a magpie woke me up

Theodore Fox

Lee and Carol kissed for a while. It had been a while since Lee and Carol had kissed. Lee’s knees and Carol’s knees remembered how to navigate each other.

I’m not very good at this sort of thing anymore.

“Wow,” said Lee.

“Yeah,” said Carol.

Lee touched Carol’s forehead with their fingers. Carol’s forehead was very hot.

“Oh, I think you have a fever,” said Lee.

Carol laughed and kissed Lee so that Lee wouldn’t be able to make any more silly jokes.

+++++++++

After kissing for a while longer, maybe 5 or 10 minutes, Carol said she felt too warm and pushed the blanket off of both of them. Carol grabbed her phone off of Lee’s desk, while Lee stared at Carol’s neck. Carol’s neck had a tiny mole on it which Lee tried to lick. Carol played with Lee’s hair with one hand while thumbing her phone with the other. Lee wondered who Carol was texting.

“What’s going on in phoneland?” said Lee.

“Oh. I don’t know,” said Carol.

“Oh,” said Lee. “I wish I were happier more often.” This comment made Carol look away from the phone and she played with Lee’s hair even harder. Lee thought maybe that had been a really bad thing to say and felt even less happy. Only minutes ago Lee had felt very happy because they’d been kissing and it was familiar and friendly.

“I don’t think I want to drink anymore,” said Lee. “I think I should stop. I think it’s bad for me.”

“Then that’s probably a good idea,” said Carol, helpfully.

+++++++++

The next day Lee promised not to drink anything. No alcohol. No coffee. First thing after waking up Lee drank a pint of water from a glass bottle which had once had liquor in it, but it was now water so it was ok. Lee left the house only once before leaving to go to work in the evening. Lee felt too cold, so went back inside.

“I want to quit Facebook. I don’t want to do that anymore,” Lee said to Timothy.

“Ok,” said Timothy. She wandered around the house as Lee talked about the other times they’d quit Facebook and why they’d come back. Timothy had a coffee and left the house. Lee wanted to leave the house but had already discovered that it was too cold.

Lee read two chapters of an Alan Watts book which was dry but which Lee thought would be really interesting as a whole probably. Lee ate breakfast but not lunch and went to work with a headache.

It was an ok night in the dining room though Lee’s hair was getting too long and worried someone would be bothered by it. It flopped in ways. Lee texted Carol at 8:30pm when it wasn’t too busy, but Carol didn’t text back immediately. Lee shared a beer with another server. Because of the empty stomach the beer felt very affecting.

After work Lee’s phone still didn’t have any news from Carol. Lee realized that the text message had been inane and too enthusiastic about nothing and felt bad about it and realized it had been the sort of text message that no one really would respond to, so sent another one while waiting for the bus. The bus took 25 minutes to come. There were some french speaking people at the back of the bus openly drinking from blue cans of beer Lee didn’t recognize. One of them had an empty can resting against their leg and Lee imagined that they’d been riding around on this bus for a while. Maybe they weren’t going anywhere. Maybe they just liked hanging out on busses. Lee wondered how you became one of those people. Lee wasn’t one of those people.

Lee got home and felt tired and filled up the sink to do dishes and lay down while the dishes soaked and stared at the ceiling and then at the phone. The phone lit up but it wasn’t Carol.

[I want to squeeze you] 11:34

The words on the screen went away because Lee tried to ignore them. Lee didn’t want to be squeezed by that person. The phone understood Lee pretty well.

+++++++++

On Wednesday Lee took a long nap in the middle of the afternoon which Lee rarely did and it felt good to be able to do it but felt horrible afterward. Timothy was listening to music in her room when Lee wandered into the kitchen feeling like a tree. Lee boiled some water to put some lemon in and Timothy wandered out and started putting her shoes on.

“Where are you going?” said Lee.

Timothy looked up and stared blankly at Lee.

“Lee,” said Timothy. “I have such a big crush on you.”

“What?” said Lee.

“Just kidding. Carol’s. See ya.”

“Bye,” said Lee.

+++++++++

“I feel pathetic,” said Lee after Timothy had left.

Lee felt very hungry and boiled a pot of water on the stove and then turned it off after letting it roll for a few minutes. Lee felt cold and lay in bed.

“I want to get married,” said Lee. There was no one to marry.

“I’m going to bed,” said Lee. No one was listening. “I’m broken.”

Lee wished the moon was in the house. It was 1pm. Lee didn’t work on Wednesdays.

+++++++++

Lee called Carol after waking up from a second sort-of-nap. Maybe half asleep. Carol didn’t answer.

“I want everyone to leave me alone,” said Lee.

+++++++++

Lee drank a glass of almond milk. The only calories of the day. Was the moon out yet? Lee went outside to check if the moon was out and the outside air felt like dexedrine and Lee felt alive for the first time all day. Lee thought this was worth doing more often. Looking at the moon over the snow in the backyard felt like music. Lee didn’t listen to music as much as in high school. High school was almost half a decade away. Lee felt old and felt stupid for feeling old. Lee felt like time had been wasting. Ineptitude. Cell phones. Facebook. Computers. Lee wanted to destroy the internet. Lee’s wings painfully spread themselves and it was freeing but Lee felt awful.

“I’m falling apart,” said Lee to the sleeping squirrels up in the pine tree.

+++++++++

Lee opened twitter on the computer and typed “twitter.” into the field. Pressed the Tweet button. The tweet sent. No one replied. That’s ok. The moon was the only thing that mattered. The moon noticed. It was cold in the house.

+++++++++

A few days later Lee felt somewhat better. Lee spent time at work and ate food and even went for a run two days in a row. Through the river valley. A nice run. Something like spring felt like it was happening. This was because Lee had a new crush.

“So how long have you been painting for?” said Lee.

Lee was staring at a person named Lou who Lee had just bought a third beer for and Lee felt awful even after having felt really wonderful and excited for days. But three beers in and Lou looked really pretty and Lee felt dumb because Lou seemed less interested every day, but did seem interested in these beers and Lee hadn’t said to Lou that dating would be nice and Lee felt stupid.

“Since I was a kid,” said Lou, in response to the question Lee had almost forgotten had been asked. Lou flipped his black hair out of his eyes in a way that introduced a pause to Lee’s breathing. “My dad put me in art classes from eight. Fingerpainting and stuff. Look at me now! Start your children in fingerpainting.”

Lee thought that Lou was being funny but had forgotten how to laugh. They locked eyes for a while and then Lou looked at the bartender.

“Another round, maybe?” said the bartender. His long hair was up in a bun. Lee didn’t think the bartender was very cute. But maybe Lou did. Maybe Lou would go home with the bartender. Lee felt dizzy. Lee and Lou would never have children.

+++++++++

After a few more rounds Lee and Lou were outside and there was an eclipse of the moon and they both spun around looking up.

“I can’t see it!” said Lee, happier than before.

“It’s not there!”

“It’s eclipsed. A total eclipse of the moon,” Lee sung that last part.

Lee felt disappointed when they half-hugged and parted ways because Lou didn’t invite Lee over, though Lee didn’t invite Lou over either though Lou had complained about Lee’s bed before so Lee thought that was out the question.

The moon showed up again.

+++++++++

Lee went to the grocery shop alone. Timothy and Lee usually shopped together in the past but that had stopped. Lee walked around and looked at cheese—which were expensive—and yogurt—which was expensive—and Lee decided they mostly didn’t want to eat milk products anyway and then looked at a cucumber—which was expensive—and bought a bunch of tomatoes instead. Lee wondered if an all tomato diet would be survivable. Survivability. Lee wondered if being alive was the point of living. Lee wondered if bread would fill in some holes in the all tomato diet and picked up a loaf of bread as well. Lee paid for the food with a five dollar bill and went home and fell asleep.

+++++++++

Lee woke up at 5am because a fucking magpie was caterwauling about something. Tried to go back to sleep but that didn’t work. Lee’s phone had a text message from Timothy on it:

[goodnght bear sleep well !!!] 1:34

Lee hissed at the magpie and then wrote a message back to Timothy:

[hi timothy i am awake i have woken up a magpie woke me up it is five in the morning] 5:13

Lee heard a phone buzz in Timothy’s room.

Lee hadn’t heard from Lou in three weeks. Suppose that was done. Lou’d asked for a favour which Lee had done and then Lou had texted

[thanks] 2:34

and then apparently forgotten that Lee existed which was fine. Lee felt like Lee could be happier alone.

Today’s outfit: a green t-shirt with a deep-ish v neck, red jeans, purple striped socks, an angry facial expression. The mirror had awful streaks on it which looked like awful streaks all over whoever stood in front of it, in this case Lee.

“I am alive,” said Lee to the mirror.

“I am a cloud,” said Lee to the mirror.

The mirror didn’t change its expression or smile or anything.

“Fuck you,” said Lee to the mirror or whoever was in the mirror.

Lee would make it through the morning and take a nap mid-afternoon. Big glass of water. A banana. The banana was hard to peel. The door was sticky to open. Weird latch. Weird life.

To die alone would be ok. To die would be ok. It is ok to be under a tree, under the moon. Lee glared toward the sun.