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Sam stood at the bus stop, trying to shake the [[feeling]] of the dream he had the night before. It wasn’t a normal death dream. Being shot, drowned, burned alive. It was capital [[Death.]] Genocide, flood, solar flare. Black hole. Heat death. The extinguishing of not just his life, but the [[causal imprint of his existence.]]The bus stopped, and Sam climbed on.
With his skin crawling like four hundred and thirty nine maggots, Sam fumbled putting change in the ticket dispenser. The driver frowned at him twitching.
Sam clasped his hands and walked down the aisle, searching for an open place to sit. [[Did he horrify people with his presence?]]
It was strange to even think about feelings. He usually didn't think he had them. Not real feelings like anger and [[love->causal imprint of his existence.]] Usually the things he felt were either mild annoyance, or lust.A woman grabbed her bags and rushed out the back door of the bus when he came [[too close.]]
The twenty four year old wondered if he smelled bad. He thought he did. Assumed he did. He took the empty seat [[the woman left behind.]]
The bus drove on while an elderly woman played peekaboo with a baby in a stroller next to her. With the interior lights flickering, Sam scanned the other people on the bus. They were all playing with their phones.
Everyone got too close. Sam knew his insides were full of slime. He kept hearing someone say [[“Peekaboo.”]]
The sound disturbed him. It sounded like a cuckoo clock, taunting him. He felt panic rising in his chest.At the next stop a couple got on. Their rosy winter cheeks made them look happy and content. Sam wanted to be a part of a couple like that one day. Nicely dressed. Happy. Normal. He couldn’t resist eavesdropping.
“I don’t know. Why isn’t anyone talking about it.”
“The governments don’t want people panicking.”
“It’s too out there for me.”
“This guy is never wrong. He has leaked documents.”
“So we’re done then.”
“At least reality tv will die with us.”
“They launched that Mars mission last month.”
“NASA tracks every asteroid they know of, but most of the time they don’t even see them until they are passing by within hundreds of kilometres.”
“Can we stop talking about this? I’m getting spooked out,” the guy whispered.
“I’m sure there are some people who will survive.”
Sam watched the couple look straight ahead in silence.
[[“I hope you’re wrong.”]]
“So do I.”
Sam thought about his father being kind of rich. Not rich enough to know what really matters in life. Like art. He hadn't said a word to his father in a year, [[Sam thought.]]Sam's head started to tingle when he thought about the world ending. The game finally being over. Humans didn't deserve the planet, [[Sam thought.]]Sam stared out the window until it felt as though he was leaving his body. Feeling everything in third person.
Gas station lights snapped him out of it, and he requested his stop. As he got off the bus, his finger cracked with static electricity. It felt like a full electric shock. The cold air greeted him, and his shoes slipped on the greyish-white ice.
He thought about [[the world ending.]]Double-click this passage to edit it.Sam rounded the corner, and saw two feet sticking out from behind Sam’s roommate's parked car. His heart jumped, hoping it wasn’t her.
Lilli stood up, only her head and long black hair showing from above the back end of the car.
“Hi,” she said keeping her eyes on the ground.
“I said I needed some space,” Sam moved past her with his keys out and unlocked the front door.
[[Lilli]] continued looking at the ground. [[A large military backpack]] sat behind her.
“Come in,” Sam said.
Sam and Lilli had broken up many times, but they couldn't stay apart for very long. One of the two would eventually get too lonely and reach out. It seemed like there was [[nothing]] that could keep them from seeing eachother."I need to see what's in your backpack," Sam said.
"Fine," Lilli said.
Sam had a dire feeling that she came to kill him, so he looked through the bag trying to find knives, or poison.
He found [[nothing]].Sam quickly ran into the house and picked dirty laundry off the bedroom floor and tossed it in a hamper. The room was filled with the [[pale blue light]] of a laptop screen. He came back outside to let Lilli in.
Lilli stepped into the house and let the heavy bag slide off her shoulders.
“I just…” she said.
“I’m tired. Let’s talk about it in the morning,” Sam said.
Sam and Lilli went to his room and undressed, then carefully laid on the air mattress. He closed the laptop. Lilli curled into the space between his arm and stomach.
Sam coughed and rolled over, putting his left leg across Lilli’s thighs.
Her bare stomach expanded as he put his hand flat against it to feel her [[breathe.]]He managed to get an hour of sleep before opening his eyes.
She shook so violently at night. He thought about trying to ignore her.
He put his hand on her back and stroked it. Lilli was curled around a pillow on her side, The tip of her thumb in her mouth.
“Don’t touch me,” she [[hissed]].
Carefully, he slid off the mattress and stepped out into the hallway. In the bathroom, he upended the cup used as a toothbrush holder, and filled it with water.
He must have cast a looming shadow coming back into the bedroom. Lilli’s eyes were wide, and her fear was thick in the air.
“Please don’t hurt me,” she said.
“I’m not going to hurt you, I brought you water.”
Lilli snapped out of whatever waking [[nightmare]] had a hold of her. She outstretched her arm to take the cup from Sam.
Through the walls, a siren blared somewhere off in the distance. Lilli drank in five long gulps, then handed the glass back to Sam who put it on the floor beside the air mattress.
“I’m sorry,” Lilli said.
Sam imagined this life. Fifty years of sleepless nights next to a girl who maybe would never be okay. Day after day of glass-shattering panic attacks.
When they first met, Lilli was afraid Sam’s mental illness would take the forefront of their relationship, and sometimes, cynically, Sam considered that she was [[exaggerating her issues to compete.]]
The blanket curled over her head. Only her face showed. Sam rolled over and watched Lilli’s eyelids [[twitch]] as she slept.
She would wake up only when she heard Sam leave the room and come back with two full coffee cups in his hand. One [[Black]]. One with milk and enough sugar to send a small child climbing up the walls.
Sam once tried to explain Lilli to his friends, but in order for the friends to understand the nuance, he had to recall and retell every word, facial expression, and moment of body language that passed between them. The tone of all those things. Every sigh and smirk of punctuation. Though, it was too much. It couldn’t [[continue]].
Lilli’s hair looked like black plant tendrils in the soft morning light. Messy. Winding.
“You know it’s for the best.”
“What’s for the best?”she said sipping her coffee, closing her eyes to savour the sugar.
Sam leaned back and ran his hands through his dark brown hair. His lips pressed tightly together.
“We make each other worse.”
“I feel less attacked when you say it like that,” Lilli responded.
“Through email you just attacked me, saying I was bad for you. When you say it like that it seems like both of us have problems.”
“That should be obvious,” Sam gestured to the pill bottles strewn across his desk.
“You think your issues are more significant than mine.”
“I’m not doing this dance with you.”
“Whenever you say things like that I feel more attacked.”
“Is that why you travelled six hours, unannounced? Just because you felt attacked?”
“I felt like I needed to give you another chance. I can never tell if you’re thinking clearly because of psychosis.”
“My thoughts are clear. It’s not psychosis talking.”
“How am I supposed to know that?”
“Just trust me. When I say I need space, [[I need space]].”
The two drank their coffee while staring into space. Sam was acutely aware of their shadows looming on the wall. Lilli put her coffee down, let her face fall into her hands, and started crying. Sam put an arm around her, but she shrugged it off.
“You don’t care about me,” Lilli sobbed.
“I love you, but-”
“It’s always ‘I Love You, BUT.”
Sam felt like clawing his eyes out.
“It’s hard. So. Fucking. Hard to love someone that hates themselves.”
“I only hate myself because the whole world makes me feel like a piece of shit. You make me feel like a piece of shit.”
“You take things too personally.”
Lilli started sobbing again.
“I’m crying and you keep attacking me.”
Lilli moved to the far side of the room clutching a blanket.
“[[You’re not the problem. I am]].”
Lilli’s crying sputtered. Her ears perked up waiting to hear what horrible thing Sam had to say about himself.
“I want to know where you are at all times. When I don't it's like you don't exist. It's sad. I'm sad.”
“So what if you get paranoid.”
“I’m not being in another relationship where my jealousy and paranoia is a key element in keeping it together.”
“Who liked it when you were [[jealous?]]”
The word hung there in the room like a jungle mist. [[They were two animals]] after all.
Lilli started to sniffle and hid her face in her palms. Sam scratched his head and stared at the back of her hands. She sobbed out.
“You hurt me so bad. So, so bad.”
Sam took a deep breath and sat back in his chair. He looked at his feet. [[Lilli started crying again]].
“I want to die,” she said through tears. “It feels like I’m dying. If this was four thousand years ago I would die in five days.”
“You’re not going to die.”
“I can't do it anymore,” she said hyperventilating between words.
Sam said nothing.
“I can't live anymore,”
“Yes you can.”
“I’m going to kill myself,” Lilli said.
“No you’re not,” Sam said.
Lilli sat up quickly and went to her bag. Sam got up as she fished for something in the front pocket. He grabbed her hands, and pried open her fingers. She was holding a razor.
“Don’t,” Sam said. “Let go.”
Lilli said nothing. She was much smaller than him. Frail, even. He plucked the razor from her hand and then put it in his pocket.
“[[I don't want to live anymore]],”
“Yes you do.”
Lilli hunched forward and stepped over to his desk. She picked a bottle of [[tylenol]] off the desk and started struggling with the child safety cap.
Sam wrapped her up in his arms, put his mouth against her ear and started sobbing.
“Just don’t. You’re not going out like him,” Sam cried.
“Who?” Lilli said.
Through tears Sam said, “my cousin.”
“He [[killed himself?]]” Lilli’s grip on the bottle of tylenol loosened.
“Yes,” Sam took the bottle and threw it into the closet. “I should have known to stop him but I didn’t.”
Lilli [[put her hair up]] in a bun with an elastic that was wrapped around her wrist.
“People still care about you. I still care, I just can’t be with you.”
Lilli stared at the wall.
“I want to run away. I’ll live in my car. Give up my stupid cat.”
“I’m tired of living like other people expect me to live.”
Lilli leered at Sam.
“I hate you,” she said.
Sam said nothing.
“I hate men. I hate you. I despise you. [[I despise men]].”
It was her ancient nature coming out. Her anger kindling. That far off predecessor whose rage seeped through the pores of every scorned woman.
That hidden, secret, smiling hate.
Sam half-expected all the trees and plants visible through the window to come alive, break through the class and strangle him to death. He probably [[deserved it]].
“Are you breaking up with me because I didn’t have sex with you last night?”
“You heard me.”
“I go years at a time without human [[contact]]. It’s not a big deal to me.”
“You’re a [[sociopath]],” she said.
Sam’s phone buzzed and he picked it up off the desk. One of his friend’s asking if everything was okay.
He typed, “She showed up AT MY HOUSE AFTER I TOLD HER I DIDNT WANT TO SEE HER.”
Lilli frowned at him.
“Who are you talking to?”
Lilli walked over to her bag and Sam immediately put his phone aside and hovered over her, watching to make sure she didn’t have any other sharp objects or pills to harm herself with.
“I’m just getting my laptop,” Lilli smirked. “I’m emailing my friend to get him to pick me up.”
“In a few hours?”
“I’m really [[uncomfortable]] with you being here all day.”
“He’s not a taxi service.”
Sam went back to looking at his phone. The internet connection was strangely spotty.
Something on social media seemed off. He considered himself a little more plugged into the noosphere than others. Something was changing.
Words jumped without a clear pattern. An erratic mind would sense instability in others. Sam’s mind fell backwards out of his head and through the wall.
He could feel his neighbours around him. Plugged in and chatting to each other. What would they think of Lilli? What would they think of this?
“He’ll be here in [[6 hours]],” Lilli said.
“I’m not okay with that, tell him to meet you at the coffee shop down the street.”
“I’ll just sit here and not say anything and not bother you. You can let me stay here for a while longer.”
“No, I’ll give you bus fare to get back to the ferry terminal.”
“I’m not taking the bus when I can get a ride.”
“Then you can meet him at the coffee shop. I don’t want you waiting here.”
Lilli started crying while typing out an email. Sam so desperately wanted to go to sleep, but he couldn’t leave her alone.
“Do you want me to call the [[crisis centre]] for you?”
“I know how to fake being okay. They won’t do anything.”
“I’ll tell them you’ve made suicidal gestures.”
“It doesn’t matter. I’ll get them to leave me alone. I always do.”
Sam went back to his phone. His friends, some close, some more like internet acquaintances he just followed, seemed very off. They were posting strange. Pleas. Psychotic ramblings. No one knew what was going on, if anything at all.
“He’ll be here in an [[hour]],” Lilli said.
“Okay,” Sam set a timer on his phone.
“Who are you talking to?” Lilli asked.
“No one,” Sam said.
Lilli started crying again.
“I need you to come into the bathroom with me?” Sam said.
“Why?” She said stifling her tears.
“I have to pee but I can’t leave you alone.”
Sam and Lilli walked to the bathroom. She sat on the edge of the tub while he stood above the toilet, unzipping himself.
It felt weird to be so exposed next to her. She was behind him, waiting for him to start, or finish.
“Do you think I’m going to [[stab you or something?]]”
“No,” Sam said grunting.
“I’ll sit closer so you can see I’m not going to stab you.”
Lilli shifted along the [[edge of the tub]], until she was eye level with Sam’s crotch.
Sam took a deep breath, feeling like he was going to burst, but nothing was coming out. He wondered why it was so difficult. Nerves. His phone vibrated in his pocket.
Finally, he started, then finished. Lilli sat on the edge of the tub looking bored while Sam washed his hands. He felt like prison guard, or an orderly.
He remembered all the times in the psych ward some poor man or woman had to keep 24/7 watch over him. He was allowed to do whatever he wanted as long as it didn’t involve carving symbols into his skin, or stringing himself up by a shoelace, but they had to sit patiently and quietly keeping one eye on him at all times. At least they got paid. [[At least.]]
Sam looked at his phone every minute. Lilli noticed and figured out he was counting the seconds for her to leave.
She began sobbing and started to pack her things. Her bag did not want to close with the sleeping bag in it, and Sam watched her struggle for a while. It was uncertain if she would find it insulting, or upsetting that he was in a rush to get her ready to leave.
After a few minutes watching her get more and more frustrated, he decided to help. Lilli continued sobbing while Sam kneeled on the bag, trying to get the zipper shut. Poking and prodding at the parts of the sleeping bag that would get in the way of the zipper, until finally, it closed.
It was hardly a relief when the timer went off. Lilli put on her coat, and grabbed her bag. Sam followed her and watched her put on her boots, then open the front door.
“[[Will I see you again?]]”
Sam shrugged so dismissively, it could make someone puke.
Lilli’s face went cold, and she plopped her bag down on the pavement. A sweeping feeling of relief came over Sam as he closed the front door, and locked it.
He went upstairs to boil water for ramen. Every minute, Sam would rush to the window to see if Lilli was gone yet. She was still sitting on her bag at the foot of the driveway the first four times he checked. The fifth time, the driveway was empty.
Sam smiled and went back to the kitchen. There was no song he could think of to sing in his situation. The sense of victory disappeared when he remembered her threatening to kill herself.
Would she do it? There was always a chance. Regardless, he was sure [[he wouldn’t hear from her again]].
Sam walked down the stairs and turned the corner to his bedroom. Before he reached the door, an orchestra of barking dogs started from the nearby homes. A convoy of sirens screamed down the nearby main road.
Sam ran out onto the street. The streetlights flickered. Lilli was [[gone]].<a href="http://www.patreon.com/dcsross">My Patreon</a>
<a href="http://instagram.com/dcsross">My Poetry IG</a>
Thank you for reading.Sam thought about the earth just sort of floating in space. Spinning around the sun. A tiny rock travelling thousands of kilometers per hour. It was so vulnerable. The universe was a dangerous place. Sam thought. Sam thought. Sam thought. Lilli stared at him, he was forgetting to [[breathe.]] Sam always thought about Adam and Eve. The serpent. Paradise Lost was burned into his memory by a long grueling literature course in university. He couldn't quite recite the words to it, but the themes seemed to surface in everyday life. If the world was truly ending. Lilli was a [[harbinger->exaggerating her issues to compete.]].Black was the colour of night. The colour of Lilli's hair. The colour of empty space. The colour of mold on Sam's windowsill.
Lilli started to stir, her eyelids sluggish.
"The world is going to end, Sam."
"The world is going to end. I don't want to be alone for it. And neither do you."
Her face was earnest. She really believed it.
"I don't care about the end of the world." Sam said. "This world sucks."
"We should be together while it ends," Lilli said. "We're soulmates."
"[[I need space]]"Lilli spoke to Sam. Pleading with him to stay with her, but he had zoned out. His hand was shaking from the lithium. His mind was foggy from Abilify.
Sam watched Lilli pace the room, waving her hands, and twisting her long dark hair up as sort of a nervous tick. Sam felt his eyelid twitch, and hoped it wasn't a sign of a tumour or something.
"Are you listening to me, Sam?"
"[[I need space]]."A lot of Sam's decisions were informed by base instincts, jealousy most prominently. He once got in a fight with a park ranger who was looking too closely at Lilli's tattoos during a camping trip.
[[Lilli started crying again]]. Sam's ex loved it when he was paranoid and jealous. She said it made her feel like he really cared about him.
His jealousy was different. It wasn't informed by schoolboy unrequited love. It was dangerous. Sam was usually both paranoid and dangerous at the same time.
Sam stared deeply into Lilli's eyes and found a pang of desire enter him.
[[Lilli started crying again]] Sam was reminded of a girl he once knew in highschool who threatened to kill herself over MSN messenger. She took two tylenols, a shot of vodka, and then passed out.
Everyone that knew her wound up in meandering group counselling sessions.
Lilli stared at him with growing anger.
“I hate you,” she said.
Sam said nothing.
“I hate men. I hate you. I despise you. [[I despise men]].Sam's cousin killed himself a few years ago, and his family was still grieving, which is why he stayed away from them.
Lilli stared at him with growing anger.
“I hate you,” she said.
Sam said nothing.
“I hate men. I hate you. I despise you. [[I despise men]].Sam wondered if the coming apocalypse would wind up being humanity's first contact with aliens. He hoped that would be the case. Maybe they would finally enlighten the population, and let everyone know that their lives could be so much more than work and [[sleep->sociopath]].Most of his friends convinced Sam to break up with Lilli as soon as possible. He didn't have many friends but they were all convinced that she was bad for him. They thought she was a manipulative [[narcissist->sociopath]]."Please stay with me another night," Lilli said.
"I can't," Sam said.
He thought about all the things he'd rather be doing than babysitting a delusional person with a history of self-harm.
"Remember that time you said you felt the energy from my heart surround your heart?"
"Remember the time on Hornby Island we watched a pair of ravens flying above the beach, and you said 'that's us.'"
"Remember that time you said you loved me, and I drove three hours just to see you and tell you I loved you back?"
Sam remembered all of it. He felt himself soften. He did love her. He knew he loved her, but it was difficult. It wasn't an easy love. It took effort. It was stressful, but maybe that's what real love was?
"[[Okay,]]stay. I want you to stay."
"Really?" Lilli said. Her eyes widening."Yes," Sam said. "I'm sorry I broke up with you...it's just..."
"It's okay," Lilli said. "We don't have much time left together."
Lilli grabbed Sam by the hand and led him to his [[bedroom]].They undressed and cuddled on the slowly deflating air mattress.
Everything was broken in and around Sam. His mind, his relationships, his desk, his chair, the zipper on his backpack. But it was okay. Things weren't meant to stay together. To stay perfect. Every person was truly essence, their bodies were just objects with no permanence. The essence was immutable and immortal.
A procession of sirens ran past Sam's window. The lights in the house flickered. The end was beginning.
Lilli kissed Sam, and wrapped her arms tight around his shoulders.
"It's going to be okay," she said. "We'll find eachother [[again->gone]]."O B J E C T
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