You are alone today.

And what an aloneness it is.

There is space when you are alone. Such roominess is uncommon for you. You feel compelled to test it, to savor it, so you stretch your arms out wide and wave them in propeller circles like that exercise in middle school gym class. All space. Space in your apartment, space in your head. You wave all the arms of your thoughts, hear the airy swish as they feel out their boundary-less quarters.

You can do things alone that you wouldn’t dare in front of others. Secret thrills.

There is something in your nose. The tissue box is so far away. A full three feet from your spot on the sofa. Maybe even four. You would need a Sherpa to get to it. And your spot, oh, your spot is so comfortable. To think you engineered such physics of luxury by pure accident. Your spot is the penicillin of coziness, Columbus’s New World of pillowy comfort. If you get up now, you’ll lose it forever. Fuck it. Finger goes up the nose.

A plate of sliced deli meat sits on the coffee table. One single, mouthwatering slab of salami lies apart from the more banal turkeys and hams, its pink back glistening. You pick it up with two fingers, freight it across the divide. But then—no!—it slips out of your grasp, falls with a wet splat on the hardwood. Now what? Throw it away? But it was the last of its package, and who even knows when you’ll get to the store next? You could die on your way there. Get hit by a truck. Someone moving into the apartment above could drop a piano down the stairs right as you were heading out to buy that very salami. And look at it there on the floor. So perfect, so moist. What a waste. You should just go for it. You’ve worked hard. You deserve this. Go on.

You peel it from the floor, pick off the dirt and one pubicy looking hair, then pop the salami into your mouth.

Wiping your fingers on the couch cushions,  you lie back, wonder what to do. Anything on TV? Of course not, there never is. Books to read? Too far, same problem as the tissues. Bored, bored, bored. Maybe you’ll just touch yourself then. Why not? You’re alone. You don’t particularly want to at the moment, but here you are, all by yourself. Your palms are not hairy yet and there is no one to slap your knuckles. The apartment is your oyster. You yawn and pull at the button of your pants with one lazy hand, reach into its depths. For a while you make a solid attempt but when the second yawn comes you decide your heart’s not in it. Your hand complains of a headache and stops.

You stare at the wall. Listen to the nothing.

The quiet of your apartment presses in. It’s a quiet that feels like something, like it’s made of matter. As though you could puncture its Jell-O mold substance with your fingers.

You are alone today.

You look around the room. At the windows, at the furniture, at all the things you own. And all the things that are gone. Spaces in the dust. Evidence of things that used to be here. Before.

You are alone today.

You look at the empty nail on the wall and pretend that you never liked that painting in the first place, pretend that you don’t stare at that nail every time you sit here, with these cushions still dented by the ghost of someone else. Pretend that you don’t miss that someone.

You are alone today.

You’ve been trying to distract yourself, to fool yourself into thinking that it was a choice. That you liked it, that you relished it even, the solitude and the silence. You’ve pushed all the memories onto the highest shelf, shoved them far, far back until they met cobwebs and still you pushed, standing on tip toes, making sure you would not brush them when you stepped back into this hollow space and spread out wide the arms of your thoughts.

You have tricked yourself into forgetting, but now you remember.

You are alone today.

Just as you were the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that.

You are alone.

And what an aloneness it is.


17 thoughts on “Alone

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