|“So, these were my friends…” he said, his voice trailing to silence. His eyes blank.|
Those who didn’t know him called that look he sometimes got, “dreamy”—as if he was gazing contentedly into the future. A veil fell over his face and his eyes, now slightly hidden as he stared off…His friends knew, they would try and snap him out of it, more afraid of the emptiness than he was. They knew what it meant, and where it could lead. The look covered the despair he felt within and the distrust he felt without. It was the look of escapism that others—those who didn’t know any better—registered. But the reality was capture.
His friends knew this, and they used it. Instinctively.
“I guess this is all there is now…but, I suppose it’s better this way,” he said, more to himself than to the stranger across from him. More honest this way, he said, and that’s better, he assured himself.
They were all gone now; the ones that mattered at least. Funny how those who mattered, really mattered very little. Perhaps it was merely time, but something told him there was more to it. What was it about him that turned people away? Or did he turn them out all on his own.
There was one thing he had never understood—unfettered cruelty—how some people were capable of inflicting so much harm on others, for no reason whatsoever. He preferred masochism infinitely more to sadism.
So, these were my friends, he thought. These, these, people, always many, many people. Many nothings, whose smiles and kindnesses spoke unspoken obligations of neediness. Random acquaintances, friends, faces, they were a dime a dozen. As if the counting of them all was some silent competition, some denotation of wealth and status. Throughout his life he had been surrounded by them, as if that brought satisfaction.
But, after all these years, when it came down to it, the truth was unavoidable: time does not a friendship make. Neither does friendship imply any sort of temporality. It is indefinable as something, except for the fact that it is easily definable as not nothing.
And what was he left with now? They were my friends.
He constantly tried to fight the feelings that sometimes came to him at night or when he let his mind drift. It always threatened to overtake him. Loneliness. Emptiness. It permeated every aspect, especially his. Others hid it better, he had always thought. Tonight, strangers his only comfort, his only friends, he let it take him too.
Perhaps that was the secret to happiness: befriending loneliness and emptiness, enjoying blankness and numbness, and savoring silence—oh, to change the world, to make it yours again. To recapture loneliness and give it company.
The world had been lost long ago, when the superficial hordes, the uncaring masses decided to copulate and populate the Earth with their societal poison. A new world was born when sincerity and ingenuousness were reduced to mere fads of occasion.
When things began to fall apart for him, he knew it was all over. There was not much to stand on when his own foundation began to crack, when he lost his surety in his world. He knew it was over when he felt closer to a stranger than to his closest friends. It was a natural progression, and that bothered him.
But, at least he did not live in a state of denial. These were my friends. I will not let them abuse me. I will not let them disrespect me. I will not let them control me. I will not fall prey to their stupid superficial idiocy. I will not cater to their whims. I will not compromise my morals or let them degrade my sensibilities. I will not.
Ah, fuck it. He picked up the phone.
Welcome to the 21st century: where friendship means nothing.
“So, these are my friends,” he gestured, half-smiling at them, half-mocking himself. Defeated, and they didn’t even know they’d fought a battle. It didn’t mean a thing.