To all the parties involved:
Brain – Do you think it’s funny? Do you find bringing up old memories humourous? Do you think deceiving me the way you’ve been is entertaining? Have I not drowned myself in buckets of water enough times to wake up? I mean, every day for the last week you’ve been doing this…
At work, I find white tennis shoes in my drawer. One minute they’re sitting there with the same dirt, same holes, same black laces… The next they’re gone. Just a blink, and poof! They’re gone. Just. Like. That. You witnessed me chucking papers out of all of those drawers, trying somehow to retrieve them from the thin air they’ve evaporated into. I was physically bothered. Physically distraught. Shaking. Panicking. Anxious with sweat. Imagining things not as vivid as the tennis shoes you illuminated. I had to go home because of these ‘distractions’. You. You fucking asshole. You ruined my whole day. My heart was beating nonstop that whole day. And you didn’t stop there.
The next morning, I turn over, half awake, half asleep and touch my wife. Her arms are smooth, baby bottom smooth, freshly lotioned smooth, bare, buttery smooth. And overnight she grew arm hair? Overnight she grew arm hair for just my fingers to caress for a millisecond? Impossible. Utterly ridiculous. I woke up in frenzy, nearly broke her arm with my fist. She jumped up and cursed me out. What a start to the day? I couldn’t stop staring at her arms. I still can’t.
Never enough with you. I walk to my car after work, the following day. Open the door. And I smell it. I smell it like it was fresh. Like we’d been in there going for days. It was so strong. The sweat. The body odors. The temperature. I feel it sinking into my pores. But I don’t freak out! Because you, you and the goddamn devil are tempting me with this shit. You’re bringing me back to these places. You’re taunting me. In that moment, I couldn’t help it. (God forgive me – but I have a few messages for you) I sit in that car and snort the sweaty, sticky, odorly evidence up. Like I used to. In the unbearable heat, I drove, breathing in every bit of that scent. I came out of the car drenched. It felt so familiar. It felt so wrong. It felt so real.
Yesterday, is where it becomes too much. Yesterday, you have hit my limits. Yesterday, is where the line has been drawn. On my daily run, you take me up a familiar running path. You let my feet guide me. You give me no control. You told my body to take me to his. You ran me miles away from home. Totally off of my normal route to the last place we met. You take me to those trees off the swamp. Where no one goes. And stop me. Right in front of it. And press play on the memories. You made me relive our last touch together. You forced me to collapse into tears, leaving nothing but that yellow tape to wipe my eyes with.
Today I stayed in the house. Today I see no one. Paranoia makes me secure myself in the house. Close all the windows. Leave all the doors locked. Take enough food for myself into my bedroom and not think about going anywhere but the bathroom. I sit on the edge of the bed and focus on nothing but the bullshit television. I meditate on the program. I engross myself into it, and still you play these horrible games with me.
God – You bastard. You fucking bastard. You weak son of a bitch. You couldn’t keep me safe even if you wanted. You worked with Satan, I know you did. You can’t see all I’ve done for you? All you can see is the bad. All you ever base your treatment of me on is the bad I’ve done. Not the good. Let’s forget the good.
I pray to you every night and you must be pressing ignore. You must really have it out for me. You set me on this road… Yes, of course. Only you and I know what I struggled with. Only you and I, discussed my guilty pleasures. I only thought you were the source of my problems. But no, you put temptation in my path and allowed me – you laughed at me – falling for it. Every time. You must’ve been falling over on that throne when you set that boy in my path all those years ago. Watching me get all wooden, trying to make myself presentable in my stiffness. I was forcing awful thoughts on myself to get my thoughts off of him. You made him walk into that church in those slacks. Those slacks that made every curve on his lower half visible from the back row. You put him right up front where I could see him. Where everyone could see him. He sat there with his grandmother, disinterested, dozing off and looking as perfect as ever.
I used to just think about him, and then focus on the pastor’s message. I used to think about him and then read the many passages from the bible that gave me strength. I used to talk to him and wash my mouth out with soap. I used to shake his hand and dip them in the hottest water. He bleeds flamboyant. He reads homosexuality. He tastes like the delicious apple that Eve consumed – I’m sure of it.
Satan seduced her, just as he seduced me.
Satan – You’re a bastard. But you know this already. You know how I feel about you. You know how much I hate you. I make myself love God. I make myself do God’s work. I follow the scriptures. I preach like a radical because of my hate for you. I always thought if I concentrated and devoted myself on the outside to God, that Satan would let me be. How wrong I was. You are an unstoppable force. An inevitable force that taints all the good men.
God – I tried so hard. I did. You have to believe me. I stuffed it all into my brain, repeatedly everyday. All of your teachings. All of your lessons. All of you. I tried repeatedly to lead a better lifestyle. And at times it did get ugly. I did have to force myself on women, and I know it made them uncomfortable. I know adultery is bad, but it was all that kept my thoughts away from sinning. And I am regretful. I am. But God, please, know I do this to rid myself of this awful disease that’s plaguing the world.
Satan – Do you see it now? I willingly did those nasty things you love, to become normal. To feel normal.
God and Satan – I was trying to appease you both, for the betterment of myself. To extinguish the desire for him. To serve you, God.
Satan – I may’ve sinned, to extremes purposefully. Without you taunting me. But on that day in the winter, when my car broke down… I knew you were having your way with me. In a blizzard, at the time where I was doing my best. You trapped us together. He was on the side of the road, walking his useless bike. I was driving ever so carefully on the icy streets. I made eye contact, and he spoke. Came right up to my window and smiled ever so brightly. I do, I do remember. I knew you were there because his ears were red. Right before my eyes, he was turning into a demon and I thought, a good samaritan would take this boy right on home. (Again, serving my God!) He strapped that bicycle to the back of the car and sat there in my front seat and tempted me the whole way. He bat those eyelashes and smirked. It set me crazy. Then he started talking about it. He never said it directly, but I could tell what he meant. Said he was dealing with stuff at home, feeling like an alien in his own house, feeling pressured. I told him I felt the same way (only inside my head). And though he’d been talking about it, but not really saying anything, he knew I really did feel the same way. And he asked me about it, asked me how I deal with it. (It – but never saying it.) And we talked. Even when we got to his destination, we talked. About many things, but we spoke. And we connected. He said goodnight, I said goodnight, and drove off. Drove right into the parked cars. Crying, guilty, miserable, upset, wanting more. And like in those movies you produce Satan, he came running to the driver seat. Pulled me out of the car and into his home.
Boy, I’d done it. I did it. I took his neck into my hands with every muscle of my body and did him. For the first time, I did him. And I kept doing him. Each and every time I got the opportunity, I did him.
Self – You’re a lazy son of a bitch. A lousy, lazy, son of a bitch. You set yourself up to get caught. Had that boy in his flouresent pink underwear. Because you loved the way it contrasted with his colored skin. You loved his effeminate side. Anything to make him more feminine. Anything to make you feel like you were with a woman. And shame on him. Shame on you both! For growing so comfortable, for exchanging the three words two men should never share together. Shame on you both for doing such shameful things. You never should have had him. Never should have invited him to your bed, the way he was. Oh… The way he was.
I know. I know. It was one of the best sights you’ve ever seen. Unforgettable. Breathtaking. It’s burned into your memory. I know. I know – secretly – you’re telling yourself he’s worth it. But I know – openly – you’d wish you never done it.
Brain – Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.
God – Forgive me. I was wrong.
Satan – Thank you. (I HATE YOU.)
Self – I know he looks amazing sitting on your bed like that. In those very underwear, the last underwear you’ve seen him in. All those years of reimagining it. Replaying it in your head. Dreaming of it. It’s always somehow distorted. His voice isn’t the same. The waist size is off. You can’t smell him. He wasn’t himself. (He did the things you wanted to do, not the things he would always do.) The littlest thing about him would be different. Not this time.
Brain – You’ve got it right. You have him. Everything is perfect. Like a wax figure. Like a hologram. Like a statue. A twin. Like he is there.
Self – Stop enjoying this moment.
God – I am so sorry.
Satan – Wipe that smile off of your face.
God – It is painful to relive it.
Self – You’ll never be able to get that last image of him out of your head, so enjoy this. He’ll never be laying there like that ever again. Propped up, smiling, fresh and alive. Drink it in because it won’t last forever. You’ll never be able to put away your last memory of him. Focus on the one in front of you. He isn’t on the verge of being decapitated, lying limp, helpless, guzzling out blood. Let this one last. Let your fantasy last.
God – Tell me he’s safe.
Brain – I’ve had enough.
Satan – Please, make it stop.
Self – Be strong. Tell him. Tell him you love him. Tell him you’re sorry.
God – I’m sorry.
Gun – Are you ready?
Satan – You win again.
Brain – Hope you’re ready.
God – I can’t do this.
Pink Underwear – I love you.
Self – Bye.
Shaquille Smith is a writer from New York. His work often embraces things like sexuality, race, and gender. He’s heavily influenced by indie rock bands and pop songs. With his writing, he hopes to inspire millions and motivate others, as writing has done for him. You can find more of his work on his website here.