We’re sitting outside on the back porch. It’s Thanksgiving day. It’s the afternoon, or maybe it’s night. It’s hard to tell. He’s sketching in a notebook.
‘Fine,’ he says. It just happened.
He has a face like mine, but better. I hardly ever look at him. We aren’t really friends; he’s just my brother.
‘Are you hungry?’ he says.
‘No,’ I must seem lost in thought, but that’s how I always am.
‘You sure?’ he says.
When I don’t answer, he draws in the notebook. That’s James. Always wanting to draw, always wanting to eat. He doesn’t try to hide it from anybody. Maybe he does, but that’s just James.
‘Let’s talk about it.’
He shuts the notebook and tosses it on the table. ‘I can’t remember what happened,’ he says. ‘Do you remember anything?’
Some grad school student is sitting right next to me in group. He’s crying his eyes out and I couldn’t care less. Actually, I’m just trying to look unimpressed so he won’t look at me anymore. He’s paying two hundred dollars a week to take his turn crying and talking about his problems. I don’t remember his name. He’s bald. He’s fucked up. Like really fucked up. His childhood was shitty. His parents abandoned him and he was lived in shitty foster care. I almost cried at some parts. He was beat up, he was raped. Now he’s confused and he wants to end it all. I sympathize with that last part.
Mary’s in my room sitting on my bed. She has my laptop and she’s listening to some of the songs I’ve recorded. I get angry for some reason and slam the laptop shut and leave the room. I go into the kitchen to get a beer. When I get back she has the laptop open again. She’s looking through my browser history.
‘You know,’ she says. ‘Usually when I open a guy’s computer the first thing I see is porn.’
‘Yeah,’ I say sitting.
‘But yours is clean. You’ve even cleared your browser history.’
‘Fuck,’ I say. I accidently sit on my guitar. A long crack opens up on the body.
Mary looks at me. Like she knows I’m about to lose it.
A year ago I accidently killed my friend Rory. That’s not totally true, he actually killed himself. He’d tried to before too. He was in a coma for a couple of weeks before he finally woke up. I always wanted to ask him about it. What it was like. What he had seen. What he had felt. Would he try it again? But when I saw him I never brought it up. Then, later, he killed himself. This time for good.
‘Did you ever sexually abuse me when I was younger?’
‘ I don’t know. I don’t think so.’ I text back.
‘’Cuz I need to figure this shit out and I want a real fucking answer. ‘Cuz I’m so fucking confused it makes no sense.’
‘I told you. I don’t know. I don’t think so.’ I text back.
‘Fuck you,’ texts James.
My Dad told me later that after he talked to me he went and tried to chug a liter of Drano. But he threw it up before it did too much damage.
I check my email. There’s just a bunch of junk mail from paranormal themed sites, except for one. It’s from Mary. For a moment I think she still loves me. That there’s a chance. ‘I miss you. I wonder where you are and how you're doing, if you still think you're crazy and your parents still don't get you and your brother's finished his meltdown yet. I wonder about how things would be different if I'd never ruined your life by sitting on that guitar.’
‘But you didn’t sit on the guitar,’ I reply. ‘I did. And now I’ll still never know what happened. I’ll never know if I’m gay or not. I’ll never know who I am or what I want. I’ll continue to get angry or cry and not know why. Fuck, where does this fucking shit come from?’
She lets that sit, and I guess thinks. I’m too tired to feel out the silence. Or else everyone and everything’s tired except me.
‘You just over think everything,’ she finally replies. ‘Both of you. I don’t care. You two are in love with each other. I have problems of my own.’
Last night I looked through James’ notebook from cover to cover. I’d been avoiding several parts. I wanted to know what Mary thought about it. She sat on that stupid guitar; she fucked everything up and made it sick. I wanted to show her the pages of James’ notebook that were filled with sketch after sketch of me. I wanted her to be the one to say it.
‘Yesterday I was helping Dad in the garage take down the Christmas boxes when and I found a box of Papa’s old journals. There were about fifty of them, bound in red leather. I couldn’t help myself. I opened one and started looking through it. It was from the seventies, it was a meticulous list of his day’s activities. Before I knew it Dad was shaking me and telling me to go away, to leave it alone. He’d finish moving the boxes by himself.’ I tell James. We’re on the porch. It’s Thanksgiving day. We’ve just gotten back from one Thanksgiving dinner and have another one to go to in a little bit.
‘I’ve seen those,’ says James. ‘I feel like if I looked through them I’d have a schizophrenic breakdown.’
‘I left the garage and just started punching the walls. I wanted to beat the shit out of the dining room table. I tried to tell Dad that we should get rid of those stupid notebooks, but I think I yelled it instead.’
They found a shotgun in Rory’s room after his first suicide attempt. He had taken a bunch of anti-depressant pills, but had a shotgun in his closet. I didn’t ask how he did it the second time. It was a closed casket. But I don’t know if that means anything.