Get out of bed. Ouch. Get back in bed. Tell yourself you’ll start reading again today. Allow your eyes to become tired after six paragraphs; remember who used to read them out loud to you. Feel the sting of newfound silence. Force your mind elsewhere, to the empty refrigerator perhaps. Try to remember the last time you ate any real food, then decide the answer is embarrassing. Smoke a bowl. Now get out of bed. Good.
Brush your teeth, pull on your coat and boots. Take the subway just to feel something. Lower yourself onto cold plastic; sacrifice comfort to exist in public. Wish you had stayed in bed. Listen to Elliot Smith through tattered earbuds; assure yourself that this makes you better than everyone else. Imagine that the other passengers are falling in love with you; mentally break each of their hearts. Read and reread the posted advertisements, as if trying to remember them. Shop new arrivals; stream 85 channels with unlimited DVR; live mas.
Miss your stop. Miss the next one. Look up from your phone and leave the subway car with a handful of profanities. Walk out onto a block you don’t recognize; refuse to check a map. Consider whether or not your pride is getting out of hand. Decide that it isn’t. Approach an unfamiliar convenience store, remind yourself of the fact that inspiration arises in all sorts of places. Make small talk with the store attendant. Tell him lies about yourself. Listen thoughtfully to the lies he tells you back. Buy some produce, shrink-wrapped wedges of honeydew melon; accept that it will rot before you get around to eating it. Knock over a few bottles of red nail polish; watch them shatter on the linoleum. Don’t think about her. Scratch that last one. Think about her.
Regret it. Take another subway, remember who used to take them with you, all the stories she would give to the passing strangers. See the outline of her most recent tattoo among a blur of layered graffiti. The one your fingers traced over and over. Stop remembering. Begin to welcome the possibility of a tractor beam taking you back to wherever it is you are from. Indulge in the idea of being swallowed up, carried far away from nail polish and subway admirers alike. Allow this image to follow you home and into your bed. Really stew in it. Miss her. Now miss her more, miss her better. Check the date for the first time in weeks.
Think back to all the nightmares you’ve had about forgetting your own birthday. Count the fingers on both of your hands to ensure that you’re awake. Check your texts, social media, email even. Mark the map with a big red X for each of the bridges you’ve burned. Tell yourself you’ll start reading again tomorrow.
Sara Brown is a student currently holed up in Cleveland, Ohio. She lives with her insufferable father and a very old cat. In her free time, Sara can be found watching the same five films over and over again. Her two friends, Jack and Andrew, mean everything to her.