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Tale of Chronic Bitch Face / Just to Say

By 

Cameron Hathaway / D Highland

I

 walk right between the people on the front porch in their leather jackets and patched up pants, simply a cigarette floating between them, bouncing up and down in my invisible hand, ashing itself and hovering towards the door.  Occasionally, the cigarette burns bright red and a thin stream of smoke comes pouring out of my invisible mouth into the cold night air.  The punks simply don’t notice how odd this is through the haze of Malt Liquor and heated debate on which Star Wars movie is the best.

After marching into the front door, literally walking through the wood, I pass some people bunched together in the front room.  As I stroll by, a cold chill cuts through them, which sends shivers up and down the spine, as if the Devil himself was in their presence, or the love of their life had just unexpectedly walked into the room.  With the cold breath of my invisible, grim soul, goose bumps appear on their arms.  They look around to see if a window is open, and when they realize that no window is open, they pass off this sudden shiver to the speed they had just taken and drink some beer.  The over-bearing feeling of loneliness my invisible presence produces makes others feel as if they need to be more sociable.  They congregate in even bigger groups, drinking more and more alcohol, as if insulating themselves from some unwanted, solitary feeling.  They take out their phones as to not become lost in this unexplainable sense of isolation.  The blue light emitted from the screens light up their faces, making everything seem a bit cloudy.  I stroll on towards the basement; quite aware of the impact my presence has on people, but not really bothered by it.  In truth, I am grateful to be invisible so nobody knows to put the blame on me.

I start to go down the stairs, the heavy sound of distorted guitars and the howl of the lead singer echoes off the cement walls, going back and forth in the staircase.  This has a bit of a disorienting effect on me, as I am not sure which direction to listen to.  This stops when I reach the bottom of the stairs and I am swept up into the whole.  The basement is packed from wall to wall with drunk punks dancing around, pogoing, moshing.  One giant living breathing organism that drinks beer and moves in waves like stormy seas,  a giant slimy worm creature with a circle mouth that sucks up anything in its path.   I am now a part of the conclusion, the reason why we are all packed into these cramped walls.  A sea of electric energy grabs me and I am charged up, dragged with the current into everything.

Even though I am invisible, I mosh with my fellow punk rockers.  I step into the center of the pit, wind milling and spin kicking, slinging my arms and legs around with a big grin on my face.  My limbs, unseen to everyone except me, disappear into folk’s heads, stomachs, thighs, into their hearts.  I can’t feel them and they can’t feel me, I simply go right through them.  Some people stop moshing for a second when my spirit goes through their body.  They glance around wearing a concerned look on their face, nose lifted up with flared nostrils, eye brows furrowed as if they smell fire, on the alert for a split second.  I say to them “It’s all good here fellow, do not fret.  Just me trying to have a bit of fun, don’t worry about it.”  They cannot hear me though; I try to give my companion a little pat on the back, struggling to send good vibes their way, but this only makes things worse.  Ultimately, they forget about the silent death cold shiver, and they are once again liberated from their own personal hell.  The deafening punk music embraces their body and they are at one with the rowdy atmosphere.

A single light bulb in the center of the ceiling casts a yellow glow onto the heads of everyone.  Adamant on doing its job until completely burned out, and as faithful as the sun itself.

I watch from the corner of the cellar now, on the horizon, where the light doesn’t quite reach.  I can see where it dissolves on the ground in front of me.  I dare not pass this point, as if at risk of getting sun burned.  White cement walls covered with graffiti, slight smell of mold and body odor.  Someone is smoking a joint.  I lean against the wall and stare into the crowd of people, watching as they dance, laugh, and help each other up off the floor so no one gets trampled.  For a brief moment, I stop trying to pilot my mind and simply take everything in, letting my imagination run free.

The atmosphere turns black.  Only a minor red tinge of light highlights the exposed skin of the people dancing around me, making them seem quite pale as if in a dark room for photography, or maybe how mother’s womb looked on a brilliantly sunny July afternoon.  All the sounds begin to blend together.  The bass guitar vibrates my body all the way down to the core, its tremor makes my insides itch.  Out of the blackness comes heat, one giant steamy breath from all of the warm bodies, brushing and rubbing against each other in the dark.    

All of a sudden I am thrust out of this brief meditation by some unknown force, by a very strong presence that I am not used to.  There is a girl staring directly into my eyes, standing on the other side of the crowd.  Her face disappears again and again, hidden behind the dancing punks.  I strain myself to see her, standing on my tip toes and extending my neck as far as it will extend in hopes of seeing whether or not she is actually looking at me.  She is looking at me no doubt about it, because when she notices me stretching myself to get a better look, she does the same to me but in a mocking manner, with a playful closed mouth smile on her face.  This bothers me because I am invisible.  I like being invisible, I don’t want to have to deal with someone actually seeing me.

 

The last set ends and everyone goes upstairs except for that girl and I, standing on either side of the basement.  But we are not in the basement anymore, as miles of frozen barren fields and feet of snow appear around us.  The sky is black and the wind howls, cutting me to the bone with a cold chill.  The moon is hidden behind a mass of thick grey clouds.  I zip up my jacket and pull the hood over my head, squinting and shivering with my arms crossed.  I can barely see her through the falling snow, thrashing around with the harsh winds.   We stand under a single street lamp.

The girl does not appear to be cold.  On the contrary, she seems to be quite comfortable in only a black leather jacket and T-Shirt under.  The wind blows through her green hair, which is cut evenly at shoulder length, but loses all its form when blown in in the violent gusts of cold air and snow.

She takes out a cigarette and lights it.  Inhaling deeply then blowing out a long stream of smoke and warm breath that seems almost endless.  She looks at me and smiles for an instant, but turns away and lets out an all too knowing laugh, shaking her head with an air of pity towards me.  Her presence makes me nervous but I cannot turn away, as if torturing myself.  

With an innocent hand, she brushes the snow off of the sleeves and front of her jacket, barely touching the fabric, and then looks back at me with the same playful smile on her face.

“Why have you given up?” She asks.

“Given up on what?”

“Life,” she says.  “You put everything into boxes, you intellectualize every last thing that you come across but do not know how to simply live.  Eventually, you will find yourself to be terribly alone with nowhere to turn.  Yes it is true you can think, but can you live?  Any man can think, to a certain extent at least, but in the end it leads nowhere, only black.

It is as if you are waiting for some moment at which you will show that you are freer than everyone else, but let me tell you, that moment does not come.  I know how you end, believe it or not.”

“And how do I end, then?”  I ask.

“You realize everything you once believed in to be wrong and you blow your brains out.  The guilt of knowing that you lived a wasted life is too much, so you decide to end it all.  You are slowly becoming more and more invisible, shrouded in your own little ideas and beliefs, thinking that you are free, but in all reality you are just afraid to live, terribly afraid.  You use thinking as an excuse to not experience.”

She throws me a worried glance and takes a drag from her cigarette.

“Well how does one learn to live?”  I ask.  “I see people laughing and having fun, but it as if I am stuck behind a wall.  I pass off depression as intellectualism, and that is my excuse.  It is impossible for me to live as other people.  I have tried being selfless in the loneliest of times, in hopes of connecting with someone, but to no success.  You are indeed right, I have given up.”

“It is hard to live, you are going to have to let your guard down and realize that life is pain; you are going to be hurt no matter how hard you try to be a good human being.  That is life, but the key is to not give up.  I shall show you how to dance, laugh, and enjoy people as they are, not how you want them to be.  You must be aware that your soul is dying, and that you are becoming someone you once would have despised.

Yes.

Well that reveals that there is still hope in you.

It gets worse before it gets better..."

---

"What are you doing tonight?"
"Please don't ask me out," she says.
"I wasn't. But-- good to know."

Quiz question:

What was the main characters predicament in the Tale of Chronic Bitch Face?

He hadn't had any coffee that day

He hadn't had any coffee that day

Venereal Disease

Venereal Disease

Wanted a Ps4 not an Xbox

Wanted a Ps4 not an Xbox

He had given up at life

He had given up at life

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Issue 7

published 

February 22, 2017

Tale of Chronic Bitch Face was written by Cameron Hathaway.

Just to Say was written by D Highland, who studies German at a small liberal arts university. He's not nearly as good a writer as his sister.

i dont feel like fininishing this website right now and i am sorry

I had no savings,

a pile of credit card debt,

and no job prospects.

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Issue 7

This writing was originally published in Opium Magazine, and is not listed in the Lit.cat archives.
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