You sent me a message on Facebook out of nowhere. It was a regular afternoon. I was doing nothing, feeling nothing, just enjoying not being at work, not being anywhere or doing anything. But all this nothingness evaporated when I got the message. Time stopped, then buckled in, turning now into a living memory.

“How do you cope with life?” he asked me. I could smell him before I heard him. It was the smell of the streets, the miasma of a kind of life I feared. It was a life that was waiting just around the corner for me. Some people, people I’ve known who didn’t truly know what they were talking about, thought it was a more honest life, a noble life. I just wanted to always have blank beige walls to come home to, no matter what. I wanted soft, warm covers to envelope me and a glass of water at my bedside. I lived a comfortable horror, and I could not imagine attempting my life without these slight and simple amenities.

Robert came up with a theory of time in his notebook. He knew there were others, scientists, who were better qualified for this. But, still. It felt like a breakthrough. He had always had a sense that he was at the verge of getting at something, but it was so hard to communicate what that was. His girlfriend Sara used to laugh at him sometimes, and that laugh, so bitter and red, was fuel to him now. He tried to have compassion for Sara now that she was somewhere else with some cretin, the two of them slouching towards the grave with nothing but silly pleasures for their empty heads. She just didn’t have the capacity to understand his brilliance.

I used to think I had friends, but I’m beginning to wonder what that means. I think maybe my heart is broken. It’s a pressure, a strange pulling. My body seems separate from “me,” somehow, like a costume. In the middle of a conversation, I sometimes wonder who the other person is talking to.