, lighting up another cigarette as I do so.
Would I get jealous if my girlfriend hung out with another guy as much as I see Alison, provided I actually have a girlfriend? I've been thinking about this more and more lately, but I have yet to be able to empathize with somebody I've always though of as a douche bag. Still, I feel like maybe I should try. I've never been jealous of any of my previous girlfriends, but they've never really been anything more to me than people I can get fucked up and then fuck. I've never thought of one as a friend.
Sand grinds underneath thirty-something pounds of aluminum and glass. "There you are," she says as she steps outside. The cloud cover gives everything a muted glow as the sun gets higher in the pale grey sky. She holds her arms crossed, rubbing her hands up and down her upper arms, as she walks barefoot across the chilly concrete to sit in the chair next to mine. "I'm getting pretty tired. I think you should crash on the couch."
"Yeah, I can do that. You got any extra pillows or blankets I can use?"
A plane flies low overhead and I take one more drag of my cigarette before stubbing it out on the ground. I look at her and force a smile. She half-closes her eyes and grins back, mouth closed. I really need to stop torturing myself.
The coffee is stale and they don't have any more grounds in their cupboard to make a fresh pot. I drink it quickly, knowing it's burning my mouth, because it's burning my mouth. Every breath I take in is filtered through my burning cigarette. I'm grinding my teeth in frustration. It's that feeling you get when you really need a drink, but the brandy in the coffee would've taken care of that feeling if that was really it. It's not the craving for a cigarette, obviously. I can't tell what it is, but it's eating up my patience faster than I'm drinking this coffee. Anna and Jerry brought one of their friends, Michelle. I don't know her, and they didn't tell me she was coming. Is that why I'm feeling this way?
"So, how do you know Jerry and Anna?" I say, making sure I mention Jerry before Anna.
"Oh, I work with Anna at Ferrer & Co., in Northside Mall," she says. I notice Jerry look down and then to his right, away from everyone.
"Yeah, I know," I say, wearing a pair of briefs I picked up there visiting Anna shortly after she got the job. I don't remember seeing Michelle there. Somebody this obese working at a store which by a general rule doesn't carry anything over Large or Extra-Large would've stuck out in my head, like seeing a hair in your soup. I despise Michelle. "How long have you been working there?" I ask, smiling.
"Just a month. I was working down in the food court–" you don't fucking say "–but I decided to try something different."
"So you decided to move," a grin I can't stop spreads across my face "not so much up as sideways?"
She can't seem to notice my inflection, and takes me seriously. She says, smiling, "Yes, exactly!" I look over at Anna and Jerry to see if they got my joke, but they're both staring down at their phones, completely oblivious. Fucking assholes. It was a good joke, and it was completely wasted.
David, the provider of the stale coffee and brandy (he didn't provide it as much as have it on hand when he left to get more coffee) comes in through the side door into the kitchen, adjoining the rather spacious sunken living room we're all sitting in with the lights off and the blinds drawn against the bright sun, the clouds of this morning having decided to travel on.
With everyone but Michelle having a cigarette constantly in their hands, the room had gotten quite smoky in the twenty minutes David had been gone. Thin bands of light shimmer between me and everyone else. David's saying something, I don't know what. All I'm doing is sitting here, sitting on David's couch, drinking David's coffee, drinking David's brandy. The cigarettes are mine, but I'm freely offering my smoke and ashes to him and his. He doesn't like my gift, that much is clear. I press the cigarette ember down into the tray half-heartedly.
I want it to burn out slow.
Smolder until I leave.
Please, please don't go out, not until I've left this place.
For some reason, I want to imagine this half-a-cig will burn indefinitely, that it will constantly be burning, because I never saw it go out.
I leave quickly, making sure to never catch a glimpse of the cigarette. I can't get out of that place fast enough. The others say goodbye and I give a half-hearted wave without looking back at them.
"I feel like you're not listening to me."
"Did you hear what I said?"
"What is it?"
"'Concussed' is one of my favorite words to pronounce."
He turned back around to watch whatever the fuck he was watching. Of course that's not what I wanted to tell him. I wanted to tell him that I think about killing myself as a joke. Not the telling him, that wouldn't be the joke. My actual death would be the joke. He'd leave for work and I'd be fine, then he'd come back and I'd be dead, with a ridiculous suicide note. Something like: "You shouldn't have eaten the last of my pretzels, Chris." I'd do it in the bathtub so that it'll be easy to clean up, or maybe outside, just to see if maybe someone would see me and call 911.
I'm not in a rush. I'm not depressed. Life is looking good, but I don't feel any real attachment anymore. It's just routine, living. I need something different, and I don't see that happening anytime soon. Maybe by spoiling the joke I won't kill myself, just in case something new does come along.
I try and watch along with Chris, but it's not keeping my attention. I want to be doing anything but watch this, whatever it is. I don't even remember the name of it. Somebody recommended it to Chris, and asked me to watch it with him, thinking I'd like it.
"Chris, you should watch __________; it's really good."
"Hey, you want to watch _________ with me? I've heard it's pretty good."
I want to talk over it. I want to ruin it for Chris. I want to parrot so many movie critics I've read and watched and all their pretentious bullshit lines and criticisms. It's not fucking engaging. The characters are fucking flat. The editing is fucking bland. The direction has no fucking voice. The actors are fucking stale. The plot is fucking textbook. Where's the fucking motivation?
It's getting dark outside. I'm still wired and want to do something, but nothing's open. It's a Tuesday night. Tuesday's always seem to be the worst day of the week for me. I don't know why, they just are.
I've been mindlessly texting everyone on my contact list whom I actually like this entire time, hoping to find another distraction. Plans would be better; some excuse to leave my apartment again. I hate it here. Ever since my parents sold the old house I've never felt safe anywhere, like I need to keep moving. Not "moving" moving, just to never get too comfortable in one place. Maybe selling the house awakened in me the sense that nothing in life is permanent, that it's temporary and fleeting. Maybe that was the first of a series of epiphanies normal people make on the path to being comfortable with death, dying, and mortality. My suicidal attempts go back much further than that sale, so I can't really typify my experiences as "normal."
Nobody's texting me back, and it makes the experience that much more frustrating. I've even texted fucking Kenny. He shaves his head thinking it makes him look tough, but with his build, tattoos, and propensity for black t-shirts and white wife-beaters it just makes him look like a neo-Nazi.