I was tired and confused, and I wished I didn’t have mud all over my face. After falling asleep for the entirety of Abe Lincoln’s remarks in Gettysburg, PA, I woke up annoyed. I lived a few miles down the road, but I really had no intention of attending this lousy event. I had planned to spend the day skipping rocks at the local pond to impress Suzanne (she often visited the pond, so I was pretty sure she would’ve seen me), but instead I had to “listen” to some guy talk.
My friend, well I wouldn’t really call him a friend, Roofus Topper, was the only real reason I showed up. He was all crazy about the war and thought it was just about the neatest thing he ever did see. I really didn’t care. If I don’t have to fight, then I’m not going to pay attention. But when Roofus woke me up, I was laying in the mud, and people were stepping on me as if I were some serf. Roofus started telling me about the speech. He said we were a nation under God, and today marked the birth of a new freedom. I don’t know what it means to be under God, frankly. My family practices Calvinism, but if you ask me, John Calvin was the biggest prick around. I’m supposed to believe that I am destined for Heaven because some fellow named John tells me so. I’m just not sure.
When Roofus saw Abe walking away alone, he pushed me over to run and see him. It was really a dreary day, so I was getting really angry that Roofus made me come to this event in the first place. When he ran back to me, he was holding a piece of paper in his hands. It had a tea stain on it. He kept yelling about how it was the speech Abe had just delivered, but I didn’t care. I was thinking about Suzanne.
When I finally decided to pretend to listen, he gave me the sheet of paper. It was written with a scarlet crayon, which I found off putting. My teachers always tell me to never write in red pen, and I can assure you, Crayon looks even worse. Once I got over the ludicrous color, and the pathetic attempt at cursive, I was able to read most the words. It said something about all men being equal, but based on our bathroom setup at school, I feel like somebody’s being a hypocrite. Then, he brought up the civil war, which I really wished people would just shut up about already. That’s all I hear nowadays. Civil war this, civil war that. Nobody’s taking about this bathroom situation. And nobody’s talking about the fact that our president uses Crayons. Once he started talking about dead people, I realized he gave this speech at a cemetery. That means when I fell asleep in the mud, I was probably sleeping on some fat soldier who couldn’t run away from the guns fast enough. I read a book about guns a few weeks ago, and I'm convinced we should go back to sword fighting. It was more efficient.
Abe later talks about how the world can never forget what the people did here. But I was never told what these dead people did in the first place. He talks about the unfinished work these men fought for, but honestly, I feel like Abe was just rubbing it in. If they’re already dead, you don’t have to emphasize the fact that they didn’t finish their job. He signed his name at the bottom, Abe the babe, which I found childish.
Reading this made me finally snap. I told Roofus to die in a hole, and I think he took the hint. Once he was out of sight, I started walking over to the pond. When I arrived, I started picking up the smoothest rocks I could find. I kept looking around for Suzanne, hoping she would show up and smile in my direction. She never showed. And who am I kidding, I didn’t have a shot with her. I didn’t even know how to skip rocks. I just chunk them at the pond and they fall right in. It’s like throwing a frisbee. I’ve seen other people do it, but when I throw it, it just flies way right, hitting the Johnson’s dog in the face.
I was getting ready to leave when I saw a tall, top hat approaching the pond. It was like seeing a shark fin. It gets your attention, but you only enjoy it from a distance. As it moved closer, I could make out the body underneath it. It was Abe the babe.
He stood across the pond. He smiled at me. It wasn’t a Suzanne smile, but I didn’t care about that dimwit anymore. I’d never seen a smile like this. It just warmed my heart. My heart grew three sizes like the Grinch, and I don’t even know who the Grinch is.
This smile was truly like no other. He had the most beautiful pearly whites in all the land. Toothbrushes aren’t exactly common, but this man had figured something out. They were so clean, I could see my reflection in them all the way across the pond. I could see my ugly smile staring back at me. It made me feel good. Respected. Loved.
Then I realized something.
Those teeth weren’t real.
It was all a scam. He didn’t care about cleaning his teeth. This was no honest Abe that the townspeople made him out to be. This was a man who had no respect for humanity. His smile that once warmed my heart slowly faded. He could see in my eyes that I knew the truth behind his artificial smile. He gave me a head nod, then reached his left hand into his mouth. His hands were massive. This was the first president that had been mistaken for a sasquatch. He reached in his mouth and pulled out his dentures, throwing them into the pond. It was disgusting. He started yelling at me, but he couldn’t speak because he had no teeth. He said something like, “Guary mool yuske ryisk warwar wah,” but one could say that it was more like, “Wulby haj yorfu wicker wam.” To this day, I’m still not sure which one it was. But it was evil.
Spit was flying everywhere, and his body was spazzing out of control. He threw his top hat into the pond, and then shouted “wuffer muffer!” before jumping in after it. His diving form was flawless. He was a pre-modern Greg Louganis. It got quiet for a moment. Dark clouds started to cover the sun. I stood still. Then before you could say “civil war shenanigans,” Abe Lincoln was swimming full speed ahead straight towards me. I didn’t know what to do. This had all happened so fast.
I had to trust my instincts. I threw off my shirt and my burlap sack, and I dove into the pond. I couldn’t see because the pond was disgusting due to pollution (another thing nobody’s talking about), but I kept swimming. I was going as fast as I could until my hand hit a top hat. I started wailing. Fists clenched, I started beating this man. I couldn’t stop myself. We were coming up and out of water, then back down again. I had a remarkable jab to the mouth that would have knocked some teeth out if he had any. That lying bastard. He was getting old, but he put up a good fight. He gained control of the battle when he grabbed my hair and held me underwater. I was fighting ferociously, but he was too strong. I heard a voice call out from above the water. It was Suzanne.
This girl was ready for anything. She jumped into the pond as well, but she had a sledgehammer and was wearing blue and yellow swimming goggles. She knew how to prepare. Abe got scared and started to swim away frantically, but Suzanne was too fast. She caught up to him and knocked him out with one strike. He didn’t die or anything, but he definitely wasn’t organizing any battles that night.
When I finally walked over to the bench near the pond to thank Suzanne, I looked her in the eyes for the first time. Her eyes had this gruesome yellow tinge to them. It was really unsettling. She said not to worry about it then asked me if I wanted to go on a date with her to see her friend play in a rugby game. I told her no because I had to go home to shower.
I was upset with myself, I’m not gonna lie. I had attempted to murder the president because he was a liar, but I was a liar myself. I was able to cope with it. Abe was a lying moron. But in my case, I just can’t look at yellow eyes. It’s gross.
Boy was depressed mainly because his mother and father had decided to name him “Boy.” As a seven year old child, Boy ran away from home, but he only made it to the next door neighbor's front yard. At age nine, he attempted to steal all his parents' savings, but he took all the fake money from the family's Monopoly set. He didn't get very far with that. He was not thrilled with his life, but he was often too dumb to make any changes.
After graduating from Winthrop University in South Carolina, Boy decided to ‘find himself.’ His therapist in college told him it was the right thing to do. He had spent four years at Winthrop completely wasting his time. He received his MBA in Undeclared, and he had a minor in plumbing. He never held a job, never explored internships, and had essentially zero extracurricular activities. He was often seen visiting the campus library, but he is illiterate so no one is quite sure what he was actually doing over there. He made no friends and never talked to his professors. When it comes down to it, all Boy did there was waste his time.
In order to find himself, he decided he needed to go elsewhere. Get out of South Carolina. Get away from Mother, Father, and Cousin. Cousin was Boy’s younger brother and was often a burden on the whole family. Boy decided the best place to find himself would be in Syria. Had Boy not been so illiterate, he probably would have known that Syria is not the best place to visit right now. But once Boy had an idea, he followed through. That was about his only good characteristic.
When he stepped onto Syrian lands for the first time, Boy was mesmerized. He’d never seen anything so beautiful in his entire life. He had a cute girlfriend once, but that didn’t last long.
He flew into the Aleppo International Airport, and he really did enjoy his flight. The only downside of the trip was when he pulled out the Planters Peanuts he had packed in his carry-on bag, the woman next to him swatted it out of his hands due to her apparent peanut allergy, or just plain distaste for Planters Peanuts. The last time he boarded a plane was when he was in Mother’s womb on the family trip to Italy.
Boy was not aware that the majority of people he would come across spoke only Arabic, but he was a very expressive kid, so he got by okay. The nearest Airbnb available was all the way over in Beirut, so he decided to crash with some college kids at the University of Aleppo. They couldn't understand him, but they thought he was funny looking, so they kept him around. Boy often hung out throwing the frisbee and playing bocce ball during the days. On weekends, he would go to the local pool with his new friends. He became close friends with Rasheed, who kindly let Boy sleep on his floor. They had no air mattress, but Boy found it quite comfortable.
Boy and Rasheed were competing to make the best staircase on an Etch A Sketch when Mother called. She said she wanted him to come home immediately because she read the headlines on Al Jazeera and became worried that Syria might actually be dangerous. Boy made the counterargument that nobody in South Carolina had ever wanted to play Etch A Sketch with him, but Mother was not persuaded. Boy put up a good fight while keeping his voice steady. He had a strong thesis and made all his points clear while providing evidence and a conclusion sentence for every point he made. He really did learn something in college after all. But Mother had made up her mind.
"So you can make up your mind, but you can't make your bed like I can," said Boy.
Making his bed was one activity Boy had always been exquisite at. But Mother did not appreciate this comment one bit. She told Boy she was booking him a flight home as they were speaking, but the website of the Aleppo International Airport was in Arabic, a language Mother was not well-versed in. She had intended to figure out the language, but she never did. She was taking basket weaving classes Monday through Friday while raising her youngest son, Cousin, so she was never able to spend the time she needed with Rosetta Stone.
Feeling liberated, Boy was able to clearly make the superior staircase on his Etch A Sketch. Rasheed was a competitive lad, so this grinded his gears. Rasheed told Boy he also sucked at bocce ball, but Boy didn't understand a single word. After slamming his Etch A Sketch on the ground, Rasheed told Boy he could no longer stay in his dorm room. Due to the language barrier, Boy did not receive this message well. He understood Rasheed was angry, but he figured he would patch things up when they returned to the dorm.
That evening, after supper, Boy walked over to Rasheed’s dorm. Hearing the knocking, Rasheed opened up before slamming the door in Boy’s face. Dumbfounded, Boy kept knocking. He knocked and knocked but to no avail. He sluggishly walked out of the dorm and into the streets where he continued to sulk.
What happened to Boy, nobody knows for sure, but chances are he is still sulking in Syria. The last sighting of Boy was on the front page of Al-Thawra, a Syrian newspaper. He had unknowingly been participating in a protest against Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president who Boy thought had died years ago.
You are what you eat – cannibals
Round Robin – Batman sidekick’s nickname in high school when he put on a few pounds
Cold Turkey – A wild turkey who stumbles out of his home into the night, forgetting to put on a fleece
Close, but no cigar – When you vape, thinking it will be as cool as smoking a cigar, but it just isn’t quite there
Double Cross – Jesus in another dimension
All things must pass – a stance on immigration
A dog is a man’s best friend – someone who has no friends
“If he doesn’t choke to death right here right now, I’m gonna kill him myself.” This is what my friend Charlie said as Mr. Shrewer choked on a fried brussels sprout. But before I resolve this, I must give some back story.
If you didn’t know Jeremy Shrewer, you should be thankful. Shrewer was the most distinguished poet of his time, and he knew it. He let everybody know it. Walking down the streets of London, he would shout things like “I’m a poet and I know it” or “I’m a poet and my sister is dead.” He often wrote about his dead sister.
Shrewer once said in an interview with Ira Glass that “poems don’t have to rhyme.” What a pretentious poet thing to say. He acted like he was deep and knowledgeable, but he really didn’t know much at all. In an interview with David Letterman, Shrewer stated, “All my poems reveal a secretive truth about the world. They all have an underlying message.” Again, he talks as if he knows what he is talking about, but if you ignore his Nobel Peace Prizes and his Pulitzer Prizes, you’d realize he really is an idiot. He wrote one poem that went like this:
A dog waits for his food.
A man refuses to give him food.
The dog barks. He is mad.
Never be forgetful.
Maya Angelou said this was the most powerful poem she had ever read, but I’m pretty sure she was high when she said that.
Anyway, Shrewer spent his days writing in the mountains. He eventually relocated to Geneva, but I have been told that was only because he wanted to go straight to the source of Evian water.
My friend Charlie and I were meeting up for a quick lunch break. We always had the same lunch break on Wednesdays, so it became our thing. Charlie suggested we meet at Chez Marino because he told me, “Oh, Alfonso. The casual Italian dining room is to die for. Just wait until you see the terrace.” Sometimes Charlie made me wish I had other friends. But I met him still, and I stood outside waiting for him. As I waited, my mind was blown. The great Jeremy Shrewer passed by me and entered the restaurant. I’m pretty sure he mumbled something like “A poem a day keeps the doctor away,” but I can’t say for sure. And the fat liar clearly doesn’t write all day if he takes lunch breaks in casual Italian dining rooms.
Soon after, Charlie showed up. He was too excited about the terrace, he wasn’t even listening to what I was saying, but that all stopped when he saw Shrewer’s calves. “I’d recognize those droopy calves a mile away,” he said. He was a bad friend, but he had excellent vision.
We were seated at a table adjacent to Shrewer. Captivated by the man before us, we had lost our appetite and told the waiter to stop bothering us. We were fixed on the man. The legend. The pathetic poet. We eavesdropped carefully as he ordered a margherita pizza like we knew he would. He’s written hundreds of poems about margherita pizzas. His most famous was a haiku.
I like my pizza
Warm and fuzzy, oh yes
The pizza is mine
This one had nothing to do with the Margherita itself, but it was entitled “Ode to Margherita Pizzas.”
As Shrewer anxiously awaited his pizza, a waiter brought out some fried brussels sprouts. This was some depressing Italian dining. I expect some warm bread and oil, not fried brussels sprouts. But Shrewer ate his sprouts, and he chewed like an animal. He’s a poet, so he’s not the most coordinated person. He missed the sprout a couple times and bit his lip instead. This caused him to let out some winces of pain. As he got to the final sprout, he plopped that ball into his mouth so fast, it went straight down his esophagus. Finally, some action. He seized up and grabbed the edge of the table hard with his right hand. His veins were popping out of his forearm, but I could tell he didn’t go to the gym very often. His rapid breathing through his nose caused an annoying whistle sound, but otherwise he wasn’t able to make much noise. All of a sudden, he stood up. Mouth hanging open, he continued to nose whistle. It was almost to the tune of “Piano Man” except that the pitch was off, and it sounded more like a hippopotamus taking a bath. As he stood there, choking, his eyes were bulging, trying to find something or someone to put an end to his pain. Charlie and I sat there and watched. Shrewer wasn’t looking his best.
Charlie became impatient and told me he was going to put a quick end to this mess, but a waiter burst into the scene. Except the waiter didn’t notice the scene at all. He just adjusted the position of chairs and put some forks on a couple tables. Meanwhile Shrewer was getting purple in the face, like a plumb or a really rotten tomato. He started doing squats, and with the combination of his nose whistle it looked like a bizarre mating call. Drool slowly spilled out of his mouth like honey falls out of a jar. Flying through the air, Shrewer jumped onto the table. This got the clueless waiter’s attention. But instead of running over to do CPR, the waiter ran off to call the police because Shrewer looked like a madman causing a disturbance. The truth is he was a madman causing a disturbance. I wanted to enjoy a nice Italian lunch, not watch a madman choke on a table.
When the door to the kitchen opened again, three policemen stormed in. One was short and stubby, the second was blond like a surfer, and the third looked like Robert Frost. Shrewer had slipped and fallen hard onto the table, his head crushing a glass. He lay there with some blood on his head, still wheezing, trying to rid the brussels sprout. Stubby handcuffed him as Surfer lifted Shrewer off the table to take him away. Robert Frost spat on the ground then followed his coworkers out of the fine Italian dining room.
Shrewer died that day. There were no more poems about Margherita Pizzas, and no more poems about Evian water. And as much as I’m thankful for that day, I wish Charlie was dead too.
“I love you.”
Abigail stared at me for too many seconds.
“I love you.”
She didn’t mean that.
“You don’t mean that.”
“I do. I just wasn’t expecting it.”
I sat down, and I looked down. Everything about me felt down.
“Reve, I just don’t know how I feel.”
I looked up, but I still felt down.
“I fall in love too easily. And I don’t want it to happen again."
“You don’t want to fall in love with me.”
Abigail moved her eyebrows around in a way I didn’t like.
“I don’t like that word.”
She nodded her head, and I looked back down. She kept talking.
“I love pancakes, I love my life, I love this weather, I love my shoes, I love The Sun Also Rises, I love kissing you, and I love you. I say that stupid word all the time, and it doesn’t mean anything anymore.”
“I know it doesn’t mean anything, but I still feel it.” Not the smartest thing I could have said.
“How do you know you feel it then?”
My head was still down. I wanted to sink into the floor and be sunken away forever. But I am also an optimist, so I was still hopeful this conversation would go somewhere that I wanted it to go.
“I don’t think love is special –
“Can we stop saying that word?”
I looked up. And I looked into her eyes. People often romanticize eyes, but they’re just eyes. I did like her eyes, though.
“I care about you more than anything. Is that not love?”
Abigail wasn’t looking down or up. She was pacing around with a stern look.
“How would you define love?”
Before I could answer, she continued.
“Love doesn’t mean anything until it does.”
I must have looked confused. She went on.
“When my dad had a heart attack, I had a panic attack, and I thought I had lost him. And I was depressed because I never told him I loved him. And now I tell him ‘I love you’ every time I see him because now it means something. It doesn’t mean anything until it does. I always cared for him and felt the same as I do now, but there was no point in saying the phrase. And now there is. But I don’t tell my mom the phrase. And I feel guilty about that sometimes, but that’s the way it is.”
She took a deep breath then continued speaking.
“I don’t think I’ll ever tell the person I marry that I love them. If something happens like a heart attack, then maybe I will. Or maybe something I can’t even fathom will happen, and I will say it all the time. But for the most part, it’s a meaningless phrase.”
She paused and stood still.
“You told me love was joy.”
I was watching her eyes, so it was difficult for me to listen at the same time.
“Do you remember that? Do you remember saying that to me?”
"Well if love is joy, what’s joy?”
I squinted my eyes and watched her feet walk around the fuzzy carpet. It felt good to walk on that carpet.
I don’t think anybody knows what joy really is, but I spend some time almost every day thinking about it. This is why I despise the English language sometimes. You can’t describe anything. You can’t understand anything. Nothing really means what you want it to mean. And you can’t articulate what you want to say because everyone feels the same way. I like speaking Spanish because they have words for everything. Like the word sobremesa. It’s the word that means the conversation you have after you finish dinner, and are still seated at the table, talking. That’s a real word. That saves time. That makes sense.
But I thought a lot about what joy means, so I felt I might as well say something.
“It’s something more.”
“Something more than what, Reve? Something more than what exactly? More than happiness? More than fun?” She always has a specific intention when she raises her voice.
“Well it lasts longer than happiness. And it lasts longer than fun.”
“So it’s permanent. That’s what you’re saying. Joy is permanent. So love is permanent. So you and I are going to get married and have kids and will always be in love. That’s what you’re saying.”
“I hope so.”
Her jaw dropped, but she wasn’t amazed or anything like that. More dumbfounded than anything.
“I hope so? That’s about the worst answer you could come up with.”
I feel the need to say that we might sound drunk, but we were both sober. Abigail has never even had a sip of alcohol. But I lie about things, so she may have lied to me as well.
“Joy is laughter,” I said. Another incredibly broad, meaningless statement. “Joy is the feeling you have when you smile for no reason. It’s the feeling I get when I sit alone at home during winter, and I stare at my Christmas tree. I sit on the floor alone and stare at the tree for hours. And I smile. And it shows on my face, and I feel it in my bones. It’s also the feeling I get when I run in the street. A rush of joy comes over me when I realize how incredible it is to be alive. So I run in the street and yell, maybe sing, and I feel joy. And it’s also the feeling I get when I’m with you. When I see you smile, I have joy. But it’s weird because when I see you cry, I have the same feeling, but it doesn’t show on my face. I just hold you tight and we cry together. That’s joy.”
Abigail stopped pacing as she listened to all this. She really did listen. She came and sat down next to me, but not too close. When she started to speak, her voice sounded different. She was trying to whisper but was not successful. It just made her sound nervous.
“But does it go away?”
I didn’t speak for a few seconds, but I wasn’t thinking about anything at all.
“And yet you yelled at me yesterday morning. And you punched a hole in the wall a couple months ago because you were so mad at me for no good reason. And last Tuesday you didn’t even speak to me, and you never told me why. So how can you say you have joy?”
“I blocked it out.”
“You blocked it out.”
“Yes. I have it. Everyone has joy, which we can agree now is a synonym for love, yes?”
When we first started going out I thought “sure” was a negative word, but she taught me that it really just means yes. I still don’t believe her sometimes.
“Okay. So everyone is born with love and joy, and you can always have it and give it, but sometimes it’s really hard to do that.“
"But why is it hard?”
I didn’t have an answer. But she did, so she continued talking.
“I think it’s difficult because people want to be sad. I’d go as far to say that people seek out being depressed. I don’t even think it’s an attention thing, but that might be part of it. Just think about all the people you know who say things like ‘man, I’m gonna kill myself.’ I don’t even care that it might be insensitive. I’m not offended. Say whatever you want. But that sort of thing doesn’t make sense to me. People enjoy feeling bad. People want to be near death, they want to curl up in a ball and cry, and they want people to know about it. They want the world to know how sad their life is. But people aren’t special. I hate when people think they’re special. I hate it. When people think they’re special, they isolate themselves and live in their head and feel superior but also feel miserable, and it’s this whole cycle that doesn’t make any sense. Everybody has terrible stuff happen to them, everybody has strange thoughts, and everybody has emotions. And sure, I think you’re right, everybody has love and joy, and people just don’t want to use it. They’re afraid because of their past or because of a lack of trust or something beyond my knowledge.”
Her knowledge is vast.
“I don’t care,” she continued. I really just don’t care.”
“You do care.”
“How do you know.”
“Because you think about it.”
“I don’t care about everything I think about.”
“Really? What are the things you think about the most?”
She shifted her position. She bent her knees and put her shirt over her knees and legs like little kids do sometimes.
“I think about food pretty constantly. I think about you a lot. I think about sex. I think about my future, like, stressing about what I have to do for the day…I think about Jamie.”
“And you care about everything you just said. All of that is meaningful to you in some way or another.”
She rocked back and forth.
“I suppose so.”
Both of us looked down at the fuzzy carpet. It needed to be vacuumed, but it wasn’t gross.
We stayed quiet until Abigail spoke again.
“I don’t love Jamie.”
I looked up at Abigail looking down at the fuzzy carpet. I couldn’t think of something to say, so I didn’t say anything.
“But I don’t love you either.”
For some reason this didn’t make me mad or sad.
“I know. Even though I don’t know what it means.”
“I don’t think it matters. But I do think there’s some truth to what you said about always having love. I think it also applies to loving people. I think there’s one person you meet in your life who you truly love. And maybe you marry the person or don’t speak too much to them, and either way maybe you don’t realize it, but it’s there and it’s there with that one person.”
“That’s a pretty dumb thing to say.”
I knew she wouldn’t like hearing me say that, but she always listens, so I continued.
“Love is a choice. You can love multiple people, and love fades away sometimes, and that’s just that. But don’t tell me everybody has one person. You know that’s ridiculous. You know love is a choice.”
“Love is a choice, sure. But I don’t want to choose you just like I didn’t want to choose Jamie. I’m going to choose the one person who I truly love.”
"How will you find that guy? How do you know I’m not that guy? How do you know it’s not Jamie?"
She pulled her legs out of her shirt and stood up. She swung her hair in my face, but she didn’t mean to.
“The guy will bring me joy.” She looked at me when she said this, which I didn’t particularly like.
“Do I not bring you joy?”
“You have it, you just don’t give it.”
I wish I spoke better Spanish. I want to move to Spain. I want to live in Madrid and live in one of those beautiful houses that look like a castle. And I want to be retired and just paint. I want to paint all day, and explore the world all night. And joy will always be rushing over me and inside me and I’d be spreading it around to all the lovely people I meet. I wouldn’t have a bad day. On the last Tuesday of December, I’d walk out of my beautiful home at night to start my usual exploration. And as I’d walk past La Rosaleda, I’d see a pretty girl, painting. And I’d know she was special because I am a painter and saw that she painted, but she didn’t know I painted so she wouldn’t realize anything yet. Then I’d tap her on the left shoulder because the right side of my face is my good side, and I’d say, “Eres mi persona especial a quien amo.” And she’d have the prettiest eyes in the world and they would glimmer with the reflection of the water and she’d say, “Ya lo sé.”
You can’t run away from your problems, but you can try.
I knew this before I did it. I always knew this. But when you feel you’ve had enough, there’s nothing that can override that feeling. Some people say certain feelings of love can override it. Or maybe even some extreme feelings of hunger. But I don’t like those people.
Sunday night was one of the worst nights of my life. When I returned home that night, I went to my room to write down all of my problems. I opened my desk drawer and took out a yellow legal pad. I grabbed my blue uni-ball pen. It is advertised as the pen that doesn’t smudge. It smudges. I started writing furiously. I don’t know if the writing was fueled by anger, sadness, or something else, but I was writing faster than ever. I wrote about my compulsive lying, my control issues, and my anxieties I have about my wife. I wrote about my OCD and the things I can’t do anymore because of it. I wrote down many other problems, but I don’t want to mention those.
I wrote pages and pages until I felt I should go to sleep. But when I closed my eyes in bed, nothing changed. I was still writing my problems in my head. So I got back out of bed and started writing again. My mind was racing, and my heart was pounding. I was thinking about everything, but I couldn’t think at all. My mind went places I didn’t think it could go. I started hating people I love and loving people I hate.
I was scared, yet I wasn’t able to think why I was scared. I felt bad. That’s all I knew for sure, and I believed that it would be nice if someone stabbed me right now – THAT would override this pain. Because I didn’t think love was going to come save me out of nowhere. I had no appetite.
My thoughts continued, but the fear dwindled away. The sun was soon to rise, so I needed to start my day. I ran out of the house in a hurried manner, and I didn’t close the door. I just ran.
I picked up the pace. I ran through my neighborhood, past the oak trees, out into the street. I ran to the highway, and I started to feel the heat. I thought physical exhaustion would kill off my thoughts, but I was brutally mistaken. They just became more extreme. I didn’t feel my feet pounding on the pavement, but I felt my thoughts pounding my brain. I thought about my past feelings of love and hunger. I doubted it all. I started to believe I never had those feelings. I was never in love, I thought. And I never really felt true hunger.
It wasn’t a good feeling. I had lost the belief of my own memories. I didn’t take them seriously. Not only that, but I didn’t think they happened. I knew they didn’t happen. I knew I was never loved. I knew I was never hungry.
Still, certain memories flashed through my head. I thought about Oakley, and I thought about Chloe. I thought about Adriana. I thought about some others. It was all my imagination. That’s a sad thought to have, especially when you’re sprinting down a highway.
I think several cars almost hit me. A bright yellow truck hit me ever so slightly. The bumper hit my bum, but it really just nudged me forward. It was a push that told me to go faster. It’s one of those metaphors.
I ran down the broken white line that divides the lanes on the highway. But my OCD was no longer in control. It didn’t impede me from running all out. Neither did my thoughts. They both picked up the pace.
My body was pulled toward the green rectangle that said Travis Street Exit. I ran down the exit ramp, accelerating even more. I probably looked like a professional runner at this point. A good look for me, I think.
As I took the first left turn after coming down the ramp, I collided into a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. What a stupid car. A 185-hp 2.4L 4-cylinder engine. People should care less about cars.
I lay on the street. I didn’t writhe in pain. I didn’t writhe in anything actually. I just lay there.
My eyes were closed, but I knew I wasn’t dead. I knew I wasn’t dying. I had thought that I had been dying for the past twelve hours, and somehow this was the solution that found me.
I don’t know what that means. I don’t know what any of this means. But it felt good. It felt good to get knocked to the ground by a stupid car. I wish I had known that earlier. Then I could’ve gotten a good night sleep for once. No more anxiety, no more stress. Just run from your problems til you get hit by a car. Then, you’ll be okay.
The guy who hit me offered to get me a ride home. I said I was fine walking. As I walked home, I thought I was in some kind of space movie. I laughed hysterically the whole way. I felt like I should be crying but no tears ever came out. I would look around and breathe heavily and then burst out laughing again. People were looking at me, and that just made me laugh even harder. It was the kind of laugh when something tells your body something is funny. But the brain doesn’t get the message of what it is that’s funny. So you laugh uncontrollably, but you can’t figure out why. And the confusion just makes you laugh more because it’s so funny that you think you’re laughing for no reason.
I wanted to share the feelings I experienced running down the highway. But there was no one to share them with. I knew that. Because you are always alone.
I think everyone can come to terms with their anxieties, but you will always be fucking alone. No one can enter your head. No one will ever fully know you or understand you. It’s impossible to truly get to know somebody. I don’t like that. But instead of closing myself off even more, maybe I should share my thoughts. Maybe I should allow people to know parts of me. Or maybe I should get hit by another car.
I don’t think anyone has ever loved me. I think if someone did love me, it would be for the wrong reasons. But I’m also not sure that there are any right reasons to love someone. So I don’t have love. But I am starving.
Jehovah’s witness was a disaster of a person. She was actually one of the worst witnesses the court has ever seen. Her name was Sarah. And wow, she was a dumbass.
She walked into the courtroom with a smug look on her face as if she were thinking, “Man, this place smells worse than limburger cheese.” She sat down in the witness box. A man in the jury box sneezed.
“Bless you,” Sarah said.
“Screw you, Sarah,” said the man. This was personal. They clearly shared some kind of past.
The lawyer got up from the counsel table and stood near Sarah.
“Where were you on the night of September 25th?”
“I was at the dentist.”
“We all know that dentist offices are not open during evening hours.”
“I wasn’t in his office. I was at his place, and he was just about to put his-“
“Hey! Okay. Okay. Um. Thank you.”
So the lawyer was not very good. He was really like a part time lawyer. Trials were more of a hobby. But everyone still blames Sarah for the case, mainly because she just looked annoying. She looked like the kind of person who would hang her own paintings on her wall. She looked like the kind of person who would never double knot her shoes and then act surprised when she tripped. She also looked a little like Barbra Streisand.
Things began to get weird during cross examination, when a young man named Krystof was questioned. He was asked how he knew Jehovah. He explained that the two of them were childhood friends, and they had lost touch after the sixth grade. When asked if there was a reason for them losing touch, he replied, “no.” But he sat there for a moment and then said, “well, yes.” He went on to explain that in the sixth grade, during sixth period, his sixth sense was acting up, and he developed a feeling that his friend Jehovah would become a murderer. The people in the jury looked irritated. The judge looked like he wanted to kill himself. But that’s another story.
Krystof explained that he first became suspicious of Jehovah in the lunch line. He told the jury that Jehovah would always sniff the person in front of him and smile. “Just like a murderer,” he said. The jury was confused. But then Krystof told a peculiar story. He told the jury about the time he went with Jehovah to the dentist. They got their teeth cleaned and flossed, and painfully scraped with stabbing, metal instruments. But then the dentist asked Krystof a question. He asked him how often he flossed. “Not a ton,” was his response. A vague, but probably honest answer. But when the dentist asked Jehovah the same question, Jehovah didn’t flinch. Jehovah looked the dentist directly in the eyes. “Every damn day. Twice a day.” Jehovah said this, grabbed the weird tube thing that sucks up water, and took one last suck. He threw down the sucker and walked out of the building.
Twice a day. Every damn day. What a statement. What an absurd, horrible statement. “It’s something only a murderer could say,” Krystof told the judge.
Sarah, Jehovah’s witness, was asked to come back to the witness box to be questioned one more time. She was asked simple questions at first. But when it turned to dentistry, things went off the rails. When asked how often she flossed, she told the court that she flossed every day. When reminded she was under oath she replied, “I know. I floss twice a day.” The audacity. The temerity. What a scoundrel. I bet even dentists only floss twice a week.
The man who sneezed earlier stood up. “She’s telling the truth!” he yelled.
Who is this guy?
It doesn’t matter. The judge had heard enough. And because everyone was completely dumbfounded how this witness had just admitted to flossing twice a day, they had completely forgotten that Jehovah had done the same. The judge slammed his mallet on the hardwood desk and announced that the ruling was not guilty. Jehovah was let off the hook, and Sarah was in the newspaper the next day. But Jehovah is definitely a murderer. And honestly, Sarah might be too.
Jehovah apparently left the court room as a free man and went to celebrate Easter with his family. I personally don’t care. I’m just here to describe the events that unfolded. And I don’t celebrate Easter. Because I am a Jehovah’s Witness.