I lean back against the rotten wooden stump of a dead friend and scan the parked cars nearby. Ever since I saw my first crush getting into her mum’s car after school, I’ve been able to memorise plates and make patterns with the letters and numbers. If I saw that car driving along the street, I would push out my shoulders, straighten my posture and do everything I could to look enigmatic – jawline clenched and profiled – in the off chance that she was sat in the back seat gazing out of the window at the multitudes of shufflers and caught a glimpse of this god. The plates around me look like fun, or as close to fun as I get these days. Those add up to 20. That one kind of spells twat. That car, in that shade of red, reminds me of Jessamin and her chocolate eyes, and her new surname, and the child she bounces on her knee that isn’t mine and I never wanted anyway.
“Newspapers have been filled recently with the story of a man from Nagoya. The woman he loved died last year and he drowned himself in work—Japanese style—like a madman. It seems he even made an important discovery in electronics. And then in the month of May he killed himself. They say he could not stand hearing the word ‘Spring.’”
– Chris Marker Sans Soleil
I am halfway down my first bottle of beer, and I can feel the buzz as the disease winds around my arteries, laminating my cells in that familiar melancholy stupor which will leave me reckless and blind later on this evening. When I am into my third or fourth my mind becomes sufficiently lubricated as to give me a glimpse of my former self – when life was as simple as a 16bit jump over an instant kill pit, before morality sat me on a fence for eternity, before I knew anything about the future and how influential it will be. By the seventh, I will listen to the ravens as they sing their songs about death hunting us through the long grass. I will remember the stuff that never happened, and I will fantasise about things that did happen and happened beyond my remit. It is easy to live inside a bubble until it becomes opaque and hard, and before you can escape you are trapped inside a marble and condemned to be lost in a gutter or under a child’s bed.
The last time I sat here I made a bit of a fool of myself. I begged an old woman for a trampoline because she looked like my grandma and we never had a garden growing up. I cried over her old dusty tights and vomited maroon over her inexpensive shoes. That night, in the police cell, I felt too embarrassed to shit on the exposed toilet and too wired to sleep on the mattress. Instead I added my name to the others carved into the wall, taking care not to overlap ‘Johnny Sumner’ who (from the number of notches underneath) had spent sixteen nights here.
I look up to a cloudless black sky. It is just past noon, but the blues and greens and reds have drained out of my eyes of late. I see everything in a saturated monochrome now – trees, lakes and birds just vague shadows in my mind depending on the strength of the incandescent Sun. All the cars now look the same, except – of course – for the plates. I neck the last of this warm first bottle, placing it carefully next to me, and look over my shoulder. That one is the same make and model of Jessamin’s. That one adds up to 17. That one spells Mist.