T. F. Chisholm
His bedroom’s a mess. The trash from this week and last week’s MacDonald’s remain on the floor beside the desk. It’s to-go bags; along with the meal’s empty soda cups have become makeshift trash containers for cigarette butts, potato chip bags, and unwanted receipts. The bed’s unmade, its flannel sheets twisted in a log on the left side of the bed expose half of the king sized mattress. It’s a small room and the enormous bed takes up most of its space, leaving only room for a glass desk—covered in ashen-dust and syrupy soda stains, with a leather computer chair tucked into it. The chair is fairly new and in good shape, as is the computer and monitor on the desk. Situated just in front of the desk, playing the newest first-person shooter is Y, a young neglectful man idling away from his fears, running out of space to store them. Just last winter he was living in the basement bedroom, until the spring showers brought flooding and instead of cleaning the basement, he let the mold grow, moved his belongings upstairs into the spare room, and shut the door to the basement not opening it since. His fear funnels mostly into failure, resulting in his negligence and remarkable laziness. Y’s been gaming for most of the night and hasn’t looked away from the screen in over an hour; he starts to blink and realizes his eyes have gone dry. He has been so immersed in the game that he’s forgotten to blink. He can no longer avoid it, he needs to close his eyes and moisten them. He pauses the game, turns away from the computer and faces the bedroom door.
Oh my god, this burns. How do I never catch myself zoning out to the point of forgetting to blink? Yawning doesn’t help keeping my eyes from watering either. Goddamn it, I can’t get past that fucking sniper though. I’ve been stuck at this position for like forty-five minutes. I should just smoke a bit to take the pressure off. Music first though, I’ve had that opening skidding beat stuck in my head all night, and this silence is deafening. [How come I end up where I started? How come I end up where I went wrong?] Now where did I leave that pipe? There’s only enough for one more packing after this is gone, need to save some for the morning too. 3:27am, goddamn it’s late. I guess I’m not actually saving it for the “morning” then. Here’s to another afternoon in bed. Hopefully Bill can drive out here tomorrow and drop off some more bud, I really can’t afford the gas to get out to him. Phone bill’s due next week too. What the hell am I going to do? I haven’t even heard back about that driver position at Jet’s Pizza. I can’t believe Hungry Howie’s fired me. You’d think somebody would’ve understood a little heartache. I hate that I still miss her this much. I know there’s all those other fish in the sea, but I don’t want anybody else! I’ve never been able to get as close to anybody like I had with X. I still don’t understand how pushing me away is supposed to be better for the both of us. And now she’s up and ran off to Austin!? What the hell is in Austin, Texas? How could you move to such a red-necked state?
Y’s inability to recognize his own shortcomings is a mental device he uses to protect himself from ever being in the wrong. He perceives himself has being a morally just man and believes that his former lover, X, has pushed him out of her life for no good reason, abandoned him, and impulsively moving to Austin, Texas. When in all actuality X’s move was anything but impulsive. She’d admired the hot arid desert climate with its mild winters; was excited about the bustling music scene, and the cities liberal politics. Over the nine months her and Y had dated she’d spoken numerous times about her desires to move somewhere southwestern. She’d even invited Y to move with her on three separate occasions. But each time she brought it up to Y he belittled her dream and shot it down from his computer screen, claiming it foolish, highlighting their economic woes, and defended the mundanity of their suburban surroundings. Y’s all consuming fear of failure—attempting to start over in a new city on the opposite side of the country—drove him away from even considering the move. He’d decided for X that it was a pipe dream and this controlling side of Y’s personality had driven a spike in their relationship. X, not letting anyone make her decisions for her, developed a budget for herself and slowly saved enough money for the move—distancing herself from Y in the process and finally severing their ties. Y attempts to drag others down with him and X wanted him to take a long look in the mirror as a single man. A look he’s truly yet to take…
She’s going to fall flat on her face down there anyway. She deserves it. She’s going to realize Texas has nothing to offer her and she’ll come right back home with her tail between her legs, and realize how stupid of an idea it was, not to mention all of the money she’ll waste in the process. —Is that really what I want? To see this person who I can’t help but care for deeply fail and go broke? I should be wishing someone I care about wellness and success. But goddamn it, I need her here with me! Never mind the cost! I want her back in this bed with our legs tied together as we slept, before the clocks were reading three in the morning. If she’d just listen to me, if she’d just come back, we could pick back up where we’d left off. Plenty of couples go through rough patches, couldn’t that be what this is? One of those bumps in the road we’ll tell our kids about one day. Hell, I’m open to those possibilities.
As the album Y began earlier begins it’s last track, Y inhales from the pipe once again. The song passes through it’s opening and reaches its somber midpoint. [You are my center when I spin away] Y exhales and the weight these words hold on him is intolerable. He’s listened to this album countless times since it’s release last summer, yet these eight words never held any deeper meaning for him until now. He can no longer ignore his lot. He is a man pushing thirty, living alone with his mother in their filthy house; he’s over weight and eats poorly, he’s penniless and couldn’t even hold a dead end job delivering pizzas; he’s ambitionless, wasting away in his dank bedroom, and his only beacon of light shinning through all of his darkness, X, has left him for good. She’s two thousand miles away and not coming back anytime soon. After bearing witness to these lyrical words of wisdom, after this moment of clarity, this epiphany, Y begins to cry. Facing his life’s position for the first time, he’s soon sobbing and crying out like a child. He hasn’t cried, let alone sobbed, in ages and wails on into the early morning.