Wasted


Trigger warnings: this one is a bit dark, and very dreary and depression, mostly because I’m talking about depression. Enter at your own risk. If you do decide to read it and it hurts, then I am very sorry. I hope I’ll be okay, and I hope that you will too.

***

My head is a weird place to live.

Last night was very difficult. In retrospect, I should have seen last night coming, because the whole day was leading up to it.

Sorry, I’m being cryptic. What I’m talking about is my depression. My depression which as I’ve said before manifests as intense loneliness, and it just follows me around throughout the day. I was actually going to write a blog post last night about “Grey Days,” which was a possible word I was thinking of to describe the kind of day where my depression is having a “flare up.” This is something that’s really been happening all my life. When I was a little kid, it wasn’t so much a feeling of loneliness as it was an intense nostalgia, longing for a past time when I felt safe or comfortable or happy. This affected my OCD and caused me to spend a lot of time playing video games and watching TV to try and recreate a moment when I had felt safe. And then in turn I’d try to recreate that feeling later on, leading to me doing a whole lot of playing video games and listening to television and not a whole lot of anything else.

And you know, I wish that I had known then, back when I was twelve, spending all my time staring at screens, that it was a very unproductive use of my time. Granted, my life was not easy when I was twelve. I was raised by an emotionally abusive mother and I needed whatever moments of peace I could get. But I wish I had found peace in walking around outside or reading books more often than video games, because ultimately, as much as I love video games, it kind of saps all the creativity out of me and leaves me kind of zombified. Sometimes that’s nice, but to spend the majority of all your free time that way isn’t exactly healthy.

And really, I think a lot of my problems are due to unhealthy habits. I never learned to eat properly, I never learned to play any sports, I never learned how to interact with people my age, I never learned to drive or do my taxes or deal with the responsibility and stress of working a job. I never learned to manage money, I never had a supportive family who could comfort me when I was lonely or heartbroken, I had to do everything by myself. I had to raise myself. Emotionally, at least. And well, a kid doesn’t know how to raise himself.

I’m rambling today and I guess that’s just gonna be what today’s post is. It’s important that I write every day just to exercise, another thing I need to work on. I want to go back to the gym. I’d like to do so today. But today is another Grey Day where everything is just HEAVY.

I carry the loneliness and the depression around like a very heavy blanket over my shoulders. It’s like a blanket in a lot of ways, it comforts me and keeps me safe when I’m alone, but it’s also hard to carry around, and it keeps me from breathing unfettered.

I was determined that today, I would not let the depression keep me from being productive. I was going to get up, take my computer, and go out into the daylight, sit down at the coffee shop and write, apply for college, work on job applications, and try to make the most of the day. And I’m doing that. But it would be accurate to say that the simple effort to just sit here, out in public, and do something so simple, is so draining that my whole body is weak and I almost feel like I could pass out from it. I’m not really panicked or anxious right now. My current meds have traded panic attacks for deeper depression. It’s time I asked my doctor to change them. I don’t know what the next ones will be like.

I’m horny all the time. I always have been, I’m hypersexual. But this summer, I indulged way too much, and I had a lot of unsatisfactory hookups that ultimately amounted to self-harming. I was shattering my spirit every time I did it, to the point that I didn’t even enjoy hooking up anymore. I was even a little grossed out by it. This is not something I’m used to feeling. Usually, sexuality is so powerful that it consumes me, and even if things don’t work out with the person I’m having sex with, at least I had fun having sex. But now even that has vanished. And the loss of my sexual appetite (and inability to stay hard at important moments, again due to the medication) has really affected my sense of identity. Sexuality is such a part of who I am that I don’t know who I am without it.

A Youtuber who I like, called Contrapoints, said that when she transitioned and no longer had to deal with having so much testosterone running through her, she felt like a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders, like she’d been released from the curse of having a man’s body, the need to have an orgasm every day, to have sex frequently in relationships. I admit that I thought it sounded nice. I thought, it would be good not to have this throbbing thing between my legs dictating my bodily needs, demanding attention before everything else, to the point where orgasms didn’t even feel that good anymore. I usually cum more than four times a day. And this is me ON ANTIDEPRESSANTS, we won’t even go into what it was like before I had medication. Suffice it to say my sexual appetite is huge. And I guess that’s a natural part of being a male in my twenties, but combined with my recent struggles with such intense loneliness, it makes for a dangerous combination.

Last night, I gave up on writing a blog post, packed my computer up and drove home. I’d gone to Starbucks, which is my preferred place to hang out and write, mostly because they always have incredibly fast and reliable WiFi. I spoke to the manager earlier this week about a job and she was very nice to me, and I honestly got really excited. I called her a couple of days later and she assured me she hadn’t forgotten about me. I came in today and asked if she was there, but she’d already gone home. I’m hoping she’ll call me back. I’d always kind of worried about what working in a coffee shop would be like for me, being stuck behind a counter with long lines and potentially feeling really hot and overwhelmed, but for some reason I now really want to give it a try. I think I’d be a good fit. I hear they pay their employees really well.

You see, I don’t have any idea what I was going to talk about when I started this, it’s all very stream of consciousness today because there’s just so much I have to say. I’ve been working on writing a song, and every day I spent at least twenty minutes or so playing it and throwing around ideas. It’s progressing very slowly. I’ve been keeping track of my ideas for stories and blogs. And I made myself some lunch this afternoon instead of buying it, and that always feel better than eating processed food.

I wish I had any fucking clue how to do any of this. It’s awful to be twenty-eight and have no idea how to be a grownup. I feel so embarassed and humiliated, like this big child who doesn’t know what the hell I’m doing. And mostly, the only real emotion I’ve been feeling lately is desperate, cloying loneliness, which doesn’t exactly make online dating easy, because I’m either upset at all the rejection or I’m coming on to people way too strong.

I guess I’ve gotten over being ghosted a couple weeks ago. But I haven’t forgotten about it, and I haven’t stopped being angry. Another guy has put off seeing me three times now and vanished without responding to messages. I don’t know why people are so unreliable. I even asked him last night to promise he wouldn’t disappear on me. But he did anyway.

What I feel today is hopelessness. The effort to sit here is overwhelming. Just driving around, being out in the world, it’s enough to make me swoon with sadness. I walk through the day, on the verge of tears at all times, and the worst thing is I don’t know if it’s for a legitimate reason or if it’s just my stupid brain chemistry not doing what it’s supposed to.

I’m getting old. I’m not actually getting old but I can feel myself aging, turning into an actual adult, and I’ve missed so much. I didn’t go to college, and even if I start soon, I’ll never know what it’s like to be twenty-four in college. When I think back on my life, I ask myself, is there any time I would go back to and live again if I could travel into the past? And aside from my visits with Matthew last year and Jacob this year, the answer is no. I hate my childhood, I hate my teenage years, I hate my early twenties. When I look back on my life, I don’t see a collection of lived experiences and a life full of interesting thought and contemplation and expression of my talent, I see wasted potential, I see the person I currently am: a fat, diabetic, alternate-timeline version of the real me, the one who went to school and made friends and had lovers and felt things, felt life, actually FELT everything. But this version of me? It’s a bad dream. One where you wake up and think “I’m so glad I’m not actually in my late twenties, I’m so glad I haven’t sat around and wasted my life playing video games. I’m so glad I didn’t turn into my older brother, sitting on my ass playing games all day while a woman takes care of me.”

But in my case, I don’t wake up, I don’t look down to discover I’m still spry and energetic and hopeful and sexual. I realize that I’m twenty-eight, but I look like I’m twenty and I feel like I’m forty. And I’ve spent so much time doing absolutely nothing, and I regret.

I regret. So. Much.

I think I’m going to go home, and save the college application for later. I’m going to crawl into bed with the dog and the cat, and I’m going to curl up and maybe cry, maybe listen to ASMR videos, maybe browse through the fifteen open Pornhub tabs on my phone, maybe fantasize about my novel that probably isn’t actually any good, and has gone stale and old and lost it’s spark and it’s magic, and will probably never be written. I’m a good writer, but not good enough to write a book. I’m a good musician, but not good enough to make an album. I’m a good lover, but not good enough to make someone feel a genuine connection with me. Except for Jacob, of course. I still love him. And a few other people, but most of them live far away.

I didn’t mean for this to be so sad. But this is what it’s like inside me, walking around inside my sad little body. You can’t really explain it to people like my mom who don’t have a conception of what it’s like to be constantly in pain, constantly hurting, constantly alone, constantly on the edge of tears. To live your life with your emotions just laying gently on a razorblade, and any bit of pressure will bare down on you and it will cut you. To feel sick, and depraved, and like everyone who’s ever met you was mistaken when they saw your kind voice and your compassionate heart and your articulate way of speaking, and they didn’t see that inside you’re a creep. Everybody loves that stupid Radiohead song, “I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo.” But they don’t really believe it when they sing it, or identify with it. They don’t really know what it’s like to be a weirdo. They don’t know what it’s like to learn with surprise that your other gay friends DON’T peek at the urinal every time, that they DON’T find themselves fantasizing about fucking every cute guy they see, that they DON’T immediately wonder what someone’s penis looks like when they talk to you, that they DON’T see the world through a hypsexual fog that increases the color of everything like a television turning up the saturation, but that only gives you an exaggerated version of reality, and it’s pretty but it still isn’t real.

I’m ashamed. I’m lonely. And I don’t think that I’m really worthy of love. Because I know that I’m too much work. My heart is a tangled web of veins and arteries and muscles, and to actually get to anything worthwhile, you have to go cutting through the vines and searching for something hidden deep within. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m clingy and emotional, but at the same time I’m shut off, I can’t really express love or actually enjoy a connection. I’m so many contradictions in one person, and it tears my spirit into pieces when all the different parts of me are running in different directions and leaving me in the center, being pulled and pulled while the fabric begins to tear.

I’m not going to hurt myself. I certainly don’t want to hurt anyone else. My version of being suicidal is not actually attempting to kill myself because I don’t truly want to die, it’s a feeling of giving up all hope. It feels good to let go of hope, because it’s not the answer you want but it IS AN ANSWER. If you pray and God answers, “No,” well at least he spoke to you. That’s what giving up is like. It’s like trying to stay alive in the ocean but making the decision to unbuckle the life vest and sink, because now you’ve made a CHOICE, now the power is back in your hands, and even the ocean can’t take that from you.

I hope that tomorrow I feel better. I hope that tomorrow I find the love of my life. I hope that tomorrow I laugh. I hope that tomorrow I never have to feel the way I feel when I’m around my mother. I hope that tomorrow I’ll be a little bit better of a person than I was today, and I won’t feel so incredibly wasted.

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“Run Run Run Run Run Run Honey”

I’m not sure where to begin.

So much has happened this year and I haven’t written about a lot of it. I’ve just… done other things mostly. Tonight’s post isn’t going to be very long because I need to be asleep within the next half hour or so for work tomorrow. And because of that, I really have no freaking clue what exactly I should be writing about.

I’m not going to do my usual speech about how I wish I would write more. More, I want to talk about what I plan to do now. An ongoing problem I’ve had is that I’m incredibly organized, which is a manifestation of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and that can actually put a lot of strain on my writing. The reason for this is that I try really hard to to categorize and organize everything I’ve written, and I have gone through the entirety of my blog posts since I began in 2010 and recategorized them several times. The reason for this is that I’ve always wanted to have a nice numbered blog system. Like, for instance, let’s say that this current blog post was number 123, I could put a nice pretty #123 before the title. I want to do this because it’s the way some Youtubers organize their videos and it just makes me feel proud to see what I’ve created.

The problem then becomes, what the hell COUNTS as a blog post? Because I’ve posted such a variety of things here over the years. The fictional short stories and novel excerpts I’ve posted are clearly not blog posts, and most of the time I post poetry all on it’s own, so that’s not a blog post either. But I’ve also posted a lot of really personal stuff, as well as things that are kind of meant to be read by others. For example, I’ve done reviews of books and video games, and more recently written some essays about social topics and media that I like. So, do I number those are part of the blog? Do journals count? What about those couples of posts where I just recounted my sexual encounters in explicit detail, which I then went back and retroactively made private? I know that this all seems silly and pointless, and well, it is, but that’s part of my OCD. I also keep my iTunes library immaculately organized with perfect track numbers, album artwork, and other metadata.

Think of it like trying to concentrate on creating something while you’re in a filthy room. You might want to clean the room first so you can concentrate. Okay I’m not going to keep going on about this because I’m sure it is an absolute chore to read, but maybe if you also have OCD or something akin to it you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

On top pressing matters. I have work tomorrow. Which means I have a job. Which means I stopped working at my previous job. And all that.

I left my last job pretty abruptly by unceremoniously walking out the front door one day when I decided I had had enough. It was mostly a combination of stress and being sick. I had a bone spur in my mouth and was on heavy pain medication for it, meanwhile my stepfather was dying of cancer in the hospital, and after he passed away my mom moved into her own apartment, leaving me alone in the house. I had the chance to help my best friend and lover move away from his abusive family and of course I took it, and my brother was planning on moving in with us with his wife. There was just… a lot going on. And I honestly couldn’t handle the stress of trying to work.

I’ve never been good at working a job. It’s not so much because I’m lazy or anything, as much as it is that I hate to be forced to do something I don’t want to. I mean, we live in a finite universe with incredibly brief lives that are already difficult enough to find meaning in, why would I waste eight hours of a perfectly good day standing behind a counter somewhere smiling at strangers and ringing up their hemorrhoid cream, when I could be writing a novel or kissing an artist while standing on a mountain top? I mean yeah, there’s the whole issue of society needing to stay afloat, but society isn’t going to miss me, why can’t I just stay home and do what I like?

I realize how immature that sounds, but it’s the kind of question you have to ask yourself looking at society objectively. The only reason you HAVE to work is to have money, and the only reason you need to have money is so that you can have food and shelter. Meanwhile food and shelter exist plentifully, it’s just that we’ve all communally decided and agreed that you can’t have the food and shelter unless you have enough shiny rocks, or scraps of linen paper or what have you. Actually WE didn’t agree on that at all, people hundreds of years ago did, and we haven’t all realized that we don’t actually HAVE to do anything Thomas Jefferson says because he’s actually dead.

Boy did this go off the rails quickly. Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that work is a HUGE anxiety trigger for me. It’s more or less the ONLY anxiety trigger. I mean, I get anxiety other times, but almost always it’s to do with work. The responsibility of going every time I’m scheduled, being forced to stay there without the ability to leave, it’s terrible, and sometimes unbearable. I think it has to do with the way my anxiety started: I had a panic attack at school when I was seventeen and I passed out, later being taken to the hospital. The next day when I came into school the panic attack repeated without actually passing out, though dizziness was definitely there. From that day forward, being in the classroom where I had my panic attack caused me uncontrollable anxiety, eventually I couldn’t be on that floor of the school without having anxiety, and then I couldn’t be at school at all without anxiety, and then I couldn’t be in public at all without anxiety. Having medication has helped greatly with the anxiety, although it’s mostly replaced the panic attacks with depression.

Which I’m fine with, really. I don’t mind the depression nearly as much. Depression is usually kind of comforting. It’s like a warm blanket of sorrow and hopelessness. It’s a relief. It’s like a gentle say, saying “It’s okay. I set down all responsibility. I’m not going to try and be happy, or try and make it through. I accept that I’m miserable, I accept that I’m filled with deep, longing sorrow.” And yes, being in public is hard when it happens, but the symptoms of being somber and deflated are much easier to deal with than the heart-racing, blood-pumping, nauseous dizziness of a panic attack.

Yesterday I went in to work on no particular set time schedule to get some computer training done. This ended up taking about five hours, and honestly I wasn’t terribly upset while I was there, just very depressed, which is not really the same thing. Depression is sort of the opposite of being upset. It’s a quiet resignation to sadness. But by the time I got home, the depression was starting to becoming heavier and heavier, like a weight in my chest, and I found myself curled up in my bed, shivering and tingling all over, crying and feeling a desperate, aching loneliness, wanting so badly to be held, to be touched, to be kissed and to be told it’s going to be alright.

I think I want a boyfriend. Someone I can trust who will help me when it’s hard. Someone who will make me feel safe and special and beautiful. Jake does that for me, but he’s far away and I need someone here. I don’t know how to go about it. I prefer to be polyamorous and I already have feelings for a couple of people and I just don’t really know how to HAVE a boyfriend anymore. I haven’t done it in several years and all previous attempts have ended disastrously. I had a long-distance boyfriend last year and it worked pretty well but then there’s the obvious problem of the distance. I need someone here, someone that can be there for me on the bad days. And sometimes there are a lot of bad days.

I hope that tomorrow will at least be manageable. I pray a lot. I don’t believe in God, or if I do it’s only in an Obsessive Compulsive way the requires the ritual of prayer to feel confident or safe. I’d like to believe in God, or in something. At least I think I would. I’d like to not feel alone, but I also don’t want to feel trapped. And I haven’t yet found a way to overcome both of those feelings at once.

There are ants in my bed because it’s by the window they’ve been biting my legs and my arms. But I don’t really notice them when they’re there. Hopefully this problem will get resolved soon too.

Tomorrow I work from nine in the morning to five-thirty in the afternoon. I hope it will be alright. I’ve had a lot of disastrous job experiences. Right now I’m in a dark place with this job, but I’m hoping that after some time, it will become easy and casual like my last job was. And I hope that I get to take the weekend off to recover from all this. Yesterday was unbearable. And the thing about unbearable sadness is that you have to bare it, which is what makes it so unbearable.

Goodnight, friends. I wrote a poem last night, I hope you like it. I really did. I’ll post some more poetry after this blog post. I write a lot of scraps of poetry throughout the day. Hopefully some of it will turn into something beautiful. Or maybe it already is. Who knows.

 

Currently obsessed with…
Hounds of Love (Alternative Version) – Kate Bush, This Woman’s Work II

Fearies Awakening #5: Moonlight

(Special Request! I know that there are a few loyal followers who like my posts whenever I post something, and every post usually gets some attention from a few people. I’m not sure how many people actually take the time to read these blog posts, but I’m going to make a special request of you guys. If you take the time to read this, please take the time to comment, even if it’s something short and to the point.A long time ago, I read a post on someone’s blog that said said that if you’ve invested the time out of your day to read what someone has written, please also invest just one more moment to let them know what you thought of it. I almost never get comments on my blog and it means the world to me when people do comment, so please, if you like what you’re reading, leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks guys, enjoy!)

 

blue

 

So I ran across a bit of a stumbling block with my last entry in chapter one. I was watching an Australian romantic comedy series called Please Like Me, and the energy of humorously awkward romance bled into my writing and it completely didn’t fit within the story. At least not at this moment in the story. I realized very quickly that I needed to take another stab at this chapter, and I’m really happy that I did. When I first wrote it, in addition to the tonal problem, I also ran across a real problem of getting my characters from one point to another: I wanted to talk about the library, but first I had to get them to the castle gate, then through the corridors leading to the library. But I don’t actually know much about the castle layout.

So how did I solve this problem? I did what I always do, I started in the middle. This picks up in the first draft right after Hephaestion tells Lucas to lead the way out of the town square, and begins inside the old library in the castle. I may come back later to flesh out how they got there, or since it isn’t terribly important, I may leave it the way it is.

Another big problem I’ve had is that some very important storyline things are about to happen right here in this library, and I have been very intimidated. My goblin is about to make his grand appearance to my protagonist, and things are going to begin being set in motion that will actually cause the events of the plot to begin to unfold. That is, surprisingly, a very daunting thing to write. I’ve spoken the scene aloud several times to myself in the shower or in other places, but I needed to get Lucas and Hephaestion into the library to make it happen.

Also, this is a note about editing, but I’m not really sure how important of a role Rex and Eric will play in the story. Because I’ve been so interested in Lord of the Rings lately, I had thought about making Rex and Eric a part of the main cast, at least in the beginning, to journey with Lucas, but I’m also considering leaving them out entirely. Rex was a spur of the moment character I invented to get Lucas to Hephaestion, and Eric is a redesign of an older character from the conceptual material. Still, I can’t say how any of this will go from here, but I’m asking you to disregard the last version of the library as no longer canon, and take this one as the truth instead. I know that editing and redrafting is something that typically happens later, but I was unable to move on with the story from where I left it before.

The preamble is a bit longer this time, but I’m happy to continue the story for you now.

Moonlight fell in blue shafts from the high, long windows of the old library, and in the illumination, the dust of a long-forgotten place danced and swirled. Lucas stood leaning on the railing that overlooked the floor beneath, where more high windows cast moonlight over the long tables beneath, covered in books that lay half open, as though they were abandoned in haste. Chairs were still pulled out and scattered among the floor, and on all sides of the room were the rows and rows of high, tall wooden shelves, filled with books whose spines stood strong and quiet in the desolate place.

The library was a part of the royal wing, and like the rest of the royal wing of the castle it had fallen into disuse and, eventually, abandoned almost entirely. Across the many shelves were gaping holes where books had been taken to be moved to the scholar’s library on the other side of the castle, where work was still done, and no doubt the lamps still burned as the night came on in full. Lucas found himself hypnotized by the site of old library, standing like a ruin in the quiet moonlight. A set of wooden stairs that had once gleamed with polish and now covered with a fine layer of dust led up to the landing where he stood, and behind him were even more rows of bookshelves, and shelves built into the walls, reaching higher than anyone could stand, and so there were ladders placed haphazardly around the area, where the scholars had cleaned out anything of particular interest long ago.

It had been ten years since Lucas had visited this place, and even in this dark state, where no lanterns burned in any corner, only moonlight and shadow, it still held it’s charm. Lucas smiled to himself and he turned around. He walked through a darkened aisle where nothing could be made out on the spines of the books, and then stopped at a shelf where the moonlight fell, and he ran his forefinger along the dusty spines.

Old leather-bound volumes with faint traces of color that had long since been worn away adorned the spaces that weren’t left empty, and he grabbed one at random to examine it, pulling it out, and in the illumination of moonlight seeing a cloud of dust erupt from it’s vacant space. The old spine gave a loud creak as he opened the book to the center and ran a hand across it’s yellowed pages. In the moonlight he could make out some of the text, but it seemed uninteresting: an old history book, and it was recounting a battle of Alexandria. Since it didn’t refer to the city as New Alexandria, it must have been outdated, and supplanted with more reliable information, so this old volume was left. He slipped it back into it’s place on the bookshelf, noticing that the two books on either side of the vacant space hadn’t budged at all, so used to sitting still and silent were they.

He explored his way through several more aisles, pausing to run his fingers along the dusty spines, but from the titles saw nothing that sparked his interest. Nothing fictional, no tales of adventures, no chronicles of great heroes. Mostly books about Alexandrian history and law. He saw littered against the stone columns scattered through the library glass cases under which terribly old volumes sat, their pages opened, the ink faded. He stopped in front of one, a shaft of blue light cast on it, and he peered down to see a crude drawing of a wolf, and some text beside it giving it a name. He wasn’t sure if this was a mythological story of an actual account of a hunter fighting a ravenous beast. It was still too difficult to make out much more than a few words.

Lucas heard a cork pop and it startled him, he turned quickly to see Hephaestion sitting against the far stone wall, just beneath a window and covered in moonlight himself. He had opened the bottle of brown liquid that he’d carried within his satchel. Lucas held the empty satchel over his shoulder, hoping that he would find something in the library worth bringing home, but so far nothing had spoken to him. He made his way over to Hephaestion and folded his arms with a look of false disapproval.

“Cadet,” said Lucas in a tone of mock authority, “Sitting about on the floor after hours in a restricted area, drinking pilfered liquor. What are we to make of you?”

Hephaestion grinned and turned the bottle up, taking one hardy swig before coughing and pressing his fist to his chest. Lucas raised his eyebrows. Hephaestion wiped his mouth and looked up, then croaked out, “Pretty good stuff.”

“Really?” asked Lucas in genuine curiosity, sitting down on the floor in front of Hephaestion, who handed him the bottle.

“No,” replied Hephaestion and cleared his throat, “Tastes like fried piss. But I think it’s supposed to.”

Lucas looked down at the bottle. Clear and a little dusty, with some words written across the front in ornate calligraphy that he couldn’t quite read in the dim light. He’d never really liked alcohol, though he’d drank wine at official dinners, and had been told by his father that to refuse the wine was an insult to the staff. He enjoyed the bitter red wine more than the sweet white wine, and he assumed from the sickening smell of this liquid that it would be bitter. He exhaled and bravely took a drink, upending the bottle the same way Hephaestion had, instantly choking, and then setting the bottle down and coughing, some of the liquid escaping from his lips as he did so. It burned his throat and seemed to remain hot as it settled somewhere in his chest.

“That is disgusting,” croaked Lucas.

Hephaestion nodded matter-of-factly. “Indeed, but I think that’s the idea.”

“Why would people knowing drink this?” asked Lucas, although he didn’t have to have an answer because even after one drink he could already feel his head swimming.

Lucas got up and walked over to the wall beside Hephaestion, who took another, more cautious drink, and kept it down this time. Lucas slid down the wall to sit beside Hephaestion, and the two passed the bottle between one another, drinking quietly.

“You know,” said Lucas after a few minutes, feeling suddenly very conversational, “There really is a magic to this old place, but the books don’t seem terribly interesting.”

Hephaestion finished a drink and shrugged, “I don’t really like reading all that much.”

Lucas felt a little puzzled, “Why not?” he asked, “Don’t you want to learn about things you didn’t know before?”
Hephaestion nodded, “Absolutely,” he said, “But I prefer to hear it from people older and wiser than me, I like to hear it spoken. I don’t mind learning about history and philosophy and even theology, I just don’t want to read it. Seems like when I read it, I’m left to sort out what it all means, but when a professor or a tutor explains it, they know how to make sense of it.”

“You just need practice making sense of things,” said Lucas, and realized his words were slurring a little.

“Do you think,” said Hephaestion, “Your father is going to be angry with you for sneaking out?”

Lucas pursed his lips and thought for a moment, then nodded, “Most definitely. I’m probably afraid. I don’t feel afraid, but I’m probably afraid. Unpleasant guy, my father.”

Hephaestion nodded in agreement, “He seems very stern.”

“He is,” replied Lucas, “And cold, and unfeeling, and demanding, and surprisingly boring. He commands respect everywhere he goes, and yet he never has much interesting to say. Always going on about politics and talking about the welfare of other people, but he doesn’t seem to show any interest in the welfare of people around him.”

“You mean you,” suggested Hephaestion.

“I mean me,” affirmed Lucas, “He absolutely could not care less about my interests, but he feels the need to have control over everything I do. I’m nineteen, I want to make my own choices.”

“It sounds nice to me, though,” said Hephaestion, “To have a parent to make rules for you. My only parents are the officers, and they believe in letting people learn things the hard way. If I want to go out in the middle of the night and get myself into trouble, I can do it, and then I can come home with a terrible headache and a black eye, and they just nod and tell me that I learned my lesson.”

“I wish my father were like that,” said Lucas, drinking bravely now, as the bottle was less than halfway full.

“No you don’t,” said Hephaestion with an edge of sadness in his voice, “I never got to know either of my parents, they died when I was so young that I don’t even know if my memories are real or if I’m just imagining them. I have this idea of what my mother probably looked like but I can’t be sure. And my father, I just remember him holding my hand and walking me around town, nothing much else. When they died, I was sent to the academy and raised by the officers.”

Lucas had heard about all of this before but it still saddened him. Even though he wished Hephaestion had had the chance to know his family, he wouldn’t have traded places with him and wished his own father on Hephaestion for anything.

“I don’t remember my mother, obviously,” interjected Lucas, “She died in childbirth. So I’ve truly never had a mother, as long as I’ve been alive. Except maybe for a minute or two. It was just my father and the nannies and tutors.”

Hephaestion snickered, “Nannies.”
“What?” asked Lucas incredulously.

“It sounds so pampered, doesn’ it?” asked Hephaestion, turning to look at Lucas with a smile, “Raised by nannies in a governer’s mansion.”

“It wasn’t our mansion until my father became governer,” said Lucas.

Hephaestion rested a hand on Lucas’ shoulder. Lucas’ pulse quickened but only slightly. “I’m sorry,” he said sincerely, “It isn’t your fault your mother died, otherwise there wouldn’t have been any nannies. I shouldn’t have been so callous.”

Lucas shook his head reassuringly, “It really doesn’t bother me to talk about my mother,” he said, “For all purposes I’ve never had one. And in as much as I’ve had a father, well… he hasn’t done a very good job of being a father.”

Hephaestion turned away from the wall and laid out flat on his back, spreading out on the floor. The light from the window was fully illuminating him. His cotton shirt was coming up just above his waist and the bottom of his stomach was exposed. In the light Lucas saw the light sprinkling of fine brown hair along his lower stomach. He also noticed the small hill in Hephaestion’s trousers between his legs, and had a difficult time looking away, since Hephaestion’s eyes were closed and he didn’t notice. Lucas shifted and then reached between his legs to adjust himself. He took another drink. He was surprised to realize it was the last of the liquor.

Hephaestion sat up suddenly, and looked directly into Lucas’ eyes. The moonlight was illuminating his face perfectly. He looked so young. He was twenty, but he might have fourteen. His auburn hair framed his face in long, bright curls, and his eyes were chestnut, the perfect complement to the color of his hair, deep eyes that always showed so much genuine emotion, framed by thick eyebrows. His skin was an olive tan, his jaw was square and his full lips were in an expression of seriousness that was in no way menacing. His eyes always seemed to be pleading to understand, there was a strength to his taut body and square features, and a gentleness in the way he applied them.

“Do you hate your father?” he asked.

Lucas was a little shocked by the question. “Why would you ask?”

“You’ve told me so many awful things about him,” said Hephaestion, “The few times I’ve spoken with him when I’ve been to your house he’s had little to say, and he does seem very cold. He frightens me. I can’t imagine what it’s like for you. And I just suddenly realized I’ve never heard you say you love him.”

Lucas thought for a moment. Did he hate his father? His immediate instinct was to affirm that he did hate him, but he wasn’t sure that hate was the right word. “I….” he began hesitantly, “I guess I just don’t really care about him. I don’t… love him. I don’t love him, but I don’t know that I hate him. I don’t care enough to hate him. I just want him to go away.”

Hephaestion looked up into the light from the window and an expression of thoughtfulness crossed his face. Then he asked, “He’s never hurt you, has he?”

Yes. In every possible way.

“Um,” said Lucas, “Well…”

“I mean physically,” added Hephaestion.

Yes.

“I, uh…” began Lucas again.

Hephaestion shook his head, “It’s fine. You don’t have to say anything. Just… I just don’t want to think of him hurting you. You deserve better than that. I want you to be safe.”

Lucas felt a warmth in his chest that came from some source other than the liquor which made his head churn. “Thank you,” he said, unsure of what else to say, “I… thank you.”

Hephaestion laid back down on his back, and spread out his limbs again. Lucas felt suddenly very brave, and he got down to his knees and crawled over, then curled up beside Hephaestion with his back to Hephaestion’s side, and Hephaestion reached down and put an arm under Lucas’ head. He rested his head on Hephaestion’s warm arm, after a few moments feeling the blood pumping a little harder to compensate for Lucas being there.

Neither of them spoke. Lucas felt warmth in his chest. He sighed contentedly. He thought he felt Hephaestion’s chest shake behind him in a slight chuckle. His eyes were heavy, and now that he was horizontal he realized the room was spinning. He shut his eyes, and the spinning stopped being disorienting and became comforting. The floor swam beneath him, and the warmth of Hephaestion’s body seemed to envelop him, and he fell asleep.

“Living Like I’m Not Alive”

How do you stay alive? It’s all so much. The worst part of being happy, of finding friendship and love and hope, of traveling to new places, is when you lose it all. When you move back to the past, and you’re surrounded by the places and the people you hate. And suddenly, those weeks and months of happy times, of meeting friends, of laughing and being told how good you are, they’re all distant memories, and they feel like they’re fading away so fast.
 
I can’t take care of myself. What will I do next? Find someone else to take care of me? I don’t mean to be down on myself when I say I can’t take care of myself, I truly mean it. And I’m shouting out to everyone: “HEY! I can’t take care of myself! Someone, help me!” And everyone responds with “Oh no, don’t say that about yourself, you’ll be fine! You CAN take care of yourself!” But that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that I just can’t, and I need someone to help.
 
Where do I go? All of my friends are so far away. All of my hope is back in Delaware, with Zack and Robert, with the dogs, with the living room and my bedroom and the office and the computer. With the places where I belonged. My parking spot in their driveway is empty. And I’m empty. I hate that they aren’t here every day, that I go moments and hours without thinking about them. I hate that I’m losing them. They’re not leaving, but they’re transitioning. They’re becoming Zack and Robert Three States Away, instead of Zack and Robert In The Next Room. I didn’t want that transition. I didn’t want any of this. I didn’t want my world to shake and crumble.
 
How do you keep living? It’s not that I want to die. I want to live. If I wanted to die, this wouldn’t hurt so much. The fact that I can’t live, it makes it so much harder because now I want to. And they’re so far from me. They can’t pull me up here. And I can’t pull myself up. I can’t take care of myself.
 
I need safe arms to hold me. I need a place to recuperate. But there isn’t one. I have to get up and find a job. And I just… I don’t want to live like this anymore. What can I do? Where can I go? How can this be happening?
 
How can you live?