Tag Archives Minnesota

Southern Plains

Posted on 1 min read 135 views

I’ve always had a fascination with windmills. Including the modern ones. I don’t find them eye sores or obtrusive. They seem gorgeous and eerie to me, solemn signs of human progress. When you enter Minnesota on I-90 there is a massive swath of them. Two hundred or more. The pattern isn’t apparent, but there must be one. Perhaps from the air I could see it.

Short Story – Coming Home, Part 3

Posted on 12 min read 69 views

The city is quiet, no one is out, and most of the stores are dark. I go to a gas station, because it’s open, and buy a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito. It’s terrible and delicious, and I remember that there are good reasons to be here. The boy working behind the counter is young, maybe sixteen, and he stands attentive at the edge of the counter even though I’m the only person walking through the aisles. He wishes me ‘Merry Christmas’ as I walk out and I smile without showing teeth.

When I get home my mom is already beginning to prepare dinner. She has the nice dishes and real silverware and she sets up each place around the table like it will stay that way forever. The water glass, the wine glass, the plate, the bowl, the forks, the knife, and the spoons, the candles in the middle, the flowers framing the table around the room, and the extra chairs from the closet. I help her peel the carrots, and after she boils them and adds cinnamon and butter. The potatoes are mashed and butter and milk are added, the gravy sits on the stove to keep it warm. She watches the duck and chicken while the soup heats with the lid on. When my grandparents come she runs to them.

“Watch this for me please, Kyle.”

She hugs them and they comment on how beautiful everything is and how good it smells.

“Kyle,” my grandpa says, “can you go get the presents out of the car? They’re in the back seat.” It takes me several trips to bring them all inside, and I stack them in piles in the living room.

At dinner everyone is polite, and my mom is literally on her feet the entire time, bringing one plate after another. Whenever there is a break in the conversation she asks, ‘Does anyone want more potatoes?’ and run to the kitchen to put more potatoes in the bowl and bring it back to the table. Her parents tell her to sit down and not to worry, but she continues to stand up and go into the kitchen. My dad and grandpa talk about golf and business, my grandpa mentions politics, but it makes everyone uncomfortable.

“There’s a party for the board on Monday if you would like to come,” my dad tells my grandfather.

“Thanks, we have tickets to go see the opera that night, but maybe after it finishes.”

My brother and I excuse ourselves while they are still talking and go down into the basement and watch television until they call down that we’re going to open presents. When my grandparents leave we walk them to their luxury car and wait in the driveway until they have turned the corner. When I come back in my mom and dad are both in the kitchen smoking cigarettes. I take a seat next to them, but I don’t smoke a cigarette since they don’t know that I smoke, but I do finish what is left in the bottle of wine. After, my dad goes into his study, and my brother and I watch Apocalypse Now. My mom comes in several hours later.

“You guys should get to bed if you want Santa Claus to come,” she smiles, and I can see she is tired.

“Alright, mom,” I say and kiss her goodnight before she walks to the bedroom.

 

Hey Kyle,
So at first i wish u marry x-mas…i am celebarting it now,i know u will do it tmrw…mmm USA always must have something special:-)
Now is all my family sitting in livingoom,drink some wine and talking about nothing or about something stupid,for example my mom is angry with boyfriend(u didn´t see him,but i told u that his face is so similar to Mr.Bean..)because he has bought her some underclothing,really nice, but the size is like for some dwarf…so small(actually i think taht it is my mother’s real size,but she doesnť want to confess to it…so funny
Also my grandfather is pretending that the socks with pink animal was really what he  had wished…i love christmas
Tmrw iam going to celebarte it again, but with second part of family,greeeaaat..no, i like x-mas(once a year is enough)Tmrw.will be more funny,because now i am going with friends to party and probably it finishes in the morning,it means that from the party-directely to the house of grandmother..ajaj,i have to buy thousands of bubble gums..because my grammy doesn’t like the smell of alcohol.
U must write me how did u spent christmas..
ok honey i have to return to livingroom and listen to horrible christmas songs,smile and be happy..
It was very nice reading your mail, it would be the greatest thing if u come in april…i really miss u so much
So have really nice christmas time,and happy new year(don’t drink so much absinth..)
papapapapapapapapapapapap kisses Nina
P.S.No please don’t worry about some present..but if u want to give me a present-the most beautiful present 4 me-to see u soonest as possible..

 

I wake up late for Christmas, but I’m the only one up as I walk through the house. I see the full stockings, the same ones we’ve had since we were little, sitting by the fireplace. Lunch is happy and we all sit around the table, the four of us, talking and laughing, and my father tells stories and hugs my mom and kisses her cheek whenever the story is about her. I sleep and walk outside in the cold when I’m tired of sleeping. By night I’ve gone through enough wine that I’m starting to get drunk. I try again to read A Farewell to Arms but I can’t focus enough to read a page without forgetting everything. I sit with my mom and dad and they bring out more wine and we drink and talk until I fall asleep early, resting my head on the back of the couch with my face pointing into the air.

 

Looking through my closet I find a couple packs of cigarettes and a bottle of vodka I had stashed. My friends call in the afternoon.

“Want to go to a movie?” they ask.

“Sure.”

“You have any pot?”

“Yeah, I’ve got some,” I say.

We smoke in the car and take our time driving around. Most of them fall asleep in the movie, and I want to but I have a headache, and my stomach is in knots, and all I really want is a beer.

After the movie everyone is tired, and I go home. I check my email but close it when I don’t see what I’m looking for. I walk downstairs and look through the house for my brother. I consider calling him but he is probably somewhere for a reason. I spend the rest of the night in my room. I don’t hear him come home and I don’t know where my parents went.

 

I lie in bed. The sensations on my body are memories I’m unable to forget. I position myself in a way to have a body curled against the inside of my waist. The smell is there and so is the feeling of warmth against my skin, a feeling that clothes can’t replicate. By now I’m tired and I want to sleep, the sun is coming up, I need to sleep, but I can’t because I start to dream. For help the dreams reach into my memories making the things I want more than anything into flesh and blood. Waking isn’t hard to do, but not crying is.

I pull my car over into the shoulder as I drive through the cross-town and walk up to the wall that runs parallel with the road. I’m choking, and I bend over but it’s not enough. I put my hand down my throat until a little bit of stinging liquid spills out into the grass. It runs down my hand and soaks into the edge of my shirt. I don’t feel any better, just exhausted and sick like my stomach is on water. I sit in the grass until I can breathe again. The smell of vomit doesn’t bother me.

When I get home I check my email and then drink a six-pack which makes me feel better. My brother finds me sprawled out in a chair in the living room.

“Drinking pretty early aren’t you.”

I laugh, “I’ve been up for awhile.”

He looks away from me. “Do you want to come to a party tonight?”

“Hmm.”

“It’s going to be downtown.”

“Maybe.”

“She’s been asking me about you”

“I don’t know why.”

“Well if you want to…”

I drink some whiskey and check my e-mail and my friends come over.

“Get in the car, we’re having a party,” they say.

We cruise down the interstate. I drink beer that I brought with me. The street signs come so fast that I can’t read them.

“We’re getting fucked up,” they say.

“Fuck yes,” I say.

They live in a new condo close to downtown. When I step inside they give me a shot. I take it and ask for another. They pour me one and slap me on the shoulder.

“Where are the pills?” I ask.

Everyone is destroyed, and I walk through the party stopping girls as they come to me. I try to kiss them and some move away and some kiss me back and either way I keep walking with my hand out feeling the wall as if it could tell me something that I can’t see. ‘Has anyone seen my Xanax? Has anyone seen my Ambien?’ Downstairs they’re watching porn, upstairs there is coke and alcohol, and I do a long line and laugh when my nose starts pouring out blood. Someone puts a dirty rag underneath it, it soaks through quickly and they take me to the bathroom. I put my head under the faucet and try drinking the water as the blood runs down the side of my face.

The cops come, and we run out of the back of the house into the neighboring yard. We walk to downtown and go into a bar. They pause on my fake but let me in. Inside there are girls I went to high school with, and we all take shots, and they push us when we say lewd things to them, but they don’t leave. Someone asks what I did for Christmas. I try, but I can’t remember anything more definite than ‘had dinner with my family.’

The music that is playing is hard, and I would give anything for it to slow down. I spin in place on a stool and drink what is around. She said she loved me; I never planned for that. I should have told her I loved her. We start a dance party in the bathroom and bring everyone in. I’m pulled into a stall and we make out. I push her against the wall and she puts her hand down my pants. She keeps it there until my friends climb the outside of the stall and put their heads over and yell to me. We laugh and I stand up on the toilet seat and kick the shitty metal wall.

I come to in a booth. I put on my coat and try to stand but fall over into a pool table. A couple of friends prop me up under my arms.

“Where you going?”

“The bathroom, I need to piss.”

They take me a few feet and then let me go. I lean myself against the wall for a couple seconds and then walk quickly toward the exit. Outside I’m confused. There is a coffee shop and I sprint for it.

A couple taxi drivers are sitting at a table but otherwise the place is empty. One of the baristas jumps off the counter, the other doesn’t move.

“You guys still open?”

“Yeah.”

“Uh a coffee please,” I say.

He pauses, “Do you want anything else?”

“No, just coffee.”

I sit down in a chair facing out the window. I take out my cigarettes and I have one between my lips when I’m interrupted.

“What?” I say.

The guy has the three paper cups sitting on a tray.

“You can’t smoke in here.”

“I can’t smoke with my coffee?”

“No, you can’t smoke indoors anymore.”
I go outside and smoke a few cigarettes. The guy comes out to tell me to move away from the entrance. When I come back inside my coffee is cold. I drink a little and go to the counter.

“My coffee is cold. Can I heat it up?”

“There’s nothing back here.”

“I can see a microwave.”

He realizes that I’m not going to leave so he nods in agreement. As I’m handing it to him my hand shakes violently and the coffee slips out and splashes all over the floor. He shakes his head but doesn’t say anything.

“I would like to order another,” I say as the coffee slides across the floor and around my shoes.

For hours I watch people leaving the bars. After, I feel well enough to drive home and I keep the window rolled down a little so I can smoke cigarettes while I drive.

 

When I wake I feel alright. The sun is up and I’m up; I can’t find the desire to sleep anymore. I go into the bathroom. There are scratches all over my face. Did I do that in my sleep? I wash them, dress, and go downstairs. I’m surprised to see my mom sitting at the table opening mail.

“Hi, sweetie,” she says.

There’s still food leftover from Christmas, I need something real, and I heat it up and eat the potatoes and meat. A sharp shooting pain runs through my jaw from a tooth in the back and I eat on the other side. I try to look the dentist up but I can’t remember his name.

“Mom, do you have the dentist’s number?”

“Sure, sweetie.” She opens her phone. “You can call from this,” she says.

They tell me the soonest available time is the second week of January.

“Is it an emergency?” she asks.

“Uh, I’m not sure, I don’t think so. I’m just pretty sure I have a cavity.”

“Well if you want to try to come in on Friday I think the doctor can probably fit you in. You might have to wait awhile, though.”

“Thanks, I’ll be there Friday.”

I watch television even though I don’t want to. My brother joins me and I can’t tell if he feels the same. After a few hours I’ve had enough, I can’t wait anymore.

I open my email. There’s one and that restlessness goes away. I notice the message is short before I can read anything.

 

Hey Kyle i am just want to tell u happyyyy birthday, u have them tomorow, right?
So have great celebration and enjoy it..
I know that what i am gonna tell u now its not the greatest present, but maybe u should know it or i dont know…
So..i found out that i am pregnant..

I think about when we have watched those childrens playing ..it seemed nice..but I dont want to be mother at 20 years…

So i am decided to interrupt it ..i am going to doctor next week..so scared…but there is no another solution.
ok now u know it..i am sorry maybe i should’t have told u,i dont know…
papa

 

I leave the house. I only have my coat, everything burns, my face, ears, eyes, nose, fingers, neck, and I just walk.

“Tim, can you come pick me up?”

 

“Where do you want to go?”

“Home, but take a long way.”

I see his eyes in the rear-view, he’s staring at me.

“Your eyes, they’re black,” he says. I don’t say anything. “Is everything alright? Was there a death in the family?” he asks.

I stare out the window at the old mansions and the snow that has been piled into small drifts along the road.

So that’s how they let you have it. They give you what you want, but never for free, because as soon as you have it they say no, no, no, but fuck them, because all those days that were so bright and all those times that made sense, for the first time made sense, they leave me into this heated cab’s air.

The one good thing you had, your anchor, a little mother-fucking hope, is ripped from you, and they make you pay for that hope. There’s nothing left but reality: an ocean, laced memories. I could fight and tear at them with my fingernails and hold it by the flesh but they will take everything. They always take everything.

“Have you ever been married Tim? I don’t think I can ever be like that with someone. I only think of myself.”

 

 

2007

Short Story – Coming Home, Part 2

Posted on 21 min read 73 views

We ride the light rail as it silently moves through the city at night. The girl from this morning meets us downtown; she has combed her hair out in long wavy strands and looks very cute, and I feel a sense of pride for my brother.   We walk through the city and I’m alive, and with the cold everything is cutting and distinct. The streets are full of people, but I don’t notice them, except for the occasional girl in a skirt that braves the weather for the sake of her fashion. Sometimes I will have to step aside for groups of boys that move headlong. Occasionally they will clip my shoulder, and I can feel them turn as I walk away, but I am in no mood to start fights, so I always try to stay out of their way. In the skyscrapers I find something that I missed, and I have the desire to leave myself and look at the city from a place that is far away and elevated.

My brother holds the girl’s hand as they walk down the street and I’m unable to tell who has fallen. She is older but looks younger, and I see other people watch the attractive couple as they walk down the street. They walk oblivious to the stares of the people around them. The people don’t notice me trailing behind, but I don’t blame them, as I look sickly, much like the color of the snow that is piled on both sides of the walking path. It hadn’t snowed very much before I had left, but I wouldn’t have minded if it had. It would have added something to the giant tree in the town center and maybe that disgusting spiced wine would have tasted better.

The building we walk into is old but refurnished. The elevator has the tiles on the ceiling that conceal video cameras behind their seemingly opaque screens.

“Maybe I should have brought something, I feel bad just showing up,” I say as we move toward the fourth floor.

“This isn’t like a birthday party or anything you don’t have to worry about that.”

“I told her that you are my brother, she really wants to meet you.”

“Making friends with older women, he’s much better than his brother ever was,” I say this with a smile and they both laugh.

The girl turns to my brother and puts her hand in his hair, “I know, he’s our little boy.”

The halls are wide and there are few rooms on each floor. We walk in without knocking. The apartment itself is completely open with people milling around. I walk directly for the kitchen counter and the line of liquor bottles. My brother is talking to a group of people in the entry way and I push down the guilt and pour vodka into a glass and drink it all. I recognize the vodka when it is in my stomach and my body relaxes. I can look around and gather my bearings.

The apartment is lined with wide windows that look out into the downtown. There are paintings on most walls, and red silk sheets on the bed. I drink another vodka, and feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around but not too quickly as I still have full control of myself. I’m introduced to the host. She is blonde and cute and a little too short. I want to grab her long blonde hair. I ask her about herself while restraining myself from another drink, it’s all very standard and I let her do the talking because she wants to. She is a nice girl, nicer than most in her position, and there is no acting when we talk.

“Where are all these people from?”

“I went to high-school with some,” she points at the girl who we came with, “and others are local artists and acquaintances. It’s pretty eclectic.”

“I’m beginning to think I should have become an artist.” She likes that and smiles.

“Here, come here, I want to show you some of their works.” She leads me toward her bed, and points above to very dry paper that has been cut out and placed on top of a black background. The picture is of people, holding scythes, with conical straw hats. You can’t see their faces but the two-dimensional detail is enough to see fingers and layers of clothing. “He made this for me,” she says pointing across the room at a pretentious looking boy in chic glasses and a green blazer.

“He looks like an artist,” I say, and she nods. I wait a few seconds and then add, “This place is beautiful. There is something nice about how open it is.”

“My only real complaint is that they don’t let you have pets, I had to leave my dog with my parents.”

Something is knocked over in the kitchen and we both look and see someone scrabbling to turn a liquor bottle upright.

“Do you like living downtown?” I ask.

“I love it, just being able to wake up, go downstairs, get a bagel, coffee… bottle of vodka.” I smile so she knows I find her funny. “In the suburbs you have to drive, and then it is too late. The feeling has left you.” I nod in agreement. “And of course the skyline here is amazing to wake up to.”

“With no walls I’m sure you can see straight through everything.”

“Yeah, but you can’t escape the sun.”

“The night is what really makes this beautiful. All the bright lights in the sky, I’m jealous.” She looks around the room when I say this. I offer to make her a drink and she says ‘of course,’ and I mix cherry vodka with 7-up. It tastes good but I don’t make another for myself.

“Have you been on the balcony yet? It is a million times better, you can see the tops of the high-rises and the other downtown,” she says as I hand her the drink, and I can tell she would like me to follow her outside.

“No I haven’t been out there.” She puts on her coat, and I’m annoyed when she also puts on gloves and a stocking cap, but it is cold and she probably has not been drinking enough.

The balcony is almost as large as the loft itself, and I’m surprised, and she can tell.

“I’m sure this will be really great in the summer. I set up all the chairs but I haven’t had a chance to doing anything with it yet.”

I look at the chairs that are set around a table. The snow has recently been brushed off the chairs but remains on the table. I like when she justifies herself to me, and again I have the urge to touch her hair, but instead to run my fingers through the light curls at the ends. I walk to the edge and look down and then up at the peaks; it is much better. She comes next to me and rests her arms on the brick railing that surrounds the balcony. She is a pretty girl and she notices me looking at her.

“You know I, um…like the night too, I used to like it more. Down here all the people that don’t belong are walking the streets. They drive in and do what they please, just like tourists but they keep coming back.”

I don’t like what she said and I don’t acknowledge the statement. “Where are your favorite places to go out?”

She tells me where and when she goes out, and I’m surprised I haven’t seen her out before.

“What about college?” I ask. “How do you like it?”

“It’s only alright; I just switched my major to biology. I found out it’s going to take me five years to graduate.”

I look over the edge and down at the people walking by the entrance to the building. They deserve to be excited: a schoolteacher away from the classroom, wanting to get drunk and laid, and teenage suburban boys with new young girls to impress.

“What about you, what’s your major?” she asks smiling.

“Finance,” I say quietly, and then louder, “I’m a finance major, but I also liked biology.”

I imagine the people inside the loft on the balcony, and how it could hold them all. It feels too cold to be only two people outside. As we are talking a boy comes out onto the porch. She whispers something to me under her breath but I can’t make it out.

“Where have you been?” He doesn’t acknowledge me.

“Talking and showing my new friend the view.”

“Hi,” I say. He says ‘hi’ and returns his attention to the girl.

“Come inside its cold out here.”

“No, I’m fine out here, I need a break from all that.”

The boy turns his attention to me for the first time. “Hey buddy, can you give us a few minutes in private?” He looks back at the girl, “Well, I just wanted to talk with you about some things.”

“Ok,” I say. “I will go get another drink.”

She holds me by the coat sleeve. “He is going to stay out here and I don’t want to talk with you.” I try and wiggle my sleeve free without her noticing. The boy takes on a more aggressive stance, but I pretend not to notice and move away from the ledge.

“I will just be inside,” I say and the girl follows me for several steps but is stopped when the boy grabs her arm. She lets go of me and spins on him, and I can hear her voice escalating as I walk toward the inside. When I slide the doors closed I can still hear her voice outside and I don’t like it.

I walk to the alcohol and pour a glass. The art crowd talks about people I have never heard of, while on a large screen television to the side of the kitchen a French movie is playing without subtitles. A boy and two girls sit on the couch watching and every few minutes one will pause the movie and they will speak in Spanish. I look but I can’t find my brother. I tell the man with the glasses that I like his work and he tells me about the gallery hosting his exhibit. An older looking woman cuts limes, and we take tequila shots. It is smooth, but I make a face because the others do. Someone unfolds a small white package while another person tries to take apart a pen but the ink explodes and runs down the side. A bill is rolled instead, and I’m offered a line; I pause, look around and decline. The woman pours me a double shot, and I don’t take it until she lifts it up toward my mouth. My brother taps me on the shoulder. His cheeks are red, and the girl we came with helps herself to the coke. Another shot is poured for me, and I push it toward my brother, but stop and then take it myself. I smile at my brother and leave the kitchen for the bathroom.

The walls of the bathroom are blue with no pictures or decoration. I go to the square mirror and pull down my eyelid, looking at the white that is beginning to look red. The hair on the back of my head is sticking up and I try to press it down with my hand but it returns to its position and I give up and leave the bathroom.

The blonde girl I left outside is sitting on a decorative bench beside the door. She acts surprised, and I sit next to her. The bench is uncomfortable, and I’m leaning forward with my hands griping the cushion. She apologizes for what happened on the balcony, and before she can finish I tell her not to worry. We talk about her high school, and she talks quickly with her palms open and resting on her knees. When a strand of hair falls in front of her face I brush it out of the way and kiss her. She kisses me back and we move into the bathroom, where I pick her up and put her on the sink. I kiss her hard, and she grabs me while I pull her waist closer. She whispers in my ear that she likes my body, and I begin to take off her shirt when something slams into the door.

“Open the fuck up!”

I pull her shirt back down and open the door which flies into the wall, pushed from the other side.

“It’s open,” I say as the boy I left outside predictably storms into the bathroom.

“You fucking slut, you fucking slut,” he repeats it as he paces around in the bathroom. I move toward the girl, which gets his attention, and I can tell he is considering lunging at me. Before he does the girl begins yelling, and the boy becomes hysterical having to be dragged out of the bathroom by people from the party.

In the hall my brother is waiting for me and we don’t say anything. I can hear the screaming as we walk toward the door. As I’m putting on my shoes, I’m shoved from behind and slide across the hardwood floors. A fist connects on the back of my head before I can stand. My brother pulls him off me and I get to my feet slowly, watching as he tries to push past my brother who is holding his arms. I don’t say anything, and I stand in place, rubbing the back of my head, until he begins to calm down. His arms slowly drop and he no longer fights to reach me.

“Get the fuck off me,” he says, pushing my brother who stands in his way. My brother hits the floor on his back. I’m on top of the boy before he can move. I knock the wind out of him, which drops him to his knees. While he gasps for air I kick him under the armpit, then in the ribs until he’s on his back.

“I will kill you if you ever touch him again!”

He rolls over on his stomach and I stomp on his head, I can hear the thud when it bounces off the floor, and I leave quickly. On the ride home my brother asks about my head. I reach back and feel the rising lump. I tell him it will be fine and silently watch the short dumpy storefronts pass by.

The lights are on when we get home, and I know my parents have returned. The smell of wine is heavy in the entry room where they have laid down on the couches. My father falls over when trying to get up and I can tell my mother is saying ‘Kyle’ but the rest is intangible. I hug my mother and go into the kitchen. I put ice in a zip bag and go upstairs, leaving my brother to help put my mother to bed. My father tells me to come in and talk.

“In the morning,” I call down.

 

ahoooy Kyle, thanx 4 mail,nice to hear from u
i’d like to write u something inetresting…haha,but i am still at home like in prison,and studyng fukcking 700pages of economy…i hate that..it is icreadible booorrriiinng.Yeah exept yesetrday i couldn’t anymore so i went to the cinema-for improving my mood… i hope that i will pass  the stupid  exam and than i will spend all the week somewhere in clubs,pubs,or of snowboarding..i hope
Actually this studyng is really good for my healthy..no alcohol,no cigaretts..but the problem is that i prefer a bit diferent lifestyle..i am suffering!!i should have choosed some good job..something like cleaning toilets..no sorry i am just kidding,it made me crazy. i was happy to hear your flight to home was safe and not very bad..i have always the luck of a screaming baby next to me..great…

About the world outside ,i can not tell u anything,if there was some nuclear war, catastrophe or alien attack..but i would like to leave..
So i am going to continue with my work,papa Kyle(i miss so so so much)
Yesterday i had a dream that u came back and that u are sleeping in my bed,so real dream..and when i woke up i couldn’t understand where are u..so confusing..i hope to see u again soon..
papapapapapapapapa and many kisses

Nina

The malls are full of people, and I wade through the crowds to look for DVDs, but there is nothing left that my brother would want. My stomach is a wreck, and I have to sit down several times because of stomach cramps, but despite it all I can’t go to the bathroom. The girls walking around the mall are cute but young, too young for me, and probably still in high school. I wonder how old I must look to them with the dark circles under my eyes and sunken cheeks. In the food court I order a tray of Chinese food but I’m only able to eat the rice and little pieces of the chicken. I find a pair of designer jeans that fit me well, and I buy a size longer. When I get home the house is empty except for the cleaning lady and I say ‘hello’ but she moves past as if she doesn’t hear me. When I move my bed away from the window I knock over a stack of books. The layer of dust on the top book is so thick I have to brush it away to read the title. It’s a book about the French Revolution, given to me in high school. The cover is yellow and the characters are storming a castle, possibly the Bastille. The pages are still very white and they smell clean when I thumb through the book. Slanted and underneath that are novels: Dead Souls, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Catch-22, Darkness at Noon; nothing I want to read again. I notice A Farewell to Arms, as the pages have fallen out of the binding. I bought it used, and I haven’t read it.

I take it with me to the chair that I push underneath the window, but I can’t sit still and I pace around the attic. I don’t want to be in the house anymore, and I avoid the housekeepers as I walk out the back door. In the cold my nose begins to tingle, and after a block I turn back around as my fingers, balled inside my jacket, begin to feel cold. I trip on a crack, and for a moment I hate my body but it passes, and I enter the house and lie in the chair and take Xanax so I will no longer have a longing.

 

Before I can wake I feel my body being rocked back and forth. I knock the arms away quickly but I can’t open my eyes. I continue to try but a force doesn’t want me to be awake, and it is painful when I finally can see my brother.

“We’re leaving for dinner.”

“Alright…I, um, I just need a second,” I stand and then sit back down. “I don’t uh…” I push my palms into my eyes, “One sec.”

I change my shirt and follow my brother down the stairs. He is dressed sharply, and I begin to feel self-conscious about wearing jeans.

“How is your head?” he asks.

“What? Why, um…it’s ok.” I feel the bump in the back.

At the restaurant a long table is set in a private room, there are almost a dozen relatives from my dad’s side, but I don’t see my parents. I take another Xanax and leave the room for the bar. My parents are already drunk at the bar, and several of my aunts and uncles are drinking also, they are all swaying in their barstools and laughing too loudly. I give up on the drink and go onto the patio overlooking the river.

The water in the river that usually freezes is still running. The restaurant has stacked the patio furniture in a corner, and I pull down a chair and sit listening to the river, unable to see it from the light behind me, and the darkness in front.

“Tim, hey, I need you to pick me up.”

We are silent as he drives toward my dealer.

“You don’t have any questions for me tonight,” I say after the silence becomes uncomfortable.

“I was just timing how long it would take you to say something. Six minutes, that’s how long it took you. I would have thought about two.”

“What are you trying to imply?”

“Nothing of course, just a game, and this time you were quiet for a long time.”

“Well, I don’t have much to say. I just ditched my family to meet my dealer.”

I see him turn his head toward me. “What are you getting?” he asks.

“Nothing special, just the usual. Why, do you want something?”

“No, no, I wouldn’t have uh, you know have any use for that.”

I shrug and look out the window as we drive through a forested area which blocks the view of the river. Eventually it breaks to reveal a long strip of modern condominiums. I direct him into the entrance of one of the developments and toward the back where the condos sit directly on the river.

“This is where your dealer lives?” he asks skeptically.

“No, a friend, he’s just over here.” Before I shut the door I stick my head back in. “That was four minutes in case you wanted to count.”

When I come out of the house I can see Tim watching me closely, and as I near the car he continues to watch the door.

“Thanks for waiting,” I say.

“It’s no problem. Where to next kiddo?”

“Just home for tonight, do you remember it?”

“Sure I remember it.”

I nod in appreciation and sink into my seat. The trees begin to pass by my window again.

“At least you won’t have to pull over tonight,” I say.

Tim laughs, “Are you sure about that?”

“It’s still early; you’re cab is safe.” I look at the floor of the cab and the seat. “This is the first time being sober in your cab, you keep it clean.”

“This is nothing, it needs to be scrubbed.” I take out my phone and scroll down the names, looking for nothing in particular, just hoping that someone grabs my attention. “You don’t have much to say when you haven’t been drinking,” Tim says.

“I don’t think I’m that talkative when I’ve been drinking.”

“No, no you’re not. Its relative I suppose.” As he pulls into my driveway he turns in his seat to face me. “What are you going to do tonight?” he asks.

“I’m going to get stoned and fall asleep,” I say as I hand him cash and refuse the change.

In the house I open a bottle of champagne and crush my remaining Xanax with the bottle until I can drink the dust without feeling the pieces. I drink several glasses, until the powder that had stuck to the sides after the first glass has also gone down.

I feel drunk before I feel worked, and I keep drinking until I get the hiccups. I drink water until I forget to swallow and it runs out of the sides of my mouth onto my shirt. I walk around the house and my phone rings but I can’t answer it. I stare at it for a long time and concentrate, I have to concentrate, and call the number back. There is a female voice on the other end, and I want to speak but my mouth won’t make the noise. When I tell her my name, I forget that I had already told her my name, and then I’m unable to remember if I said anything at all.

“Kyle?”

I know what she is saying but I just can’t say the words. I can see the words I just can’t say them.

“Hi, Yeah I, did eh…sorry, I’m tired. Did, uh…you call me?”

She is laughing, “Yeah, I just thought I would call and see if you wanted to go to a Christmas party.”

I can’t tell who it is. “I think I’m going uh,” I breathe in sharply. “I’m going to, I uh…eh, stay home tonight, I think I’m going to stay at…,” I’m falling asleep every few seconds; I can’t remember what I have said. “Do you want to smoke?” I know I haven’t said that before, or I don’t know, but I don’t think I have. She keeps talking and I try to focus, but I can’t remember five seconds, and I can’t roll a joint, and I end up lying across the futon with my arms over the sides, and the phone is off, but I don’t remember turning it off.

I wake when the doorbell rings. I’m in the study slumped against a bookshelf. I can’t walk right but the person at the door doesn’t ring again. At the door I don’t recognize the girl but she says hello and I hug her and she turns her face to kiss me and I realize it is the girl from last night.

“Did you, um…get my number from your friend?” I ask.

“No, no you gave it to me.”

We go into the kitchen, and we drink what is left of the champagne. She rolls a joint and lights it on the stove, and I can’t tell how many we smoke or how much I drink. She chews pills and her mouth tastes bitter when she pushes the moist powder into my mouth with her tongue.

She smiles and I can’t talk right, and then her eyes look droopy and we drink more. I can see myself in the attic making out on the bed, but now downstairs I’m looking through my parents’ records. We smoke and listen to the records, and I pick her up and drop with her onto a couch.

When the sun is in my eyes I’m in the living room, on the hardwood floors, and I don’t remember falling asleep. I wake up the girl, who has passed out in one of the large arm-chairs; she is covered in the comforter from my bed and wearing her clothes. She wakes violently, making a gasping noise.

“Do you remember coming in here last night?” I ask her.

“The house?”

“No, no, the room, but do you remember the house?”

She looks around the room, “Were you sleeping on the floor?”

“Yeah, I remember like five fucking minutes of last night, but it’s just sort of snapshots. I can’t…put it together.”

“The last time I looked at a clock it was like eleven.”

“I wonder if my family came home.”

I go upstairs and my mother is in bed but I don’t see my father. When I come back down the girl is putting on her shoes.

“I told my parents I would be at the house in time for brunch.”

“I understand. What did you ask for, for Christmas?”

“A purse, what about you?”

“Maybe a camcorder, some other shit, I can’t remember.”

She stands waiting for me in the doorway, and I pull her by her arm toward me and kiss her goodbye. She closes her eyes even though the kiss is short and her arm continues to touch mine when I move my head away.

“If you’re not doing anything for New Year’s, I will probably have some people over.”

“I’ll be there.”

“And if you like want to do something later-”

“It might be tough today; I probably should spend it…with my family.”

“No totally, I meant like later this week or something.”

“Ok, sure, I’ll call you. My parents just came home though and, eh…they will probably want to spend some time with us or something”

“No, totally, it’s the holidays, you have to spend it with your family,” as she says this she lets go of my arm. I open the door for her and go back inside. I can hear my father asleep on the couch in the next room.

 

I’m naked and showering when I notice the deep blue mark below my shoulder. In the mirror I can make out the individual teeth and places where they had broken the skin. There are deep scratches on my back and lighter ones on my chest.

When I come back downstairs I can hear my father calling from the next room. He’s wearing his clothes from the day before, his hair is flattened on one side.

“Yeah dad?” I say.

He has propped himself up on the middle of the couch, using both his arms as braces. “Kyle, can you do me a favor and get me a glass of water?” He asks while rubbing his head.

“Sure,” I go into the kitchen and drink several glasses myself and then return with a full one in my hands.

“Thanks pal,” he says, taking large gulps until it’s gone. “I have to stop falling asleep on the couch,” he says with a laugh. “Who was the girl?” he says, motioning with his head.

I have to pause for a second, “Oh, the girl, she’s a friend from the city.”

“She’s cute,” he says.

“Yeah, she’s cute.”

“Here take a seat.” He points with his finger to the leather chair close to the couch.

“I’m actually on my way out. I’ll see you tonight.”

He nods and rests his head back in the corner of the couch.

Short Story – Coming Home, Part 1

Posted on 19 min read 82 views

(Written 2007)

I wake to the sight of white. Lines cut across the white. Most of them are perfect squares but some bend and twist, searching for a destination. On these lines there will be things, things too small for me to see, but I know they are there and go about their lives in the same way that I left them.

 

“Welcome home, Mr. Scott.” The woman hands me my passport.

“Thank you.”

In the taxi the driver is quiet, which I’m grateful for, and I fall asleep with my head against the window. The taxi stops in front of a large brick house enclosed by a black gate. Home looks the same as when I left, except there’s a new Lexus in the driveway and snow on the ground. White Christmas lights pop against the perfect pine-tree background. The lights’ warmth has melted small areas of snow, and I can glimpse the living tree beneath.

The arched front door is locked so I go around to the back. There is a cleaning woman in the pantry, someone I have never seen before, and she makes no sign of noticing me when I walk in.

“Mom…Dad…I’m err… home.” I hear footsteps coming down the spiral staircase in the next room. It’s my brother.

“Hey Kyle.” I reach out to hug him with one arm. “How was your trip back?”

“It was all right.” I slip off my bags and feel the burn on my shoulders. “I took some Ambien and passed out for most of the flight.” I look past him into the hallway to see if anyone else is coming. “Are Mom and Dad here?”

“Uh no, they told me where they were going. Maybe Virginia or something,” he shrugs and I don’t persist.

I stare at the floor until he hugs me again. I reel backward and almost fall over my bags. When I find my footing I hug him back, and I can tell that he is glad to have someone to share the house with.

“Sorry about that,” he says when we separate. I look past him. “Need some help?” he asks, pointing at the bags.

I’m staying in the attic which is empty and clean, and allows me to spend my days in the light of the large, circular cut windows.

“So, tell me bro, how was it?”

“I can’t really describe it.”

“Shut the fuck up. Tell me how it was.”

“I don’t know how. If I start, I’ll just keep going…I haven’t given it much thought, but I was happy.” I stop walking up the stairs and stand in place, “I felt at home…I didn’t know it until now, but I finally felt at home.” He notices me glance around the house when I say this. I smile, swing the strap over my shoulder and continue walking up the stairs.

When we get to the attic we sit on my bags and talk. I’d missed my brother. I tell him about living abroad, and he watches me wide-eyed, silent except when I mention women. I ask him about high school, but he has little to say. He is taller and stronger than me now. He leaves and I fall asleep. I wake up and it’s three in the morning. There is a film covering my teeth and my clothes stick to my body. I change, clean myself, check my email, and try to go back to sleep, but can’t and instead watch Brick, and Ghost World until its morning.

When it is late enough, and the sun is full in the windows, I leave the house. I take my dad’s Benz and drink coffee and drive around the city. There is a craving and the coffee gives me a tingle and minor high. I try to hold the feeling but I know it will fade like everything else I do in the city. Downtown is busy. People and cars crowd the streets and push the fresh snow into the ground until it forms a dirty layer of ice over the asphalt. I go into a used bookstore where the clerk knows my name. He asks me where I’ve been, and I tell him.

“That sounds like a really great time, I’m jealous. I had the chance to go abroad. I should have, but I was worried I wouldn’t graduate on time.” I nod because that’s what I do when people say this. “But now you have to return to the real world.” My mind wanders from the conversation and I tell him what he wants to hear about hardship and careers, and let the conversation collapse.

I buy Faust and The Metamorphosis even though I don’t think I will read either. The day has become warm for January, but not warm enough to melt the snow. My coffee high has worn off, and as I walk the streets I realize there are no homeless in the cold. I’m disappointed because I think giving away some money would make me feel better. Eventually the cold creeps through my jacket and I leave the streets to take the skyway. I walk down the wide hallways of bustling life connecting the skyscrapers, which reflect everything in their blue glass. They hold people inside, safe and warm from the white winter.

 

That night I call my friends from high school, and we get drunk on wine from a vineyard that my family owns. Our dealer doesn’t answer so we pop all of the Vicodin and Tylenol 3 that we can steal from our parents. Blitzed and numb, we go to a party thrown by some kid from a neighboring school. We break his hot tub by stuffing jumbo tampons in the jets, and I’m thrown out after I throw up red and white in the living room, and pass out in his twelve year old sister’s bedroom.

I have no car so I take a taxi to a former girlfriend’s house. I give the driver a hundred, and he tells me, ‘thank you’, and gives me his business card and says that I can call him any time, ‘day or night’. I look at him with skepticism but take the card anyway. Getting out of the cab I trip on the black protector inside the door and fall onto the curb, where I start bleeding from my elbow. He helps me up and takes me to the front door. I tell him thank you and promise him that I will be all right. He continues to ask if I am fine until I tell him that I will call his, and only his, card if I have any trouble. This seems to satisfy him and he leaves me standing in front of the two high wooden entrance doors.

I try ringing the doorbell but nobody answers so I begin throwing rocks at a window on the third floor but I can’t hit it, so I give up and lay down. I call the girl’s cell phone but there is no answer, and I try to stop myself from crying, but I can’t, and I don’t know why. When I wake up I’m on a couch. There are bits of grass in my mouth, which I must have been eating, and mud stains on my pants. Looking around, I try to take in the situation. It’s not my former girlfriend’s house, but I’ve been here before, I just can’t place when. After I sit up I begin to wonder whether someone brought me in the house or if I committed a felony to get in. The last thing I want to do is stay and deal with the drama of finding out, so I get my shoes, which are waiting for me neatly beside the door. When I’m outside I stop in the front lawn and look the house up and down, then glance down each street. The house belongs to my former history teacher, and I leave a note saying thank you, hoping he will be able to understand why I’m writing it.

The walk home is long, but I don’t mind; I want it to stretch on for hours. I stop once to throw up in a sewer drain, where I confirm that I did in fact eat grass, from the half digested green chunks that get caught in my teeth. At home I wash out my mouth, brush my teeth and go to bed. When the sun forces my eyes open its noon. I look for my brother but he isn’t home, so I check my e-mail, but there isn’t anything I’m hoping for. I stare at the computer screen unmoving and unable to think. I slide down into my chair and stare at the ceiling. Hours pass, and I can’t tell if I fell asleep or simply stared at the ceiling. I take some of my dad’s Klonopin and begin to read The Sheltering Sky. I read until its dark outside and then doze off.

I wake up to my phone and I answer it without checking who is calling. It’s my ex-girlfriend. Her voice carries a mixture of frustration and concern, and it’s obvious she has been waiting all day to call me.

“What the hell were you doing last night, KYLE?”

“What do you mean?”

“What the fuck do you mean, ‘What do I mean’? I’m asking why you were outside my house at two in the morning crying and making a scene. You know my parents woke up from that.”

“Well, I wanted to see you; I would have thought that was obvious.”

“Don’t you dare patronize me Kyle! You’re such a child, you know that? I knew this was how you would react but I called anyway because…well I don’t know why, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are incapable of handling anything like a grown-up. And when anyone tries to help you, you don’t even make an attempt to listen. That’s your problem-.”

“Help? Who’s helping anyone?” I say, beginning to lose my patience.

“Yeah Kyle, that’s what I’m doing, I’m trying to help you. Why else do you think I called?”

“Because you felt guilty about not letting me sleep in your house last night.”

“Fuck you, asshole.”

“Well I was hoping we could have done that LAST NIGHT.”

“You know what? That’s it. I don’t know why, but that’s it. You’re hopeless; I don’t know what I ever saw in you. You’re a complete waste of a-”

I hang up the phone before she can finish and get a beer out of the fridge. I contemplate renting some movies but instead watch The Dreamers, and Igby Goes Down which are covered in dust and lying on top of my television. I check my email. Around ten my friends call, and they tell me to meet them downtown. I drive despite the fact that I’m pretty worked.

Downtown we go from bar to bar, trying to get wasted on dirty martinis and grabbing at anything that comes within arms length of the table. We meet girls who take us to get high in the bathroom of a fashionable Asian-Mexican fusion restaurant. They are annoying and chatter away like monkeys while we smoke. Eventually the restaurant manager shouts into the bathroom about police being outside and how charges are going to be pressed. We walk out and threaten to sue him for assault after he grabs us, to prevent us from leaving. He lets us go and raises his hands in apology, and when he tries to ask us questions we destroy them with a mixture of extreme aggression and accusatory defensiveness. I can hear the girls that we have left in the bathroom crying.

While the police go in the front of the restaurant we dump garbage on all of the employee cars in the back and let the air out of the tires of several more. My friends get bored and leave, but I throw a trash can through the back window of a luxury car before leaving. As we walk they try to convince me to go with them to a strip club, but I don’t want to, so we walk around looking for something else. I suggest we buy cartons of milk to throw at oncoming traffic. We look for a convenience store but nothing is open, and I agree to go with them to a strip club.

The only light inside of the club is blue light. I break dance with the strobe to my friends’ laughter. On the sound system rap music is blaring, and I climb on top of a table and dance like a ballerina while my friends clap. One of the bouncers takes me down and tells us to behave so we take a seat at the end of the stage. Only drunk blue collar workers are still in the club, so when the first girl comes out she immediately walks toward us. She has a long face but her pole dancing is good, and we whistle and clap to cheer her on. One of my friends calls her over, and she dips herself low while he puts both hands on her ass as it bounces with the music.

“I love this place,” he calls over to me. “It’s so ghetto.” When he says this he moves one of his hands over the small line of fabric separating his fingers from the inside of her.

More girls come out, and I’m enjoying myself while I drink whatever beer we are buying. The girls are mostly short with big fake tits, but I don’t mind because it’s what I want to see.

“I’m going to get a lap dance, you want one?”

“Fuck yeah,” I say.

While girls move up and down with their chests in our faces we talk about being abroad and the hot girls we slept with, the shitty food we ate, and the foreign drugs we ingested. I describe to him the live sex shows. He tells me about being beaten and arrested after urinating on a military building. I complain about the over-abundance of hash and lack of weed. He tells me about ‘accidentally’ defacing a painting in one of the castles he toured. While we’re talking the stripper begins to rub me until I’m pushing up against my jeans.

“Do you like that sugar?”

“Sure, of course.”

“Good, I was worried you were more interested in your friend than me.”

“No, that’s not true.”

She laughs, “You’re a cutie.” I thank her and she continues to dance on me. While pressing her tits against my chest she begins to unbutton my jeans. I stop her.

“That’s ok,” I say trying to smile.

“I like you, sugar,” she tells me. “You want to go to a VIP room?”

I think about it, but it doesn’t excite me and I have no condoms. I tell her, ‘no thanks’, but the girl is persistent and continues to rub her hand over me while looking directly into my eyes. She tells me how pretty my eyes are. I tell her thanks. She asks again if I want to leave to a VIP room, to which I respond that ‘I would love to, but can’t,’ which is half a lie. I want to save her from the embarrassment of rejection, but she doesn’t get it, and goes on to tell me that I there is nothing to worry about because she is, ‘totally clean.’

I’m starting to get bored and annoyed so I tell her, “I would but my herpes are active right now.” When I say this she goes stiff and takes her hand away. While trying to climb off me she loses her footing and falls over, I don’t laugh at her and stand up to leave.

“Hey, Kyle what’s wrong, you don’t like her? Want an Asian or something?”

“Nah man, I’m done… I’ll call you tomorrow,” I’m trying to wipe the glitter off my clothes as I walk through the blue light. Outside the air burns my eyes and the temperature has fallen below zero Fahrenheit. I hide in a storefront looking up and down the street for a taxi. I bury my hands deep within my coat and find the card from the previous night.

 

“Yeah this is Tim,” the voice on the other end informs me.

I check the card and confirm that Tim is the name of my taxi friend.

“Hey Tim, are you driving right now?”

“Yeah, who is this?”

“I don’t know if you remember me, but you gave me a ride last night. You told me to call-”

“Oh hey, of course I remember. Do you need a pick up?”

“Definitely, it’s pretty cold right now.”

He laughs, “Just tell me where you’re at. I’ll be right there.” I read the name of the strip club off the sign. “I know it; I’ll see you in a few.”

I drink from my flask until I’m warm enough to wait beside the road. In five minutes I see Tim’s taxi coming toward me. He flashes his brights to let me know it’s him. When I step in the car he greets me with a smile and asks how I’m doing. I tell him ‘good.’ He asks me again how I’m doing, and I tell him again that I’m doing ‘good.’ He looks at me with skepticism but doesn’t ask a third time.

“So do you want me to take you to the same place as last night?”

“No, that place is dead to me,” I can feel that stupid grin plastered to my face. “If I ever ask you to take me back there, don’t do it, no matter how much I beg, just don’t do it. That place is dead, like a ghost, ok Tim?” I pause. “Ok Tim, ok, ok, ok?”

He turns around and smiles, “Ok, it’s dead.” I settle into my seat and try to watch out the window, but it makes me feel sick so I stop. After a few moments Tim breaks the silence.

“So where are we going, kiddo?”

I tell him my address and he turns the car around in the middle of the street.

“Hey, I know it’s not my place to ask, but honestly is everything alright?”

I’m lying down in the back seat and have to struggle to lift my head. I try to say something but stop. He waits until he realizes I’m not going to comment. “The reason I ask is every time I see you, you’re just so fucked up.”

I nod my head but remain silent.

“That was too harsh, but honestly what were you doing these past two nights?”

“I was out with friends,” I say.

“I’ve never seen you with friends.”

“You’ve only seen me twice.”

He responds in affirmation. I’m looking at the stained upholstery. “Tonight I left early.”

“It’s almost four o’clock in the morning,” Tim says. It doesn’t seem right and I don’t believe him. I can’t read the hands on my watch. I need to keep down the vomit.

“Well, anyway, I was out with friends, what’s your excuse?”

He laughs again, “I’m working. This is what people on the other side of the world do.”

“That’s bullshit, people on all sides of the world work.”

“It’s an expression.”

“Yeah well humans aren’t made for the night, so what’s your excuse?”

“I like the night-time, I’m an insomniac.”

“Uh-huh, and I bet you work long hours too. Maybe every day of the week, you educated bastard. What did you get your degree in Tim, history? Yeah…I bet you did; I bet you did, and here we are talking in a cab at four in the morning.” I emphasize the last words with obvious sarcasm. He doesn’t laugh this time; instead he shifts uncomfortably in his seat. I lay back down on the seat. “We all have problems Tim, not just me.”

“I’ll tell you why I’m here if you want to know.” Tim says.

“No, not right now Tim, I just want to go home.”

After a minute I tell Tim to pull over and I pull myself out of a car. Propped against a light post I dry heave until my throat is burning and I can taste the coming bile and fresh blood. I steady my breathing and stop myself, and once I’m composed I get into the cab.

Tim asks me questions when I get into the cab but I can’t answer, only hear the voice’s steady tonality. Lying down, the bumps in the road go through my stomach and I pull my body up. Unsupported my weight presses my head against the window. My hair mashes into the window and against my forehead, and as I struggle it makes the sound of stepping on dry leaves. The cream in my hair leaves a stain on the window when I pull it away. I try and use my finger to draw a shape in the stain but the cream doesn’t move right on the glass.

“You want to go do something, Tim?”

His voice cuts clear this time, “Yeah what do you want to do?”

“Well actually… I need you to pull over again.”

I barely get my head out of the car when I lose everything in my stomach. The smell is wrong. It is too rich, not sour enough, and I know that there is blood in the vomit. I have the desire to drink salt water and feel the distress as the water burns on my exposed throat tissue. Tim gets out this time to check on me and I tell him to go back into the car. He looks worried but I tell him that I’m feeling better and that gets him to sit in his seat with the door open. The cab is freezing with the doors open. Tim drives once he is sure that I have recovered and my coughing takes a more healthy tone.

“I need to go home Tim, it is too cold not to be home tonight.”

“I know Kyle, we will be there shortly.”

“If I were to sleep outside I would die.”

“We’re going to get you home, it is too cold tonight.”

I breathe on the window and write my name in cursive.

“Right, Tim?”

“Right.”

 

In the morning when I wake up, I’m in my parent’s bed, rolled in the comforter like a sleeping bag with my head in the pillows that are for decoration. The embroidery on the pillows leaves lines on my face. In the kitchen my brother and a girl are eating breakfast. The girl has on a small black dress but her hair is matted. We greet each other and I pour cereal and start to eat it slowly but my stomach doesn’t feel good, so I chew on Tums and dump out the cereal.

The two of them are talking about nothing, and I sit there in silence looking at the snow outside. It seems bright and sunny but the snow does not melt, and I know it is sharp and cold in the way that your breath stops and your lungs are rushed clean.

“Kyle, what are you doing tonight?”

I turn when my name is said. They are both looking at me, “No plans, I will probably go out, but there is nothing for sure.”

“If you want you can come to a party with us tonight. It should be a pretty good one.”

“I think I’m a little old, I don’t want to be that creep.”

“No, it’s her party, not mine.”

The girl with matted hair looks at me and nods her head, “Yeah, its downtown being thrown by a friend I go to the U with. Her family bought her a really nice loft, and we party there all the time. You are totally more than welcome to come over.”

“Thanks, I’ll think about it. I may have plans.” I leave the two of them and go up to the attic. It is warm in the attic and I begin to unpack my bags. I put my clothes in piles on the floor, jeans in one, shirts in another, sweaters in another, and the largest pile of unsorted clothes that needs to be washed. These I dump into a basket and put by the edge of the stairs. When I pull off my shirt I can smell myself so I shower and then dress in clean clothes that are loose when they should be tight.

The computer waits for me when I finish putting myself together. My email loads quickly and I sort the inbox and see a message with no subject. It’s what I’ve been waiting for since getting back, and it makes me smile, just a simple smile that can’t be faked.

 

Ahoooy Kyle,i hope your flight to USA  was good.I just want to tell u,that it was so nice to meet person like u and i had the greatest time with u.
Now i am sitting at school trying to write some homework , but  i am not so succesful the person,no better say animal,u should see him or her,i  didnt recognise yet, if it is woman or man,only god knows the thrue..but ok is not important,but he is smelling like something what never used bathroom before..and he is next to me, makes really weird sounds…so i can not concentrate because i am feeling that i am in zoo in cage with monkeys.
Anyway, Kyle i really miss u,ever since u went away and i really want to see u again…i am not professional at expressing feelings,but i think u know..what i mean..
Ok i am going to escape from this zoo,i hope u write me soon.
P.S.drink milk every day,eat vegetables and fruit (due to vitamins..),go to the church every sunday,never try alcohol,drugs and sex..and don’t be bad boy!miss u.
papa
sincerely yours…

Nina

 

The message makes me laugh, and I have that feeling in my chest that keeps you up at night, but not an ache, one of fullness. I try and write a response but I’m not sure what to say and I just lie on the floor and let it all sink in. It had been healthy and fun. It was easy but it had been over from the beginning, and it wasn’t anyone’s fault but the circumstances, still I was the one that boarded the plane. I could have stayed, it would have been a mistake but I could have made that mistake for her. She would never have asked and because of that I would have done it for her.

I go downstairs. The girl has left and I feel hungry again so I try to eat but my stomach still has pain and I stop. I drink milk so that my body has something to feed on. It feels good and I drink more and then I eat yogurt and it feels good too. I try to eat bread, chewing it thoroughly until it is like a paste in my mouth and it is alright.

“Hey man, are you busy? I need to get my car,” I say to my brother.