:: Article

Live Stream

By Kaj Tanaka.




Last night, a childhood friend of mine was live streaming on Facebook, walking back from the gas station where he works, back to his apartment just outside of town. “I’ve been meaning to do this since I started working nights,” he said. “Can you see how quiet it is? Look at the streetlights. Look at the stars.”

His phone didn’t have enough resolution to really see much of anything in the darkness. I kept watching though because ever since my wife left I don’t have much to do in the evenings. In truth, I really don’t have anything to do. Everything reminds me of her. I don’t trust myself with alcohol because then I’ll end up drunk alone and upset, and that’s no way to live. Mostly I look at Facebook; I see what the people I used to know are up to.

So my friend is talking about the stars and the city lights and kind of spinning his wheels on that stuff. And I’m tuning him out, looking at something else in a different browser tab, some shoes I’m thinking about buying. And I’m only half listening to his voice—and then without warning he’s talking about his sister who is dead. He just got back from her funeral in Minneapolis, he says. She had cancer he says; she had brain cancer, and now she is dead, and then he is crying, and I flip over to the window where he’s live streaming, and you can’t see anything; it’s just black with little bloops of light as he passes a building or something, all terribly pixellated because my internet is the cheapest one you can buy and still too expensive.

And it’s a summer night in 1995, and I’m ten years old. We’re camping out in my friend’s backyard—back when we were best friends. Me and him and my other friend. His parents are fighting in the house. His dad is drunk and he is breaking things, which I don’t quite understand, but we are out in the tent. And then his sister comes out in her nightgown, she is crying when she comes out, but again, I don’t understand why she is crying. She is like a year older than we are. She comes out in her night-gown and we ask if she’ll play spin the bottle with us, but we don’t have a bottle, so we figure we’ll just take turns with her. And she presses her body against each of us equally. It is my first kiss and it goes on all night. Eventually, she gets bored of kissing us and tells us to kiss each other. And so we boys all take turns kissing each other and then she kisses us some more. It becomes a rule by the end that if we want to kiss her, we have to kiss one another. By then it’s all the same. We are like one creation with many mouths, like fish—our hands caressing one another’s hairless bodies—the difference between girl and boy seeming to blur and eventually it ceases to matter. Everyone tastes alike and everyone feels the same, and I remember being unsure whose mouth I was kissing and I didn’t really care. And my family moved out of town the next fall, and I never heard from any of them again until last night.


Kaj Tanaka‘s stories have been featured in Longform, selected for Wigleaf’s Best (Very) Short Fictions, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is the nonfiction editor for BULL Magazine. He lives in Houston. Read more of his stories at kajtanaka.com.


Found image by 3AM.



First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, September 12th, 2017.