I tossed and turned fitfully, trying to sleep. It was cyclical, me running through moments of lids becoming heavy and images flashing through my brain, some strange amalgamation of the past and some visual interpretation combined with sudden gripping fears startling me awake.
“Uhh,” I groaned, pulling my covers over me, causing Catatonic to shift slightly on the bed. My gut clenched. Everything happened for a reason and Howie happened for a reason, and all bravado aside, it made sense deep inside of me. There had been three incidents. Three separate incidents woven together to create the unforgivable, to cause the coldness to take over, to cause all hope and love to shut off in my mind, all faith to erode. And they were nothing. Was it always like this? The delicate thread of human interaction, severed in sudden almost imperceptible instances, something you could barely put your finger on, so that your mind makes excuses, invents criticisms to protect the ego, until some night, wracked with guilt and confusion and anxiety, a picture is painted.
There is nothing in this life that does not happen for a reason. Every word, every tension, every seemingly selfish decision, connected with shattered expectations and crossed lines and pushed buttons. At least that’s how it always was for me. I couldn’t speak for the rest of the world. Three things. It was almost a magic number. Forgive one, forgive two, but then....
“Can I come over?” I asked Howie. I couldn’t sleep. As usual. I had tried but the nightmare woke me up. I was shaken and jumping at the thought of ringing phones. Fearing for my life inexplicably. And all the times of him begging to see me, vowing how much he loved and needed me, that I had pushed him away. Trust issues. That was an understatement for me. But after a couple of months, I was finally ready to let him in on the big secret. The thing that kept me up at night. The thing that kept me looking over my shoulder at all times.
“I guess,” he grumbled.
“You don’t sound enthused.”
“I had a long day at work. You don’t know what I go through at that place.”
“I don’t have to come by.” I said.
“Just come over,” he snapped and hung up the phone. I sat there for a long time, staring at the phone, thinking of all the things I would tell him. Carlos and Vincent. Why I never spoke to my family. The paranoia, the sense of meaningless, the few driving forces in my life perennially falling through the cracks. And there, he had just hung up on me. And I was tempted to just go back to sleep. Try to go back to sleep. Forget the nightmare. I picked up the phone, ready to tell him I was not coming over. I hung it back up, not wanting to give him the satisfaction. I turned off the light, crawled into bed. But he was still there, expecting me and my eyes were glued open staring at the shadows flickering on the ceiling. I couldn’t not go. Weary resignation battling pride, I turned on the light, got dressed, bit my lip with nervous resolve and headed over to his apartment. I rang the doorbell.