21st Century Boys and Girls

I pulled the car over and killed the engine. Leaning back in my seat, I reached over and grabbed a cigarette. My passenger synchronized her movements to mine, grabbing a nearby lighter and giving my fix of tobacco the spark it needed.

She looked over at me with an inquisitive look on her face. I took a drag and began telling her my latest adventure.

“I tried to kill myself again. It was, um, Tuesday? I think? Yeah. Anyway, I tried upping my usual dose of pills this time. I didn’t have any wine, so I just used some cheap old whiskey. That shit tasted like a leper melted in it. Obviously, it didn’t work.”

By now, the woman next to me was not surprised or concerned; my constant manic episodes and suicide attempts were quickly becoming a mere footnote to the week. She was just someone who I vented to. I should explain: this woman, I won’t give out her name for privacy reasons of course, was as much a mystery as me. She was a bit older than me, cutting it close to ten years. Married and with a kid, she would regularly sneak out of her house during the day and accompany me on my varied misadventures. I hated myself for taking her away from her family life. It’s just that, one, she was giving me the best sex of my life and two, she actually listened to me when I talked. Everyone else just nods their head in acknowledgment, not realizing that their friend is asking for help of some sort.

“Sorry to hear that.” She answered. The question as to why I kept trying to take my own life stopped getting asked long ago. The reason for this was because there was no answer. It was just something I did. “What are we doing today? Something exciting, I hope? I don’t why you thought dragging me to an afternoon reading of slam poetry at the community college was a good idea!”

I finished my cigarette and started the car again. “I don’t know what we’re going to do today. But I promise you this: we’re not ever doing anything that fuckin’ stupid ever again! Oh man, that was really bad!”

My lover and I drove around aimlessly, eventually settling on a nearby cafe. I could always use some caffeine. We pulled into the closest parking space and went inside. I got my usual: a caramel macchiato. She got her usual: “what he’s having.” The two of us sat at a small table, away from everybody else. It was better that way; not for privacy reasons, but because we were uncomfortable around others. She was as ashamed of our affair as I was. Not that it stopped it or anything.

I never figured out why we were together in the first place, let alone for as long as we have (almost a year, maybe?). Originally, I had just chalked it up to her just being a bored housewife. We had met at a store we both used to work at. She quit. I got fired. We kept in touch. Before I knew it, we killed a bottle of wine and tested out the sturdiness of the frame on my fold-out bed. I remember that whole night pretty vividly; we laid together for at least a couple of hours, not moving. Neither of us really knowing what to do now: do we hold each other? Do we get dressed and get her back home before someone else catches on? Over time, the answer never became any clearer as to why we were still doing this. I knew, at least as far as I was concerned, that I was crazy. Maybe that was her case as well? This isn’t exactly what one would call a healthy relationship, after all.

“So, I forgot to finish my story. Like I said, I tried to kill myself again. This time, though, I actually went out of my way to write a note first. It was like a note and a will in one selfish combination, really. I put you in it.”

Stifling a giggle, my would-be inheritor became curious. “What would I have gotten?”

“Not much. You would have gotten my CD collection, and I would have given my video games to your kids. They like video games, right? Well, I suppose they would have to learn to love them if they got a big stack of them!”

Silence. “Well thanks. They would like them, I’m sure.” I said something wrong. “Hey, we should get going!” She finished with a weak smile.

Back in my car and back on the road, I asked her: “What’s wrong? Did I say something I shouldn’t have?”

“No. It’s just…oh my God. This isn’t a joke anymore. You really want to die, don’t you?”

Now it was my turn to not say anything.

“What the fuck!? What are we doing? Look at us, this is sick! Oh God…”

I made her cry. I’ve never been able to handle people crying; the shit always makes me very uncomfortable. But what could I say? Hey, I’m sorry that I’ve got a mental disorder that makes me lose the will to live at random times? Well, what do I do now? Try and console her? Leave her alone? This is why I hate it when people start crying.

“Sorry.”

The ride back home was as silent as a funeral procession. I think the radio may have been on, but I paid no attention to it. All I could do was think. Think about my life. And hers. We weren’t doing this because we loved each other. There was no love here. There may be lust here and there, but that’s about the extent of it. We relied on one another for empty support. Neither of us were happy with our lives and had no idea as to how to fix them. More or less, we were beaten, and all that was left was a game whose excitement wore out long ago.

I dropped her off at her place. Before she shut the passenger side door, she made sure to let me know what time to come over tomorrow.

“The usual.”

I would be there, right on time. Like always.

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