Category Archives: Angst

“Nobody’s Wife”

Aly kind of disappeared after high school, too. She didn’t go off to college, though. Not right away. If you’ve been paying attention—if any of us had been paying attention—it should have been obvious where she would go, what she would do with all her free time.

She needed to find her mother.

I never thought of Aly as my half-sister. I mean, we grew up together, there was really no need. But I think we all did think of Nancy—our mom—as her stepmom. I’m sure on some level, Nancy always thought that, too. I mean, there are baby pictures of mom holding Aly when she was like, I don’t know, six months old? But she isn’t holding her like a mother. She’s holding her like you hold someone else’s child, especially when you don’t have kids or haven’t been around them much: entranced by the cuteness, but just a little bit freaked out.

We always knew so little about Aly’s real mom, and honestly, we didn’t know what to do with that. We figured Dad would’ve told us if there was anything, really, to know. But we weren’t really thinking about how Aly felt about it. Because, I don’t know, we were stupid? And then Dad left, our collective worlds were shattered, the past became a landmine, maybe, but I guess not exactly the same way for Aly.

Our dad had always been the sometimes-absent glue holding our family together. He was a nice guy, or seemed to be, and we all trusted he had our best interests at heart. I guess Aly must’ve trusted him that way, too, until she didn’t. And once she didn’t trust him anymore, she wondered about all the things he might have been lying about.

What she found was disappointing, but hardly a surprise.

Jessica Kelley. That was the name on Aly’s birth certificate, and she wasn’t easy to track down, but she managed eventually. Tracked her to a trailer park in Kansas. When she got there, she found a guy only a little older than her hanging out on what passed for a front porch, tuning a fiddle while rocking in a rocking chair. “What you want?” asked Carter Mitchell. (His name she would find out soon enough.)

She thought he might look a little familiar, but shook the feeling off. She told him who she was looking for.

“What you want her for?”

“I’m her daughter.”

Carter Mitchell stopped rocking in his rocking chair. “Say what?”

Her mom was his mom, too.

“I always thought I sort of remembered mom having another kid out there,” Carter told her inside. He decided to make her some bacon, ‘cause he had it and he could. “I don’t know. We never talked about you, but I know how she got real sad sometimes.

“We got any other brothers and sisters? I mean, from mom’s side?”

“I got some halvsies on my dad’s. But nah, momma never did settle down, not after… well, not after you, I guess.”

It made Aly feel that much more sad, knowing her mom had been restless, maybe never gotten over the loss.

She didn’t stay sad long.

Soon enough, Jessica got back from work.

“Carter, what the hell you doing bringing your girlfriends around here without telling me first?”

“She ain’t my girlfriend, momma. She’s my sister.”

A momentary beat, trying to catch up. “Now you tell your daddy I don’t wanna have nothing to do with—“

“His daddy ain’t mine,” said Aly, looking at her mother for the first time.

The woman who’d given birth to her was in her mid-forties now. She would never have recognized her—in fact, she suspected she’d actually seen her earlier, in the diner she’d stopped at on the way, and hadn’t had a clue.

Jessica wanted to know an awful lot of things about her dad. She asked about her growing up, things she did, mistakes that might have been—but after a while, Aly realized none of the questions were really about her.

“I always knew your daddy’d fuck up some day,” said Jessica. “I just wish I’da been there when he did.

Aly didn’t feel any closer to her mother when she left that day. If anything, she felt more alienated. And, ironically, perhaps a little closer to her father.

“Hey, don’t mind her, what she said,” said Carter Mitchell. “I know she comes off like a heartless bitch, but she means well, you know? It’s not like she don’t… you know.”

All in all, Carter ended up being a better friend to her after that than her mom ever would be. Which is sad, I guess. But also kind of beautiful. She even brought him home to meet us. It ended up being kind of awkward, but not by that much, I guess.


Raven didn’t just drop out of school. Not right away, at least. She actually enjoyed some of the classes she was taking that semester, and Acid Monsoon needed to ride out the contract they had with Lucrezia Romanov.

“But then you’re leaving?” Declan asked.

“Wouldn’t you?” she countered.

“No. Actually, I wouldn’t. I would stay in college, get my degree and then—“

“College can wait. You know it can. I mean, come on, how many twenty-five-year-olds have you had class with since you got here? I can always come back, but you know this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity thing.”

The worst part was, he did know it. This was Acid Monsoon. The bigtime. And they wanted his girlfriend. It would catapult her to fame. And then? Then she could take him with her.

But no, he’d remind himself. That’s not how these things work. She’s going to run off to fame and fortune and leave me pining here in the dust.

“Baby, no,” she’d reassure him. “How could I leave you? You’re the one who found me. You were the first person to really, you know, understand me.”

He knew now, though, that that just wasn’t true. He didn’t understand her nearly as well as he thought—as she thought—that he did.

And that really freaked him out.

But what freaked him out even more was the jealousy. He was in love with this woman, but rather than being jealous of all those men she’d be hanging around, who’d be hanging aorund her, it was her he was jealous of.

“Of course you are,” said his new friend Jeffrey from college. Jeffrey was kind of a smart-ass, calculating and detached. “She is getting what you want, what you’ve always wanted. What she wouldn’t have wanted, if it wasn’t for you.”

“Are we going to break up?“ It was a question that he didn’t want to ask her; he felt weak asking it of her, like he’d lost something, like he was giving up on the relationship.

But he felt even worse when she answered so casually that yes, of course she would stay with him—they would make long distance work because they loved each other.

It made him feel worse because it made him realize he didn’t trust their relationship, he didn’t have faith in it the way she did. Why did he think that? Did he not trust her, or did he not trust himself? Either way, what did that say about him?

“I’m sure a long-distance relationship could work out,” said Jeffrey when he confided in him again.

“Have you tried it?”

“I’ve never really had occasion.”

“It just makes me feel…” That was really all he had to say, yet he felt like saying more.

“I know,” Jeffrey consoled him.

“Why does it have to be this way?” was Raven’s question to him. “I mean, why does this even…”

“I’m sorry. I can’t tell you why, because I’m not even really sure myself, but I don’t feel comfortable with this. I don’t feel comfortable and goddammit, it is… it’s tearing me apart. I feel weak and I feel… ashamed.”

This, by the way, was around about the time that Declan wrote what would become the #1 hit “Tears on Weekdays”.

“Listen to me,” Raven told her boyfriend. “I am not goign to cheat on you out there. OK? I love you. I have always loved you. Distance? All that gets in the way of is sex. I can handle that, I can handle… not having sex for a while. Can you?”

He couldn’t. He knew he couldn’t (or thought it, anyway) but still he smiled at her and kissed her and agreed. Better to lie now and risk fucking up later than to just give up, right?

To be fair, it took three months for Declan to break down and sleep with this girl Michelle they went to school with. That was five days longer than it took Raven to throw herself at Caspar June—not that the one had to do with the other. They were both young and bad at communicating, so they both felt awful afterwards.

But they both recovered and moved on.

“The Battle Rages On”

Thomas Murphy went to war. He didn’t like being called “Tommy” after that. Truth be told, he never really liked being called “Tommy”, especially since “Tommy Murphy” sounds kinda lame, but he tolerated “Tom”. Tom Murphy.

Well, he didn’t die. I know you’ve been holding your breath for that one, so I’ll take pity on you. He survived, he even came back all in one piece. Physically, at least. But he’d seen things.

Even before his brother went off to college, when he’d get furloughed and get to come back, when he’d get leave, Declan could tell that he was different. More serious. More chiseled. Didn’t take the nonsense.

“Hello?” he would answer the phone, instead of his usual “Hey, man.”

“Hey, man,” Mickey answered, “What’s up? It’s Mickey, don’t know if you remember or if you recognized my voice.”

“What’s up, Mickey?” “What’s up?” Not “‘Sup?” or even “Hey, man.”

“Hey, man, I just wanted to talk to you. You wanna maybe come over and hang?”

“Well, I’m busy right now.”

“Yeah, no, it’s cool, just let me know.”

Truth be told, the new no-nonsense Tommy scared Mickey out of his mind.

“You ever hear from Kyle?” Declan asked him.

“I don’t talk to Kyle,” said Thomas Murphy.

“Is it ‘cause of what happened?”

“I just don’t talk to him. You know? I got better things to do now than listen to him go on about… I don’t know. All his college bullshit.”

That was while he was in, though, while Corporal Murphy was in the army and Kyle Niedermeyer was off “doing his own thing” in college, turning himself into a molder of young minds.

But now they were both back.

“Tommy,” Kyle said when his old friend showed up at his door one day. He was wearing a shirt, in case the unexpected visitor happened to be a student or something, but it wasn’t much of one.

Corporal Murphy didn’t correct his friend’s pronunciation. “Hello, Kyle.” The “Sir” was silent.

“How you been, man? Jeez, it musta been, like…”

“Lotta years.”


“Four? I guess.”

“Since graduation.”

There were only so many words in the English language.

“You wanna come inside?”

“No, I can’t stay,” Tommy lied.


“Have you heard anything from Aly?”

Kyle frowned, scratched his head. “I don’t know, not in a while, I guess. Why? You try talking to Jasper, maybe? He probably knows how to get hold of her.”

“No, no, that’s all right.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to come inside?”

Corporal Murphy was fidgeting. It was making Kyle nervous. A little.

“Do you still play?” asked the soldier.

“A bit,” said Kyle. “Not like I used to.”

“You ever think about…”

“What? About getting the band back together?”

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t know if the world can handle more of the Elk, man.”

For the first time since he got here, Tommy cracks a smile, almost like he’s himself again, but no.

“Listen, man, if you wanna talk to her—“

“I wanna talk to you.”


Pause. “I just don’t know how.”

“You think maybe you could start by coming inside?”

A hesitation.

“Hey. Tommy.”

“It’s Tom.”

“Tom. If you’ve got something to say…”

“No, forget it, man. Just forget it.”

But there are some things you just don’t forget.

“When the Levee Breaks”

Everyone in town would remember Hurricane Frances. It rained so much in those two days the first week of October that the dirty water at the reservoir overflowed and contaminated all of the clean water. At least that’s what they told us at school. As usual, my condition didn’t deliver the details on the parts of the story that were actually pertinent. all I got was a bit about the college kids.

Declan and Raven were both in their sophomore year and for them, once the news broke, that meant school had to shut down. They didn’t panic. They didn’t evacuate or anything like that. But the water didn’t run, so the school closed and they set up portapotties for people who didn’t want to go home for the week, or couldn’t.

“What you thinking, babe?” Declan asked. She sure as hell wasn’t going back to her parents’. Over the summer, she’d elected to stay with him. Awkward, considering his parents, but they were amenable, so they worked it through. Yet that didn’t hold her appeal as much as staying in the room that his roommate was evacuating.

Strange things were happening in town, though.

Having SchadowFreud come to play in the area back in the day, that was one thing, but SchadowFreud wasn’t where Anastasia Borgia had gotten her start. And her successor as the lead female vocalist of Acid Monsoon, Lucrezia Romanov… she wasn’t exactly living up to their dreams.

“Do you think we should go?” Declan asked.


Acid Monsoon. Didn’t you hear?”

“Hear what?”

“They’re playing in town.”

“No, I didn’t hear that. When did that happen?”

“Everyone’s been talking about it.”

But of course, Raven didn’t actually talk to anyone.

“It’s okay,” said Declan, “we don’t have to go.”

“No, it’s okay,” said his girlfriend. “I don’t really feel up to it, but you should go.”

I don’t know quite how to get into what happened next. I saw the whole thing in my vision—of course I saw it really only as it was going on. If I’d seen it the night before, maybe I could’ve convinced Declan to stay home and accompany his girlfriend out to the portapotty when she needed to go. As it was, all I could do was send him an ominous text he’d get four hours later telling him he needed to get in touch with Raven.

I saw the whole thing well enough to remember it afterwards, but Raven doesn’t remember it. Not well. At least that’s what she says. She claims all she remembers is going out to the portapotty and that something happened. And then her talon ended up covered in blood.

Have I talked about Raven’s talon? It was one of those cheap-yet-fancy Goth girl affectations: a three-inch claw that attached to her finger. It wasn’t designed for self-defense—wasn’t meant to be, anyway. When she did use it, it was usually in kinky games with Declan that I blush to even think about, but she happened to have it on her, so when “whoever it was” attacked her, it must have been some kind of instinct that kicked in.

She insists to this day that she doesn’t remember the guy’s face. But I have an excellent memory and I’ve gotten pretty good at drawing, to boot. I won’t say how, but I managed to get the young man in question found and properly punished.

Raven, meanwhile, was super-charged. Different people react to that kind of assault in different ways, I guess. Even through time: three years ago she’d have probably locked herself in her room, shut out Declan, shut out everyone, but something about having blood on that talon…

Once she stopped to think about it, that would scare her, what it said about her that she was so full of rage—but she’d won! She’d won and she needed to celebrate and her boyfriend was unreachable at a concert.

It was too late to get tickets herself. They had wanted to call the even a “Hurricane Concert”, playing on the irony of Acid Monsoon’s name, but after they figured out what was going on in the town, they renamed it their “Broken Levee” deal. But there were still a couple of bars that were open. And one of them never let a Thursday night go by without hosting karaoke.

I won’t say what song it was she was singing when the band walked in. Let’s just say you’ve never heard of it, but they had. The concert had been a success and the bar was their afterparty and they heard our girl Raven doing her thing and they just fell head-over-heels. Even “Lucrezia” agreed she sounded good before she realized what she was actually agreeing to.

Caspar June, the front-man, had a note sent to her inviting her over and she was deep into talking to them by the time Declan finally called her.

“Hey, how’d you like the concert?”

“Not bad, I’m at Weaver’s Pies, listen I got a weird text from Kassandra.”

“Jasper’s sister?”

“Yeah, she said I should call you—are you okay?”

“Why would Kassandra want you to call me?”

“Well, she is kinda psychic, so why don’t you tell me?”

“Oh! Actually, I do have something to tell you!”

The assault from earlier didn’t slip her mind, she just didn’t want to talk about it. But she did want Declan there. She was hoping he could share her glory. If only that had been the case.


I actually think it’s kind of a miracle that it took until high school for Lucy to start dating. I don’t know whether it was a self-confidence thing or if she actually genuinely felt a close connection to every guy she ever met, but she could never stop talking about them.

Most embarrassingly, though, she just would not shut up about Jasper.

“He is so cool,” she told me once before leaning in and whispering, “Do you think he might have had sex already? I mean, he is in high school.” We were in eighth grade.

I knew that he had—I am who I am—but I still lied and said I didn’t.

Then of course Ellen Portnoy happened. And my niece. Lucy managed to be devastated and fascinated at the same time. So full of every emotion, as always. And then of course Ellen dropped out of the picture so suddenly and Lucy didn’t know what to do with herself.

“You think about sex sometimes, don’t you?”

Thought about it? I didn’t have to. I knew exactly what it was going to feel like, be like, how it was going to taste and smell and sound, I’d had visions of it for years. I didn’t knew for sure who it was going to be with. (I assumed Angus—at least I did back when I was certain that he was my mysterious redhead.) But I mean, I knew what it would be. “I guess,” I fudged to Lucy, but then realized my mistake.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I mean, I always have, but… it’s like more and more, it’s almost like it’s becoming real. You know?”

A few months after Jasper went off to work at the steel mill, I had a vision that made it a little too real for me, too. It was another one of my awkward my-family-are-having-sex visions, only this time, it wasn’t limited to family.

“Hey,” Lucy asked me not long after, “can I come over and study at your place this weekend?”

I knew what she was trying to do. She knew Jasper had weekends off, that he spent them around the house with his kid. She was triying to insinuate herself into—

“Would that be so bad?” Trevor asked. “I mean, I know he’s your brother and all, but like, why do you care so much?”

I cared because much as I liked hanging out with Lucy, the thought of her becoming my sister left me slightly queasy. Or, I don’t know, maybe I didn’t want my niece getting too attached only to—

“Come on! What is the problem?”

“I don’t want you dating my brother!” I finally blurted.

“Who said anything about dating your brother?”

“You have. For years. For years you’ve been talkign about letting him take your V-card—“

“Oh, honey, that ship has sailed.”

Some psychic I am. Assuming she was telling the truth.

“I just want things… separate,” I finally managed to confess. “It’s hard for me when it’s all… muddy.”

But there was no stopping them. I knew it. It had been in my visions.

“She’s sixteen,” I reasoned with Jasper.

“So? I’m nineteen, and in the state of North Carolina—“

“Don’t give me that bullshit! She is a child!”

“Maybe that’s what I need right now!”

“Are you listening to yourself?”

“Look… I don’t know what to tell you. She makes me happy. And I… I think I make her happy, too.”

Wouldn’t it be ironic, I found myself thinking, if Jasper and fucking Lucy McDermott were the ones to live happily ever after?

But I knew I was just being jealous.

“Hey, Jude”

Kyle Niedermeyer went off to college when I got to seventh grade and by the time I was a junior, he came back as a teacher.

No one else could believe it. I mean, thsoe of us who had older siblings passed on the legend that was the Elk—to have one of their number in a position of authority? It was too much.

Except, of course, for me. Not only was I the only one not to gasp that first day when he revealed himself, I’d already brought along a nice shiny apple to give to him.

“Sucking up to the new teacher?” he asked me with a smile, careful to make sure everyone else was out of earshot.

“Do you remember me at all?” We’d only met once, which was enough for me, but his eyes narrowed. “Kassandra,” I helped him along. “My sister was in love with you?”

“Oh, shit,” he said, “Llywelyn?”

I don’t think of myself as much different through time. Physically, I suppose, with my hips and my breasts filling out, though very little in the face. It’s hard to really change when you know ahead of time pretty much exactly who you’ll be changing into, or so I still thought at the time.

“It’s great to have you back,” I said and he was gracious about the plattitude. “Does that mean you’ll be getting back together with Miss Kelly?”

There are only a handful of times when I’ve destroyed someone’s world with a revelation. I keep thinking I’ll cherish or even enjoy it, but the awkwardness makes that hard.

“I beg your pardon?” he asks.

“Don’t worry,” I tell him. “No one else knows. I’m kinda psychic?”

If I cared, I could prove that to him further, but there’s something more pressing. “Look, I know you’ve seen her wearing a ring, but she doesn’t love that guy. She still has feelings for you. And you still have feelings for her, which is why you came back. So you should… you know…” I looked down at my gift to him. “Give her an apple?”

He raised one eyebrow, then the other. As he reached for the apple, I bolted for the door.

There, I told my Psychicism. I did what you asked. What more do you want from me? What more could I possibly do? But there is always more to be done, isn’t there? Maybe I should just accept that.

“Heart-Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand)”

There are a number of hard-core revelations that people have once they get to college. Or so I have witnessed from my eagle-eyed view. Some of these revelations are carnal. The lack of “adult” supervision opens up a whole world of possibilities, not just sexually, but alcoholically, marihuanically, and even at the cafeteria. You would be amazed at the amount of pizza an 18-year-old boy can consume without actually exploding.

Then there are the academic revelations. You soon discover that everything you have ever been taught is wrong—or, at the very least, skewed—whcih can be very uncomfortable. It can leave you unmoored: if those weren’t the causes of the Civil War, what else have they been lying to you about? What other lies have they forced you to write in term papers and short answers on tests?

“Are you okay?” Declan asks her.

“I’m fine,” Raven lies. “I just don’t know if I like it here.”

It wasn’t the classes. “I really like that Astronomy Lab. I mean, like, I wish there was an actual lab with, like, telescopes, but I mean, I don’t know.”

“Not too much math?”

“I don’t mind the math, actually?”

“You wanna take more math?”

“I wanna take more music.”

They were both taking music theory. Together. It was fun.

“Theory isn’t enough, though.”

They were doing a musical in the drama department…

“I don’t wanna do that kind of music. Something is just… off. I don’t know.”

“How long have you been with that guy, Declan?” Her name was Natalie—Nattie for short—and she was dressed like a lesbian.

“Since sophomore year. In high school.”

“Is he the only guy you’ve uh…”


“But you’ve been dating him this whole time?”

She shrugs. “Pretty much.”

“Do you love him?”

“Look, if you’re hitting on me, just please just come out and say it.”

Nattie looks shocked. “I wasn’t… I mean…”

“I know I come off as damaged and vulnerable, but Declan is a great guy. I’m trying. I’m happier with him than I… It’s not his fault that I’m fucked up. It’s thanks to him I’m not more fucked up right now, so just, please.”


She threw Declan up against the wall outside his dorm room, pinned him, hovered over him, breathing him in. “I don’t think I like college much,” she confessed.

“I think you do.”

“I like the classes. But why do we have to hang out with all these douchebags?”

“We don’t,” her boyfriend of three years promises her.

“You promise?” He does.

But that was never gonna last, was it?

“Basket Case”

Mickey hadn’t had the kinds of responsibilities Jasper had when high school ended. It wasn’t just that he hadn’t had enough sex, statistically, to accidentally knock a girl up (not that statistics really has anything to do with it), it was mainly that his parents were too understanding.

He lived above their garage. He had been living above their garage since he graduated high school. In fact, above his parents’ garage was where Mickey’s bedroom had always been, so really, when it came down to it, it was almost as though Micket was still in high school. Except without the homework.

He did have a job. He worked as a fry-cook. It was minimum wage and, unlike my brother, he didn’t get raises or promotions based on his performance. Add to that the fact that he got fired a couple of times, had to work somewhere else as a fry-cook—also, one place he worked got closed down for health-code violations. He wasn’t considered the most stable person.

He didn’t talk to many people, either. Really, there were only so many people he could talk to at his job, and most of them were assholes in his opinion, as he was in theirs.

His only real ambition was in videogames. He joined a lot of online forums, got off on heckling n00bs, busted some high scores. Mostly first-person shooters. Strategy games were for dweebs, he figured. RPGs were for pussies. Put a gun in his hand, and he’d—

Tommy had joined the army. Or no, was it the army? Maybe it was the navy. He knew it wasn’t the marines, Tommy was too jelly-limbed back in high school for that. And the airforce? He just wasn’t smart enough. Gotta be army, right?

Did that mean he had a real gun? Where had he been deployed? Where did he go to?

What was he doing with his life?

Mickey hadn’t really thought about the drums much since high school. That had been more Kyle’s thing. He’d been friends with Kyle for… gosh… And where was Kyle now? He’d gone off to college, too. Didn’t know where. Hadn’t talked to him much. Hadn’t talked to him… any, really.

Weird. He hadn’t even thought about them in so long.

He hadn’t even thought…

“Harder Better Faster Stronger”

Being a rockstar doesn’t exactly pay the bills. I mean, really, what does these days, right? Or if it does pay the bills, it pays all of them at once. But that’s a pipe dream and Jasper Llywelyn had given up smoking.

He had a daughter now, I had a niece. He had to take care of her. Mom had a new baby of her own on the way by the time they left high school. She could only help so much, and especially after Jasper made the (ironically) educated decision not to go to college, to go to work instead, the pressure was on him from all sides to actually get a job, to get a trade, some certification that could turn skills into money, or at least skills that could turn said certification into a solid credit report.

When he finally found something, he wouldn’t tell us what it was, exactly. I knew it wasn’t anything sketchy (at least not in the legal sense), some kind of steel mill forty miles out of town. Nine to five, he woke up at seven and didn’t get back till after six, holding up dinner. Two hours a day, if that, barely, with his kid, to make ends meet, no wonder fathers are so cold. They never get the warmth of family.

Do I remember how much time our father spent with me?

Do I even remember who he was, by now?

It was some kind of steel mill. Heavy machinery, lots of moving parts, factory work, too fast in my visions for my eyes to track, and he never talked about it. Sometimes I would catch him using terms, we’d be talking about something unrelated, he’d draw a parallel. But then he’d realize and he’d shut down. “No, go on,” we’d say.

“Nah,” he said, “I don’t even wanna think about that.”

Because of course, he was miserable. If he’d still had a wife, if Ellen hadn’t died in childbirth, maybe things would have been different. Someone to come home to who wasn’t related. Someone to help blow off steam. I’d like to thnk she’d have been more to him, I’m just not sure what. He still had so much driving him. So much passion. So much obsession.

Every day, he’d have two hours in the car to listen to music. Other people’s music. He’d whack the steering wheel in time to the beat, sing along, even change it up a bit like was singing a cover, make it more interesting to himself.

He never talked about anybody that he worked with. Made me wonder if he talked to anyone. My brother, the chatterbox. What did he do? Was he really that miserable?

After a few months, he got a raise. A little while after that, it was some kind of promotion.

“Sweetie, why didn’t you tell me?” But I already knew ‘cause of how he looked. He looked worse. He looked more depressed. Any praise he got, any form of recognition, only drew him further into that world and it was a world he didn’t want to be in, a world that wasn’t him. 

But his world didn’t want him. There was no room for him there. So he made his bed every morning and his little girl got up and played on it.

“Lose Yourself”

By the time I actually did fall in love, I wasn’t sure that I wanted it. I wasn’t sure I’d ever want it. And looking back, I guess I can’t really blame myself. I had horrible taste in men. Man. Singular. Fate had horrible taste in him for me. I mean, sure, all I really had to go on was the red hair when it came to Angus George, but I knew that I had seen him in my infamous prophetic dreams and I knew that he was the one for me, the one that I would end up with.

Would I have even given him a second glance, if not for all that? Would I have even…

I guess it doesn’t really matter now. He’s where he is, and I’m here writing this all down, so I guess we can call it what it is.

Something changed at that show. I don’t know whether it was actually him that changed, or if it was just the first time it really occurred to me.

It started off in a pretty standard mosh-pit. It developed kind of spontaneously, as only the best ones do, and actually it was a guy and a girl who started it off together. Rough-housing. Pleasantly matched, not exactly erotic, it didn’t seem like they had quite that kind of relationship. It seemed more like the male pushing and shoving and pressing of buttons that they seem to find so appealing, except that one of them was a woman. I don’t know. But then it changed. Shifted. Other people started bumping in, intruding, and finally it spread over to where we had been standing, to where I had been looking into Angus’s eyes.

What is it about crowds? That you can be around so many people and still feel perfectly alone. More so. I guess you start to go “But if there are so many people…” So it means more. If you’re alone and you’re lonely, it’s the question “How can I be lonely with this many people?” Like they can’t be an excuse. And if you’re alone with someone, it turns into something more intimate, like a secret in the middle of the chaos. An emphasis. Look at all the people and none of them can stop us from looking at each other.

Until he gets distracted.

The smile on his face was different after whoever it was bumped into him. Whoever it was said “Sorry,” like you do on the fringes if you’re polite and not too drunk yet and bumped into someone who was not (yet) part of the mosh. But then you see that smile. He hadn’t been smiling at me a moment before. We’d been in a place where we didn’t need smiles, but now he wasn’t there anymore. He was in another space with another process in mind and he was itching to hit something. That’s what that smile meant.

And then he misunderstood. Not all mosh pits are the same, and this one was rough-housing on a level that he wasn’t used to because he hung out with the wrong crowd. You beat your arms and bump into each other, crash and settle and throw yourself around. It’s not an actual boxing match. Sometimes it is. But not this one. And with that smile on his face, he happily dashed after the stranger who’d broken our intimate seal, who thought he’d roped someone into the party and instead ended up getting punched in the neck and the shoulder with a strength that in context and contrast must have felt supernatural. Surreal. Out of place.

The mosh changed around him, slowly I guess, maybe, bit by bit, as the immediate crowd realized what was going on and got uncomfortable.

I know what you’re thinking: it’s a mosh-pit, it’s not supposed to be comfortable. But there’s a code you follow, more like a contract, any time you start one. You know you’re not “safe”, but safety is relative, and this guy is fucking off his shit.

That was the beginning. Not for him, I’m sure. I mean, maybe, but I mean, come on, let’s be real. He is who he is. It didn’t look like a moment of great revelation for him, not from where I was standing. He beat a guy up, and then immediately, he turned around and blamed them all for dishing it out and not being able to take it.

Maybe he was just used to a rougher crowd, I told myself. Maybe that’s all it was. But it didn’t seem like it. Even if that was all there was to it, he still wasn’t paying attention. He still wasn’t taking cues, and that meant something.

I started paying closer attention to the fights he was having in school. To what he was saying about them. To what other people were saying about them. To discrepancies, and also similarities. To the different versions.

By the time he was arrested, I found I couldn’t be surprised. I was disappointed, but couldn’t convince myself I hadn’t seen it coming.

I know I’m phrasing that in a way that’s confusing, so let me put it differently. I knew he was going to be arrested. I knew it three days after I met him. I even tried to tell him a couple of times, tried to warn him, but my name is Kassandra and no one is ever going to take me seriously about things like this.

And I guess I can’t really blame them. I don’t really take myself seriously, either. I mean, look at me. I get a vision of this guy. I know I’m going to fall in love with him, so I do. Then I get a vision of him being an asshole, getting arrested. And what do I do? I stay. For what? Did I think that I was going to change him? Did I think that he could?