I was at 7/11, getting a coffee energy drink when I saw you perusing the taquitos. You looked over in my general direction, as if thinking, ‘Do I want taquitos or do I want chips?’, eyes sliding across the Doritos, the Ruffles, biting your lip in deep thought, and then your gaze paused on me for approximately three seconds. Maybe four. Maybe four thousand years; who can say how long it actually was? Time stood still. Your brown monolithic eyeballs ate up my face, consumed my essence like a dementor, sucked me in like I was a ghost and your eyes were a ghostbuster’s ghost trap. I forgot about the mocha coffee drink because I was lost, lost in your eyes.
On the one hand, I wanted to live here, but on the other, I’d arrived with hardly any metaphorical food and supplies to last in the endless icy wasteland that is your eyes. I wondered how long I could survive, felt a deep pain, metaphorical frostbite in my fingers, the terrible truth that you would soon stop looking at me, would purchase your taquitos, and leave, and that would be that. I lit a fire in your eyes and hovered around it for a few precious moments of warmth.
Meanwhile, my parents called the police. “Our son went to 7/11 yesterday for a mocha coffee thing, but he never came back,” said my mom. “We think, well, we think he might’ve gotten lost in someone’s eyes.”
“Stay calm, m’am.
“Stay calm? HE’S IN SOMEONE’S EYES!”
“We’re sending an officer over now.”
My mom blamed my dad for letting me go to 7/11 so late at night, shrieked at him, threw a dish against the wall and flipped a glass table onto the television. Dad beseeched her to see reason, assured her that I’m a grown man, I’ve been out of the house for years, and I can take care of myself. She slapped him and told the story of how I once got lost on my way home from school and accidentally drove to a city fifty miles away.
Sometime later, a detective arrived. “If he’s lost in someone’s eyes,” he said, “we only have a matter of hours before he freezes to death.”
Meanwhile, I trudged through knee-deep metaphorical snow with icy winds raking my flesh like fish hooks, desperately searching for a recognizable landmark. When I found a dead rabbit half buried in the snow, I cracked it open, plucked out the meat shards, and suckled them like tiny popsicles. Then I swallowed a handful of snow to wash it all down. Puke rose up for a moment, then slid back down. The wind stabbed my eyes, forcing me to keep them quarter lidded at all times. Even if I did find my way back to the 7/11, I realized I wouldn’t be able to see it through the wall of snow, metaphorical snow related to bad feelings associated with longing, fear of loneliness, etc.; you see now, I’m sure.
Searchers combed the wilderness for me. Blood hounds galloped through the trees and howled into the night. A candlelight vigil was held in my parents’ house. By hour four, the detective had found only a burrito receipt caught in a bush and a cupcake cup, which he placed carefully in Ziploc bags.
Around sunrise, he approached my parents. “I’m sorry, but by this point, I don’t think there’s any way he could have survived this metaphor. This is now a search for a frozen corpse.”
My dad shook his head gravely. “Gross,” he said. “Really gross.”
My mom asked whether they might still be able to resuscitate me. The detective said the technology didn’t exist yet, although he heard scientists were working hard on it, and also, he’d read online about a baby wooly mammoth discovered by a little boy in Siberia. Scientists plan on using DNA extracted from the mammoth’s soft tissues to clone a new mammoth, using an elephant as a surrogate. Perhaps scientists might cut off a chunk of my face to genetically engineer a new version of me to replace the dead me, a better version even, one invulnerable to pain or disease.
“I don’t think that’s what she meant,” said my dad, while my mom cried into her hands.
Meanwhile, I collapsed from exhaustion into a snow bank and felt the snowfall accumulate on my back, steady and relentless, burying me alive. Ice crystals formed in my skin, the blood coagulating. I thought of the Antarctic researchers, their metabolisms so used to the cold that on a summer day, they’d wear t-shirts and jeans while new arrivals wore heavy coats and hats. I decided when we got to the register to pay for our snacks, I’d stand closer to you than was typically socially acceptable but not completely creepy, and that would be nice. That would be satisfactory.