Free short stories about Generation End

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FORGIVING THE BAD PEOPLE

forgiving the bad people

“Have you ever read the Book of Jonah?” Christie asked me.

“The guy who got swallowed by a whale?”

“The prophet who was swallowed by a fish.”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Well,” Christie said with a slight smile on her face, “Jonah was a prophet who kept running away from God. God asked Jonah to do something, but then Jonah ran away. He wanted nothing to do with God because God wanted a lot from him. He ran so far away that he ended up in sea.”

“Then he got swallowed by a whale.”

“No, a giant fish.”

“Right…”

We were both on our backs and she was looking at her hands as she was telling me this story. “So while in the fish’s stomach and feeling bad and embarrassed that he neglected God,” Christie continued, “he began praying. He told God something like, ‘Listen, I know I’ve kind of neglected you for a long time now, but if you do me a solid and get me out of this really crappy situation, I’ll do whatever you say.’”

“So I’m guessing God let him out.” I poked Christie’s ear and she giggled and slapped my hand away. Christie was wearing something white, and although it was dark in my bedroom, I could see the small, bright patterns on her top. I could also see a hint of her black bra strap.

“Yup, God let him out. But of course, Jonah owed God a solid. So God asked Jonah to go to this place called Nineveh to tell them to change their ways. The Ninevites, to Jonah, were vile people who did a lot of crappy things to other people. Think Nazis and terrorists.”

“Sure. I’ll think of Nazis and terrorists. That reminds me of this time–”

“And so Jonah goes and tells these Ninevites to repent, and you know what? They do. They completely change their ways for the better, and God forgives them. Imagine a bunch of Nazis and terrorists changing their ways for the better.”

“So it’s a happily ever after?”

“Not really. Jonah is pissed off. He cuts off God mid-conversation and asks him how he can be so forgiving towards such people. He’s so angry that he tells God to kill him.”

“What? Why?”

Christie sat up. “Yeah, he goes up a hill, he watches Ninevah in secret hope that it will roast in God’s wrath but it doesn’t. Miserably, he mutters to God, ‘I am so angry I wish I was dead.’ And then God asks him, ‘Shouldn’t I be concerned for all of these people?’”

I waited for a while for Christie to tell me the twist in the story, for her to tell me how Jonah replies, for her to tell me how it all ends happily for Jonah and God and the Ninevites and the fish and whoever else was in the damn story. But she said nothing. “What, that’s how it ends? With Jonah angry and confused and wanting to die and God asking him a question?”

“That’s how it ends.”

 

_

Show I’m watching: The Young Pope

THE PERFUMED GARDEN

the perfumed garden

“Dude, you’re wrong. You need to read The Perfumed Garden.” This is what a friend said when I ignorantly asked him if Muslims were always so conservative about sexuality.

Instead of actually reading the The Perfumed Garden and coming up with my own opinions about it, I Googled it and found this summary: “Written between 1410 and 1434 for a minister of the Sultan of Tunis, the treatise is a sex guide for married Muslim men.”

And then there’s this passage from it:

Women desire what in men cannot last,

Youth, wealth and health, and not coming too fast,

Long-lasting and slow is what women expect,

And for seconds he’s equally quick to erect.

I wonder what it is about sex that makes it the way it is. It can make us happy yet it can also crush us to pieces. Why does it have to go around so confidently ruining and creating so many lives?

On the drive home I remembered an ex girlfriend of mine: no matter what, I always had to make her come, and I always had to make her come first before she even laid a hand on me. She always had something negative to say to me after each time, such as “I wonder why you took so long this time,” or “you have a repulsive taste in music,” or “don’t I turn you on enough? Why aren’t you trying?” and one night, when I couldn’t do it, when I couldn’t make her come, I blamed it on her for being so uptight, and she cried and I went to bed. After some time, no matter what she wore or what photos she sent me, she no longer turned me on. I began to look for any way I could to cheat on her: I went online, I invited any girl I could out for drinks, I flirted mercilessly. But none of it worked – they could smell my desperation and shame. Eventually, she left me for another man.

I entered my apartment to find Christie inside with a big grin on her face. “Surprise!” she said, and on my table was a jar of chocolate Kisses.

 

_

Read The Perfumed Garden

LAST DINNER WITH CAROL

last dinner with carol - trees in distance

I’ve been writing about Carol for thousands of years now, and tonight will be the last time you hear about her. I’d only promised to write about eight dinners, you see, and you’re probably sick of her by now, and you’re probably wondering what the hell I’ve been up to. What the hell have I been up to?

The last dinner I had with Carol was at her place. She was in a soft blue robe and her hair was tied in a ponytail and I didn’t realise how big her ears were. They weren’t abnormally big, but they were large enough to notice.

“I didn’t realise how big your ears were,” I told her.

“I didn’t realise how small your hands were,” she said back.

The dinner wasn’t really a dinner: it was a few pieces of sweet bread she bought from Sunnybank and some tea. She leant on her elbows, looking at me and smiling.

“What?” I asked her.

“What?” she asked back.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Why not?”

“Why not anything?”

“Let’s go somewhere tonight,” she said.

“I’m tired. It’s eleven.”

“You told me you used to start your evenings at eleven.”

“That was back in the day, when I wasn’t running out of time yet.”

“I’m picturing us,” she said, “driving in the snow.”

“There’s no snow in Brisbane.”

“We’re driving in the snow, and we park at some shopping mall, and we walk inside and we watch a movie and afterwards, we drive back to my place, and you make me wet, and then we argue and you make me wetter.”

“That’s a horrible story,” I said.

“Why is that a horrible story?”

“What’s the point of the snow in your fantasy? All we did was go to the movies. We could’ve built snowmen.”

“The snow just makes the background better.”

“Have you even seen snow?” I asked her.

“No. But I know you have.”

“How do you know? You don’t know.”

“You’ve seen snow once, in Japan.” She sighed impatiently. “We’ve had a conversation like this before. I always remember what we talk about but you always forget. You’re always in your own head.”

“Give me some of that bread.” I took some of the bread and ate it nervously.

We argued about going somewhere for a while until I gave in and we went for a drive. I don’t remember where we went, but I remember a lot of red lights and pancakes and a parking lot and a highway that stretched on, and on, and on, and every so often one of our mobile phones would vibrate, and every so often we’d share stories, or laugh, or argue, or simply let our thoughts drip feed themselves into our minds only to be forgotten forever. In my CD player we played a few things: The Cranberries, Drake, James Blake, Beethoven; we then let the radio take over.

We return to her room. We watch her favourite movie: this horror movie about a ventriloquist’s doll that gets possessed by an evil spirit. I fall asleep halfway through and wake up around the end. I kiss her, and she holds my hands and she asks me why I don’t love her, and I tell her, “We’ve only had eight dinners,” and in a melodic tone she says that no matter how many dinners we have, she can tell I won’t love her and I ask her why she thinks this and she says she just knows; she says she can read under the skin and she knows I’ll never love her and she cries but she tells me that she can be fine with that, as long as I stay, as long as I always come home to her at the end of the day, as long as I embrace her in the cold, in the heat, when it snows, when it doesn’t, and in return she’ll buy me things to help me: a glass lunch box, a pair of glasses when I’m old, a typewriter, a wallet whenever my old ones need replacing; she’ll tell the world about my books, she’ll swallow even when she’s not in the mood, she’ll be more consistent with her leg shaving, she’ll bleach her arsehole, she’ll learn the piano just to write me a song and she’ll find the tears in my heart and wipe them away like she’ll wipe any dirty table. I drift in and out of dreams as she says this, and I say things I’ll never remember to her while wiping her hair behind her ears. I take off her clothes and this time there’s no violence – we’re completely boring and sentimental about it, but then lately I’ve been feeling lately that sex and fucking and making love and everything in between has been mistakenly placed on a pedestal by people like me, and is it something that beautiful, is it something to go to lengths for, is it something that great compared to the great things great people have accomplished in life? Why can’t artists romanticise celibacy? Why couldn’t I stick with Carol? Had I let myself become too damaged, was I just deliberately finding fault? This will continue if I don’t stop talking to her.

In the morning I wake up Carol and tell her I have to go. She smiles and says, “Okay,” and she walks me out, and I drive home.

_

Book I’m reading: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

HOPES AND FEARS FOR 2016

spaceship ufo - short story

Carol took a sip of her drink. “My only wish is that I find good music this year. I mean the music in two thousand fifteen was great, and like, I really got into Spotify and Pandora and that, but like, I mean, The Weeknd’s album was pretty good, but really, I wanted more, you know? Do you ever get that? Like, you listen to a new album by like, Adele, for example, and you absolutely love it, and you tell all your friends about it, and for a straight month you can’t stop listening to it: at first, there are certain songs you can’t stop listening to, like Adele’s Hello, for example, and then after you’ve listened to it enough times you start getting hooked on other songs in the album, songs you didn’t like initially, like that one on track ten, I think it’s called Love in the Dark, and then you really love it, right? So you listen to that a hundred times in a row like you listened to Hello a hundred times in a row, but then once you’ve ploughed through all of the songs over and over again, one day, you’re listening to Love in the Dark, and all of a sudden you think, ‘Why am I listening to this bullshit?’ and you change to track eleven, then track four, then track eight or whatever and it’s all the same – you can’t stand her voice anymore, you can’t stand anything to do with her and you start to panic a little, because you loved her album and told of your friends to listen to it, right? And now you don’t anymore. So you rush on over to the shops or go online or whatever and look for other albums to satisfy your need for music and none are as good, so what do you do? Why do we even need this much music? Why can’t we just cling to one song and be done with it? And don’t even try and sell me Coldplay’s latest album.”

Carol told me this as we were having whatever at some overly priced café that no one will ever remember in the long run.

“How about you, Dean? How was your two thousand and fifteen? Was it any good?”

“I loved it.”

“I read some of your stuff, it’s really depressing. Have you tried positivity journals before? That’s something I want to do this year. I want to exercise more and be more positive, like have more smiling selfies, you know?” She giggled a little at that, but I wasn’t sure if she was joking. She’s the kind of person who’s dumb and smart at the same time. She leant forward. “Look, I know I’m talking a lot and I know you’re dying to tell me some stories, but I want to tell you a quick story, can I tell you a story?”

“No.”

“Once upon a time there was a space fighter. He had orange hair. He was seventy years old. He wasn’t the best space fighter in the world; in fact he was pretty forgettable. But he was handsome when he was young, and he did enjoy a lot of his life and spent a lot of it eating or whatever with the ones he loved. One day he woke up with a sickening feeling: he couldn’t prove it, but something in the pit of his stomach was telling him that the moon was going to explode. He had to get to the moon, like, ASAP. So he packed up his things, sat in his spaceship and turned on the engine. Just as he was about to leave, however, his best friend the Green Man stopped him for a second. ‘Where are you going?’ the Green Man asked him, and the space fighter said, ‘Ya wouldn’t believe it but, uh, I think the moon is going to explode.’

‘Is that so?’ the Green Man asked curiously. The Green Man had known the space fighter for like, decades or something, and he knew one thing for sure: the space fighter had, like, unbelievable instincts. But then the Green Man was also now incredibly senile. ‘Okay but before you go I want to tell you a story.’

‘What, like right now?’ the space fighter said irritably.

‘My daughter, you know my daughter?’

‘Yeah I know your daughter!’ the space fighter grunted.

‘Even though she’s never met an actual dinosaur, she like, loves them. She loves everything about them. Their shapes, their bones, their history. One day, when you were out on one of your space missions, I didn’t tell you this, but she and her husband conducted a dinosaur symphony, attended by thousands of their fans. The first track was called… Dinosaur One. The second track was called… Dinosaur Two. The third track was called… Dinosaur Three. The fourth track was called… Dinosaur four. As you can see, it kept going like this. One day I asked her and her husband, “Why didn’t you name your pieces? Dinosaur Four sounds like a T-Rex, why didn’t you just call Dinosaur Four T-Rex?” And you know what they did? They shrugged! That’s all they did! They just shrugged at me!’

The space fighter ignored everything about that story and waved his best friend goodbye. He flew to the moon, and he like, stopped it from exploding and stuff, and then he flew back home to hang out with his best friend again.”

Carol and I spent the next hour talking about her friend with herpes before she paid the bill and drove off to a New Year party. She texted me the next morning, HAHAHAing about how her sister lost her wallet and virginity on the same day.

CHRISTMAS IS COMING

Christmas is coming

Christmas is about family. Christmas is about being alone. Christmas is about gifts, and food, and handjobs and blowjobs and an uncle who is too drunk, and a friend who is too drunk, and the heat in one country and the blistering cold in another country and a shared moon that kind of hangs over everything: it hides in some cities, it’s gone in some cities, it watches you over the rest. Christmas is about hopeful films, of Mariah Carey’s song and not Mariah Carey’s story; it’s about that girl I fingered, it’s about that girl I didn’t finger, it’s about Santa and cookies and letters to Santa and photos of Santa and of midnight mass, it’s about a lonely woman, a lonely man, a jealous boyfriend, immigration, suffering refugees, ISIS, Muslims, Jews, transgenders, lesbians, queers, fags, homophobes, feminists, emos, hipsters, dickheads, bankers, cunts, bums; Christmas is about advertising and late night shopping and that huge rush to buy presents for mum and dad and stepmum and stepdad and cousins and friends and bosses and that chick you’re cheating with, its about Christmas ham, it’s about last minute shopping, it’s about the birth of Jesus Christ our saviour, it’s about snorting a dab of cocaine off the tip of some Indian guy’s cock and it’s about falling asleep too early; it’s about thinking about Africa, or that fucked up thing you did two years ago, or just the other week, or about that homeless guy you saw under the bridge. Christmas is about my suffering, not yours. It’s about that selfie she took that made sure to reveal her tits. It’s about the fortunate and the less fortunate and the sad and the happy and the people so far removed from the world that they don’t even know who they are. Do you know who you are? Christmas is about tears and laughter and all of that bullshit, it’s about that time I met a Princess and it’s about the time I kissed her in my car and it’s about the sweat and my red shirt and it’s about that time I opened your present and you took a photo of me opening your present, and it’s about that Snapchat I sent you, and it’s about that look you gave me, and it’s about that first time I asked you if you were wet and you said no, and it’s about that first time I yelled at you, and it’s about that time you made that promise that only I remember, and it’s about that time I was completely sober and I opened the door and I thought about nothing, and I grew up, and I evolved, and the world, time – it was universal, and as some sombre song by Adele played in the background things and people… everything changed but everything, deep down, was still kind of the same, and Frosty the snowman got fucked up and a dead John Lennon hums “so this is Christmas” in the dark while Martha, a woman who I have never met, has a long debate with her partner about whether or not they should attend midnight mass.

PART 6: GOING HOME

try not to be so blue

There are some days when I have great dreams and there are some days when I have no dreams at all. Once, when I was a kid, I lay in bed, fantasising about becoming a magician. I thought about how I was going to become the greatest magician in the world and how much sex I was going to get as a result of it. The next day, I bought a ‘magic card trick’ book and a deck of cards. The instructions were confusing and performing the trick was difficult. I was bored. I gave up.

According to Jason, things had been going great between him and Hayley. I didn’t tell him about the times Hayley would send me photos of herself, and the times I’d look at those photos in his shower. They were great photos. One was of her in a gym outfit, exposing her flat stomach and cleavage while she bit her bottom lip. The others were of her in a dressing room, trying on different skirts while wearing a purple, lacey bra.

“You know I’m objectifying you, right?” I asked her.

“Objectify me all you want.”

Things went terrible when Hayley, Jason and I had drinks. I was drunk, and when Jason went to the toilet I leant in to kiss Hayley. She resisted and giggled, but when I tried again she kissed me back.

“Finger me,” she panted.

“No.” I forced her hand down my pants, and when I looked up Jason was staring at the both of us.

“Threesome?” I asked him.

He slapped me. I’d never been slapped by a man before. Actually, have I? I don’t remember. He picked me up and strangled me for a while, and Hayley, thinking it was a joke, pulled out her mobile phone and recorded us.

Jason threw me across the room. “Get the fuck out of here!” he screamed, tears running down his eyes. “You’ve ruined my fucking life!”

“I’m sorry but don’t exaggerate!” I said, limping as far away as I could from him.

“Get the fuck out!” Jason stormed to his laundry room, stuffed my clothes in my bag and threw it directly at my face. “Get the fuck out!” He glanced at something at the floor. “And don’t forget your fucking phone charger!”

I looked at Hayley, who was now crying but still recording everything. “You better give me a copy of that shit,” I said before drunkenly storming off.

I walked to my car and put my bag inside it. I sat down in the back seat, passed out for a while, then woke up with a sudden urge to call Jason’s girlfriend or ex-girlfriend or whatever she was now. I called her, telling her that Jason had been cheating on her with Hayley.

“Why are you telling me this?” she cried.

“Because I can,” I cried back.

“I thought you were his best friend.”

“I have many best friends.” I passed out again, then woke up. I opened my door and vomited. I closed it again, then I looked at Jason’s place and felt sick.

I picked up my phone and played this song Hayley and I liked called “So Blue” by this random band we found on Spotify once called Magical Cloudz. I scrolled up and down my Facebook Newsfeed, liking every single photo. I quit Facebook and looked at my photo album, at all the photos I’d taken while up north. I looked at photos of trees and of the beach and of weird things and of Jason’s son. I looked at photos of Hayley and Jason and I: some would be group photos, some wouldn’t. I looked at some of the childhood photos they sent me over the past few months, and then I looked at the photos Hayley sent me of her in the changing room, and then I stopped at a photo of Jason and Hayley together. They were in Jason’s kitchen; it was a photo I took of them a few hours ago. They were smiling. Jason was holding a beer and Hayley was holding her phone, and they were facing my phone and they were smiling. I zoomed into Hayley’s face.

I put down my phone, turned on my engine and began driving south, towards Brisbane.

 

Surface Children is now out on iBookstore and Barnes & Noble

surface-children-short-stories-now-on-iBooks

Here’s some news, people. My book of short stories, Surface Children, is now out on the iBookstore for people with Apple devices, as well as other bookstores such as Barnes&Noble.

Download it here for iBooks and here for Barnes&Noble.

PART 5: THE TRUTH ABOUT CHEATERS

the truth about cheaters

This year has been all about cheating. I cheated, I helped people cheat, my friends cheated, I was even cheated on for a while. Funnily enough, there was a brief period of time when the loads of cheating seemed abnormal – immoral, even – but the more it absorbed me this year the more it seemed like a natural, expected thing to do. It was something you bragged (but kind of pretended to feel guilty) about when you’d meet your friends for coffee.

The number of paths we have the freedom to take in life are virtually infinite. Why do we even consider choosing the paths that hurt those who care about us? Do cheaters ever get punished? Someone has to suffer for our actions, but who, and when?

Hayley had been cheating on her boyfriend for months. It started off innocently: she danced with a guy when she went clubbing with some friends. Then she started kissing guys in clubs, then she started talking dirty with guys over the phone, then she started sending them photos, then she started flirting with colleagues, and then the fucking started and bla bla bla. I even met her boyfriend once. He was a great guy who wore a ring with her name on it. Anyway one day the guilt consumed Hayley and she broke up with her boyfriend for good.

A few weeks after the breakup, Jason told me that he bought flowers and drove to Hayley’s work and told her everything: that he’d loved her all along, that she was his heart. Apparently she cried, and apparently they went to her apartment and kissed.

“That’s great news, man,” I told him, thinking about his girlfriend and a few other things.

He patted me on the back. “And her pussy’s perfect, mate. I thought she’d be loose and shit, but nah, I love it, aye.”

“What about your girlfriend?”

“I’ll have to deal with it.”

“You won’t.”

“Want to know the truth about cheaters, mate?” Jason asked me.

“What?”

“They cheat.”

Jason left to see her again. I lay on his couch, playing with my phone, scrolling up and down my Facebook newsfeed. I clicked on this article an ex-girlfriend of mine shared about this Japanese artist who cooked his penis and served pieces of it to his guests. I wondered who the fuck would want to try his penis before standing up and walking into Jason’s room. I turned on his light and rummaged through his drawers, looking for nothing in particular. I looked at his pillow and considered rubbing my balls all over it, but didn’t. I looked under his bed. I looked at his vision board. I browsed through some of the documents on his desk. I walked to the kitchen and made a sandwich and ate it, thinking about nothing. I still haven’t returned to Brisbane. I’ve stayed here, north, spending my savings and sleeping on Jason’s couch. I’ve been away from Brisbane for so long that I’m afraid to return to it. It’s a tiny, dense fucking ball. I’m not trapped, but I don’t feel free. I’m simply here, and that’s about it.

 

PART 4: HAIRY ARMPITS AND A VISION BOARD

Hayley - short stories

If I gave you the opportunity to escape the life you’re currently in, would you take it? Where would you go? What would you do? How would you make things different?

Being up north was my escape, even though I had no idea what I was escaping from or how I wanted to make things different. All I was doing was wasting my time: I spent hours on the couch in Jason’s house just scrolling through Instagram, or Facebook, or Snapchat. I’d open up the file of the new book I was writing, read a few words and then minimise the screen to put on Netflix. I would’ve loved to blame society for making me this way, but really, it was all me.

I woke up to the smell of Jason’s cooking. I opened my eyes and walked over to his kitchen table, where there was bacon and eggs and milk and cereal. Jason’s girlfriend was sitting by the table. His girlfriend didn’t like me much, which was fine because she was easily one of the ugliest old women I’d seen in my entire life. I believed that she was ugly on all levels: she was physically ugly and her personality was well beyond repair. I’d confronted Jason several times about how ugly was, but he’d always reply with the same fucking excuse: “She’s the mother of my child. What the hell can I do? Seriously, what can I do?” She was fifteen years older than Jason.

“Dean!” she screeched, tucking her hands behind her head so I could see her armpits. I stared at her armpits. She’d shaved them, but only parts of them. There was once a brief moment in my life when I adored women with hairy armpits, and even remember trying to force an ex-girlfriend not to shave. She cried, and I apologised with flowers. “Good morning, love, how are you?”

“Good, and yourself?”

“Really good, mate.”

“Good.”

Jason poured some coffee into a mug. “Come join us. I made you breakfast.”

I glanced at his girlfriend, then at the food on the table. “You know what? I’m going to go for a walk outside first to like, get some exercise.”

“You don’t exercise,” Jason said.

“Yeah I do.”

“No you don’t.”

“Yeah I do, Jason.”

“No you don’t,” Jason insisted. “You told me just last night that you weren’t going to do any exercise while here.”

“Don’t you want to join us?” His girlfriend asked me.

“Not really.”

“Come on, Dean, mate,” she said, pulling a chair for me. “Jason tells me all about you and I’d love to get to know you.”

“Nah it’s okay.” I walked outside and wandered the hell around, letting my mind also wander the hell around. I eventually got bored and sat by Jason’s driveway, scrolling up and down Instagram for an hour until his girlfriend left the house for work. I went back inside the house.

“I left you some bacon,” he said.

“Thanks.”

“I’ll eat again with you.”

“Cool.”

We sat around, eating bacon. Things between Jason and I improved after Hayley took the both of us to the beach.

“Listen,” I told him. “I know I’ve been here for a long time now. You have to let me pay you rent.”

“Nah, mate.”

“I insist.”

“Look, it’s fine. I know we haven’t been getting along that well, but you’re still like my brother. You can stay here for free, but at the same time, you need to get out of here soon. And I’m not just saying this because you’re annoying me, I’m saying this because you need to do something more productive with your life.”

“I know,” was all I could say.

“Have you seen The Secret?” he asked me.

“I’ve heard about it.”

“It’s all about positive thinking. You need more positive thinking.”

“What are you on about? I’m a really positive guy.”

“Fuckin’ liar, I read your blog. It’s so depressing.”

“It’s depressing because you see it as depressing.”

Jason took me to his ‘vision board’, which is where you’re supposed to visualise the goals you want in life. He had a picture of Fiji (where he wanted to go on holiday at the end of the year), a picture of a young man graduating from university (the future he wanted for his son), a picture of a BMW (the car he wanted) and a picture of Hayley, which he kind of brushed over.

“You should have your own vision board,” Jason smiled.

“Nah.”

Jason left for work and I drove to the ‘city’, which was really just two rows of tallish buildings. I walked inside a bookstore and browsed through its books. I picked up Slaughterhouse-Five, read through a few pages, put it down. I picked up Modern Romance by that Aziz comedian guy, read a few pages, put it back down. I did this a few more times, but nothing seemed to click.

I got back into my car, drove to Jason’s house. I looked at his vision board, at Hayley. I touched her photo and couldn’t help but frown. I wondered what or who would be on my vision board. I tried to imagine what I wanted for my future, but all I could think of was this: a ball flying through a galaxy that looked exactly like the galaxy desktop wallpaper on Apple computers. The ball would keep flying through as the stars would spin and explode and diamonds would piss all over the universe.

 

PART 1: DRIVING ONE MILLION HOURS TO REACH HOME

going-home-street-light

“Life will kick you in the balls, and when it realises you don’t have balls it’ll kick you in the pussy,” Jason laughed, even if what he said wasn’t funny. Jason is my childhood friend. He’s stocky and angry looking and something about his face makes him look racist.

We were in his kitchen, talking, and he was drinking beer and I was drinking water. Jason and I used to do everything together until I decided to grow the hell up. I moved to Brisbane but he stayed behind. I mean, we kept in touch once in a while, but eventually the friendship faded into nothing. I hadn’t seen him in about fifteen years. He looked the same, but bigger and with more wrinkles.

“I’m tired, man,” I told him.

“You drove for ages.”

“You sure you’re good with me staying?”

“You sure you’re good with staying on my couch?” He laughed, even if what he said wasn’t funny.

The morning after I met Anna I packed my bags and drove a million hours north of Brisbane, to the town I used to live in. I didn’t tell Jason I was coming. I merely turned up to his home. When his mum told me he didn’t live there anymore, I drove to this old flat he now lived with his girlfriend and son in.

We stayed up talking for a while longer. I asked most of the questions: I asked him what he did after I left, I asked him about his mum, I asked him what he was doing now, I asked him about his child’s real mother. I also asked him about my other childhood friend, Hayley, who apparently wanted to catch up with me the next day.

“So what about you, mate?” Jason asked me.

“What about me?”

“Why are you here?”

I lost my job a few days ago and hadn’t told anyone yet. “I just thought it was time to visit you guys again.”

going-home---table

Jason got the hint that I was tired and left me alone. I showered, brushed my teeth, changed my clothes. I walked around Jason’s lounge room, looking at the photos he had on his entertainment unit. Most of the photos he had were of his son. His son was about two years old. I wondered what my life would’ve been like if I never moved to Brisbane. If I never wanted to be a writer. If I got some girl pregnant and also had a son. I wonder what I’d name that son and if I’d be a good father. What the hell does it mean to be a good father, anyway?

I spotted another photo on his entertainment unit, hidden in the corner. It was a photo him and Hayley when they were kids. He was looking at something in the distance while Hayley grinned at the camera, ice cream in her hand. I wondered what she was like now. I checked my phone: there was one message from Anna. Nyt, was all it said. NIGHT, I replied back.