We Grew Apart

  • 02 Sep - 08 Sep, 2023
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Fiction

The day began with a powerful gust; A cool breeze which swept below the world of dreams. Unsettling enough to wake him from his slumber, his body shuddered in protest. The bitter damp air flooded the stagnant room from the small haphazardly boarded window. All the heat from a nights’ long embrace lost in a few short moments. He opened his eyes. The flood of light poured into his eyes uncontrollably. He blinked. Waking reminded him of something, he wasn’t quite sure what. There was an irrepressible silence conforming around him. It was unnerving that the clatter of the city hit his deaf ears. The day was yet without form.

There was a moment of epiphany when his senses collated into routine. The morning ritual was complete. He sat up on his bed. The crumbling ceiling and profane carpet didn’t faze him. The certain hue of the florescent lighting convinced him something imperceptible was awry. The failure to scrub the walls clean of mangled messages written in etched black was a non-issue. Groggy thoughts scattered as he raised his line of vision to the door. Its rusty orange hinges and peeling yellow paint reminded him of the immediate concerns of life. That is, of his life, the variation of existence he committed to farce away from day to night. He knew it wasn’t a burden to bear.

With a grunt and trivial effort he raised himself from his bed. He put on his regular outfit; the average white tee with jeans faded from years of use. Running from the problems of youth will weigh a heavy toll on what you wear. There was a subtle layer of concern coating the room; a dreadful feeling that perhaps the door wouldn’t open. John was not at all apprehensive of this. The chances! He wandered in his mind, avoiding the fine print. He pondered who exactly he was going to be on this ineffable day. He could choose to be John, the man still stuck inside his shit apartment on another endless day in winter, waiting for that one chance; or he could be John, a man of action committed to his personal battles. He stood somberly above his bed for a few moments and collected himself to the door.

John didn’t think twice of the absent roads or the barren sidewalks. Walking from his decaying brick building onto the bruised and betrayed avenue was a mundane experience. Not a soul was in sight when he saw the most beautiful orange Mustang retreat across the intersection and into the absurd city streets that morning. He had never seen one before in his life. The building was far removed from its surroundings, and there was nothing significant or important to anyone in general close by. Society tends to abandon the pieces that refuse to fit. He walked to the shop down the street, “Moonlight Market”. It was John’s dawn pilgrimage, the thrill of walking beneath the open sky with no disconcerting eyes pondering his perplexities on a journey to a place where he felt at home. He could not accept that the lethargy that seemed so ambiguously familiar could crush this one fleeting happy moment in the millions that would never feel nearly the same.

John almost missed the entrance to the store, but stopped as he saw the neon borders on the massive tinted glass walls. He pushed open the dark door, a superficial attempt to mask the unruly nature of the store. Not many people would have shopped in the unpleasant hole in the wall, but those who did showed no restraint. Boxes were upheaved and crates over turned, paint splashed on the walls in vibrant maroon and clashing green. No control here. There was no cohesion here, just irrational sanity tossing itself off the ledge. Dusk till dawn there were only pleasant thoughts and sentimental feelings of lofts and warm creamy air grasping in every direction allowed in the store that bathed in moonlight. There isn’t room for anything else when you have a sun bright in the afternoon to look forward to.

He walked forward to grab a sweater and noticed a mirror on the wall behind him. The square frame was haunting. He put the sweater on as chills ran through his spine. It was a gnarled piece of fabric, but he enjoyed the comfort it gave him. It was a sublime colour of red, a dark burgundy that soothed John’s weary eyes. It all reminded him of something primordial, a layer to life that he had no grasp of. Family perhaps, family he didn’t know any longer. He walked to the mirror and looked at himself.

The gaunt, short frame he had was obscene. He didn’t recognise himself. He didn’t feel like black matted hair coated his head, or that his face was covered unshaven. There was no feeling of depravity in his thoughts but the look in his own blue eyes betrayed a lost soul. The longer John stared at the mirror, the more distant to this store he felt. He lost his bearing on what he was seeing. The mirror no longer showed the devastated store but a frame filled with black. A light burst into being and illuminated a man. The outlines were barely visible, but John stared into his eyes. Chaotic, sudden and unexpected blue eyes gazed back. The man looked rabid, a shell of a man.

John raised his brow at the gawking man. Something shadowy called to him. There was a memory that ran through his head disconnected from the concerns of the day he had built for himself. There was some figure, a silhouette indistinguishable from the white noise of the past. A distant bridge arose on the shores of his doubt; unrelated moments brought together by unreasonable circumstance. The harassing thoughts were no coincidence; there was a real, uncompromising answer to the questions driving him to this place. He only responded to the gesture by gaping awkwardly and unsure at the catharsis of his existence.

John’s eyes bore into the man, but at that instant he saw right through him. The synapse was a crescendo that unleashed a torrent of new perspectives. Unerring certainty consumed him. He vaguely struggled to continue breathing. The thought of taking a breath was difficult. The rich light faded quickly from behind the figure, the door shut silently. Only darkness.

There was no figure in the mirror, no store around him. It was a black room, and he was covered in a nightmarish cold sweat. The man’s heart pounded like he had endured a marathon, but the world around him offered no warm gesture of understanding, no token appreciation of the confused situation he had arisen to. The tiles would be cold if he stood up, it was still deep in the night. No other soul would be awake, no other person would see the gift of being lucid at this odd hour of night. Aware of nobody and nothing the temporary sanity faded, the weak and disconnected thoughts were few and far between.

It was dark, and he remembered. A childhood beneath the sky, the friends who drank and died; he had his fall. There was some vague place, an indistinct memory that brought him happiness. The thought of being outside made him alive. But in a quick second the thought died, no chance to escape. The room was warm but sterile, the bed was hostile. He retreated into his mind. He dreamed.

He lost himself through the night, the happiness you deserve is your right.