:: Article

To Be Read in Some Place That Doesn’t Exist

By Patrick Howell O’Neill.

Standing next to my bedroom mirror and on a floor covered with flawless aluminum, I’d heard you died yesterday. I don’t remember your name but I remember your life.

Here is a brief summary for mourners:

(To be read on the roof of a skyscraper in the midst of a midday storm.)

Once, you were in love. Then you were in love again and again and again as often as you could muster the words. You were a fast speaker. As a stupid seventeen year old, I thought I was once what you were in love with. I didn’t know you’d move on so easily: the other dicks, the drugs, the overdoses and my best friends. Whatever you could get, you took.

I tried to help (you asked for it) and you angrily refused. Eventually you moved on from simple OD’s to fucking one of my best friends.

Hey, better luck next time, whatever-your-name-is.

(To be read as a super-villain’s super-villain-machine blocks out the sun.)

“If I don’t fuck them,” you had said years earlier, “they won’t like me.”

I scoffed then but what did I know? You spoke sage words, I now realize. Only an idiot could fool himself for as long as I did.

(To be read in some place that doesn’t exist.)

Jesus, how long was it?

Two years ago, you and I held each other’s sweaty, pulsing hands underneath some chic Williamsburg restaurant table. We rubbed our damp fingertips across one another’s palms and sent what we thought the other would take as brilliantly articulate declarations of intent. (I knew that I had no idea). All the while, our 15-person party continued to eat wet Thai food, mostly ignorant of us, mostly not caring. Our first kiss, in your darkened living room about four hours later, saw my heart attack my chest.

In some primitive fervor, a pale mesh of body parts and scary new ideas led me to the conclusion that I was in love. Maybe I was; it’s always impossible to judge those first times now.

You’re still the only girl I’ve been with that was stupid enough and brave enough and beautiful enough to ever sincerely call it ‘making love.’ You and I did not just ‘fuck’. Apparently, we made love. And when I thought I was fucking you about two months after the restaurant, you laid pinned on your back and screamed loudly that you loved me as if it were some sort of biblical revelation to you. You spoke, slightly unsure of what it meant going forward. At my hesitation, your eyes had shown a fear I’d never seen before.

You know, it wasn’t me wondering if I loved you – I was young enough then to scream it right back regardless. Thing was, I didn’t know what the hell you had just said. I wasn’t expecting anything about love to come out of your mouth and the conviction with which you spoke froze my ears. But, as you know, I eventually said it and we continued to fuck or make love or something in between.

Less than a year later, you were away at school drunk (at least) and some guy was inside you. You called me up begging me to not forgive you. I didn’t care.

I was hurt, but I wasn’t and I didn’t think I was hurting you (I knew I was hurting you). It was no one’s fault over the other’s. You had, as you have now, the weight that is slowly crushing your body very evenly and painstakingly spread out across your bare skin. It was some massive, heavy indifference (you and) I had about our futures being obviously separate.
I don’t regret it at all. I am glad it is over. It is over.

(To be read in some other city far away from here.)

The truth was that I had been thinking about you cheating for a while. I thought about it on several occasions while I was alone and touching myself and was beginning to wonder if I was fucking myself to fiction.

No, apparently not. Obviously that didn’t stop.

I’d moved on from our love a year ago and so had you. I guess I shouldn’t be mad? But you still spoke to me for a long time – you still came to me with your bizarre, self-imposed afflictions. You still got aimlessly angry whenever I tried to help you.

“I’m stopping this stupid conversation right now.” No, I don’t need any thanks for trying with you; you’re welcome.

I wonder if he would have helped you with your imagined episodes.

(To be read as the truth to a lunatic.)

Just kidding. I don’t wonder. He wouldn’t have.

I guess we’re all completely fucking selfish. Who am I to judge you both? What right do I have to get angry just because you two fucked? Sure, we were in love but that was a year ago! Ample time to start fucking my best friends, right?


Patrick Howell O’Neill

Patrick Howell O’Neill is a young writer with nothing noteworthy to his name. He lives in Brooklyn and can be found here if you are interested.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, June 11th, 2008.