I told her I didn’t give a fuck. She laughed and said that she also didn’t give a fuck. I ordered another bottle of wine and she ordered clean glasses. After a while we got drunk.
In August, the sun had begun to dim. No one knew why or how. Scientists claimed that it had something to do with the sun running out of mass, but of course this was all pure conjecture. News anchors talked about the end of the world, and the time it would have to take for the sun to go out, as if it would switch off, like a lamp. They said eight minutes, after that we would be relegated to darkness and death. I watched an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson where he described that first the plants would die, then the animals, the atmosphere would cool as the oceans absorbed any latent energy, and then finally we too would die, all before we lost orbit. For the most part, however, we did not notice the end of the world. Most people found it easier to simply ignore the slight shifts in micro climate by finding religion, layered clothing, or alcohol. Neil deGrasse Tyson found a rope.
I wrote a story in the first week about a dream I had. Black lions in Venezuela going extinct through contact with the moon. I asked Jannet if she wanted to come over and read it. She asked that I send it to her and she would return an annotated copy. I received the copy in the third week and found her comments useful though somewhat vague, as if she had just skimmed the piece. She later called to apologise, saying she had been busy. I said it was fine and that it was my birthday next week. She said she would come.
I spent most of September worrying about women.
I spent most of that second week walking and thinking amongst the unnaturally bare trees. They reminded me of the venous structures in kidneys, squished and striped of flesh, like the diagrams in anatomy books. Their leaves had shed early and collected in piles of variegated brown, red, yellow and green. I tried to think back to the afternoon in July but
my mind kept wandering through the other sexual encounters in my life. I realised that I had been intoxicated for most of them. I wondered if that was why most of them had yielded in nothing more than shame. That somehow, I had been party to some heinous act of coercion or duplicity that seemed to, in the depth of my alcohol suppressed memories, be just as in league, just as culpable as those whom were now so reviled, and I knew it. I was Cosby, Weinstein. Jannet: she must hate me.
I called Jannet, but she didn’t answer. I messaged her to say that I missed birdsong, but she didn’t respond. I wondered if I had somehow offended her. I felt like I should apologise, but didn’t know for what.
I spent the third week of September in bed, trying to escape my thoughts.
Jannet called in the fourth week but I missed it. I did not call back. I think I was afraid.
I found a job cleaning shopping centre toilets during the first week of October. It was easy. No one came, so there was nothing to clean. My manager was a middle-aged woman who, despite her persistent smile, had sad eyes. She would stay late, as we locked up, and talk about nothing in particular. She talked too fast and too loud. For the most part I just listened. I had nothing much to say.
While in the second week, I took three days of sick leave. I told my manager that I was quite ill, so ill in fact, that I could only now, on the third day of absence, call to alert her of my illness. She said that was fine and that I could take all the time I needed. In reality, I had simply fallen asleep on the first day, and failed to wake until the morning of the third day. After calling her I smoked half a pack of cigarettes and went to the doctor for a medical certificate. I was prescribed two different antibiotics, a steroid inhaler and painkillers.
In the afternoon, I decided that I might have a walk in the forest but ultimately decided against it. The forest had begun to fill with heaps of people silently walking. Sometimes they
lay down and did not get up. I did not want my small vacation to be sad. I did not want to see dead bodies.
I got a new colleague in November. He was a bit older than me but looked younger. He thought he was a funny guy, but only really ever described scenes from old TV shows in lieu of jokes. It was around then I started to listen to podcast while working. They were interesting and surreal.
My colleague was an incessant smoker. It seemed he was paid to smoke and complain about the amount of work. He would take his smoke breaks, and then seem to appear whenever I took mine despite my attempts to actively avoid him.
One break he asked what I listened to. I told him podcasts. I asked him what he listened to. He said Game of Thrones.
‘Like the audiobooks?’
‘Nah, season one.’
‘The TV show?’
‘Yeah, it’s awesome, though it’s shit how I miss all the tits cos I can’t see.” He laughed. I crushed out my cigarette and returned to work.
I quit my job on the last week of November. My colleague asked me if I wanted to take an early break because he had something to tell me. I said I didn’t. He offered me cigarettes. I complied. Outside he pulled out his pack and lit me up as he told me about how amazing he felt. He said he had just slept with the most beautiful girl in his entire life.
‘It’s amazing, like, all I did was stay sober and keep buying her drinks. It was so easy. Seriously man, you have to try it, but it’s kinda expensive cos you have to also buy her friends drinks otherwise you look like a creep. ‘
He told me that after the club they had gone back to her place. ‘Bang. Bang. Bang’
He looked at me. I said nothing and ashed on the floor.
‘And you know what the best thing was? She said I had a huge cock. Like, when I stuck it in she was all like slow down it hurts a bit, and I was like damn, I’m not that big. Fuck man, best night of my life.’
I finished my cigarette, and called him a cunt. He laughed. ‘You’re just jealous.’
I wrote my resignation letter on a napkin.
My manager simply said,
‘You just do what’s right for you.’ After that I left.
A friend invited me to a party on the 15th of December called: Last Rave on Earth. I considered not going, citing my recent unemployment as reason, but his enthusiasm
compelled me. I lost him within the first twenty minutes of the party and spent the rest of the night in the smoker’s area talking to a couple.
They gave me ecstasy and I asked what it was like to be in transition. She said it was amazing, just like going through second puberty and that it was fucked. She told me to touch her face and see how soft her skin had become, then to compare it to her girlfriend’s. I was curious, so I did. I asked about her breasts and she said that they were always sore and sensitive. Her girlfriend said she was such a teenage girl. She replied that she was way less horny this time round.
Her girlfriend laughed.
I asked what sex was like, and her girlfriend started to talk about the sexualisation of trans- people and how the perception of gender always came down to the equation of sex and sexualisation. She saw that I was uncomfortable and said that the sex was just like normal. They went to get another round. When they came back we kissed, had more pills and shared a bag of coke.
I don’t remember how I got home. I found myself naked, in the dark. I checked the time, and saw that I had messaged Jannet:
- I’m on my way to another bar
- Maybe you should go home?
- Yeah I am Hbu?
- Im at home
- Call me
It hurts everywhere Imma shit....
- Ok......bye, have a safe night
- Ok, but srs, Imma shit me britches
I finished reading it and felt like death.
She messaged on the 20th, asking if I’d meet her on the 23rd. I agreed, though felt as if I had been shot. I closed the blinds, lay in bed and closed my eyes. Some hours later, I woke and looked outside. It was dark. I checked the time: midday. I turned off my phone.
It was still dark when I met her at the café where I had last seen her. She looked anaemic. I ordered a bottle of wine and one glass, and she ordered a double bourbon and another glass. I told her about my job and the cunt and how I quit. She told me she was pregnant. I asked her since when. She said she found out at the beginning of September. I asked her when she was due. She said she wasn’t. I drew abstractions on the table with spilled water. She did not look at me. We sat in silence and finished our drinks.
When I got home I realised I had totally forgotten about the rock. I found a flashlight and shone it down my shoe. I saw nothing. I realised that I had gone so long without noticing it. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe it never existed. Fuck it. Didn’t matter now. I lay down on the couch. I closed my eyes. I waited for a sunrise.