cardboard box washing machine.

all her clothes were dirty, so she was doing a wash. i didn't help or offer to help, i just stood there. the machine wasn't a normal looking machine. it was a fake, that much i could tell. the machine was pressed up against the window and it was attached to what looked like a spigot. "i gotta fill it with water first," she said. "okay," i said. i watched as she pulled the cardboard box toward her and unscrewed the spigot so that water would flow. she caught the water in the box, then pushed the box tight up against the wall. water started to fill it up. in the front was a little window so you could watch the clothes spin if you wanted to, and the window was glass or plastic. most likely plastic. when it filled, she started throwing in the dirty clothes.

"i've got a camera," she said, "wanna see it?" "sure," i said. she handed it to me. it looked real enough, but it was also a fake. it was a digital, but there were three modes. she pressed her finger on top of mine to push a button. mode 1, mode 2, mode 3. i looked at the screen in mode 1. it made her face look fat. i told her this, and she laughed. in mode 2, she looked like a boy. then, mode 3 was just normal, but close-up. she was beautiful, so i put the camera down, right in front of my stomach. then i did what i wasn't supposed to do. i kissed her. it was supposed to be romantic, but i hadn't shaved for a while and my moustache ended up jabbing her upper lip. she pulled away, and i could see that she was bleeding a little bit.

we didn't say anything for a while. we just sat down in the living room and waited for our friends to show up. when they arrived, they were full of congratulations, shaking my hand like i had just done something great. like i had graduated, gotten some job i wanted, finally reached a stage that most men my age are supposed to reach. a simple "good job" would have sufficed, but they had to take it further. they made it laughable, like, son, you just got here now? they were sarcastic and just being a couple of assholes about it. i couldn't look at any of them, and i certainly couldn't look at her. i just got up and left the room in silence. this just got them going even more with their fake sympathy. aww, where you goin'? we were just playin'!

in the driver's seat, i rolled the key between my fingers for a bit, then i started the ignition. it occurred to me then that i've always been leaving some place to go nowhere. and each time, i convince myself that it's different. that this time, i'll have the dignity, willpower, courage, or whatever, to never return.

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