December 4, 2020
Vol 1, Issue 4
In bed, 1 PM or sometime nearby, bored, sweaty, back is stuck to the sheets. Movement downstairs, sounds effects, car horns and traffic, mother is home. Phone, Snapchat, open picture from Alex.KB22, respond with forehead. Open snap from jody_five5, forget to respond after opening Lilybunts7’s snap of her in a bikini. Respond with a photo of face, well lit, attractive. View probably fifteen or twenty stories, don’t remember any of them. Alex.KB22 responds, photo of shoes, respond with forehead. Instagram, Jake_lowe88, playing golf, sun is setting, golfing man emoji, keep scrolling. Ted.hayess, new car, Ford F250, painted red, keep scrolling. Stomach rumbles, still sweaty, turn fan on. Bored, decide to masturbate, look at porn, uninterested, stop. Footsteps climb stairs and echo into room, panic and pretend to sleep, avoid parental confrontation.
Driving, music comes from phone, don’t listen to the radio. Heard this song four times today, frustrated, pass illegally, slam breaks, slam gas, jerk wheel, park, stumble out and into convenience store. Collect bread, cheese, milk for mother, use extra cash for beer. Speed home, slow down, pass cop, speed up. Drink thirty beers, Netflix is playing, mother on couch where I left her.
Ask, “Haven’t you watched this already?” No response, emotional sitcom music comes from TV. “Are you crying?”
“It’s so sad.” She didn’t cry when the dog died.
Make a sandwich, watch YouTube videos and eat. “Top 10 legal ways to get high.” Interesting, don’t remember anything from video, play Candy Crush, an hour passes. Naptime, lay down, close eyes, don’t fall asleep and play Candy Crush again. Check Instagram, JM_51, photo of photographer taking a photo, unoriginal, keep scrolling. Aleeeena_6, in bikini, nice body, double tap. Garcia_land, Bible verse, don’t read, keep scrolling. Z.apowers, selfie, guy, keep scrolling. Alarm sounds, didn’t sleep, get up, brew coffee, drink it wandering around house in underwear. Mother watches Netflix, dishwasher and washing machine whir and hum, motor for water tank vibrates on the counter, sound of voices and television come from den. Check phone, nothing. Walk into den, check phone, still nothing. Sweating, hands tremble, smoke cigarette, mother doesn’t notice, check phone again, something, marketing E-mail. I’m worthless. Marketing E-mails, the only thing rushing to my anxious aid. Mother watches Netflix, the same show but several episodes later. Stare at the security cameras which stare at me from the corners of every room. Watching, ever present, recording and storing my actions and movements. When I breathe, the words I say, the words I hear on television, my facial expressions. Everything I do can be repeated and replayed endlessly, have an anxiety attack.
Can’t sleep, 3:02 AM, smoke joint, smoke cigarette, drink coffee, toss and turn, three Xanax, two milligrams each, masturbate until I fall asleep. Wake up, 3:04 PM. Head hurts, drink coffee, water, orange juice, sweet tea, Coca-Cola, milk, and apple juice. Breakfast is over.
Stand on edge of pool, electronic cleaning system wanders along the bottom, humming, sucking up dead worms and leaves. Looks cold, don’t want to swim. Drink three beers, floating in water. Spill the fourth, leave the can bobbing on the surface of pool. Take two-hour shower, do fifty push-ups, smoke joint, sit down at desk, time to write.
Spend three hours at the desk, write nothing, nothing good at least. Garbage bin is full of crumpled pages covered in sloppy handwriting and poorly constructed sentences. Frustrated, go for a run, only walk, feel self-conscious and stop. Sit on sidewalk, too self-conscious to cry. Check phone, Snapchat from Steven_tp5, video of speedometer, pushing one-hundred-fifteen miles per hour. Unimpressed, send photo of my feet. Stand up, walk home, alarm system beeps when I open the front door. Depressed or bored or tired of constant self consciousness. I hate the security cameras; I hate all cameras. Walk to room, fall on bed, try to sleep, watch hours of Netflix instead. Eyes are dried, red, irritated and need sleep but can’t. Phone vibrates, rush to check it. Text from cara_stanley45:
Whatcha up to
Nothing what’s up?
No response, it’s been seven minutes and I’m compulsively checking my phone every twenty seconds. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, eight minutes, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nine minutes, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, ten minutes. Phone buzzes, Snapchat from Steven_tp5, photo of forehead, frustrated, don’t respond. Twelve minutes, still nothing, sweating, reading over conversation, not interesting enough? Unsure.
Walk downstairs, make eye contact with security camera and give it the finger. Mother and father on couches in front of TV, watching a series. Sit down, watch, unsure about story line, keep watching for six episodes, six hours have passed. Want to say something, haven’t heard anything but the TV talk for hours, don’t know what to say, stay silent.
“Of course, no problem.” Everyone looks at my father, even the security camera moves. He is speaking into his watch, taps screen, watch beeps and says, “Of course, no problem,” in its robotic voice. “Send,” father says. We haven’t spoken in three weeks. He didn’t cry when the dog died. Attention is re-focused to the television. There is odd tension, get up, leave.
“Ned,” mother says, everyone stares at me, expecting me to speak, to make noise, to communicate.
“Night.” Breathing heavily, run upstairs, smoke joint.
Double text Cara_stanley45:
Wanna hang out
Send her the address, sweating begins, regret decision to spend time with her. Shower to relieve anxiety, doesn’t go. An hour later, drying off, check phone. Cara_stanley45:
Where are u?
Downstairs, she’s not inside, mother is watching Netflix, car is parked outside, still running. Cara_stanley45 emerges from car, wearing overalls. Looks alright on her but the trend is over. She wears aviators, but are cheap, not Gucci glasses like models wear, this repulses me. Unoriginal, but I respect her more than myself and seek her admiration for some reason.
“Have you been waiting long?” I ask.
“About fifteen minutes.”
“Sorry, I was showering.” I spoke twice without previously considering the words I’d say, begin feeling good about myself.
Inside, meets mother, make popcorn, go to theater in the basement. Try to think of something say, but can’t. Begin searching through Netflix, I’ve seen all the good movies.
“What do you want to watch?” I ask.
“No idea.” She sits, totally absorbed in her phone, unmoving, silent, hardly breathing and I’m terrified. Hands are sweaty and trembling and I don’t know how I’m going to survive for the next few hours. Phone buzzes, Intagram, John.jay2, jeans and plaid button down outside under the sun, nearly one-hundred degrees, his violently red face is shining with sweat, keep scrolling. Lacysmith15, at the beach wearing jeans and sweater, uncomfortable, overheating, sweating, keep scrolling. Forget the controller is in my hand, accidentally play “Cars 2.” Onscreen noise and movement begins. Try to turn off the movie.
“I love this movie.” She says, but I’m unsure if being polite or she actually likes this movie. Let it play just in case. Looks bored, her face is straight and expressionless, completely impassive. She is on her phone, the infinite black hole of attention, unavailable, unspoken, dead, but alive and anticipating my words and conversation. I’d be more comfortable if she didn’t breathe or wait for me to speak. The movie plays but I can only hear the silence, growing and pulsing and suffocating the room. I hate her, and I wish she’d open her mouth and speak anything. Even if she mumbled something I didn’t understand, I’d burst with gratitude.
I stand up, looking at her, and she doesn't turn her head. Doesn't look at me but knows I am looking at her. I walk to closet under stairs, grab baseball bat, return to cara_stanley45. I raise bat above my head and bring it down on her impassive head. Crushes the skull on impact. Bone rips through scalp, hair sticks to the bat. No screaming, none. She doesn't move. She dies unwilling to glance at me, to confront me, to scream at me. She dies too afraid to look and be afraid of me. Swing down from above like an ax. Swing from the side like baseball. Swing from the hips like golf. What's left of her dome but pulp? What filth have I scattered on the walls of the basement? Why does it streak down the walls and soak into the carpet? What body is this before me on the floor, battered from its place on the couch? Pick body up, sling over shoulder, letting blood drain from open neck, carry up stairs and past mother, who is watching Netflix and doesn’t notice. Outside, open garbage bin and dump body inside. Return to the basement and retrieve large bits of bone and hair clumps, place in garbage bin.
I look at security cameras in basement. I could bat her to death and drag her outside and mother would never know; but the cameras would, they’d watch me, record the blood splatter, document the thudding and cracking noises. The only thing stopping me is them, they watch me and know me. They know my house, my patterns, my movements, my body, my thoughts, the amount of time I spend awake and asleep, they know everything. The cameras are watching, always recording, and will see me murder her. But it's not like they'd care. They don't. They won’t do anything about it. They never have. Cameras stare and stare but never do anything. They didn’t cry when the dog died, not when it kicked and yelped. No one listened to the bat and the skull's report or the screaming yelps. The bloods stains were cleaned from the carpet, no one said anything about it, not even the cameras.
Nicholas Paige is a part time student pursuing a degree in film while residing in Peachtree City, Georgia. He has a passion for US history, bee farming, as well motorcycle maintenance. Upon completion of his degree, he hopes to move to Atlanta to further develop his writing and acting.