March 25, 2009

alone in place

Glenn knew it would happen. He just longed for it not to happen, and every time, it would get him. His alarm clock would ring signaling the start of another day. The little metal wire holding back the plastic number would let go and the number would come down with a crash and the alarm would blast a scratched, fadey kind of radio sound. He cracked open one eye over his pillow to peek at the clock. The old plastic faux-wood machine stood on the end table a few feet from the bed. Its leering stare indicated 7:39am. One more minute until that damn sound...

The plastic plate came crashing down and it now read 7:40 and the noise began. Like a bad techno song, it came thumping out a steady rhythm and Glenn turned over sinking his into the overstuffed down pillow. "You know... it does sound a bit like a techno club in here". A banging on the wall behind his bed meant that Mr. Himiachi would like to sleep. He slapped the relentless machine and pulled himself out. The bright sun leaked through the white shutters and pooled onto the floor covered in the bedsheets, magazines and several dirty plates with forks still on them. He lumbered over to the bathroom, his feet leaving a heavy thump over the hardwood floors.

The bathroom mirror was no better than that alarm radio he though. He looked like he rolled out of bed. Hah, what's new. He combed his hair, ran his face once over with the electric razor and he looked in the cluttered medicine cabinet for his tooth brush. He brushed, and replaced the things and stared again into the mirror. He used to share this mirror. Just like he shared that giant Ikea bed with all the big pillows and fluffy comforter. He slammed it shut and turned out the light and went back into the bedroom. He pulled open the wardrobe and threw on a striped shirt that seemed to fit a bit too tight and a pair of skinny jeans. Picking from a pile of dress shoes, boots and sneakers, he grabbed a pair of Converse chucks.

Glenn went through the hall, kicking the door of his roommates, his roommate's way of being signaled to wake up. He picked up the arm on the record player and switched on the machine and the sound began to fill the kitchen and breakfast room with a quiet sort of vanity. Seth emerged from his room, looking groggy half shaven with his hair every which direction. He dragged his sock covered feet to the table where Glenn placed a bowl of dry cereal in front of him.

"No milk?"
"We're all out dude. Its your turn to buy groceries. I wrote what we need on this list. Go pick it up when you got time ok?"
"yeah yeah yeah"

Glenn didn't feel comfortable with that response. He knew Seth. He knew Seth since their undergrad days at Tulane. School at Armaugh University certainly was different. They always seemed to be stuck to research of some sort. Massachusetts was a strange sort of place. Much more different than what life was like back home in St. Louis or growing up as a kid in West Germany with a father in the military. Seth was the one thing Glenn could count on always being the same or at least bring some sort of "comfort" into knowing what the day was like or at least going to be like.

Glenn closed the door behind him and walked down the hall. He used to do this with someone he recalled. He remembered holding someone's hand when he did this. He retracted his hand from his side and massaged it with the other. It felt weird, like it was going to fall asleep or something. He locked the front door of the building and began to walk to the trolley stop. His routine was regimented every day, Get up, get out, get food, get to class. The trolley arrived with a hiss and he stepped on and it trudged forward under its heavy load of undergrads living off campus for the first time as well as disturbed looking locals finding that their once empty tram car now would be filled with stinking students on a daily basis.

He got off at Battery St. walking over to the fogged up windows of the coffee hut and he entered. The hustle and bustle of graduate students laid itself before him, pimply looking high schoolers working behind the counter trying to earn a bit of cash while they were on their spring break. He plunked down three quarters and a dime. Enough for a small black coffee and a meager looking croissant filled with cheese.

"My Usual please." He loved to say during this time.
A panicked look washed over the high schooler's face. "Uh... what would that be sir?"
"What seems to be the problem?"
"Nothing nothing! So that's one uh. Espresso and a raspberry toa..."
"Small black and a cheese croissant."
Reddened but wiser, he lurched into the back and brought his things. When he turned his back to the cashier to walk out, he grinned. At least one thing still made him smile.

He plunked into the lab, sat at his office space and stared. Papers were needing to be graded, he did that. The professor needed someone to fill in, he lectured. 5pm. Time to go. The tramcar slid through Cavanaugh street filled with students on their way home. Glenn sat at the station stop, just missing the car by that much. He recalled sitting at this stop with someone. He would play games with that someone, fool around whenever they had missed the packed cars. But he sat there quietly thinking about work. The MBTA car rumbled into the stop and he boarded and stood the entire ride back home to his apartment.

The apartment was dark and he switched on the lamp on the table by the door. Seth was passed out on the couch, a bag of groceries sitting on the table and a bottle of vodka sitting with a few shot glasses on the table besides Seth. Glenn looked in puzzlement at the glasses, knowing Seth never pulls out glasses for himself unless he had someone over. He ignored it, walking down the hall to his room. He began to undress, tossing his clothes over towards the closet, throwing his shoes back into the pile from where it had come from and crawled under the heavy comforter.

His figure lay with his arms outstretched to one side, as if he still were holding someone. He imagined days from when he was very happy, from when he still had her. He felt someone slide into the bed and take up his arm and place it over their midsection. He felt that someone crouch into position to fit in as the little spoon and Glenn felt whole again. He moved his hand up the torso and began to squeeze the breasts of the unknown person. He began to realize how lifelike it strangely felt. He sat up instantly in darkness. Only the moonlight was visible, casting an eerie shadow on the pile of dirty shirts on the chair bathed in light. He looked to his side where he was spooning. He stared at the dark massy looking lump and wondered who it was. He poked whoever it was.

"Hey babe... I know you're drunk, but lets do it."
"Seth! Get out of here."

Seth wheeled around, parts of his beard bathed in light from the window.

"Shit dude, my bad. Just give my boxers tomorrow."

Glenn wiped his knees with his gym towel and threw it into the laundry pile. He climbed back into bed this time, unable to sleep. He stared at the ceiling. The lamp seemed like the moon floating, half of its body in the light, the other half shadowed by darkness. He only could think of her, it didn't help. He thought she was happy. Apparently not.

Clack. The alarm clock passed another minute.

Glenn rolled over onto his side, this time, spooning the pillow to make sure Seth didn't come back. He breathed in the pillow's aroma. It still sort of smelled like her, but really faintly. He fell asleep. The battle would begin again at 7:39am.

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