The body is basically a chemical factory. An additional drip of something here, a dash of something there; that is all that stops a person spinning irrevocably out of control.
Wash face. Brush teeth. Put the kettle on. Take pills. Start day.
You look at the face in the mirror. You don’t recognise it, but then, it’s been a long time since you did. You suppose that this is who you are today. Maybe if you wash it? Then shave the night stubble. That would help, you think.
Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known.
You can hear the kettle whistling. The face isn’t any more familiar, but it’s clean and shaven. That’ll do, you suppose.
Can’t live for tomorrow, tomorrow’s much too long.
You make a cup of coffee, black, two sugars. Stir twice clockwise. Twice anti clockwise. Tap the spoon twice on the edge of the mug. Drink. You glance at the clock hanging on the wall, above last year’s calendar. Its face is blurred.
I’ll burn my eyes out...
You spend a few minutes searching for your glasses. You find them on your face.
...before I get out.
You clean the lenses on your shirt and replace the frames. Not much of an improvement. You think it reads 4.13. 4.13 am? You glance out the window, before a few sluggish neurons click into place. It’s winter. Either 4.13 of the clock and it will be dark out. You carry your coffee through to what might have been described as a living room in the flat advertisement, but is not much more than a sofa with prolapsed cushions up against one wall, an old TV with a large array of games consoles consuming the other.
Today is the greatest...
The TV. That’ll tell you what time it is. If the sign language lady is in the bottom of the screen performing her mystifying gyrations, it must be early morning. They don’t let her out during daytime programming. You wonder why. Are deaf people habitually nocturnal? For a moment you entertain an inner vision of the midnight streets filled with the deaf, like vampires. A dyslexic’s zombie apocalypse. The thought causes a giggle to bubble up your throat like bile. Your voice sounds raspy. The room doesn’t smell of smoke, but an overflowing ashtray testifies your 22nd failure to give up smoking. You can’t remember why you gave up giving up this time.
...burn my eyes out...
You turn on the TV at the box. Oh. Apparently you left the Playstation on. Some shooter or another – they’re all the same nowadays; large American accents in combat boots, exploding large chunks of brown buildings in a brown city against a brown sky. You must have rage quitted, because the screen is blurred with the words “YOU HAVE BEEN KILLED BY caligulasAquarium” written across it like white fire. You stare at the words for five full seconds, stomach clenching spasmodically. You wonder for a moment if you’re going to be sick, but then the laugh emerges from your throat. You’re not sure what’s so funny, but you laugh and laugh until you’re bent double, wheezing and cursing the sudden shock of hot coffee running down your inner thigh.
...live for tomorrow, tomorrow’s much too long...
Caffine, nicotine, fluoxitine; ‘tines to pass the time.
Hacking coughs interrupted by the ghosts of giggles. You finally make your way back to the sofa and collapse onto it, breathing heavily. You feel out of breath, and your leg burns where the coffee has seeped through your jeans, which you realise you hadn’t taken off before going to bed. The pain feels far away, though, as if you’re only remembering something that happened. Your ankle knocks something over, the clang as it hits the floor uncomfortably loud in the silent room. Silent apart from the music coming from next door, anyway. Why the hell would they be playing that one verse over and over, at random intervals. Sometimes, you think you might be the only sane human being on the planet. What was it you were supposed to be doing?
...before I get out...
The sign language lady. Yes. Ascertain the time. You fish around between the sofa cushions and locate the remote, switching the channel to television.
“YOU’RE TEARING ME APART!”
The sudden sound actually throws you backwards into the sofa, as if you had been struck physically. Cursing, one hand over an ear to protect it from the dirge, you paw at the remote until the volume is no longer at the pain threshold. Sweet jesus, how loud were you playing that game last night? You wearily wonder if there will be another snooty note from the landlord slid under the door. James Dean mouths something on the screen. But she’s not there; the left hand corner is free of the sign language lady. So, it’s probably 4.13 in the evening. More like 4.30 now, actually.
You lie on your back, looking at the weird brown marks on the celing.
Was there something you were supposed to do today?
Probably. Everyone wants Sollux to do something. Well, today Sollux is nursing his head, thank you.
...the greatest day...
Arrg. You rub the sleep from your eyes, and shift. Something clangs from the sofa. Arrg.
“Oh for fuckth thake...” you push yourself up from the sofa with a groan. The TV is showing the 5 o’clock news. Seems like three more people have been killed somewhere you don’t even want to begin trying to pronounce. On the end of the sofa, hidden under a cushion, the...
...laptop is alerting you that you’ve got a message. You pull it onto your lap, and look blearily at the screen. Blearily is right – you can’t even make out the text in your IM. You rub your eyes, and try to focus. Three lines of grey font. Oh.
You glance down at your hand, the scrawl on it the only thing in your life that resembles a diary. Sunday – Avengers with KK + TZ 4.00 tickets in wallet.
Fuck. You are the shittiest person on the planet.
You try to focus on the screen, but everything is blurry. Your stomach feels like it’s full of lead, but your head feels like it might float away. Concentrating is difficult, like moving through water.
Your head hits the armrest of the sofa. Hand moves ponderously, shuts laptop on second try. Inhale. Exhale. Shut eyes. Wish to die.
The body is basically a chemical factory. One chemical out of place, or left out, or in too high a dose, can send a person crashing off the rails.
Today is the greatest
Day I’ve ever known.
Can’t live for tomorrow,
Tomorrow’s much too long.
I’ll burn my eyes out
Before I get out.
Today is the...
You find your phone under a pile of spent beer cans, and silence your ringtone before the second line plays again.
“It’s me, Sol. Open the door.”