Rémi sits back in his chair, puts his hand on his forehead, his expression resembling that of a death row inmate's at the very moment of his execution, after the switch has been pulled and the charge has been sent but his mind has just not yet turned completely off.

Really?

Rémi says that word, "really," a one-word incantation of incredulity, even throwing in the rise in pitch to match.

And I reply, no, of course not, don't be so melodramatic, you senile old goon. I am not gambling away my life here any more than I am gambling away my life every time I masturbate or smoke a cigarette. These sporadic snapbacks from reality are just single drops in a bucket filled to the brim, I say, of little consequence, if any (so long as the surface tension doesn't break, I think, but I don't say that last part).

I am, I say, a student, with a life; with a job; with a career; with friends and acquaintances and whatever we call the group of people we know but would never consider so close to us as to deserve the "acquaintance" classification; with a family I don't speak to nearly enough; with interests; with hobbies; with books I read and movies I see and culture and advertisements and drugs and sex and art I ingest; with tasks I complete and goals I strive for and vices I avoid; with, I'm sure, an enemy here or there, from past actions in past lives, from younger versions of myself, immature versions, or, better, unfinished versions, ever-unfinished versions; with versions of myself I don't remember, versions I will never forget, the version I am now, and all the versions I ever will be.

But if you really want to know why I'm here, I tell him, it's because, sometimes, I just get damn bored.
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