Sometimes you disappear. It is easier than people think to slip off the edge of social consciousness and descend into the dark cave of self-introspective vicious circles. You go invisible on gchat. You slide your iPhone into airplane mode. You lock your door. You don’t exist.
It is vital to stock with the tools to non-existence. Cheap boxed wine in bulk. Small handle of whiskey. Coke. Diet Coke. One for mixing, one for drinking. Adderall for long spans of web-surfing. Xanax so you can sleep.
You spend hours looking at Netflix titles and watching nothing. Nothing is interesting. Nothing has ever been interesting. People make the same things and paint different titles in different fonts, but the spine of the things, they’ve always been the same.
You go through all of your clothes. They lie, a mess, on your floor. You have a theory that if you leave dirty clothes on the floor long enough, they magically will become clean. You smell that red shirt you wear too often, with the chocolate stain on the right sleeve from when you and your ex-best friend snuck chocolate into a movie theater that had broken AC. The shirt smells okay. You put it on. The chocolate doesn’t smell like chocolate, it just smells like shirt. Things blend together in fabric, washed too many times.
You get introspective and think, maybe I’ve been washed too many times, which doesn’t make sense, and has the added bonus of being corny. You stare at the mirror and take a long time to leave it, not because you like what you see, but because you don’t.
You lie down on your bed. You lift your shirt and look at your belly-button, watching it rise and fall with your breath. You almost laugh, because you are literally navel-gazing.
You pull your computer on top of you, wondering if it is killing cells inside your skin. You see your ex-best friend on gtalk and consider going visible. You watch as he changes his status to “Roma bella.” You remember he is visiting Rome with his girlfriend. You remember meeting her, her bright blue eyes, her long legs sticking out of floral dresses, her intoxicating magic. You understood why he fell in love with her. You are glad he has someone good like her instead of someone poison like you.
You remember pushing him away. You said, “I think our friendship is holding me back,” which was a lie you believed at the time. He cared when you disappeared. He would try to get you to emerge. He would tell you, “Maybe you need help, man.” You would be grateful for his care but ignore his advice.
Now there was no care, no advice to ignore. Now there was just this. This, on evenings when you didn’t have to go work behind the deli counter at Krogers, cutting ham and turkey and cheese and wondering how long it would take before you’re tempted to mangle your fingers.
“Are you there?”
It’s him. He knows. He knows you often lurk, invisible, behind a keyboard.
You type, “No,” but don’t hit enter. It’s the truth but it’s so melodramatic. You don’t want him to think you are melodramatic.
You know what he will see. He will see “Alex is typing…” “Alex has entered text.”
Someone, somewhere, knows you exist. You backspace. You type, “Yeah.”
For this moment, you blink onto to the radar, pulsing with life. You watch the screen hyper-focused – more focused than you’ve been all day – awaiting his reply. Nothing. You inhale one last breath.
Then you go invisible again.