My name is Parker. My body is marked with scars from an attack I don’t remember. I don’t want to remember. I choose to live my life by observation, not through experience. While people are laughing and kissing and connecting, I’m in the corner. Watching them live. I’m indifferent to everything, everyone. The only emotion I feel with any kind of depth is annoyance, and I feel it often.
A text message sent to the wrong number proves to be my undoing.
His name is Everett, but I call him rude. He’s pushy, he’s arrogant, he crowds my personal space, and worst of all: he makes me feel.
He chooses to wear all black, all the time, as if he’s waiting to attend a funeral. Probably because he is.
Everett is dying. And he’s spending his final days living, truly living. In doing so, he’s forcing me to feel, to heal. To come face to face with the demons I suppressed in my memory.
He hurts me, he fulfills me, he completes me. And still, he's dying.
“Your roommates are nosey,” Everett commented, sitting back on the bed. He reached into the suitcase again.
“You would know,” I said, snatching a bra from his hands.
Everett shrugged. “It’s underwear. More specifically, it’s your underwear. I’m intrigued.”
“Yeah, well don’t get any ideas.”
Everett leaned back into the pillows, resting his hands behind his head again. “Oh, but I have a lot of ideas.” He winked at me.
I stalked away towards my dresser and began pulling things from drawers. When I turned back around, Everett was holding another bra.
“You don’t wear padding,” he commented, his fingers feeling along the lined cup.
“I like that.”
My hands stilled. And then I moved them again. “Why?” I didn’t care. Really, I didn’t.
I turned around. “Lies?”
“I like the truth. In every way.” He seemed lost in thought so I turned back around and packed my things.
“Am I really doing this?” I asked myself.
“Yes, you are.”
I turned around again. “Why?”
It wasn’t a question he should know the answer to. But he did. “Because you hate and you love the way I make you feel.”
I was naked under his gaze. Skin was just that: skin. But to see your soul stripped, laid bare for the eyes of someone you barely knew – that was terrifying. I’d walk down the street naked a hundred times before I would let someone see what lay underneath.
I’d spent my life alone. Bounced from foster home to foster home. When my tastes outgrew my age as a teenager, I traded boys for men and found myself still alone. I reveled in the loneliness. No one could hurt me but me, and did I really care if I hurt me? Did I care? If I found pleasure in anything, it was my lack of feeling.
And that’s how I knew, when Everett told me not to fall in love with him, that I wouldn’t. I didn’t love myself. And wasn’t loving someone also loving yourself, the parts that saw the beauty in other people? I didn’t have that part. And I didn’t want it.
“I don’t love anything,” I said.
“I know.” His eyes were unsmiling.
I am married with two boys. When I’m not changing diapers or cutting food into tiny bites, I escape to Starbucks for hours. I could drink my weight in their black iced tea.
I love music and have a playlist for everything.
I have about 20 bacon things in my fridge.