My bookshelf is littered with loose pages, well-read textbooks, a bag of half-smoked joints. In front of me, a philosophy textbook, arbitrarily opened, small print glaring up from the pages, face-up on my dresser. My forearm twinges, the fresh tattoo, gleaming and vivid, completing the rest of the sleeve. The computer screen blinks, flashing from the corner of the room, cords tangled against the floor. My laundry piles up, overflowing over the top of the basket, which I only use because my flatmate insists. The window is open, letting in a light breeze, airing out my bedroom. There is a folded piece of paper on top of the computer desk: a wedding invitation, my sister, an accountant, whom I rarely see, too disinterested in the monotony of her life. My arm twinges. I take one of the zoots from the bag on my dresser, open the window further, light up, blow smoke rings across the room.
There is a knock on the door. I inhale smoke, stride across the room to open the door, regard my flatmate with a look. ‘Are you bothered by the smell?’
Kyran looks at the zoot between my fingers, watches me flick ashes onto the carpeted floor. ‘I suppose you forgot about band practice.’ He’s got that tone to his voice, like a disappointed mother, the tone he puts on when someone is being exceptionally irresponsible. I let silence fall between us for a moment, take another hit. The truth is that I did forget, thought it was tomorrow, but it’s too late now.
‘You drive,’ I say, tossing the filter of my zoot into the ashtray on the windowsill. Kyran sighs, exasperated, walks out of my doorway. I can hear the jingle of my keys from the kitchen. Slamming shut my window, I follow.
When I was thirteen I fell in love with a boy, and my mother told me that I was confused. When I was fourteen I fell in love with a girl, and my mother told me to make up my mind. I told her she was being sardonic. My mother never understood me, never made the effort to, too obsessed with making her life seem perfect, uninterested in abandoning pretenses for even a single minute. When my eldest sister moved out, my mother took the opportunity to transform her room into an office, erasing all signs of habitation, or existence, to fulfill her workaholic whims. When I moved out, she had my room refurbished, made into an exercise room, because she won’t leave the computer desk, busy clicking, clicking, typing away on the keys like nothing else exists. My second sister always says we could replace ourselves with robots and our mother wouldn’t even notice.
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