She was in Logan's room. They were watching videos on the tiny television of people trying ridiculous stunts, their bodies flying through the air, the film cut before impact so you never saw any broken bones or blood, no faces in pain, just anticipation.

Meghan looked at her phone, sad emoji face arrived

What's wrong chica


Oh no old man make jane sad


She paused, it wasn't like Cindy to let her make jokes about his age.

I need to deal with this, are you guys good to start without me?

She had leaned forward, curled over her phone, and Logan and Jeff made eye contact. Logan looked extremely stoned and Jeff was working on the bottle of vodka.


We can wait

Take your time, Jeff took a sip of his vodka.

Cool, I'll try to make this quick, she scooched herself out of his bed, dragging her ass by bending her knees, pushing off with her hands, so she went straight toward the television and stepped onto the messy floor, she heard something crunch and looked down, corn nuts and a pretzel stick.

In the bathroom she wrote back, what's going on

I don't know this is getting to me

She shared a photo, it was a cropped section of a picture Jere had sent, his forehead and the corner of his eye, lots of lines and wrinkles, looking very red, bad lighting, hair frizzy like he just got out of the shower or the end of a long day.

What am I looking at

He's fifty


She waited for a reply and looked around the dirty bathroom. Strands of hair from different people clung to everything, wet at one point and now like a strange cobweb stretched over the grime. It smelled like shaving cream.

She opened her note app and wrote, what are you shaving, Logan?

Cindy replied, I can't get it out of my head, every time I think about him I see it in my mind, he sends me photos and it is so obvious, he is so much older, then she sent a string of characters before the end of the message.

Yeah but he knows gossip girl


I remember when they sold wrist watches.

Shut up, Quincy

She pulled the door open, after you. He kept his hands buried in the pockets of his jacket.

The street was noisy but once the door closed the place was strangely silent. He was examining the door and the glass wall at the front of the store when the woman called them forward, Lucy Quincy?

Lucy was already holding a clipboard with a pen attached by a string, listening attentively.

I can explain to him

I understand

The woman continued, once the form is completed and we have reviewed it we will call you back to record your Awakening Statement.

Sweet, she pushed her tongue piercing to the front of her mouth while she looked at the form, the woman continued.

Once the statement is accepted we will ask that you change out of your street clothes and you'll be here for about a week.

He perked up and looked at the woman and then Lucy then back at the woman's name tag.



Is it possible to recover in less time?

We test every other day

That doesn't answer my question

I know, ask the doctor

When do I get to see him

After you sign the paperwork and agree to be here for at least a week.

Lucy looked at him and he was frowning as his eyes traced each line on the first page.

Do you need to hear it again?


Lucy walked to a leather cushion chair and sat with her legs crossed, began completing the paperwork.

Yes, Monica, he gave her his full attention as she recited the process, the risks, the need to be honest and maintain a the outlook as directed when recording the Awakening Statement.

Okay okay I heard this before

You did

Thank you, Monica

You're welcome, Quincy. Please, have a seat

He did

Lucy staring into the camera, jacket off, arms and legs visible, maximum body language captured in the camera sensor at the highest possible resolution in case it needed to be studied later in court.

The doctor said, talk to yourself and answer the questions on screen, then left the room.

She pressed the button on the desk and answered the prompts.

Why are you doing this?

If this wipes out everything he knows about me and I can give him some space maybe he will realize how much of him I am.

She pressed the button to stop and the next question appeared, what do you want to remember?

She pressed the button and continued,

I'm not sure I'll even forget. I mean, if I do then I want to remember the time we spent together, him and me and his phone. He is always on that thing, he misses important moments, it consumes him. That stupid game. The people he would rather text with than spend time with me. I want to remember how disinterested he was before we did this.

What do you want to forget?

She started to tear up when she saw the question. She put her head in her hand and when she looked up saw that there was a box of tissues mounted sideways under the lip of the table. She padded the corners of her eyes, checked her face in the rear facing camera on her phone, then pressed the button.

If I forget I hope it is everything.

She took a deep breath then let out a long sigh, her eyes red, tears continuing to appear, she pressed the button to stop.

What would you like to happen next?

When the recording began she was glaring.

I don't think it matters at this point, anything but this. Anything but the nights talking about the wedding or the joint account or having kids, then we have the same vanilla sex, listen to the same music, watch the same television shows again, go to the movie theater when it re releases his favorite films. And all the important things that should have happened, those need to happen next. And if you don't remember, if you let him do this to him again, she inhaled and her breath wavered because she was about to cry. If he does this to you again you deserve it.

She pressed the button hard, the television went dark, she pressed the other button and it lit up so the orderly would know she was ready.

Quincy staring into the camera, jacket on, maximum body language captured in the camera sensor.

Why are you doing this?

She made me. She won't take the next steps without it. I want to be with her forever but I want to be married, I want kids, I want to get a house and get out of the downtown life. Maybe buy a mini van.

He stared at the camera and bit his lower lip, phone in his hands, leg tapping nervously, curled forward.

What do you want to remember?

I love her so nothing, I don't want to remember any of it. It's going to be a relief, to have to learn about her all over again, our second first date.

He smiled but he was beginning to sweat, leg pumping, phone slipping slightly in his wet hands.

What do you want to forget?

All of it, especially the arguments, the missed anniversaries and birthdays, the vacations we didn't take. All the shit we planned but never did. I want to forget the disappointments, the letdowns, especially when it was me.

What would you like to happen next?

Fall in love again, get to do it over, but do it on a timeline. I'm sending this message to my future self, you have to get her to marry you within six months, then have the wedding ready to go. Paying off all the debt that is coming when you get the house, the kids, the car, it is going to be worth it when you are old and dying and your family is there so you are not alone.

He pressed the button to stop recording then scrolled his phone for a few minutes then pressed the button for the orderly and started another round of his game.

He read from his email on his phone, the car wash station is open now

Why are you telling me?

I don't know I thought

You thought I'd run down there and wash your car

She laughed at the thought, staring at her phone and seated on the other side of the couch.

The television ad asked, remember when you thought your love would survive any challenge?

They both laughed out loud at their phones on opposite ends of the couch.

The television ad intoned, real love recovers. Another, real love lives. Reintroduction.

They looked up from their phones, he grabbed his beer and finished it. She looked at her empty glass and pulled out the cherry by the stem, finished that off. The bartender glanced over but they had already looked back at their phones.

When did these broken moments arrive?

I'm not sure but they are really here

Is that what you hope to accomplish here?

I do not remember

What have you been doing?

Ordering shelves and furniture on the internet and building them

In case she comes back

She has to come back

She tried to wave down the bartender but her back was turned. Someone sniffled and the bar went quiet, everyone looking for the culprit. Lucy looked up and a doctor in personal protective equipment had a vial and a q-tip and was administering a dose to a beaming woman sitting in a hospital gown kicking her feet like she could not wait to forget her lover. The video swiped and split and a guy who was presumably her lover was undergoing the same experience, mirroring her reactions.

She looked at him seated next to her, playing a game on his phone, oblivious, his empty beer bottle. She sighed, sad frog face. She looked around the bar and everyone was doing the same thing, on the phone, staring at the game on the television, finding any excuse to avoid talking to the person next to them. Each with a drink in front of them, cell phone next to it.

She pulled up her web browser and searched for reintroduction services.

Why don't we talk

He turned on the car and the stereo came on. She reached out and turned it off. He turned and faced her from the driver's seat.


Don't give me that, Quincy, you know what I mean

No, I really don't

The phones


He looked at the dark glass on the side of the bar in the strip mall.


He looked at her again, you do it too

Well I want to stop

Fuck off

She stared at him in disbelief, claw hands open, urging him to continue.

You are not going to stop

Let's try

He pursed his lips and squinted at her.

Let's make a deal, no phones the next time we go out

You got it

Next weekend, the television at the bar asked, remember when you thought your love was true?

She glanced sideways from her phone at his, he was playing the game again.

She looked up at the television and the commercial panned in on the puzzled look on the man's face, his nose dripping before he wiped it with a tissue, who is she?

That's your wife, Stella.

His eyes teared up, she's beautiful.

She heard his car outside and knew he was finally gone. She emerged from the bathroom and retrieved a large pink night shirt from her crowded closet. Went downstairs and made sure the doors were locked, the house alarm was armed, her parents had not come home. She looked at the answering machine, nothing indicating anything had gone wrong and been communicated while her phone was muted.

She went back upstairs and picked up the phone, entering her passcode then her password to regain access out of sync with her usual schedule.

She texted Cinda, I need you.

She lay in bed for a minute and thought through what just happened staring at the popcorn ceiling and glow in the dark stars there.

She texted Nova, hey girl are you up

Her pillows had been shifted around haphazard so she got out of bed and began to straighten up. The room was silent and she could hear cars in the neighborhood, normal traffic.

Her phone pinged and she looked, need you too.

Gonna take a shower then we chat

In an hour yeah

She rushed into the bathroom and shut the door.


I should have posted this earlier. Also, sexual content warning.


The movie was over and the two emerged from the theater. They walked to the car, taking a long route to dodge around clusters of people. It was almost twilight.

What the fuck was that


What a shit film

I know right

Eye kay arr

El oh el

Kay tee haitch ex bye

Are you leaving me

No just thought it was funny

You're silly

Where to next


You already said that


A well is a hole in your back


It's been in the news, more people are getting it.

She stared into the blackened angel on his shirt.

It's like a cold at first, just a real bad one. But now people are saying they are forgetting things.

She looked out at the garden as he talked, watched her mother sit down and begin reading a book.

Walk with me

He stepped forward and put out an arm like he wanted to dance, she looked confused. Clouds shifted overhead and she could hear wind rustling the ivy on the house as a gust turned the corner on the house behind her.

You're saying she had it and she forgot


She looked at the pile of books on the table behind him, the small black computer had changed to a screen saver, photos of trees panned by, switching from picture to picture.

Wait, what do you mean they forget?

She looked at his lips which were slightly chapped and dark, his grandpa glasses, long black hair pulled back except for a few strands, like he did it in the backyard with no mirror to guide him.

They forget people.

That concerned look crossed his face again. The breeze caught his cologne, warm and wood but with a smoky edge, almost sweet. She remembered those eyes, the wrinkles, the feel of his beard, his breath.

Oh god, tears coming up, she tried to put pressure on an itch in her neck under her ear.


She took his arm and he put a calloused hand on her shoulder, turning her away from her mother.

Connie, your mom has been struggling. She's given up on a lot, kind of become a different person, and we are working to help her rediscover.

She was watching the ground, trying to navigate it, careful with her shoes, holding onto his arm, feeling him coil around her as he spoke. She cast him a worried glance, unsure if this closeness was normal. He was watching a car drive by on the street beyond the front yard.

Have you been sick too?

She nodded, confused when he hugged her and held her close, she smelled his hair and it reminded her of citrus, a slightly sour oil in its softness.

Do you remember?

Her other ear began to itch, the one pressed against his shoulder. The feel of his flannel. Her body relaxed and she pushed her arms further around him, driving her hips closer to his. He smiled and let out a sigh of relief.

They were in his black Ford, he had his phone in his hands, texting. She did the same, both had their seatbelts on, looked frantic and excited to leave. The tall brick and ivy home stood between them and her mother who was still in the backyard reading and drinking tea, enjoying the garden and the cloudy early spring day.

Sorry for short notice, we are getting lunch, what do you want?

April's phone was face down on the table.

Connie wrote, catching up with mom, be back a bit later.

Want me to get Mateo from school?

She pressed the sleep button on her phone and then switched it over to silence.

Where are we going

Don't care

He looked at her, worry in his eyes, a slight reluctance.

Do you remember how it ended


He turned the key and smiled.

The song blended in with a loop, a squeaking sound like an old wagon and the slap of a snare drum. A bass guitar cut in and began grinding and the dancers felt it in their chest, urging them to move slowly in spite of the quick rhythm. A voice sang about a ritual that one works from their birth until their death, the voices urging them to dance until nothing remains.


Paul pushed the door open but as he approached he could see Freed and Devin working. There were girls on one side of the room. They sat at separate tables. One wearing jeans, the others sweatpants, one in pajama pants. All shutting him out with their noise reduction headsets, probably listening to pop music or podcasts. None nodding along or drumming their fingers. Instead they were buried in laptops, school books, paging through a spiral notebook or brochure.

On the other side of the room were the old men coupled or tripled up. They sat with legs crossed, drink in hand to make it obvious they paid to be there. They laughed, sometimes speaking too loudly about things they wished someone else would care about. Their children, politics, work. Graying men whose faces had only begun to show signs of the sagging, the wrinkling, the freckles turning to liver spots, the moles growing suspicious, dark marks that would someday soon be hiding in their dim homes, too old to go outside. But until then, they had this moment to shine in the corner of the coffee shop.

Devin asked, how are you doing?

Where did it go?



He rode his bicycle to the library, strapped on backpack, went slow so his hat wouldn't come off in gusts of wind. He went inside and there were not a lot of people. He eventually found a couple of girls studying together.

Both had honey hair and beach tans. One she wore spring clothes with pastel accessories, jeans and a baseball shirt with a rabbit on the front. Her study buddy wore a modest looking navy dress with large frilly-looking shoulders. They did not look up when he entered the room.

He pulled open a book he brought with him, got it out of his backpack. He sat with it open to the same page for a long time, watching the girls and listening to them talk. Their conversation was about schoolwork. They did not look happy.

Paul pushed open the door to the apartment and Jeff and Logan were seated on the couch, controllers in hand. They were at a moment in the game where they were waiting and Jeff was in the middle of a rant, Logan nodding along.

It was probably the best relationship of my life

Paul quietly put his book bag down on the kitchen table and began organizing things so he could put them away.

We were fucking, she was into me

This is the artist?



But she was also into music and we saw all the same television shows

Logan looked at him and nodded, they were both ignoring the game now, Jeff lost in his story

She was even talking about her family, man. She wanted me to meet them.

Paul winced and unzipped a pocket, removing writing instruments and knickknacks.

One day she was like, I'm busy can we meet tomorrow, and I'm like, sure

Paul rolled his eyes, he had heard this one before. Logan seemed to recognize the story too.

Oh shit, this is the bag lady

Yeah, I told you?

Yeah didn't she hand you a sack of your shit and told you she met someone else?

Yeah, I still don't know what that guy had on me

Right. Then they said simultaneously, that would be cruel.

Paul mouthed the words, you have to go, pushing a stack of books back into the backpack.

We hadn't known eachother for very long but I really fell for her, man.

Want another beer?

Paul hauled his things into his room, moving quickly before Logan had a chance to get off the couch.

The faint sound of piano trickled into the shopping center. He was at the tortilla end cap, put a bag of flour tortillas in his cart. He saw her organizing light bulbs in the center of the long aisle and pushed his full cart of groceries, watching her to see if she would make eye contact.

She looked at him, she was about a foot shorter than him and wore black jeans with her work uniform, hair pulled back.

Hello, how are you

Hi, I'm great

He blushed.

That's good, can I help you find anything

He was staring in her eyes and then looked away, closed his eyes and swallowed.

When he opened his eyes something on her face was different, she looked like she was trying to maintain her expression but something had changed, realizing a mistake.

I'm Paul, he reached out his hand

She held light bulbs in either hand, the cart on the other side of her full of product she had to re-stock. She moved them slightly up and down to emphasize she was not going to shake his hands.


He smiled and looked down the aisle either direction to make sure they were alone, then looked back at her.

Her expression had dropped further, she was dreading what was coming, shifted her head back so her chin was out, looking down her face at him.

You could help me find your number


It was immediate and he stood for a moment wondering if there would be more but there was not. She turned away from him and continued putting bulbs onto the shelf.

Paul looked Nova up and down and then turned back to his own cart and pushed it down the aisle, sad frog frown spreading across his face.

Destinee was alone in the house. She stood at the window and watched through cracked blinds as they backed out of the driveway and their tail lights disappeared in the night.

A knock at the back door, very faint.

She went to the alarm system and punched in the code turning it off.

She stopped at the hall and looked into the silent darkness, no light cast from the street lamps on the walls. Either the doors were shut or the shutters were closed.

She walked to the back window and saw a thin man with dyed black hair, glasses with invisible frames, gray eyes staring into the back window, hand cupped, one wrist wrapped in black gauze. He wore a shirt that had the pink font of a popular movie but the words were a quote from the Bhagavad Gita.

She stopped on the other side of the glass and stared into his eyes.

He tried the door handle and looked impatiently at her. She reached over and put her hand on the lock and stared blankly at him, took a deep breath and closed her eyes, then turned it to the unlocked position.

He stepped in sideways, long legs in black jeans, positioning himself between her and the door.

She put her mask over her face.

She led him by the hand up to her room and sat on the edge of the bed. He pulled his shirt off revealing an array of strange scars. He nearly fell over pulling off the first boot, chuckled. She did not break character.

Sorry, he cleared his throat then bent down and removed the other boot.

He pulled off his pants and briefs and stood naked in front of her.

Your turn.


When I was a kid my mom took me to pick up the glasses that were made to address my nearsightedness. I looked out the window of the car as we drove in the Arizona heat and was awed by the leaves on the trees. A bright color of green with a hint of yellow, shimmering in the sunlight. I don't know how old I was then, probably eight years old. Forty years ago.

I bought a manga comic book to read that someone recommended and the print is so small. I put on my reading glasses in bed and strain my eyes. One of these days I will order a magnifying glass and spare myself the eye strain but adopt the pain of becoming too old to read without a second form of assistance.

I try to imagine no longer existing. That my life simply ends and I cease to be. And, wonder what the events leading up to that moment will be like. How much pain? Will someone say, at least he was comfortable. At least there was no pain.

Hopefully torn apart by sharks in the Atlantic Ocean. Or, lungs full of sea water. Out there swimming until I can't. Becoming one with the waves.

I hope they do not recover my body. I don't want to be cremated and reduced to a useless bauble in the top shelf of someone's apartment closet. Or, pumped with embalming fluid and restored for some strange ritual where I am lowered into the ground and a headstone that will stand for a couple hundred years before completely decomposing. A lonely monument to join the others, family that no one visits because we have been forgotten, or the family line ended in alcoholism, madness, depression, suicide. Despair.

When I was young I wanted someone to love, to exchange loving glances with, affectionate, to watch hair in the breeze, smiling from behind sunglasses. Go to the water park in the heat, help eachother with suntan lotion, drying off afterward. Bathing suits, long cotton shirts stretched out from the weight of the water. Chlorine smell, children on waterslides, arcade games in the air conditioning, an iced cola from a red plastic cup. We could pack into the pickup truck with friends, though the bed may be hot we sit on wet towels. Driver takes the surface streets, tender cargo never traveling faster than forty-five miles per hour. Hair tangled by the wind, cheeks red from the heat, mouth dry when we arrive, tall glass with iced sun tea mom cooked on the back porch before stowing in the refrigerator next to the things that never expired because family and friends kept coming over day after day. Summer and school was out, they visited to witness our love firsthand. Most of that really happened.

Falling in love feels great when it's lust, that quick get to know you process, an addict snorting long new lines off the clean surface. Crisp dollar bill in the nose, nothing to stop us. Sharing our interests. Television shows, movies, albums, songs, places to go when we are happy, destinations to recover when we are sad, sometimes things we have read, our dreams. Do you want kids, are you religious, who do you vote for, what do you think will happen next. Fooling around, kicking eachother's feet, poking and pulling, trying to find the boundaries, where the other person will begin. Sometimes this only lasts two weeks and in just minutes, I just want to be alone I guess, self isolation type beat.

Then it's time to speed run through the grieving process. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I find it difficult to be angry because I'm falling in love with this person, it is a tough transition from denial to anger. Instead I continue to explore and question it. The technology, the method of communication, the timing, her intent. How many messages have I sent in denial that have gone unanswered. How many more will I send before I finally grow angry and then finally the bargaining, depression, and acceptance can follow in earnest.

These are rhetorical questions. The fantasy that she will return and with her that feeling of being loved. Instead, I am alone listening to The Cure.

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