…fighting

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When Moe woke up it was sunny but he felt really sad. His eyes were itchy and he rubbed them and then started to cry, silently, while staring out the window. A small brownish bird that he often saw was on a silver birch tree just outside and he waved at the bird and the bird flew away, something he felt was symbolic, so he laughed, rolling over, placing his head between two pillows and allowing those silent tears to stream down his cheeks and dampen the rest of his face.

Later he was downstairs drinking coffee and smoking out of the kitchen window, hoping to see the small brownish bird again, or maybe a different bird, thinking if he did spot a different bird he could at least pretend it was the same bird he’d seen from his bed, or a relative of said bird, like a brother or maybe a cousin. He’d never thought about birds having cousins before and the notion made him smile but the smile was a hollow one, he felt, not true to his inner feelings that remained un-optimistic about more or less everything else.

He sat at the kitchen table and browsed his phone, smoking another cigarette, not caring about standing near the window, or much else at this point. He went on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook and after around ten minutes of reading pointless things written by people who meant little to him his phone died. He caught his reflection in the dark, blank screen, bearded, but in a hobo-esque kind of way, not fashionably so, his eyes seeming black and lifeless even though he knew in reality they were blue, though maybe they’d changed. Maybe the colour blue was hope, a kind of sparkle, liveliness, or something, so it made sense that the coloured sheen had all but gone.

He dropped his phone by loosening his grip gradually, over a period of around five seconds. The phone bounced along the floor and came to a rest on the stone tiles, near the door that led to the outside. This was ironic, he felt, but not in an amusing sort of way.

Moe, went upstairs and played the guitar and sang for a while which made him feel better but also old, realising he was no longer a kid with a dream, remembering how he was once convinced he would most definitely become a rock star and tour the world. He hadn’t been in a band for almost five years, an epiphany-like-thought, though he felt epiphanies were usually positive, whereas in this case it made him feel smaller and more alone than he’d ever felt.

He listened to his old CD’s for several hours, enjoying them, but admittedly for nostalgic reasons. Bands like Story of the Year and Glassjaw and Finch. Later he spent several more hours researching these bands, primarily on Wikipedia, and was surprised to find that most of them were still active in some capacity. This upset him because he’d felt he’d forgotten who he was, though the reasons for this loss of self-awareness eluded him.

Feeling a need to escape such morbid thoughts, Moe watched four movies in succession, starting with Cosmopolis. He didn’t enjoy it even though he was a huge fan of the book. He followed Cosmopolis with Room which was depressing because it was supposed to be uplifting, but contained too much emotion which made him feel alien and also like a little bitch. The last two movies he watched were Napoleon Dynamite, not funny at all now, at age twenty-five, when he’d recalled crying with laughter the many times he’d watched it with his friends one summer a long time ago. The last movie he watched was Inside Lewyn Davis, a movie he’d seen some months earlier and enjoyed immensely. He’d read theories about it on Imdb after his first viewing, theories which now, on his second viewing, ruined the experience somewhat, though he was still able to enjoy the music, identifying with Lewyn on some level, the loneliness maybe, fallen dreams, to an extent, but mainly the anger, which caused him to drink an entire bottle of his father’s whisky and pass out on the sofa.

Moe woke up early in the morning and threw up in the kitchen sink. He lay on the kitchen floor on his back, remembering times he and his two best friends had spent hours in this kitchen either getting drunk or smoking a shisha pipe when his parents had been away. His parents were away again and he was still here, but his friends weren’t. They both had wives and lived far away. One of them had a kid too. He wondered if they wished they were ‘back-in-time’, there with him, and then lifted his phone, from where it still lay on the kitchen floor. He plugged it into charge and called one of his friends, the one who didn’t have a kid, but his friend didn’t answer. He then tried calling the one who did have a kid, but again, being 6AM, there was no answer. Without realising what he was doing he began to browse Twitter for five or so minutes, before becoming aware of his present self/actions, proceeding to throw his phone at the wall. The phone missed the wall and hit the window and shattered, also cracking the window glass. Moe laughed manically, thinking about Tyler Durden. He stood up and began punching himself, first in the gut, then the face, until finally he was able to spit blood onto the floor, curl up on the red splashes and pass out again.

Hours later, it was the letter box that woke him. He screamed “Fuck you post man” and began to cry, shivering on the icy tiles. Outside it was raining and he walked to the park without shoes on and sat in the grass where he’d lost his virginity and got drunk for the first time, a period of his life that felt ethereal in comparison to the present. He hummed Nirvana songs and shivered and smiled, watching people who were mostly walking dogs or running, since it was still early on a Saturday. One man in a raincoat approached him and asked if he was OK. He smiled and said he was. The man in the raincoat appeared unconvinced but accepted his answer and shuffled off after his small white dog that was chasing a larger greyish dog in the mist ahead.

Moe searched for birds but they were likely all hiding from the rain. He thought about whether birds could fly with wet feathers and remember that ducks had wax on their feathers to keep them dry. This meant other birds probably couldn’t fly with wet feathers.

Back at his house that evening, he drank two bottles of wine while playing the guitar and writing a series of songs that he later realised were not even new songs, but just chord progressions he’d written years before and was now repeating. He wondered how often he did that; assume something was new, when in fact it was just regurgitation of a potentially authentic moment from the past. It was around this time he realised his guitar had been out of tune for hours and that maybe he hadn’t even really been playing it, which was terrifying in a humorous way, because now Moe felt that he knew he was losing his mind.

This realisation was followed by a knock at the door. Moe didn’t move for a few moments, until there was a second knock and finally he crept down the stairs. He could see a figure through the glass panels in the dark outside. The knock sounded a third time, louder now he was so close, but maybe also because it was more forceful, resonating inside him, almost, he was sure, within his ribs, nerves in his ears, knees. Finally he opened the door and stared at the girl, who was squinting at him from the front step.

“What are you doing here?” he asked her.

“I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said.

“I wish you’d called,” he said.

“I did. So many times. Your phone is dead, or you have no signal,” she said, glancing at her feet, then up at him, growing tearful.

“Yeah,” he said. “That’s true.”

“Are you drunk?”

“Kind of.”

“I think you’re really drunk. Can I come in?”

Moe grinned, hesitated, “OK.”

She came inside and took off her hood, revealing red hair that was wet around the edges of her face, clinging to her forehead. He thought she looked beautiful but he didn’t say it.

“I’m losing my fucking mind,” she said.

“There’s no such thing,” he said.

“This is bullshit,” she said. “Everyone knows it’s fucking bullshit.”

“I know,” he said.

“Then why are you doing this?”

He shrugged, “Just feel like I need to.”

“It’s been two months, Moe, two fucking months.”

“No it hasn’t it’s been like a week.”

She started to cry, pushing past him, entering the living room, perching on the end of the leather sofa. He watched her sob and tears formed in the corners of his eyes too.

“It’s not because I don’t love you,” he said.

“Then tell me, why the fuck?”

“Life seems strange. I’m not like most people, I think. I don’t know.”

“Of course you are. You’re just scared.”

He said, “Get the fuck out,” but without emotion, monotonously,  surprising himself even.

She cowered backwards a little upon hearing that remark, staring at him, confused and angry all at once. “What?”

“I’m not fucking scared. Everyone else is fucking scared,” he said.

“Don’t be so precious.”

“That’s why they just go along with it, all the fucking time.”

“What’s wrong with that?” she said, standing up, pacing at him.

“Maybe for most, nothing. But for me, everything. I have to fight.”

“Is that what you’ve been doing? Fighting? Is that why your face is all fucked up?”

He grinned, “Yeah. I’ve been fighting shadows, demons, fucking witches out there…”

She punched him in the nose and he staggered back, staring at her, surprised, then smiling, so she punched him again, several times, in the chest, the shoulders, neck, crying breathlessly, making noises of effort that sounded cartoon-like to him.

“You’re a fucking piece of shit. I don’t even fucking recognise you. Dead to me, dead to the fucking world!” She screamed, before pushing past him and leaving, slamming the door shut.

He stood there in the doorway between the hall and living room, listening to a car engine kick into action, rising up over the ominous sounding rain, pulling away fast and vanishing, no longer audible. Just him and the downpour. He dropped to his knees and after a few seconds reclined, spreading out onto his back on the hardwood floor. He cried and laughed at the same time and his throat ached so much he just wanted it to stop, but it wouldn’t. He staggered into the kitchen but found nothing of interest there, and then climbed upstairs, collapsing onto his bed. He turned over and looked for the small brownish bird through his open curtains but it was dark out there. He could barely see the silver birch trees, let alone the bird. It was probably nesting somewhere, with its brothers and cousins, sheltered from the cold, the rain. The thought made him smile faintly as he drifted away, hoping that when he woke up everything might feel different, at least in an objective sense, those other voices telling him to keep fighting, fading, or at least hiding for long enough for him to feel like everything could be OK.

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