I tell him I'm OK. Damaged like you get. Parts are failing like they do. Emotions flagging. I don't live here, I tell him. I just work here.
Wearing that rut into the earth again, making my way to and fro.
Pause for the sip of wine or whiskey or whatever. We stare back at the 90s with the eyes of men too invested in their now to admit the ways we love our pasts.
The kinds of things we'd do to make that real again. The dial tones. The screeching bits, following analog lines to their sieve-assisted locations in our brains. We can see every goddamn word, every goddamn thing we said we were. A pause here to sip.
To look into something outside of our current selves. Both of us childless, for the best we suppose. The universe being what it is, we should have had kids, we should have taken that script and wrung it into the pulp it deserved to be. We'd be complaining now about the lack of direction our kids would have. We'd place our own meters in their timelines, waiting for them to hit the same red lines we hit.
We'd mourn the world and the way it works through their eyes, their lives.
In fifteen years, I'll be dead I tell him.
I can't wait, I tell him.
It's better than whatever this thing is, I tell him.
Get over yourself, he says. The world never owed you a goddamn thing. We're just moving through it together, circling the drain, chewing the straps, waiting for the bang at the end of the sentence.
It's not personal, he says. Your ego was always too big.
Yours was never big enough, I tell him.
We sit, stare at the dying light, the soundtrack is indistinct and while it should be something from Cohen or mid-90s REM it's just another goddamn post-rock ravage of our emotional context. We're at a loss for words. I heard Underworld at the grocery, I tell him. I heard Pearl Jam in the waiting room, he tells me. We should have listened to better music, he says. I ask if he remembers that first time we saw Ashes to Ashes on MTV. He asks me if I remember the last time I heard Joe Jackson. We stare at the way the light looks. When I drink now, from the very first drink I feel sick. I can feel it rising in me, the sick. I need to quit. I need to quit most things. Most of us do.
We wait for the miracle, like always. We may not have invented cynicism, but we certainly perfected it. We may not have invented nostalgia, but we certainly drilled it into our veins, turned it into an industry of embarrassment.
The world, it spins and burns.
With or without us.
Our stories sit there, waiting, some of them dialed in to the one-and-zero surface of our pre-post modern reality. We complete our drinks, we suffer through the tides and crushes of modern city life, we move slowly to our houses, and we wait for the start of it, the end of it, the endless of it.
The thread that ties us.
We move, unknowing.
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