heads-up seven-up.

last day of kindergarten, kid couldn't believe his luck. he got paired up with his dream girl, mistook it for a sign. thought it meant something, that god was telling him, see, you are a good person, and you shall get what you want. he squirmed in his seat, nervous little fuck. girl was as beautiful as ever, wearing a brand new dress he'd never seen her in before. her mother stood in the doorway, and it seemed the whole time, she and her mother just kept looking at each other. the mother, arms crossed, leaned against the doorway, and she looked just like a mother. a little bit of makeup, big curly hair, giant smile. she was smiling at her little girl, and the little girl was smiling right back at her.

two decades later, he spends the night looking up articles about people who have died alone. it's a new phenomenon, apparently. with the advent of technology comes along the rise of so many people living alone. the numbers of corpses who go undiscovered for weeks, months, years. my god, the numbers. all dead and forgotten, eleanor rigby-style. and what happens when there's no one - no family, no friends - to pay for a proper burial? well, the state is forced to pay for cremation.

and then there she is now. see her? the whole class has to stay indoors for lunch because it's raining outside. stupid rain. forces them to play stupid games like connect 4 and hungry hungry hippos. but, once in a while, some outgoing older students arrange a game of heads-up seven-up. those who don't want to play? well, you can read a book. as for the rest of you, put your heads down, your thumbs up. dream girl gets picked (it's a given) and then she stands in front of the class with six other students. he puts his head down, thumb up. he shivers with anticipation when he hears footsteps walking past his desk. nobody ever puts his thumb down. and even if someone did, out of sheer embarrassment, he'd never suspect her (at least publicly).

he's walking now. he's got a bag in his hand, and he's crossing the street. what if i get hit, he thinks. what would happen. a while back, he changed his phone number. he didn't even have to tell anybody. he looks up news stories on the internet regarding health, regarding better living. cardio is important. it's important to get the heart rate up at least for twenty minutes a day, three days a week. that's the bare minimum. and too much sleep is bad. sleep too much, and it could lead to depression, heart disease, an early death, or worse. and that's too bad because he loves sleep. he loves sleep more than he loves awake.

she doesn't know it, and most likely, she never will, but she alone gets him through the lonely part of childhood. he dreams of her, and in his dreams, her presence alone makes him feel ridiculously high. that's the kind of effect she has on him. he has one good dream about her, just a simple one where she's talking to him, and he's good for a week. school isn't even school anymore. just a bunch of days where he might get the chance to sit next to her, hold her hand during the lord's prayer. she has a slight lisp, and it makes him crazy.

he's crazy now, that's for damn sure. he thinks that it might help if he just showed up to work completely blazed one day. he'd walk past the librarian with her big hoop earrings and big eyes and he'd just find her hilarious. he'd spend an hour, maybe two, just looking at the bulletin board with all the colorful flyers posted. all these students running for office. look at that one! a lady in a suit! what a riot. he'd be self-aware, too. he could step out of himself and watch himself looking at a bulletin board. all bad posture, squinting and grinning like a foolish old man. he'd laugh so hard it would hurt.

she was laughing so hard. they were eight years old, and she laughed at every little thing he did. somehow, he'd gotten over his shyness, and he started talking to her. their desks touched, and he became a real joker, a real comedian. he'd fall out of his seat, drop all his pencils, write on his face with a marker. she'd laugh and laugh, and it made him feel so good. couldn't believe his luck. nobody ever thought he was funny. not his friends, not his cousins, certainly not his parents. and now, miraculously, his dream girl found him funny. how'd that happen? before the final bell, they all lined up at the door. this is the happiest day of my life, she said. why, he asked her. because, she said, you're hilarious.

it's raining out. he hears cars passing and a bass guitar in the distance. his mother calls. she asks the same things she always does. what did you eat, what are your plans this weekend, are you ok, what are you reading, what did you eat, are you ok, when are you coming to visit. emphasis on the are you ok. he cannot convince her that he is ok, but she has no other choice than to take his word for it. that is a mother's only job, anyway. to constantly worry.

after the comedian routine, the teacher splits them up. you two have too much fun together, she says. and just like that, catastrophe. you big fat fuck, you take away the only good thing i have in life and probably ever will have. she sits across the room, and she doesn't even notice him anymore. he tries to sell her a bouncy ball at recess. when she refuses, he says she can have it for free. she just shakes her head like he's the worst person in the world. after that, he goes to a dark place. he never fully recovers. they are no longer friends, and he becomes despondent. inconsolable. when an eight year old becomes inconsolable, that truly is a bad way to start things off. a brief life lesson: find rare love on this cold dead earth, and some hemorrhoid will surely snatch it away just as quick.

he dreams of her one last time in adulthood. together, they ride a bus on mayhew road. it's sunny out, and the song "you are my sunshine" plays on the radio. she is smiling at him, and he smiles right back at her. eventually, he wakes. fully conscious, he knows that such silly dreams are no longer enough to get him through the days. he needs something more now. something so much more. but what.

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