I’m drunk and feeling good and I might as well tell them. Heck. They keep asking questions. So many questions. Why this? Why that? Why aren’t you answering truthfully?
They aren’t saying the last one, but it’s suggested in their shrugs and their coughs and the silence afterwards. They can tell I’m dodging. They see that something’s amiss. Sweet ambiguity breeds sore implications.
But my mouth is hardly sore; there’s a bitter after taste, a culprit of the beer. Some Belgium breed. Delirium, it’s called. Fitting. I’m about to tell them about the hardest moment in my life, and that’s delirious enough.
I take a generous swig followed by another. I grip the glass for support. It moves slightly. I use my other hand to stable it. I take a third mouthful.
These are my friends, or something like it. We’ve been matched together due to interests, likes, goals, and the whole wazoo of match-making enlightenment. I’m supposed to feel that I couldn’t pick a better group myself because why would I? This would be the group I could choose if I understood adult-learning theory and behavioural models and basic psychology. I’d choose this group if I had statistics and overall insight. I’d choose this group if I knew how to make the right friends for these are the right friends to make.
They smile at me, nodding. I begin. It’d be helpful if I just work my way from the beginning because it’ll contextualize why I’m at a program like this and why I’m working here and doing what I do and well two years ago pass in a few seconds. The events told in burps pour in front of me. They clutter the bar. I look at the individual moments strung together by stilted sentences. They tower overtop the food, they bathe in my drink. I see them entering the others’ mouths around me. My friends inhale as I exhale.
I finish. The room’s spinning. I feel so tired, so damn, damn tired.
I grab a hold of the table because my glass is empty and I’m empty too. I’ve vomited, but the taste is not of food. It is of stomach acid that should’ve climbed up my esophagus, burned my tongue, liquefied my teeth, and made me scream with pain instead of speak the words I do. But it doesn’t reach me more than a hiccup would. It was a mistake of breath.
But my friends will stop these feelings of regret and vacuity. They’ll make me feel whole again, mending the events in a way that make sense, in a way that shows me that they care for I cared enough to tell them. That’s what friendship is – vulnerability healing vulnerabilities.
“So, what are your weekend plans, El.”
I look at them and they are looking at her. Wait, why aren’t they responding? Why aren’t they saying how sad the story is and how they wish they could help? Why aren’t they asking any more questions?
I wretched and wretched and wretched. I cut myself and let them see inside. What did they see? What did I show them?
I feel sick all of a sudden. Out of breath. They are breathing normally. I’m not. I can’t hear my own breathing in all this loud music and I hold my throat to check if there’s still some clicking going on.
Then I see it. Bits of a bloodied body touch their hamburgers, a severed head camps atop the condiments, and an eyeball floats in a drink. One of them takes a sip of their delirium. The eyeball bobs like ice.
I raise my hand as if to stop them from slurping the visual organ but they don’t react. They don’t see it. One of them takes a bite of their poutine. A finger is forked along with the fries. A crunch meets my ear. Another swallows salad filled with blonde hair.
Why aren’t they reacting? Why aren’t they saying anything? What’s going on?
“My weekend looks pretty good.”
I look to El like the others. She drinks her water. It’s crimson. Blood, probably. The glass leaves her lips and she has a moustache of red around her upper lip.
What is going on? I look to my food. I’m going to have some guilt free time. There’s the ripped remains of a mouth with a full set of teeth in my sandwich. I’m probably going to read. The lips are worn and a tongue lazily hangs in between the whole wheat buns. Then I’m going to work out – definitely work out. One of the teeth is chipped. I’ll probably sleep endless hours because this week has been so darn hard, which is great that we’re out now. My tongue licks my set of incisors almost as if to brag to this rag-bag of organs and flesh. This has been so great. I notice a small crevice in my left bicuspid. I hope we do more of these. It’s the same trough as the tooth in my sandwich, except for a smear of mustard. I can only pray that my weekend mirrors this day. The eye in the drink is green like mine and the fingers in the poutine are my length and I ask for some ketchup because my fries are only bloodied, not tomatoed and salty, and El passes it while saying that her weekend will probably be just as good as today. The head knocks over. An eyeless, mouthless husk turns. It is me. Or at least, whatever’s left. The bits that weren’t chewed and digested. That were spit back out.
“What about your weekend, Nick?”
After a while they ask me and I mumble something something about something something else. A molar gets stuck in my throat. I don’t tell them. Enough words have been spewed.
We leave. I say goodbye. The body is still on the table. I look back and wonder if the waiter’s will see it. Otherwise, they won’t clean it up and then someone will have a bit of my spleen and they might be vegetarian. That’d be inconvenient.