The Outsider

A woman laid her head into the shoulder of the man on the train.  One of the man’s arm was stretched so that his hand was holding onto a bar for stability while his other arm was wrapped around the woman.  She didn’t have to hold on to anything in order to not fall when the train got shaky.  I suddenly had a desire to have a man hold me so I didn’t have to hold on to the cold steel bar that poked through the middle of the train. I got off of the train onto the platform.  The train started to move, and I saw the woman’s hand slide into the back pocket of the man she stood next to.  The train passed, and I continued to walk toward the exit.  Up the steps.  The man in front of me wore socks with bunnies on them.  His jeans were rolled up, and the way we were packed on the stairs, his ankles were at the level of my eyes for a few seconds.  He lightly slapped the ass of the girl in front of him.  She giggled and turned.  I saw her smiling face.  At the top of the steps, I turned the opposite way to cross the intersection.  

I looked through the window of SUGAR.  There, a woman spoon fed the man across the table from her.  He licked the spoon and smiled.  I kept walking.  I licked my cold, chapped lips.  If I kissed anyone then, I might give them splinters.

I walked into work.  A friend kissed my cheek and made me blush.  Then he kissed everyone’s cheek and I felt insignificant.  I hated that a kiss on the cheek could mean so much to me and so little to someone else.  I hated that I was never on the same page as everyone else.

That night I was at a party.  Truth or dare.  I warned them: I won’t do the dares.  However, they still insisted that I play.  

They pick “dare” for me. 

“Kiss the person next to you,” they tell me.

“No.”

“Why?”

And with a broken heart, I explain: “Because kisses are special.  And giving someone a kiss isn’t a game.”

I am completely estranged from my chance of friends.

I walk alone.  The snow drops lightly onto my eyelashes.  I open my mouth and little tufts of snow melt on my tongue.  Yes—snow melting on tongues is cliche, but that’s exactly what it did and I liked it.  I passed by stores.  I saw a scarf.  I wished someone would buy me a scarf.  I wished someone cared to keep me warm.  And then I paused.  I opened the door to the store.  I paid twenty-seven dollars, asked them to cut the tags, and I walked outside of the store with a scarf.  There.  My neck was warm.  

I looked through at the window and saw my reflection with the charcoal scarf wrapped around my neck.  There was a strange scab on my forehead.  There was a pimple on my  nose.  My lips were still scaly and dry from the cold.  I didn’t feel pretty.  I felt ugly.  

But at least I was warm.

I finished a strange spiritual book that did not change me.  If anything, it taught me never to take book recommendations from civil engineers.  I read another book called “The Outsider” or “The Stranger” depending on the translation.  The main character was indifferent to life or death—unafraid of the beginning or end.  I saw him as lacking ambition, but maybe I should have seen him as an example of peaceful acceptance of what was.  The point was that it left me thinking.  I finished the book in a day in my time to and from work and an hour or so at an expensive coffee shop where the coffee tasted rich and full and the pastries were old and dry.

I made eye contact with a fellow reader at the coffee shop.  He bit into his bagel, and then I read about a priest trying to bless the man who was sentenced to death and then I forgot to look up at anyone for the rest of my time at the shop.

A man offered to take me home with him.  He grabbed me and kissed me on the cheek.  Before I could think of a response in action or words, he was gone.  Out the door.  I wondered what I would have said or done in reply if he would have stayed a moment longer.  I felt like I was in a dangerous place in time in my life, and I didn’t trust my answers. 

Images have been filling my head and I’m not sure if they are from the past, the future, or something else.  I see white skin.  Blue veins.  I see lips.  I see eyes.  I feel teeth.  I feel touch.  I feel hands. I feel…

Loved.

And I’m disappointed because I just want to love.  I love the feeling of loving.  I love the feeling of giving.

I’m afraid that I’ll find someone evil, someone that only loves taking, and I won’t know what to do.

I feel lied to.  I want to be angry, but I can’t be because I know I was lied to on accident.  And I don’t like to blame accidents.

I see little black books and I feel angry, but I shouldn’t be because it’s not the book that I hate.

I see a shadow.  A tall dark shadow.  And I hate him.  And I close my eyes to imagine the best: I walk up to this shadow.  It smiles.  I smile.  It becomes afraid.  I reach up to its face, it puts its hands up but it can’t stop me.  I rip the mouth from his face.  He cannot speak anymore.  No more lies from you. I smile at the idea.

I see the empire state building.  I think of the tower of Babel. I think of the Bible.  I think of heaven.  I think of what I know about heaven: nothing.  I think of what people have told me about heaven: everything.  I think of wings and halos and clouds and eternity.  I see Him and then I see him.  He asks me to share him.  I tell him I don’t like sharing. I smile because it’s witty because that’s what he told me once when he saw through my blouse.

A handful of weeks with him was better than an eternity with Him.  I made my choice the second you told me that you didn’t want your kids to turn out like “them.”  

And by them, you meant me.  And by me, you meant bad.

And I still kept walking with you through a maze—a maze that we both knew had a clear ending.  It wasn’t really a maze at all, was it?

I brush my teeth in the bathroom.  I spit into the sink.  Blood.  Blood in the shower.  Blood in the toilet. Blood. Blood. Blood.  I look into the mirror.  I reach out for myself and the reflection reaches out towards me.  It’s nice to reach out a hand and have another hand reach out towards your hand.  

I want a perfect match—not for me but for my love.  

I think to the first time you lied to me.  I think back to the last time you lied to me.

I keep using the word “You” but I’m only talking to myself.

I look at the mirror.

I look at the

I look at 

I look

I

"Bittersweet" by Archis

Long Distance Questions