Why do I keep coming back?

Because you love him, I remind myself. When I get to the door he's there, waiting, with a big ridiculous grin. He looks a mess, but I don't say anything.

"Hey! How are you?"

I shrug. I'm trying to seem as noncommittal as possible. "I'm OK."

He mistakes the expression and gets concerned. "Everything alright?"

"Yeah, yeah. I'm fine." I always feel guilty when I act like this. Most of the time I can't help it. I get the feeling like I'm working from behind a fence, watching myself get sad or inane or whatever the hell else I'm being. "Sorry. Don't mean to get all weird on you."

"That's OK. Come on in!" He's practically hopping from one foot to the other, dragging me down the stairs to the lounge outside his bedroom. He lives in the sort of house that has a room with the proper name 'lounge'. We collapse on the couch. We act very tired lately.

"How's your morning been?" He squeezes me a little bit, and I flinch. Just a little.

"Not too bad. I did some homework, watched some TV. You know. The usual."

"Yeah." He's already a few steps away, adjusting his stereo. "Epitaph."

"I had a dream about you."

His attention is snared. "Yeah? Tell me about it."

"I don't know. It was kind of weird." For a minute, I was making this up. Now I realize I really did have a dream about him, and bam, it all comes pouring out. "It was really sad, kinda. You broke up with me for some reason and I just sat around my house feeling really sad. Then I found out you were in the hospital, but I couldn't go see you. Like I was stuck in the house or something."

He looks thoughtful. "Wow. That's morbid."

"I know. I don't like dreams like that."

He flips the stereo off, some loud and whiny song, and turns on the TV. We curl up almost instinctively, although it feels just a little more comfortable now, for whatever reason. The Real World is on.

"I want to be on The Real World." This is him talking now.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. I don't know why. I always wanted to be displayed to the public, though. Like I didn't even have to be famous. Just appreciated. I'd kick ass on the Real World, though. I'd be the guy everybody hated, and I'd sit around being a free spirit while the rest of the cast listened to their silly pop and had stupid sex with each other. Like the symbol of the downtrodden everywhere."

"Uh huh."

"Or anything else. I'd be the president just so people would watch me. Or a game show host, or ... You know. Any of those things."

"I think I know."

"I love you."

"I love you, too." I kiss him on the cheek quickly and the commercial ends. We're quiet for awhile, watching the hip teenager-types walk to recording studios and dance clubs and probably take all manner of drugs off-scenes. They look unhappy.

Everybody looks unhappy, lately. My parents aren't happy. I'm not happy. Everything seems to be falling apart for somebody. I haven't seen a life that hasn't been marred by some damn tragedy in the last few weeks.

"It's like the Middle Ages," I say.

"What?" He's not quite on my wavelength.

"Now. Life used to be happy for so many people, and now it's not. We're regressing over hundreds of years of political accomplishment. Less people are happy every day, you know?"

He squints. "What, like in China or something?"

"Well, yeah, but everywhere. The whole point of political development, a free society, all that stuff, is that it makes as many people as free as possible. People who are free become artists and poets and generally brilliant people. People who are oppressed just lead miserable lives and eventually die. It's like more of us are oppressed all of a sudden, but we're still free. We're ruining our own lives instead of letting a tyrant do it."

He looks completely noncomprehending.

"Never mind."

"No, I want to get it, I just don't understand what you mean. Explain it again."

I laugh a little, but not in a humorous way. "I don't think that I can explain it any better than that. I haven't explained anything that well in a long time. Don't worry about it."

Now he's moping. "Just tell me again. I mean, I sort of understood what you mean, I just don't quite follow."

"Forget about it." I stand up. "I've got to go now, anyway."

That throws his mind off, anyway. "Okay." He still looks sad, but the me-leaving-him sadness has taken over from the me-confusing-him sadness. "Will you call me later? I'd still like to talk."

"Sure." For some reason, I'm relieved to have it over with. "Bye."

"Bye." He closes the door. He opens the door. "I love you."

I smile as hard as I can, blow him a kiss, get in my car and drive away. Time for hot soup and television and forgetting all my problems. It keeps getting easier to do, but I don't know why.


The complete list of how I spend my
free time includes:
hotel receipts,
cellphone minutes
notebooks with some pages torn out,
filed away, somewhere.

I have not kept track myself
nor has she asked for an explanation
they are blanks not completed
questions not asked,
silences not filled.

Either there is no curiosity or there is
too much, and therefore
no mention at all.

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