A dark cloud walked into the party. A black fringe hid eyes which deliberately looked at the floor. As he walked towards the kitchen the only sign that he was even there were the subtle shifts that meant others didn’t have to interact with him. He liked that. If they avoided him, he didn’t have to pretend he cared. His hands were dug into his pockets, his left clutching a newspaper clipping he carried with him.
He was alone now, and life had just become a series of events he forced himself to attend. A party. Dinner with his parents. An occasional class. Even having breakfast seemed contrived. How could eating piece of toast seem contrived? He didn’t know and shrugged it off. It was irrelevant like anything else.
He looked briefly through the black curtain hanging over his face and saw how busy the kitchen was. And bright. He stopped. Was it even worth the effort?
But what was he going to do without a drink? Just stand in a corner? Why did he even force himself to come to these things? He waited a few seconds for a clear path to the fridge and made a move towards it. As he entered the light, his shoulders hunched over even more.
“Hey everyone! The life of the party’s here!”
Fucking Zac Marsh. Of course he was in the kitchen. And of course he was coming over.
Mark curled his mouth in the briefest of fake smiles and snatched a beer from the fridge. If he could just get out of there before that dick drew even more attention over here he might get away. But as Mark turned to leave, he was grabbed. For an instant, Mark went icy with rage. Then nothing.
“Marky Mark! How’s life buddy? Whatchya up to?” The hand held him in place. “Hey everyone,” he shouted over Mark’s head, “look who’s here!” He stooped to look Mark in the eyes. “What’s the matter Mark? Don’t you like attention?” He laughed. A girl brushed by them, avoiding eye contact.
Mark tried to shrug out of his grip, but Zack didn’t let go. He fantasized about smashing his beer into his thick skull.
Zack carried on, his voice getting louder, “c’mon – what’s the matter – you uncomfortable or something?”
Mark didn’t respond. Hate had locked his jaw. Zack moved nose-to-nose.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” He whispered, aggressively. “Pretending to be this emo fucking hipster. You’re just depressing everyone else, you know. Seriously man. I mean… Why. The. Fuck. Are you even here? Did someone even invite you?”
Mark’s fist closed tightly around the clipping in his pocket.
“Yeah right.” Zack scoffed, backing off a little. “Seriously Mark – I’m just being honest here – you make everyone else feel like shit when you’re around. You wanna be unhappy, fine. But don’t make us deal with it. Just go back into your depressing hole and die.”
Maybe I will.
Mark twisted free and left the harsh light of the kitchen. People were watching. “Finally!” he heard Zack say to no one in particular, as walked back into the living room. Mark went to the corner where it was dark and tried to twist off the cap on his beer. It didn’t move.
He placed it on the coffee table next to him and returned his hands to his pockets. The familiar crinkle of newspaper was there. Almost like a security blanket. He turned into the corner a little so that nobody would see him pull it out.
He read the classifieds ad he’d placed six months ago. He read it because it hurt. Because it gave his feelings somewhere to go.
For sale. Pink bassinette. Never used. $50.
His eyes started to sting and he closed them tight to try and stop the tears. Why the fuck did I even leave my dorm? Why do I even care anymore? If life could be given and taken so easily, what was the point?
Six months ago he was just a student. A guy. A son and a brother. Then he was going to be a father.
When he found that out, it was the scariest day of his life. His whole world seemed to implode. He wasn’t ready for that. And then he was rude and mean. He had called her names and hurt her. It’d been the beginning of the end. He’d tried apologising, tried getting his head around becoming a father, but it had taken two months. Two months to find love for his daughter. Two months to find the courage to say he was sorry.
So he bought the bassinette. It was meant to make everything better. To show her he cared and wanted to be there.
And then he really had the worst day of his life. Not just scary or sad or as if the world had imploded. That day, it did implode.
And then he’d sold the bassinette. And now there was nothing left. Nothing except the ad.
He folded it and put it back in his pocket. The party seemed surreal. People were laughing and drinking. There was music playing, but it didn’t engage him. In fact, it only emphasized that he lived in a different world to everyone else. A world where hope was futile and happiness was fake and love was pain.He was alone and he always would be.
Mark squeezed the newspaper and shut his eyes even tighter. The wave of sadness was unstoppable. People died – babies died – and people carried on anyway. He moved quickly through the crowd towards the door, choking back tears. Maybe I will go back to my room and die.
It wasn’t like there was a point to life anyway.