I close my eyes for a moment, like shutter-blinds. A momentary peace accompanied by the blackened drapery of the evening sky. The grass pricks my ass with its cold, dry, and rigid filaments. The air, thick—each breath a prescribed tonic that feels weighed as it passes through my bronchioles.
A sound reverie, regardless.
“I had sex last night,” says Brett, breaking my mock-meditation. I can feel him edge closer to me as I strain my eyes shut, ignoring him. “Hey, Nikki, I ha—“
“I heard you,” I say, grunting in retort to his attempted intervention. “What do you want me to say?”
“Nothing,” says Brett. “Was good, s’all I’m saying, man.”
“Okay. Well. Thanks for letting me know.”
I hear Brett laugh as he plops himself a few feet to the right. That’s usually how our conversations go—us making fun of each other, us making fun of ourselves. That’s how we became friends, actually, some 11 years ago. We had teased each other and look at us now. A tantric bromance.
He ruined it. I can’t keep my eyes shut anymore. Damn it. Reaching down, I pull out coarse strands of yellow from the soil and chuck it at him. “Fuck you.”
“Already happened, man.” He laughs, a manic cackle that permeates throughout the expanse of the hilltop, overlooking the Calgary downtown skyline, saturated with reds, yellows and whites.
The roads, layered by menstrual sepia, seemed busy, with cars buzzing to and fro as though each and every driver has an important meeting to attend at 9:00 in the evening.
We’re always in a constant state of brevity; everything is so fast-paced. We barely have time for each other anymore, always preoccupied with palm sized technological aphrodisiacs that take prevalence over an actual human being with emotions and feelings and problems.
The problem with humans is that they don’t have Applecare.
“Nikki, you should have sex,” says Brett with a nonchalance that only he can muster with such gall. “I’m serious.”
“You’re frigid,” he says.
“That’s why I have this coat, keeps me warm at night.”
“You look like an Eskimo, man, “he says.
“That’s a derogatory term, Brett. You could’ve just said Inuit,” I reply, sarcasm seeping out my orifices. We both laugh for a while, our senile yawping being the only thing likely to be heard within a few kilometers. We’re loud that way, although, I might be a few increments louder than he. Does that make me crazier?
For all the shit that we say to each other, the one thing that brings us together is that we don’t care. Not about anything. We’re both Nautili in this world of liberal sensuality and deprecation. Underneath Brett’s protective onion he has a big heart. The world just fucked him over in the past, like it did mine. Tantric bromance.
“Seriously though, how are you doing?” Brett asks, as he pulls out a pack of Belmonts and hands one of its contents to me. I grasp it with a careful motion in an attempt to hide my desperation for a sense of physical amelioration that is the dreaded cigarette. I mutter a quick thanks to him as I pull out my crimson fire-starter and light the cancer-stick that I had quickly placed onto the corner of my mouth.
Inhaling the smog never felt so good.
I half-expect him to say that sex feels much better than a Belmont, but he’s smarter than that, he’s had enough grass thrown at his face for a night.
I keep the tar—the chemicals—the cancer inside of me, much longer than I should have, savoring death’s puckered lips as it coalesces inside. Satisfied, I exhale through my nose, enjoying the burning tinge as it escapes my inner cavity.
I stare at the highway, which, at the moment, is empty, as though the entire world has given me the privacy to expunge my feelings, like some X-Factor bullshit.
I tell him that I’m okay. I don’t look at him. He knows me too well, each and every layer of my onion. I keep my eyes focused on the sidewalk of the road where a scuffle is currently taking place. Two drunk individuals—a man and a woman—the woman screaming as she flails her arms about like an inflatable man at a car dealership, the man stands idle, passive.
“How’s you and Emily?” I ask.
“We’re good, bro. We’re good,” He tells me. I can tell that he’s happy, which is a good thing. It’s been awhile since he’s been that way, though it seems that we experience the polar opposite of what each other is feeling.
Today he is smiling. Tonight, I am frowning.
I ask him if he loves her. He pauses, considering the implication. Brett looks at me and says, “Yeah, I think I do. I think I can—I think I can love her.”
“Have you told her?” I ask, grey plumes exiting my mouth each time I utter a word.
“No, I’m waiting for her to say it first, as penance,” he says, his mouth stretched like that of a Cheshire.
He chuckles, “For breaking up with me a year and a half ago.”
“Ah well, I’m glad you guys are back together,” I tell him sheepishly.
“Sometimes I say it in my head whenever I’m with her, ‘Can I just tell you that I love you, cause I really love you’ and then it turns out that I’ve been staring at her without saying anything, anything at all, for a really, really long period of time,” He says, embarrassed.
We both laugh at this. We laugh at how incredulous the notion is yet how to true to home it sounds. What is love in this day and age anyways? I theorize that it might just be something superficial, akin to everything else.
After this momentary lapse of levity, everything turns quiet, everything, even the wind, becomes still.
We don’t speak. Not even a word.
The cigarette is nearly culled; the visible reddish hue amongst the lingering ash consumes the last of what was once ingestible. I keep the smoke inside of me for as long as I can, maintaining the buzz if not just for a little while longer, even if it burns.
Brett looks at me as I fumigate. The smoke: thick, dense, and longing to be dispersed. “You know, sex feels a lot better than a cigarette,” he says.
“Yeah, well at least I’m fairly close.” I chuckle, lamenting on how spot on I was. I stare at it, the smoke, as it experiences the freedom of the moonlit sky, and the briskness of the stagnant air, and then disappears.