The sun begins to peep through my closed blinds, making visible the overabundance of dust suspended like near-rotten fruit in a cheap jello salad, and finally meets my crusty eyes. Here I lay, spread-eagle on my bed, stained with menstrual blood and hummus, moving only my head to meet the light. The sun manages to rise every morning; I simply can’t bring myself to do the same, anymore.
Moaning, I take a decidedly labored breath as if to prove to the empty room how heartbroken I am that I’m no longer asleep, and then drag my barely-upright body to the small kitchenette which disgraces the south-eastern corner of my one-room apartment. I forage for my food, mostly, digging in old boxes and musty cabinets like a pig searching for truffles. It must be after one o’clock, considering the amount of light flooding through my one window.
“Congratulations,” I think to myself, “you’ve wasted that many more hours of your fleeting existence, you worthless sack of flaming garbage.” The quiet room adds gravity to my thoughts, now my only company — a booming sound so loud, lovely that they begin to take form, warping my other senses. Losing herself, I think, she’s slipping.
I shrug and grab the large silver tin I keep on the countertop, perfectly clean compared to the rest of my kitchen wares. It’s not that I’m a dirty person, but I don’t regularly use my appliances anymore. I should start some laundry because I’m running out of pants. Not that I wear pants much, either. I plop myself down in front of the computer monitor, and open the tin, revealing thousands of brightly colored gummy bears, nostalgic vestiges of a time past, when I was naïve and content. Cheerfully taking a red one out, I proceed to dig and find an orange, then yellow bear. With a surgeon’s precision, I hit the power button on the desktop and retrieve two pharmacist’s bottles from my desk drawer. I pause a moment to examine each one, the long un-pronounceable words, the sickly orange color. I pop both tops off and swallow one of each by the time my desktop loads.
I pick up the green bear I had waiting for me and rip its arms and legs off first before plopping the body in my mouth. Opening my eyes again, I see familiar faces swim in the ether around my inky reflection against the now black screen like memento mori, visages of a past life. Like a book I read a long time ago, but have forgotten about. I wished so thoroughly that better things would happen to her, the girl I used to be, not just in my mind on these days. Getting to the bottom of her inbox, I’m left disappointed again.
Online outlets had lost their mood-boosting effects when I stopped having places to wear new clothes. I just can’t stop shopping. I click and a pink box appears next to my bed, wrapped in cerulean satin ribbon.
Click. A large red one. Click. A green one, they’re out of order, I hate things that aren’t in order. The boxes continue to flood my apartment until it becomes a jungle of colored paper and rectangular boxes. I look around, happy with my bounty. And on the seventh minute, I rested. My terrycloth robe is across the jungle of “I-deserve-it’s” so I touch the red button on the top of the screen and they disappear. Finally I can get some warmth in the eternal winter of my room. I’ve forgotten where the thermostat is. I am made in God’s image, yet I am not comfortable below 65˚F.
Continuing with my daily routine, I stumble upon a cyber-spa site with .gifs of waterfalls and neo-house music. I keep scrolling, as bubbles rise out slowly from the floorboards, floating and swaying with the movement of the wall of electronic sound emanating from all around. I sway in my chair, grasping at my shoulders which I had forgotten were straining to maintain my hunched posture. I unintentionally float over to my bed and from beneath the sheets, I recover a pristine mirror. Still in a haze, I prop it against an old empty box to admire myself in this ethereal mindscape — until the music skips and my reality is interrupted. In a flash it shatters without hitting the floor. I shield my eyes and look up again only to see the tiny reflective pieces suspended in the air before dropping to the floor at my feet. I try to take a step, but the glass stands on its end, and seems to ripple towards wherever the shadow of my foot falls. I can only carefully slither back into my bed, looking down at the sea of glass beneath me, shadows of spiders moving on the ceiling above look like fish to me. I jerk my body upward, but see nothing but cheap eggshell-white plaster.
A knocking at the door? Knock knock knock. That’s definitely what it sounds like. I wonder if the landlord heard me break that glass, as I slowly peer over the side to see the floor. No remnants of it remain. Knock knock. It’s still going on and I decide to ignore it; there’s no way someone would come, nor would I want them to, and I only allow the things I want to, to even exist. I lean over and grab a blue and purple bear, chewing angrily, hurting my jaw. Who even comes to doors? Well, people. So a person is trying to see me, but who knows me? Well, a few people. So one of maybe a handful of people could be standing on the other side of this door and I’m on this side, so at least now I don’t have to see anyone. But what if it’s not? My cocoon of self-aware self-importance will keep me safe.
Knock knock, the sun is starting to set, and I’m back where I started, lying on my back on an unmade bed. Not as if I adhere to sleep patterns anymore. The walls grow taller and lean inwards, making me tumble up again, sitting now on the floor in the middle of my room. The knocking continues, and I can do naught but listen in horror. I haven’t really considered the idea of company for quite a long time. I lean back and reach to the other perfectly clean object I own: my bottle of whiskey. It’s getting darker, and if I want to sleep, I should start drinking now. The knocking hasn’t stopped yet, so I take two long swigs and lay it next to me, like a good friend.
After having made a small portion of microwave mac and cheese, I sit staring at the door, examining every inch of the faded wood trying to figure out what could possibly be making that noise. I don’t like surprises, either. Knock knock knock. Any other person would have answered the door at this point, I know. I reach towards it, but shrink back.
“Who’s there,” I ask, “There’s nothing here for you.” The knocking paused for a moment and I thought I scared whoever was pounding. I managed to stand and lazily toss my empty dinner cup towards the trash can, but not necessarily into it. I’m just a mere human, after all, I’ll get to that later.
“What are you doing?” suddenly answered. I stood still, shocked. I haven’t heard another human’s voice for quite a long time. “What are you doing?” it repeated. I crouched and squinted, trying to see a shadow, or anything to indicate who I was speaking to.
“What I always do, who the fuck are you to ask?” I tried to be intimidating. I’m not intimidating.
“What are you doing?”
“What do you want?” my voice started to crack, so I stepped back. Turning my back, I turn on the one inadequate light on my desk, taking a deep breath. The light flickers ominously and casts oblong shadows across my room, until my eyes focus and everything becomes still, again. Pull my skeletal wooden chair up across the floor, letting it drop right in front of my door.
“Nothing’s going on in here, it’s just me. I caught an Oddish the other day in my Pokémon game, now I’m too lazy to work on it, and you know what, that doesn’t matter because nothing matters, so if you would kindly fuck the fuck off.” I’ve finally reached the point in my life in which I’m arguing with inanimate objects. Wonderful.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m doing the same thing everyone else is doing any day of the year, I’m just honest about it, the rest of them are wasting their lives away doing pointless work or raising pointless kids, I’m the superior option,” I reply.
“What are you doing?”
” I’m doing nothing, OK? Is that what you wanted to hear? Jesus Christ,” I start shaking, tears form at the corner of my eyes, “I don’t do anything, I’m equally afraid of dying and being alive, so where does that leave me, huh? I have an inheritance. I’ll be fine. I’ll figure it out. Leave me alone!”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m sitting! I’m fucking sitting! Stop patronizing me! I really want you to just leave me alone right now; I don’t want anyone coming around to see me like this. I used to be pretty, I used to try really hard at being nice and being charming, but none of that matters, now does it? I still end up here like everyone else: alone and miserable.”
“I don’t even have my parents left to help me out, anymore,” I blurted out. Getting to the crux of things, I suppose. “I have no one in this world and I fantasize about the day I finally show them, them. Not sure how, but I will, someday,” at this point, I’m not even sure why I’m crying anymore, but I am. “I’m sick of being lectured about loving myself, I’m so sick of being told that I need to go out more, I’m especially sick of the people who say everything happens for a reason. I’m sick of this positive shit, and I’m fucking tired of all your goddamn knocking, especially.”
The door swings open and there stands my landlord, looking confused and frightened.
“I just came to drop off the mail you weren’t picking up and I heard yelling and crying,” he said, “ but you’re the only one here, are you sure everything’s OK?”
“It’s really not,” I finally admit.
Mary Imgrund is a senior studying English, American Studies, and writing. She is president of Sigma Tau Delta and has been published in their national literary magazine, ‘The Rectangle’. She served on the Nonfiction, Poetry, and Art reading boards, and worked as a copy editor for this issue. This short story won best fiction for the 2014-2015 issue.