He stomps his cigarette out in the overflowing ashtray, causing a brief flurry of ash and a tumult of burned out filters to spill onto the desk. He immediately lights another.

This is how you define yourself after spending too much time in other worlds, too much time in timeless places, places that cannot change. You define yourself by what you do not do, what you will not say, the places you won't go.

Sitting in the dark, smoking cigarettes, trying to forget who you are, who you were once. Who knows now? he wonders. When did I turn into this thing, rusting out and trying to speed along the inevitable in a room filled with decaying memories of blood spilling like waterfalls and skin that's more bruise than flesh.

He blinks and his red-rimmed eyes fill with other places. Rain is all around him outside the car. It's daytime, but the clouds obscure most of the sunlight. In the semi-twilight he can make out the pier, half-collapsed into the bay that's spread out before him. In the unlight of the moment, everything is filled with life, tall wild grasses bleed with green, while the shorter ones borrow the sun the sky has lost, almost glowing in yellows and browns.

His eyes are open again and he's back in the room, windows blacked out, lightbulbs smashed, just an orange glowing ember on his cigarette for light.

He breathes deep, the glow brightening while deep red lines that stretch from his eyes down his cheeks to his chin glisten and dance in the light.


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