“I told you this was going to happen!”
The only voice in the drab house shook the chandelier into a disco ball that lit up opposite the dark moss growing lazily on the torn walls. Chris was hunched over a magazine, appalled with a sense of sickness in his stomach. The sweat dripping down his 5 O’clock shadow chin resembled struggling kayakers that got off to a bad start. This issue resulted in a puddle of stress darkening the torso region of his sleeveless crewneck sweater. With one hand on the lifeless oven and the other grasping the journal for dear life, he spent the next minute frantically observing the room, shifting his eyes to the rhythm of his foot-tapping. Chris then inched his pale-as-a-light-cloud face towards the two words assaulting his eyesight, making it a point to capture his attention like driven hunters.
His hand never left the kitchen counter as he slowly exited the hell-hole habitat. He made his way to his bathroom fixated on this phrase. His closed eyes looked up in concentration to not disappoint the reader. He then turned his back to the mirror with speed and sass. Chris twitched his nose as he read the preceding line out loud: “There are about 7.2 cases per 1,000 people in just the U.S…”
He spun around slowly while adding his own words to the text: “I guess there’s a lot of people. You just can’t find any of them. We just have us.”
Chris’s mirror had no response to this announcement but instead reacted with a slight shimmer that seemed to try to calm its owner down. He exchanged a similar glow, mostly his radiant blush for the ritual. Every year hoping for a number lower and lower than what the science people predict, Chris gets thrilled to bust open the mailbox in search for the “Annual Medical Review Report” found in a manila folder with directions to Mr. Pheonaiz. Proudly seeing his last name printed on a package so public made him feel like he was pleasing somebody. Like it was someone’s job to cater to him and make sure he had what he needed. How anyone would want to do that, I just don’t know. Not a single clue. He started smirking but stopped once his shifty eyes caught his reflection’s insecure dimples. The warmth he felt three seconds ago left his body in a hurry. In a voice that sounded like it breathed in freezing air, it repeated slowly, “We just have us.”
Chris adjusted the always-uneven crucifix nailed to the door then proceeded back to the kitchen, wondering Why do we always have to argue? He hummed an improvised tune and then danced the motions to the trinity of the cross. Walking to the kitchen with both hands in imaginary pockets, he mumbled out a different melody. He fixed himself a glass of orange juice with extra pulp and then wolfed down lemon pepper salmon leftovers. This redeemed his good spirits, but nothing strong enough to claim his undivided attention. The last of his drink was the sweetest and also Chris’ favorite part.
His footsteps made no noise while sauntering over to gently place the magazine inside the trash bin. He marched towards the mirror again, this time full, and ran his fingers around the circumference of a small tin holding a half-melted Votive candle. Chris gave a smile that could only be found on greedy cherubs painted on important ceilings. His eyes gave multiple glows as they moved from the weak fire to the black fungi that plagued his wall tiles. This home had aged terribly and with no care or attention. It was littered with dust bunnies and cobweb clusters. A decorator would have had a field day turning it from a swamp to a sanctuary. Most days, the atmosphere of his place reflected his thoughts and his mood for the day. So much could change in the dark like that, including any type of light for Chris. His body was conditioned to look poorly aligned due to years of bad posture. Any train of thought that went towards a possible solution for this was instantly interrupted with another, louder mental voice. Even brainstorming ways to do the simple things the way people do would give him anxiety. While tall and crouched over, Chris looked like a gargoyle while observing nature and dismissed the sudden memory that came to his mind of someone leaving the room immediately after meeting him.
“They probably hated me. I probably spoke too much, yeah.” Chris hissed towards the moss. He straightened his posture and reminded himself of the leftover fish. This made him more than excited to race over to the stove and examine the knobs up-close. He would need to come up with new distractions until next year. Audiences of his stream of consciousness reassured his theatrical ability to charm other people. He stared at his surroundings and countless holes punched into the walls, souvenirs with their own backstories. He breathed in and out then stretched his exhausted eyelids and arms while whispering, “I told you this was going to happen.”
* * *
Chris must’ve said “Dear God” to himself a minimum million times on the morning of this special, boring day. You might have lost track while counting that, but the painfully gray routine I’m forced to watch every day accounts for that. My first look at Chris after he reads the journal, was when he tripped running out of the bathroom after brushing his teeth all excited. Shaking his head, embarrassed with insecurity, he recited curses until even I was disgusted. A small part of me is used to the daily obstacles, but it kills me that they start before dawn. Usually, after a night with not even a wink of sleep, you notice an awful feeling come over our lonely owner. Imagine a jumpy hangover only affecting your auditory cortex. Letting out a loud scream was the only antidote for the 6:00 alarming headache, aside from a breakfast of champions put out last night. It’s exhausting being the only other voice he hears, but I try my best to check up on him.