Genel

Forget to Remember Ch. 04

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I missed Kells. Which was darkly amusing in the level of bizarre that statement really was. We had barely gotten to know one another, been on one real date. It might have been more truthful to say I missed the idea of him, but even so, I missed what I did know about him. I missed his eyes and how they looked at me. I missed his sultry voice calling me Joshy, a nickname I had never accepted from anyone before. I missed his big arms wrapped around me while we made out. I missed the chance to be bold. I missed the hope that I could be desirable. Wanted. Connected.

Every day going by hurt. He didn’t call. He didn’t text me. I refuse to call or text him, because of how things had ended. To strengthen my resolve I deleted his contact, a move I found myself sometimes regretting. Still, it was done now. Sadly, the more time that passes the more I understand my brief interlude with romance is over. It’s been just about a month, and I am fucking miserable. At least without his number I can’t embarrass him or myself by leaving drunk texts. Still, time passes so slowly. August is rearing its ugly head, and soon summer is going to be over. Not that summer means much to most working people, but believe me when I say that working at a university, you appreciate the summer for being a quieter calmer time frame. I figured maybe by the time classes were back in session in September I’d have healed up a bit and be able to focus again. I now think I was being too optimistic.

Focus has been an issue. There exists no other word for how I have been the last few weeks other than grey. Everything is just grey. I get up, I go to work, I do my tasks and head home. And then I sleep. Sleeping takes the grey away, for a little bit. Sometimes though, it doesn’t work very well and I’ll wake myself at two in the morning crying. Not full on sobs. Just hot tears scalding my face, and I just lie still and wait for the pain to run out of me a bit. The greyness becomes comforting then, because if I concentrate on it I don’t have to remember or think about what could have been. Thinking just reminds me how stupidly I acted and how much I embarrassed myself by thinking I had a shot at a real relationship. I never want to feel such shame and hurt again. Each time the memories slap me in the face, I vow to stay in my lane from now on. Maybe it will be a quiet lonely lane filled with cats, but there for sure wouldn’t be anything like this hurt in the future. Eventually, even on hard nights I’d fall back asleep. The next morning I wake again, head to work and start the cycle over.

I knew I was scaring my boss. She watches me every day with worried eyes. I feel badly about how lackluster I am, but it was like I couldn’t change. Heidi tried to get me to open up once, but the raw pain that flashed into me left me choking and running to the bathroom. After a fifteen minute crying jag I came back into the Testing Center with red rimmed eyes and offered the excuse of a “migraine” to take the rest of the day out sick. Heidi’s face had been drawn and pale as she quickly agreed and hoped for me to feel better with an extra long hug and meaningful look. I wanted to care enough to reassure her. But I couldn’t and still can’t manage to come up with the effort to comfort anyone including myself.

I would probably have been scaring Maris too, if she had seen me. But I keep my phone turned off mostly, and when we do speak I keep the calls short and reassure her things are ok and I just need space. As I had never gotten around to giving her those new spare keys she can’t get in my house to ambush me. She has come by a few times, but each time I play possum, listening to her knock and call out to me and waiting for her to leave. I haven’t been out with her. I rarely call or text her, or anyone else. I also haven’t gone back to my favorite coffee shop at all, because I am terrified to run into him. At least now I don’t have to worry about nonfat milk comments regarding my pudge from the slutty barista, which suddenly was a joke. My clothing is beginning to become noticeably looser, but I can’t find the will to do anything about it. I have no appetite. I’ve probably dropped a good twenty pounds. Look kiddos, you too can drop several pant sizes in a month! Just have your heart ripped out!

Everything just seems so pointless anymore. I can no longer care about anything but showing up to work and performing my duties, which I do silently and robotically, anticipating the time I can go home and crawl back in my bed. Part of me knows this is unhealthy, that this behavior is likely a slow spiral towards a lot more darkness. I know this because I have been here before. Still, while part of me recognizes the danger and knows I should be reaching out for help, I just can’t seem to care anymore. The endless days and nights of grey stretching out for the rest of my life seem extremely overwhelming all of a sudden. It was just past six o’clock on a Wednesday in early August when things came to a head.

**********

He casino oyna isn’t here. Again. I tried to keep my anger and frustration in check as I pretend to care about what the daily special is at The Buzz. I have tried to pop in daily, whenever my work days have me patrol anywhere near the coffee shop, just to try and catch him. I have never caught him. The barista Josh hates is always giving me the calf eyes, and it makes me even more annoyed that Josh wasn’t here to challenge him with his cute little jealousy displays.

I was and probably still am a giant horses ass. I didn’t even realize how much Josh meant to me, how much I had anticipated talking with him, teasing him, and getting to know him. You never appreciate things until they’re gone, right?

When I sobered up the next day after the fiasco at the club, Chris filled me in on how the night ended. Basically I had drank myself stupid. Then after shouting and crying alternately for a few hours about my rotten luck to attract pretty boys with wandering eyes, Chris said I remembered this invention called the cell phone. But apparently I sat down suddenly after reading a few texts from Josh and then started flipping out. Chris said I babbled something about being a fuckup and needing a lobotomy and then screamed to him that the professor was a girls dude. Then apparently I began crying again. Soon after according to him I destroyed my phone by slamming it down multiple times and throwing it at the wall, which I did remember, just without context. I guess after that I kicked the office door a bit and then passed out, all while Chris kept his distance for fear of being mistaken for either a phone or a door I guess.

The worst part of all this childish behavior of mine? When I had my phone replaced I learned I hadn’t backed up my contact list. I have no way to get a hold of Josh. Until or unless he contacts me, I am stuck trying to catch him somewhere random. Which clearly isn’t working out at all, I thought despondently as I look around a coffee shop which is empty of any temptation. I sigh and decide to get back to work. Turning around to leave I stop in my tracks. I am being stared down and sized up by a tiny redhead a half dozen steps away. She looks as if she is going to eat my soul.

“Officer Kells I presume?”

Her tone is frosty but her eyes burn with fire. I come instantly on guard.

“Who’s asking?”

I bark back, if I have to make an arrest I hope it won’t be against a psychotic little ginger Chihuahua.

” Oh I’m Maris, Josh’s best friend. Aha, I see from that face you aren’t a totally stupid bastard. Or are you? Since you’ve not said a word to him in a month. You slimy piece of…how fucking dare you!”

The last part of her speech hisses out in a passionate ugly whisper, as she seems to be obviously trying not to make a scene. I waver between anger at her attitude and disrespect and joyous relief that finally now I can get back in touch with Josh.

“Oh thank God! Listen you have to get him to talk to me!”

I am panting in relief, already imagining Josh back with me.

“The fuck I do.” Her tone laced with disgust. “You don’t get it. You’ve nearly destroyed him. I don’t have to give you shit except the advice to man up and stop being a jealous twat of a fuckup. Why don’t you just call him? If you want him so badly?”

She glares at me, not just in anger but true loathing. Destroyed him? What does she mean? Nevermind, I just need to know how I can reach him.

“I can’t. I kinda smashed my phone that night, being a ‘jealous fuckup’ as you put it. My phone wasn’t on automatic backup so I lost his contact info. And he hasn’t gotten a hold of me. I come here every day just hoping I’ll see him,” I sadly plea my case.

Her eyes narrow as she tilts her head back, clearly considering my words. Emotions chase each other around her face; anger, disbelief, trust, suspicion, excitement all swirling there.

“So you realize you’re a fucking moron?” she questions me in a terse voice.

“Yes, I admit it Maris. Please. Help me.” I beg, throwing my everything into my voice to convince her to trust me.

“I don’t know. I don’t know if you’re good for him. Who’s to say you won’t act like this again, about some other bullshit? Josh isn’t a toy you can just put down because you’re bored,” she scoffs at me, clearly unwilling to help.

I take in her small form, which is bristling with emotion. I glance around the mostly empty coffee shop but no one seems to have noticed the intense telenovela we are acting out. Maris continues to glare, her cheeks pink with emotion and her hands clench as she goes on.

“I don’t think you deserve to know him, much less touch him or even look at him. He is a beautiful person and watching him decline like this is heart wrenching for me. He’s my precious brother and you are a stupid fucking pigdick for hurting him. But as much as I hate you right now I know Josh wants you for some godforsaken reason” Maris spits canlı casino out, her anger and sorrow meeting me unflinchingly in her hard eyes. “Tell me why you should be allowed to come back into his life? And make it good because right now I think you’re a chum bucket on a cheap fishing boat.”

I have to swallow my pride. All the hopes and dreams of romance I have stored up inside me, all the fairytales I told myself for years now that I didn’t need. Ever since the whole Brian experience I’ve been closed off and now feelings flash through me like lightning. I need to see this through. Those brief times with Josh I had felt so good, so right. I’ve dated before, had even been serious with a couple guys, but everything with him felt so different. Never before had someone seemed to slide into my life with such delicious ease that I didn’t want them to go. I hadn’t wanted anyone to stay in a long time. I know I’m not in love with Josh. Not yet. But I feel a pull to him. The pull letting me know I could be so easily and as terrifying as that thought was and is, that’s what I wanted. I want a happily ever after. I just need another chance to try with Josh, and that means convincing his gatekeeper Chihuahua to let me in. I try again.

“Please Maris. Please. I’ve been a miserable dick without him. I admit I was stupid and irrational. I can’t sleep. My co-workers are bitching, citizens hate me because I’ll write a ticket about anyfuckingthing these days. I know I ruined lots of things, but I want a chance to at least tell him I’m sorry. Please”

I feel tears burn my eyes as I

speak. I am trying to let my emotions show and be heard by Maris using my words, my eyes and my soul. Maybe she will take pity on me and give me a helping hand.

“This is a terrible idea. Fuck.” Maris mutters as she closes her eyes and shakes her head. And then she looks up at me, and tentatively starts to smile.

**********

I can see my hip bones. This is new. I blink slowly as my mind turns this over. Part of me should be worried, since even as a preteen I’d never been able to count bones on myself. I’ve always carried a bit of meat. I look dispassionately at my reflection, twisting to see more angles and realize I look terrible. But I don’t feel anything about that realization. It is just a thing that is. The sky is blue, the grass is green, and I look absolutely terrible. My bones are jutting out, my skin looks thin and dry, my hair needs a wash, and I mostly appeared grey. I feel grey. I just want to sleep. I think about all this as I drink more vodka straight from the bottle. I have been drinking wine fairly steadily after work for a couple weeks, but today I had seen a cop on campus that just for a moment looked like Kells. The twin blaze of joy and stark terror that raged inside me at that moment had left me reeling. It wasn’t him, as I realized when the officer turned just slightly in my direction. But the yearning feeling that flared briefly against my hopeless expectations while I was convinced those few seconds it was Kells have been circling in my mind all day. I busted the bottle open as soon as I walked in the door after work, having picked it up on my way home.

It wasn’t just that Kells had left getting to me. It’s everything, it was nothing. I was nothing. I am a non thing. It’s the weight of knowing at almost twenty-seven I am so unwanted I’ve had sex only once. It’s holding the knowledge that rejection is such a common theme in my life: my dad, the kids back in school, my peers, Kells. They all pushed me away figuratively or literally. It’s coming to grips with knowing that I am not worthy enough for anyone’s second look. It’s knowing with an awful heavy finality that except for Maris I am completely alone in the world. Alone. It leaves a physical pain in me, and right then staring at my gross grey reflection I decide I just don’t want this to go on anymore. None of it. I swallow another vile mouthful of vodka that burns my throat and vaguely I feel like puking but with a shudder I push that urge away. I search in the bathroom vanity drawer for what I need and then walk to the kitchen to find my phone.

***********

I held my breath. Will she help me?

“Look, Josh is family to me. I love him and seeing him this hurt scares me. I am his only family, he doesn’t have anyone else. You know that right?” Maris pauses with her eyebrow raised.

“No. I didn’t. We never really got around to talking about families much. Where’s Josh’s family?”

I’m concerned, had they disowned him or something for being gay? I know it happens a lot but even my traditional as fuck family loved me for who I was.

Maris shrugs sadly, “Isn’t any. Parents dead for years now, mom was an only kid, dad’s older brother died in Vietnam at nineteen. Josh has no one but me to look out for him.” Maris’s voice drops with sorrow, she sounds reluctant to admit this to me. “And he isn’t doing well. I’m worried. He’s always been closed off and prone to these well, bleak moods, kaçak casino but this feels different.”

I watch Maris close her eyes against the tears I can see gathering.

“He isn’t eating, or talking. He hasn’t left the house except to work in weeks. Which I only know because I ambushed him at work last week. He’s avoiding me and he hasn’t seen anyone else either. Something’s off this time.”

I feel helpless and more than a little responsible for how she is describing his behavior lately. Just then a complicated chirping noise comes from Maris. Rather it comes from her bag. Her brow furrows as she digs hastily for it, seemingly she is one of those tiny women who carry bags large enough to smuggle pandas in.

“Sorry, that’s Josh’s tone. He hasn’t texted me in a few weeks.”

Maris pulls a phone out finally, and looks confused as she reads the text. She looks up at me, wrinkles her forehead and re-reads the text. I can see her puzzling through what she is reading.

“What’s he said?” I finally ask. Mostly because she looks so taken aback I’m getting alarmed.

“It doesn’t make sense.” and she hands me her phone to read.

Josh (lil bro!): I love you Maris. Always will. I’m sorry. So sorry. Xoxo.

When I read the text from Josh to the woman he considers his sister and soul mate my heart drops into my stomach. Maris may not have picked up on it yet, but I am a cop. I’ve seen this story play out many times.

“Give me his address, now. He needs a wellness check and probably an ambulance,” my voice is authoritative and calm, but inside I am screaming.

Maris looks lost. Then with awful bone chilling clarity, the meaning of what she read in that text snaps into place.

“Oh god, no.”

************

My couch has always felt pretty comfortable. It was one of the first nice things I bought for myself as an adult. So tonight I had the great idea to drag it over to the patio door, since the tiny balcony there overlooks the backyard which has a fairly large expanse of western sky. The sunset might chase away the grey, maybe, and I’ve always loved sunsets. I felt pretty woozy suddenly, and so I decide to go ahead and lay down on my couch. I close my eyes for a moment. I think about everything I have done, and not done, and still I come to the conclusion that the cons outnumber the pros. Which is good because it’s not like you can just change your mind about drinking most of a fifth of vodka, chasing it with some opiate painkillers leftover from an old injury, and half a bottle of Tylenol. I’m a little scared, yeah, just a little, but truly the thought of just existing day after day the way I have been is so much scarier. I open my phone clumsily, as it’s getting harder to stay awake. I want to call Maris and hear her just once more. I’ve texted her my love, but I suddenly desperately need to hear her. My hands feel numb however, and I drop the phone. Suddenly, everything slows down. The grey is finally leaving, instead, around the corner there is a deeper darker color. Looking outside I see it isn’t sunset yet, and I suddenly recall it won’t be for a couple hours more. I’m too tired to laugh but isn’t that just like me; failing at everything I try. My eyes are so heavy, I feel them fluttering closed. I take a deep breath and breathe out my apologies to everyone, and no one, and I let go. Faintly, I think I can hear something banging but I am too tired to care. Just then the darkness I keep seeing around the edges of the world rise up and wash over me.

**********

“This is unit 433. Running a 10-42 on 8834 Timberline. Possible self injury, have the bus standby.”

I am flying down the road with lights on, Maris in the back clutching her giant bag and making this soft high pitched whine. I had dragged her from the coffee shop and nearly thrown her in the back, flagrantly disregarding rules when all we could both think about was getting to Josh as fast as possible.

“Unit 433, be advised unit 587 is close to scene and will initiate the 10-42,” said the scratchy voice of the dispatcher.

“Unit 433 10-4 dispatch. Am in route to same.”

I hardly recognize my own voice, gravelly and tight as it is. The address Maris provided is only about five minutes from the coffee shop for a regular driver. For an emergency vehicle, it means we slide into his driveway in just under two. There is already another unit on scene, but the putz is still in his vehicle doing fuck knows what. I ignore him and race to the door, pausing only to unlatch the car door releasing Maris who is shrieking and banging on the glass from the backseat. I lope ahead to the aqua painted front door.

BANG BANG BANG

“Police! Open up please!”

I shout and hit the door with my fist. Every nerve ending I have is on fire. Maybe this is an overreaction.

BANG BANG

“Josh. Open the door!”

My voice holds the authority I cultivate for the job, but inside I feel myself shrinking with the sure knowledge this isn’t an overreaction. Maris darts up then and while the putz is moseying up the sidewalk grumbling to me about “fucking civvies” being on wellness checks, she simply tries the front door.

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