YOU KNOW those ‘up and down’ days? Today has had its moments. On the way into the café, a really, really sexy girl smiled at me, which was nice, although I could‘ve sworn she’d been crying.

But today I’m insecure.

I keep catching my reflection in the windows and I’m insanely self-conscious about my appearance. Do I look that ill? I ask myself. Those bags under my eyes are unwelcome squatters on my property. No matter how much I try to reason with them, no matter how friendly an approach I take, they refuse to leave. A call to the authorities isn’t far away. And those lines. Who invited them? I didn’t. I’m too young, much too young, I think.

I’m thinking that going out today wasn’t such a good idea. I can’t relax. I’m afraid I’ll see people who know me and they’ll look at me and be polite on the surface, but afterwards they’ll talk to people and tell them how terrible I looked. One thing I’ve noticed about people I know is that, since they heard about it, they’ve all been unhealthily amiable. Even the ones who I rarely socialise with, the ones who know me only by name, they all offer affable smiles, and talk to me, or of me, like I was part of their respective groups.

When I ordered my drink I found it difficult to look the barista in the eye, even though he was pleasant and wished me a good day. Don’t look at me, I was thinking. Or, if you have to, please let the light be complementary. Vanity really can cause anxiety, even in my situation.

And then there’s the rapid loss of energy. The short walk over the bridge earlier which left me out of breath. Even going downstairs to use the bathroom proved to be a chore.

I keep comparing. I look at people who look pallid and I feel ecstatic. I see the young French girl whose face looks drained of blood, her lips carrion, almost. This view fills me with the joy one would encounter when receiving news of a promotion, or news of impending parenthood, perhaps, or that euphoric feeling I used to get when I’d score a goal on the football pitch. The more unhealthy looking people who come my way today, the better. This is the only way in which my confidence can be boosted. But then I see the young Hispanic whose beauty even Aphrodite’s Adonis couldn’t contend with, and this prompts my insides to partake in some sort of ruction.

I think of the blood and think myself a fool for not taking action sooner. This happens every now and then, only for me to scold myself for partaking in a fleeting bout of regret. Then I remember the day I received the news, and during recounting I can’t feel anything towards it other than stolid indifference. It has to be that way, because any other way would only serve as a pin in my own, personal voodoo doll. But sometimes it can’t be helped, I’m forced to concede. Sometimes I have to think of my mother, her tears, and my anger at her for not being stronger. For me. How could she be so selfish and break down in front of me and curse God? How can she lecture me on the importance of self-monitoring? For that brief moment I hate her, and everybody else. I hate them all for their glowing faces and bright futures.

I remember Rimbaud’s words: But, truly, I have wept too much! The dawns are heartbreaking. Every moon is atrocious and every sun bitter.

But these thoughts have to be short-lived.

There are those moments when you think of how, eventually, it’ll be over. Looking at people passing by, or people sitting in a café such as this one, and thinking that some are longer for this world than others, and that’s just the way it is. Then there are the ones you see and take pity on them. You say, but there for the grace of God. . . You look and comment and get back to your own life, but you never really think it’ll happen to you.


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