only the fear of being alone.


he was in his bedroom on halloween night with the door closed, the lights turned off, a stack full of 80's horror tapes by the television set. the doorbell would ring and ring and his mother would open the door, give out candy to all the neighborhood children dressed up as angels, monsters, princesses and skeletons. he hadn't even bothered to decorate that year, forgoing the usual fake cobwebs and red goo that was supposed to be blood. he probably had himself a couple reese's, maybe a few kit-kats, but that would be all.

when those ugly towers came down and all those people died, he might've been the last person to hear about it. he slept in on a day of tragedy, and years later, he'd sleep through his own birthday. he turned on his new hp computer, the one he'd recently purchased for college, and the american online homepage came up. it read: america under attack or something, and he thought it was a joke. it looked unreal, like something only a failed hollywood screenwriter could make up.

his grandmother visited the day before he left for college. she was so old and fragile, a slump of alien mass bound to a wheelchair. she was distraught about the attacks, and her eyes were moist. never trust anyone, she said. her words had the same effect as any good novel, something he could revisit years later, and it'd mean something else completely. at the time, he heard her referring to terrorists, awful bearded brown men who hated his country and wanted him dead. he envisioned plane rides back home to visit family, and he'd be eternally vigilant.

and then he was back from college, maybe it was summer time, and he was with his friend and a bunch of girls his age. he let his friend do all the talking for him. it just didn't register. other than a polite "hello," he had no idea what to say. there was a chubby mexican girl he found rather attractive, but he couldn't do anything but sit and try not to stare at her. at one point in the evening, her chair broke, and everyone succeeded at not laughing at her, though it was a funny sight. everyone was sympathetic, and the girl was obviously flustered. are you okay?

what was wrong with him? there was something clearly wrong. he had been to school for thirteen years, but he was never taught any socialization skills. it was the boston tea party and long division and the quadratic equation and sexual reproduction. there was a significant piece missing from his education. the kind that could've prevented him from blowing up at his friends, from isolating himself, from feeling like there was no point to any of it, none at all.

he was all alone, driving by himself late one night. the opening riff to "hunted by a freak" came on the radio, kexp, and he circled the block to find a parking spot. there's no such thing as love. only the fear of being alone. no spots. he circled the block again. again and again until the song ended and a new one had begun. i don't love anyone. well, not even christmas. at last, someone had turned on his reverse lights, signaling that he'd be vacating his spot. it was a good spot. a prime spot. parking's premium.

he climbed the three flights of stairs in his blood-red apartment, the one that resembled the shining. it was a difficult thing, this business of being alone. he thought of the scene in 30 rock, the one where liz imagines herself choking on a piece of meat, and there's no one in the house to give her the heimlich. he thought of charlie on party of five, after kirsten had abandoned him, and he finds a lump in his armpit. scores of young men dying on the battlefield. widows in retirement homes passing the time with soaps, trying their best to remember what it was to be young, to be beautiful, to be full of hope for their futures, and full of love.

he was on his way back to school. it was a bright sunday morning, and he was up in the air. he had a window seat, and he was surprised by how warm and sunny it was for a february morning.

1 comment:

Aby said...

How do you manage to write such stuff... It's so real and so painful.. I hate that I read it. I shouldn't have. I'm not feeling ok now :-(

But you're a good writer, try your hand at book or something.