Semi-autobiographical story about a mind, a body, and high school.
No, I’m not a very attractive man. I think I’m ugly. No, not ugly, maybe about average. I would consider myself really, really repulsively ugly, but then I look around at the guys around me and I see that every one of them looks like me. All of them. Identical. Odd that I turn on the television and I see guys that look so incredibly better than me. I certainly don’t see them around here, around me. So I must be average. If I wasn’t, I’d be in that television and people would be looking at me and they’d be thinking I’m the good looking one. I guess I’m average.
I stopped looking at the rear-view mirror. It really pisses me off that they put that there sometimes. All I ever see is people looking at themselves in it. I swear to God I’ve never seen a man or woman actually look at cars behind them with it. Always adjusting their glasses or their hair, and then if they catch you watching them do this they stare at you like you just saw them naked and get pissed off. Public decency is definitely in the eye of the beholder. You’d know this if you’ve ever been in public.And then I caught myself looking in the mirror again and it pissed me off that I would do something that I hate other people for doing. I hate being hypocritical. I think that’s how all morality started. Some guy finally figured out that it wasn’t okay to hate someone for doing the exact same thing he was doing. But we all keep doing it. There’s something inside of us, instinct maybe, that demands we do things ourselves that we hate other people for doing. If there is a God, he’s laughing his ass off right now.I pressed my foot (I always had skinny feet, I don’t know why) to the brake, feeling it give just a little, and I could hear my tires rolling slower and slower because my window was rolled down, and finally my car stops, me in it, under a crimson light. But I didn’t stop. A part of me, myself, in the car, kept going, kept rolling. Not accelerating, not braking, just kept going. I watched the ghost of myself spread from my body, leaving a white trail like a woman’s hair floating in water, and it left me, my body, myself, and the car too had a ghost, and I watched myself enter the intersection without looking either way and without accelerating and without braking and just rolling. One car barely missed me and swerved and screeched and honked, hearing that horn coming and going just as fast and then the next car slams into me, my car, myself in the ghost car, my ghost in the car, and every car accident I’ve ever seen, in film or otherwise, comes to life, and I’m in it. The yelp of the rubber on the pavement trying to hold down so hard but being pulled away, always pulled away, the momentum of everything pushing it forward and pushing me forward into it and that instant metal crush. I always picture a shard of glass stabbing my neck when I do this, and I always hear that thud, that muted slap you hear like when you throw a sharp stick into a barely-wet ground. And I am the ground, the Earth, and the jagged, bladed, sharp edges of glass slice into my neck and stay there, quivering like the stick. Blood is everywhere and my face slams against something, it varies, and the other driver is perfectly fine and sitting there checking himself for injuries while my entire body quivers like the stick because every bone is broken and I’m crushed and blood is everywhere and I can feel pain and pain and pain pain pain and then nothing because my spinal cord finally severs and then I’m gone, lost, floating in blood, floating under the streetlights, floating in myself, what used to be myself, and every part of me is broken but my mind isn’t; it’s swimming in something, something hot and warm and maybe too warm but then there’s nothing. Nothing this time, not even black, not even white, not even hot or warm or cold or chilled but nothing because I am dead, gone, while the driver of the other car gets out and waves his arms and is probably saying something that would be really comical in any other context.The light turns green and I switch my foot from one pedal to the other, pressing down, feeling it give a little, and my car starts rolling again, as if someone played twenty seconds ago in reverse and flipped the film. I don’t even look at anything but the end of the intersection, the two white lines. I pass them, pass over them, through them, and I can almost feel them breaking, like they were tape at the end of a marathon or something. I kept thinking. There’s a funeral for me that occurs (I usually skip the part where they have to drag my busted, bleeding carcass out of my car and clean it because that part is boring because all the people involved with that are used to that kind of thing so there wouldn’t be any real reaction and it would be monotonous for them so I skip that part) and it’s somewhere in some big, cavernous room, maybe a church but I’m not religious, and you can hear everyone talk because of the echo. This is where I don’t like my little dream, it’s as if my mind makes it too real. There’s a lot of crying and I think about my family and friends and all that crying and tears and it just...I just don’t want to leave them to that. I don’t want to be the cause of that. I figure I gotta survive at least fifty more years until everyone forgets about me and then no one will care that I die. That must feel pretty good, to know you can die and no one will be sorry or cry. To make a mark on everything and everyone but let yourself fade out of the picture. That’s when I know I can die. Plus I don’t want to die now because that would mean that my parents would be looking through my room and find all my porn and stuff, and that’s something I really don’t want to put them through, so I figure I gotta live about fifty more years. That’s what I’m aiming for.My car’s headlights beam white in front of me, on the road, the reflections of all the signs, the little yellow dots, the red dots, the white dots, streaking slightly. All the cars have faces, two big eyes that stare, through me, through everything. The parked cars on the block line up, the faces dark, passive, but after I turn the steering while and the light flashes on them, their faces momentarily ignite, a flicker in those big eyes that stare, as if they follow me, a hall of mirrors unending. I hate it.Anyway, I get to my house and pull into the driveway and park, and as the truck comes to rest I just kind of lean my head back against the seat and sit there. I don’t know why I always do that. I guess it’s because all of my thoughts while I’m driving are pulled out, flowing out, pooled around me, and when I stop they all center and start draining back into my mind again. When I blink, I leave my eyes closed for a long time, as if all the light is just too much and I just have to keep it out so my eyelids are closed for a long time. In my mind I can feel myself sort of collecting, but all the same I feel shattered and grim and small.When I step out of the car and close the door all the sounds of Sunday night come to me, like they were searching for me this whole time and now that they finally found me they make me hear them. On these kinds of days it’s like I can hear for miles and every insect and dog and blowing wind makes a sound that I hear and my footsteps mix in it like a constant beat on a taut drum. On these kinds of days when I walk I feel my clothes touch my skin, like I’m wandering through tall grass and the leaves brush on my thighs and forearms and neck while I’m naked, just stepping forward and forward.I reach my door and turn the knob and step forward inside and close the door behind me, and I turn and see myself in the mirror. I hate that mirror. My mom put it right next to the door, so I can see how miserable I am before I leave and how miserable I am when I come back. I hate that mirror.My father is there, in the living room, watching something. He’s always watching something. My father isn’t the kind of person that talks. I don’t recall him ever saying anything to me in my whole life. He just sits around, smoking, a cloud around his face and eyes. I don’t think I’ve seen his face without that fog. Maybe I don’t want to.“Hi father.”He doesn’t answer, and it’s not like I expected him to anyway. I don’t know why I even bother saying anything when I come home. Maybe I have some hope that he’ll give a reply or something. Maybe if I can invent some kind of radio or something that can penetrate that atmosphere around him. Wouldn’t that be the day, when pigs fly. But isn’t it funny that we can put pigs on airplanes? Just as good, they are in the sky. But maybe not, they aren’t even doing it themselves, they’re just along for the ride. Maybe with window seats.I go down the hall to my room and lie down on my bed. My walls are white as a wedding dress. I can hear my mom stepping down the hall. She of course just opens my door and steps in like it was never closed in the first place. I don’t know why she insists on doing that. Why do I even have a door if she can just open it whenever she wants? I always think about putting on some kinda lock, ya know, but I figure I’ll end up locking it and leaving it locked and I’m inside.“Hello, Homer! How are you? What was your day like?”My mom named me Homer. I have no idea why the hell she did that. She also had the stupid habit of asking more questions before I could even answer the first one.“Fine.”I of course at this point in my life have mastered the craft of answering with that word. I can write a poem with that one word.“Well that’s good. Ready for school?” She asks me that every Sunday night, like I could possibly forget that school was tomorrow.“Yes.”“Good. Good night my baby.” She tried to blow me a kiss or something, but I wasn’t looking. I never do. She stepped out and closed the door behind her. I don’t know why I don’t pay attention to her. I don’t really know why I’m not happy to talk to her. It’s not a sex thing, I don’t care that she’s a “girl” and I’m a “guy.” Something inside of me just…it drains, it wears down to nothing when she speaks to me. I can’t stand it and I’m so sorry for it. I love my mother, very much, it’s true. I’d never do anything to hurt her, and she’s always the one I see crying when I think of my funeral. But, yet, yes, I do hurt her. I probably break her heart every time I say those four letters, “fine.” I’m so sorry, Mom. I can’t picture life without you, yet every time you try to enter my life I throw you out, I push and shove you out, I yell you out, I ignore you out, I sneer you out, I joke you out, I’m so sorry. I don’t want to think about it anymore. I open my eyes.My room is dark with shadows from the blinds, half-closed, all the furniture throwing black stains on my white walls, and all the trees in the yard blowing and shaking their own shadows like they were trying to strangle each other all night. There is no moonlight, only the floodlight of my neighbor, that illuminates the entire street all night long with that obnoxious yellow light, and it causes these shadows and at the same time still finds a way to slip into my room and paint my walls in that yellow color and never let up until sunrise. The only thing I ever do in my room is just lie on my bed and stare at the same spot on my ceiling, nothing there, but it’s like the sky in a way, that it’s nothing but at the same time it’s always there and it’s everything, it’s like I can steal the sky and take it with me when I look at my ceiling. I think of tomorrow, about going to school. Going there and staying there and listening and not listening and writing and not writing and just trying to get by without paying any attention. That’s what everyone does at my age, like we’re drifters or something, and we try to get to where we want to go on as few rides as possible. I leave my eyes open until I fall asleep, watching the ceiling, still white, seeing my thoughts play out on it and seeing what’s in my head come out one at a time like some kind of strip show or something, taking off all their clothes and letting me see them naked, and their form, and I can understand them that way. Somehow here, I can see it, I can see what I understand and I can begin to progress y’know, like all my thoughts are on some carousel and just spinning and blinking and rising and falling and my entire life is spent just trying to lasso them, and here, here in my room, in solitude, in my white ceiling, I can begin to piece together my life, myself. I figure I still have a long way to go, y’know, but I’m moving forward. And you know how you can see stuff in the clouds, I can see everything and anything I want on that white ceiling of mine. It’s the best thing I own.