It starts as dull, white noise seeping through the general fog that is my brain, but soon enough the voices become too loud, too big an inconvenience to simply ignore and my eyes gradually shift and focus on the bright colours coming from the far too bright television. I have to blink twice, thrice before actually starting to make out the shapes of characters I barely recognise from some indistinct show, soon having to avert my eyes from the excessive light, looking at the slightly crushed can my sweaty palms are wrapped around, poorly balanced over my crossed legs. I blink again and sigh, taking a small sip, my mind barely registering the foul, saccharine taste of Coke. I would have –should have – screwed my nose, posed some resistance to this semi-conscious movement. I raise the can to my lips again and gulp the syrupy liquid until there is none left, immediately proceeding to fiddle with the thin metal container, digging the inside of my thumb’s knuckle into the thin layer of aluminium and smoothing my pad over the resulting dent. I repeat the process. An indentation, a caress. An indentation, a caress. A dozen times, until the red plate is a land full of valleys and sharp hills and I feel multiple tiny little cuts stinging, warning me I should be more careful, avoid actually breaking the thin metal skin. I ignore them and wrap my hand around the uneven surface, crushing it slowly. A sharp point digs into my palm; I release the can and it hits the floor with a loud, unpleasant clank, not yet silenced by gravity’s toll as it clinks against other equally damaged Coke tins. I lean back against the dusty couch and touch the newest cut, spreading blood all over the soft skin of my right palm.
I feel like throwing a Coke can at the television in protest to its interruption of my uncomfortable quietude, but none are within arm’s reach. I stare at the offensive light, fume if only half-heartedly at the noisy nuisance. My shoulders seem to crumble under the weight of breathing and soon my arms dangle in front of my body, pulling me forward. I let my torso slide to the side and lie down uncomfortably, my arms hanging at an awkward angle. My eyelids close on their own accord and it feels like blinking, but I sleep. And wake up. And
blink sleep again.
Behind my eyelids, there’s an alternate reality. Multiple ones. Four, to be precise. Sometimes there are bright patches of time, sometimes there are indistinct voices, but in one of them, the last one, amidst the confusion, your face becomes clear and there’s a smile glued to it. It doesn’t reach your eyes, it doesn’t warm my heart: it seems to freeze the world around it instead. And as you turn away and run towards a bright patch that vaguely resembles flames, I hear you say “Watch me, just watch me” and I wake up gasping. My throat is suddenly dry and it feels like I’ve screamed for hours, except there’s no sound coming from my vocal cords, there’s just a bright, noisy television, a dark room filled with thick air and a crushing fear wrapping around my chest. You were never that cold. And it scares me to see you be.