Mad World by Meghan Kathleen Barnes

Three weeks after he died, Blake casually walked past me, opened the door of a blue hatchback and drove away.  It was far from the beat up clunker he drove when we started college, and I wondered how he was able to afford it.  None the less, I quickly slid my car into drive and pulled out behind him.

          His hair was longer than I remembered, and he had put on some weight, but I was excited to see him.  I wanted to tell him how everyone thought he was dead, and that I was sorry I didn’t make it to the funeral. 

          But he didn’t slow down at the sight of me like I thought he would.  He wove through the rows of cars, putting yards between us before merging on the highway.  I wasn’t sure why he was fleeing, but assumed it had something to do with falsifying his death.  So I kept it to myself.

***

          I was eighteen when I met Blake, in the corroded breezeway of our college dorm.  His thick dark hair was plastered to his forehead, and he was smoking a cigarette while attempting to drag and over-sized cooler up the cement steps.  Every few seconds he would stop to curse, and kick the loose cover back in place, before tightening his grip and continuing on. 

          “Hey could you help me,” he asked, snubbing out his cigarette.  “I just need to get this cooler out of the stairwell and onto the platform, but it keeps catching on this.”

          The worn fabric of his sneakers kicked a loose strip of metal that lined the steps.

          “Don’t you have a roommate?  Or a friend that can help you?”

          “You know what, don’t worry about it.”

          His balance shifted, as he pulled the cooler against the metal, ripping it free from the stairwell with one, clean thrust.  

          “I just didn’t want that to happen,” he said, kicking the twisted piece of metal down the stairwell.

          After fumbling in his pocket for a moment he retrieved a crumpled receipt and a single, tarnished key.  His fingers worked quickly, smoothing out the creases in the paper before slipping it back into his pocket.  Stepping forward, he unlocked his door and began pulling the cooler over the threshold.

          “Hey, wait,” I questioned, helping him push the cooler inside.  “Is this your suite?”

          He nodded and pushed the cooler behind him.

          “Well, I guess my friend Kraig’s your suite-mate.  He has the single in the back.  I was just waiting for him.”

          “That’s cool,” he said, slowly closing the door.

          “Well, it’s really hot out here.  Do you think I can come in?”

          “This dorm doesn’t have AC.  It’s hot everywhere.”

          “Well Kraig has this huge fan and—”

          “Hey,” he said, stepping into his hallway.  “Thanks again for the help.”

          Thick pieces of peeling paint trembled in the breeze as the door swung shut.  I could hear the metal of the dead bolt sliding into place, and the scuffing of plastic against tile.  A few seconds later there was a noise coming from the window to my left, and I watched as it opened.

          “What the hell, why can’t you let me in?”

          “Oh, you’re still here.” He looked confused and began to close the window.

          “Can you just let me in, please?”

          “Look, just wait for your friend.”

          The window shut, and I watched as he began to unpack his things.  Small beads of sweat formed around his hairline, streaming towards his chin before falling on the floor.  Throwing his damp shirt in the closet, he reached into the cooler and pulled out a beer.  It hissed and foamed when he opened it, sending a stream of white fluff over its edges like an exploding volcano. 

          I watched as he unpacked his computer before tapping on the window.  He glanced at me, then turned away, and continued unpacking.

          “I’ll trade you,” I said, pointing towards the beer, then towards my purse.

          He shook his head, and walked towards the door. 

          “Look,” he said.

          My body tensed as I turned to face him.  His shoulders stood squarely between the frame of the door, blocking my entrance, as he began to speak.

          “I don’t know who you are, will you please just leave me alone.”

          Anticipation flickered in his dark eyes, as he shifted his weight from side to side.  I could see the outline of his ribs beneath his pale skin, and watched as his chest rose and fell with his quickened breath. 

          “I’m sorry I didn’t help,” I said, offering him a smoke.

          “Was that so hard,” he asked, lighting my cigarette then his own.

          I nodded and he laughed.

          “Wanna go get some food?”

          “Not really.”

          I sighed and turned to walk away, listening for the clicking of the dead bolt behind me.

          “If you want to wait, I think I could eat in an hour,” he said, holding the door open.  “In the meantime, want a beer?”

          I nodded, smiling, and followed him in.

          A little after midnight, we made our way back from the late-night dining hall.  The heavy rain from earlier was letting up, and the cool mist felt refreshing against our flushed cheeks.  Pools of water formed in the rivulets of the street, soaking through the thin fabric of our sneakers— dampening our socks, and causing them to squish when we walked.

          “Can you hold this,” I asked, slipping my phone from my pocket and handing it to him.

          “Why?  We’re almost back.  It’s going to get even wetter.”

          “Blake,” I said, looking him in the eyes.  “This is serious.  There’s something I have to do.”

          He nodded and slid the phone into his pocket, as I began to run.

          “What are you doing,” he yelled, running after me.

          “No, don’t get too close.”

          He stopped, watching me curiously as I backed away from him and began to run again.  I could feel clumps of loose pebbles and dirt pressing into the flesh of my feet, as my pace quickened.  Stray curls twisted around my jaw, dripping a stream of water onto the sharp edges of my collarbone, as I approached a flooded section of the parking lot.  The streetlights cast moving shadows, allowing dull haloes to float like loose lily pads in the murky water.

          Thick walls of water rose around me as my feet crashed into the center of the reflected light, sending ripples through the glass-like images that surrounded me.  I watched as it shot above me, catching the light before crashing heavily back down.  My clothes clung tightly against my skin, weighing me down, as the water ran freely from the seams.

          “What the hell are you doing,” Kraig said, getting out of his car and walking towards me.

          “Puddle Stomping.  Where have you been?”

          “I’ll tell you later, let’s go inside, you’re acting like a drunk.”  He motioned for me to come towards him. 

          I shook my head.

          “Hey Kraig.  Do you think you can bring these up with you,” Blake asked, pressing our phones in his hand.  “We’ll be up in a few minutes.”

          “You two are crazy,” he said, walking back to his car.

          “No, I think she might be the crazy one,” Blake said, running towards me.

          His feet slid into mine, sending us both flailing into the ankle-high water.  Our limbs awkwardly entangled as our bodies tumbled over each other.  I watched as he wiped the water from his eyes, and began to peel off his cotton shirt.  Even though it was dark, the street lights made his pale skin look translucent, and flawed.  Deep creases were inlayed in the flesh of his forehead and around the corners of his mouth.  His hair looked unwashed and un-kept, and the expression on his face let me know that he was aware.

          “Come on,” he said, standing up and reaching his arm out towards me.  “We should probably go clean up.”

          My breath quickened as I reached towards his arm and allowed him to pull me closer.  I could smell the musky fragrance of his cigarettes and the sweetness of his breath as he moved closer.  The skin of his palm was warm against my forearm, and small copper-rimmed flecks floating in his dark eyes.

          “You know what,” he said, bringing his lips towards mine.  “I’m not sure if I would even give that jump a five.”

***

          Blake used to press notes into the spine of my text books, so I’d have something to read if I was bored in class  Sometimes he would draw me stick-figure comics, or turn the edges of my texts into flip-books.  His notes weren’t anything important, but always made me smile.  They mostly outlined attack plans he had created for his computer game, or things he wanted me to remind him to do later.

          But on Fridays he would usually include flyers that he had torn from the bulletin boards around campus, with notes written around the text.  We should go, he would write, circling the date and time next to his words.  They were usually for concerts at the skate park a few miles from campus, but we never ended up making it there.  We would always start our night at a pool hall that sold warm domestics for a dollar, and never checked IDs.

          We were regulars there, and the owner always held a pool table for us.  It was where all the first years came to meet up with their friends before heading to a party, and we were no different.  We would sit around like politicians and discuss the pros and cons of each party, before planning out our night.

          “If we go to the party at the house with the purple ping pong table we’re in walking distance from two frat parties if it’s lame.”  Kraig puffed on his cigarette and put down his beer, as I walked up.  “Plus that other frat house is like two miles away and we’re walking.”

          His suitemates nodded in agreement, and went to tell their friends that they were leaving.

          “I want to come,” I said, jumping onto the corner of the pool table.

          “Do what you want, but we’re all heading over there after this beer.”

          I nodded and pushed my drink towards him.  “I need to change first.  I’ll meet you over there.”

          “Just keep your phone on in case we go somewhere else.”

          “Will do,” I said, picking up my purse and heading towards the door.

          “Hey wait,” Blake called after me.  “Do you have a shirt in your room I can borrow?  I don’t feel like going across campus.”

          “What happened,” I asked, looking at the red stain seeping through the white cotton of his shirt.

          “Some drunk girl spilled her wine cooler on me.”

          “I think I have a sleep shirt that will fit you.”

          “Anything’s better than being covered in this.”

          Blake walked ahead of me on our way back to my dorm, kicking rocks and trash with the tips of his toes.  His shoulders hunched around his neck, making him look circular in the dim, artificial light.  Every other block he would look back at me, shake his head and smile, before kicking something else that he found on the ground.

          “I have to sneak you in,” I said, digging in my purse for my keys.  “So just meet me at that door over there, and don’t speak until we get into my room.”  I pointed towards the side of the building, and walked towards the main entrance.

          Blake waited patiently in the shadows as I checked to make sure the halls were clear.  Staying silent, we rushed towards my door, latching the dead-bolt behind us.  His fingers were pulling and twisting the fabric of his t-shirt, and I could see the bumps forming on his skin from the chill of the air conditioner.

          “I’m not used to AC,” he said walking towards me.

          I nodded and spun to turn it down.

          Before I was able to take a step his arms rested firmly on my shoulders, spinning me back towards him.  I could see the clouds that the alcohol had formed in his eyes, and smell the staleness of his breath.  His fingers traced the loose curls that framed my face, and rested just below my eyes.

          “You have beautiful eyes,” He said, swirling his finger against my cheek before locking it with the others on the small of my back.

          “I know,” I said, leaning back against his grip.

          He smiled, and pulled me closer.  “You know, that’s what I like about you.”

          “What,” I whispered, resting my head against the nape of his neck.

          “You always tell it how it is.”

***

         Four months after he died Blake’s eyes peered over the gray print of a newspaper as I walked out of class.  Before I could run to him, he quickly folded his paper, placed it under his arm and boarded the bus.  He was drinking coffee and smoking with the wrong hand, but I was sure it was him by the way he walked.  No matter how hard they tried, no one was ever able to imitate his angled, bow-legged stride, or endure the pain that came with walking on the edges of their feet.

          Even though he wasn’t able to talk to me, I was still glad to see him.  I smiled and waved as the bus drove away, just to let him know that I understood.  I knew he would come to me when he was ready.  So I decided to wait. 

*** 

          Half-way through our first semester, Blake moved into a one-bedroom apartment across campus.   Even though the dusty air conditioner that lay between the warped frames of his window stayed on throughout the day, the humidity never withdrew.  It slipped slyly through the open seams around the front door, and in the hairline cracks of the bathroom window.  Thick steam from the coin-operated laundry room below leaked through the fractures in the floor, and burst against the soles of our feet when his neighbors washed their clothes.

          “I know I should hate it here,” Blake said to me one night, turning down the volume on the TV, as he handed me a drink. 

          I nodded and looked around the sparsely furnished room.  “We can probably yard sale some furniture if you can find a truck.”

          “I wasn’t talking about the apartment.”

          His cheeks flushed as he twisted the paper label on his bottle, tearing it into small, twisted strips that fell weightlessly to the floor.  Shifting his position on the chair, he anchored his feet and looked towards me. 

          “I figure I won’t really be happy anywhere.  But at least here I have my friends.”

          “I guess,” I said, lighting a cigarette.  “You want one?”

          “Yeah,” he said, taking it from my hand.  “Look, I just wanted to tell you before you heard from someone else, so you don’t get pissed.  I might be out of here at the end of the semester.  My parents are talking about making me move back home.”

          “Why,” I asked, flicking my ash into an empty can on the table.

          “They’re pissed about the dorm thing and I’m failing all my classes.  They said I have until the end of the semester to bring them up, or I have to move home and go to community college.”

          “Think you can bring them up?”

          “I don’t know.”

          His eyes began to swell as he went to get another drink, throwing his empty bottle on top of a pile next to the fridge.  Nervously he twisted and pulled at its cap as he slowly lowered himself into his seat.  Deep creases formed in the flesh of his forehead, as he turned his concentration back to the TV.

          “Blake?”

          “Yeah,” he said, not breaking his focus.

          “I get it.”

          He laughed, and pushed his hair behind his ears.  “You get straight A’s, how would you get it?”

          “I’m serious,” I said, reaching towards his arm.  “I hate it here.  I withdrew today.  I’m moving home.”

          “You can’t,” he said, putting his drink back on the table, and attempting to end the conversation.  “Just leave at the end of the semester when I do, then we can both do a semester of community college and be back in the fall.”

          “Blake, I already withdrew.  I need to be out of the dorms by Friday.”

          “We spend every day together, and you were planning on moving out of the dorms and back home without telling me?”

“Yeah, I guess.  It seemed easier that—”

“I can’t believe how selfish you are,” he said, lighting a cigarette, and pushing back his chair.

          “Look Blake, this is why I wasn’t going to tell you, I knew you’d get upset,” I said, placing my drink on the table, and standing up.  “I thought it might help to know you’re not the only one who hates it here.  I guess I was wrong.”

         He paused for a moment and whittled his thumbs before responding.  “I thought we were friends.”

         “We are friends, Blake.  We’re closer than just friends.”

         “That’s what I always thought.”

         “What do you mean?”

         “I mean we could have had something.”

         “We did Blake,” I said, resting my arm on his shoulder. 

         “No,” he said, pushing me away.  “We could have.”  He stopped for a moment to catch his breath before speaking again.  “Why didn’t you tell anybody?”

         “I don’t know,” I muttered.  “It was my decision.  And who are you to judge?  You didn’t tell anyone you were getting kicked out of school.  I could have—”

         “I just did,” he spit.  “This was me asking you for help.”

         Two weeks after I moved home, thick lumps of pine-straw washed from gardens and lawns, swirling in the streets before clogging the rough metal openings of the storm drains.  Tree branches bent and danced, like broken ballerinas in the thrusting wind, and pine cones tumbled, on their sharp edges across the wet cement.  Rising water covered our sidewalk and lawn, threatening to seep into our garage before morning.

         Attempting to go clear the drains, I gathered trash bags and a shovel before making my way towards my room to bundle up.  Most of my day-to-day things had been unpacked and redistributed between my dresser and closet, but my winter clothes and miscellaneous things still lay stacked in the corner of my room, behind a large, black chair.  I looked through three boxes before I found my raincoat and another before I found my boots.  The thick plastic of the coat was rough against my skin, and crinkled when I put it on. 

         As I went to slip on my rain boots on I felt something bunched in the toe of my boot and quickly ripped it out.  Crumbled in my hand was a wad of notebook paper, that simply said, I’m sorry, and a pocket-sized football schedule.  Inside the booklet every home game for my old school was highlighted for the rest of the year.  You’re only two hours away.  If you want to come up, you have a place to stay.  Blake had underlined, and circled the game closest to Halloween.  I’ll go ahead and get tickets to this one for us.  

***

          I made plans to stay with Kraig over Halloween, and caravanned up with some friends of ours from high school.  Blake had become distant since I left, and would talk to me over the internet, but never answer my phone calls.  Friends told me that he had stopped going to class, and only left his house once or twice a day to eat, and buy cigarettes.  They would stop by from time to time and play video games with him, or watch a movie, but since the temperature has cooled down, they really didn’t have a need too.

          I made it a point to visit him on my way into town— calling my friends and telling them I would meet them at the dorms— but his apartment was empty.  I couldn’t see any movement in the dark windows, or hear anything as I pressed my ear against the wall.  As I dialed his phone, I could faintly hear it ringing in the other room, but was quickly directed to voicemail.  Idug through my purse for a pen and paper then left him a message.  Call me, Jerk, I scribbled, folding the paper and sliding it through the crack in the door, before getting back into my car.

          Music was blaring through the windows of Blake’s old dorm room as I walked up the stairs.  I could see his old roommate talking with a group of people and waved as I caught his eye.

          “Hey Meg,” he said, reaching out to give me a hug, as he opened the suites door.  “How have you been?”

          “I’m good.  You coming out with us tonight?”

          “I’m supposed to meet up with Blake at his house in a little while.”

          “He’s not there, I just stopped by.”

          He nodded and took a sip from his drink.  “I hope he doesn’t flake out again tonight.”

          “Me too,” I said, half-smiling.

          Cigarette smoke flooded through the cracks of Kraig’s door, and swirled lazily around the room, as I opened it.  Several packets of costume makeup were opened and strewn around the floor, while their directions lay disregarded in the trash.  Stepping around the people and makeup I made my way toward the window and pressed it open.  Fresh air quickly filled the room, dancing with loose papers and crumpled cellophane wrappers.

          Reaching for a drink I began to assemble my costume, constantly checking to see if I had missed a call.  Carefully lining and coloring my eyes I listened closely for the familiar song to play and coax me to answer.  Discouraged, I switched my phone to vibrate and slid it into my boot, following the boys to a party.        

          A little after midnight I asked Kraig to walk me back to his dorm.  I wasn’t feeling well, and the thick layers of my costume were causing me to overheat.  We rode the bus so I wouldn’t have to walk any further, and Kraig placed the small plastic trash can in front of me, just in case.

          I felt dizzy as he opened the door to his dorm, and went to lay by the open window, letting the cool breeze swirl softly around me.  Handing me the blanket, he came to sit beside my bed.

          “Do you need anything, Meg?”  He asked, lighting up a cigarette,

          “That cigarette smoke is making me nauseous.”

          “Sorry,” he said, stubbing it out.  “There’s water in the fridge, and if you want any food just call me and we’ll bring some back.”  He ruffled my hair and walked towards the door.

          “Thanks, Kraig.”

          “No problem”, he said, turning off the lights.

          I could hear the clicking of the deadbolt behind him, and his footsteps on the stairwell as he left.  The rest of the dorm was silent, except the wind whistling between the leaves.

          I woke up an hour later to a boisterous banging on the door.  My hair was knotted in the center of my head, and eyeliner encircled my lids, causing them to look swollen.  Creases from my pillow were firmly pressed into the flesh of my cheeks, and my wrinkled costume hung, half-fastened from my body.

          As I approached the door, the knocks grew louder and I could hear someone talking on their phone.  The thick metal caused the hushed voice to become more muffled, and I was unable to make sense of who it was.  Slowly turning the deadbolt, I creaked open the door and stepped back out of light streaming in from the hallway.

          “I heard you were sick,” Blake said, sliding his phone into his pocket and pushing past me.  “I tried to call, but you didn’t answer.”

          I reached down to my bare feet and realized I had slid off my shoes in my sleep.  Following him to the room, I watched as he turned on the TV, lit some incense and handed me a bottle of water.

          “You look like hell,” he said, pulling out a cigarette.

          “Please don’t, they make me so nauseous right now.”

          Sliding the cigarette back into the pack, he carefully looked at me.  “I figured you got sick because you didn’t eat anything.”

          I nodded and slid the black socks from my feet.

          “Why don’t you go take a shower and put on your PJs and I’ll go get you something to eat.”

          “You don’t have to do that.”

          “Well,” he said, pausing as he walked towards the door.  “I might as well do something productive while I smoke since I can’t do it in here.”  He laughed and unlatched the lock on the door before turning back to me.  “Just let me back in, OK?”

         I nodded and went to get a towel out of Kraig’s closet.         

         The water was cool against my warm skin, and I let it fall over my shoulders and tumble down towards the floor.  Small bunches of soap collected around the drain, swirling with the water before being sucked under.  Before I was able to finish rinsing my hair, I heard the familiar pounding at the front door.  I quickly wrapped the towel around myself and ran my fingers through my hair before answering.

         I watched as Blake’s eyes dropped, tracing my figure, and pausing to watch the rivulets of water that streamed sluggishly down my chest.  Picking up the bags he made his way toward the room and placed them on the table, pushing aside a collection of half-used makeup and empty bottles.

         “I brought quesadillas,” he said, opening the boxes and handing me a napkin. 

         We ate in silence, and watched as infomercials danced across the televisions screen, while passing the container of salsa back and forth.  Although two straws peeked out from the over-sized drink in front of us, we took turns sipping from it, afraid of colliding with each other. 

         “Want to watch a movie,” he asked, standing up and walking towards the bookshelf.

         “Sure.”

         Picking a movie he placed it in the player, and took his seat next to me.

         “You should turn off the lights,” I said, poking him in the ribs.

         “Are you sure,” he questioned.  “I picked a scary one.”

         I stuck my tongue out and watched as reached over and clicked off the lights.  His dark eyes seemed almost black in the dim light and I could feel the heat from his skin next to me.  Moving closer I rested my head against his shoulder, readjusting myself as he slipped his arm around my waist.

         “Sorry I’ve been so distant,” he said, winding his fingers through my damp hair.

         “That doesn’t matter now,” I whispered, sliding closer to him.  “Just don’t do it again.”

         I fell asleep to the rhythm of his breathing, and his fingers tracing the moist curls that formed around my face.  I could feel his breath on my shoulder and the pressure of his chin on my head.  His arms linked firmly around my body, holding me like he thought I’d slip away, and when I woke up again the room was empty.  He had already gone.

***

         It had almost been a year since his death when I saw Blake again.  He was hovering in the corner of a Halloween party, talking to a girl in lingerie, trying to make me jealous.  His eyes quickly darted from me to her, daring me to make a move, but I didn’t.  I watched as his hands intertwined around her waist, pulling her closer to him, and waited for him to come speak to me.

          But before he was able to, the girl whispered something in his ear, and led him from the room.  He didn’t glance back, or motion for me to follow, and as I walked behind them I noticed his stiff-legged stride, and an unfamiliar tattoo on his arm.  The brown hair that curled around his ears was too light, and his frame was too small.  He was wearing the same costume as the year before, but it wasn’t him.  He wasn’t alive.

***

          Small droplets of water tumbled from the shower curtain, and caught in the creases of the bathroom floor as my phone began to ring.  I could hear the hard plastic of its casing knocking against the porcelain backing of the toilet, and the sharp notes of the familiar tune flowing through the curtain.  Quickly I stepped out to look at the caller ID before drying off my face and arm to answer.

          “Hey Kraig, I’m in the shower, can I call you later?”

          “Meghan,” he said, pausing as his voice shook.  “I need to tell you something.”

          “That’s great, just tell me later.”

          “Look, it’s taken me an hour to be able to call you.  You need to sit down for this.”

          “All right, Kraig,” I said, looking at my distorted image in the foggy mirror, as I wrapped a towel around myself.  “What is it?”

          “Are you sitting?”

          “No.  Why are you acting so weird?”

          “Please, Meghan,” he said, and I could hear the strain and exhaustion in his voice.

          “All right, all right,” I said, turning off the shower and sitting on the closed lid of the toilet.  “I’m sitting.”

          I could hear his breath, heaving into the receiver and the smack of his lips as he attempted to speak.  Every few seconds he would sigh, and I could hear his fingers tapping against the back of his phone.

          “Meghan,” he said, pausing for a long moment before finishing.  “Blake’s dead.”

          “No he’s not I talked to him yesterday.”

          “He died last night,” Kraig said, and I could hear the spark of a lighter on the other end of the line.

          “This is so fucked up.  Are you with him?”

          “No Meghan,” he said, blowing air into the receiver.  “I’m telling you the truth.  His friend just called me an hour ago, he over-dosed.”

          “I don’t believe you,” I yelled, throwing my phone against the wall as my face began to flush.

          Pieces of broken plastic lay scattered around the floor, peeking out from the corners of the bath mats and curling into the crevices between my toes.  Small suds stuck in the layers of my hair, matting it against my head, and causing it to itch.  Cool air blew from the vents, forming small bumps across my arms and shins, as I watched the droplets from my hair glide down my collar bone and absorb into the thick cotton wrapped around my chest.

          Putting the phone back together I began to rapidly dial his number, expecting him to answer, or show up at my door laughing.  But my calls went straight to voicemail, and my texts were left unanswered.  His voice was cheerful and brief on his message, the same one that had been on there when I met him.  It didn’t sound like the voice of someone who would kill themselves.  But it also didn’t sound quite like Blake.

          I stayed there for hours, listening to my neighbors busying themselves with their everyday life.  Water turned on and off, rushing through the walls around me.  Doors slammed, children returned home from school.  Dinner was made, and the dishes were done, but nothing was said about the loss of my friend, and humanity continued to exist without him.     

***

          In my dreams all I hear is screaming, but I have no voice to yell back.  People swirl around me—through me— rushing to leave.  A pale boy with dark hair sits slouched in the corner, with a needle peaking out of his arm.  His eyes are open, and small grunts fall helplessly from his mouth.

          I try to scream for an ambulance.  Dial 911, this boys going to die, I mouth, but my throat is swollen and thick gusts of sand shoot out.  Frantically I reach for the phone, watching as my hand slides gently through it.

          Running towards him, I attempt to remove the needle from his arm, but the momentum of my movement causes me to crash through his body.  His eyes stare blankly at the wall in front of him, and his eyelashes flutter, attempting to blink.

          It’s not your time, I try to scream, stepping in front of him as sand bleeds out of the corners of my mouth.  His eyes shift, and a slight smile dusts his lips as he recognizes me.  You’re here to save me, he whispers, as a bluish tint begins to seep into his lips.  But I don’t want to be saved.

          I watch as his body begins to convulse, throwing his head and shoulders into the concrete wall behind him.  Phlegm-colored foam fills his mouth, and drips down his shirt, causing the cotton to stick to the sharp edges of his chest. 

         Lying next to him I watch as his body falls still, and his gaze becomes fixed on me.  His eyes are bloodshot and barely open, and he’s choking on the buildup in his throat.  Coughing up the excess fluid he lays his fingers next to mine and attempts to speak.  I won’t leave you, he mouths, as I begin to cry.  Not until you’re ready to let me go.

         I lay next to him until I’m sure he’s gone, watching the light reflect into the copper specs of his eyes.  His body doesn’t move, and my hands pass through his flesh as I attempt to close his lids.  I loved you, I scream, filling the crevices of his body with the sand from my breath.  I loved you.

Published by peace is illegal

I am a writer of pornography, of politics and murder.

2 thoughts on “Mad World by Meghan Kathleen Barnes

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