Free short stories about Generation End

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

ANNA AND THE BREAKUP

Anna and the Breakup - short story

One day I might stop writing about this bullshit. One day I might settle down with one woman. One day, when that woman decides to eventually stop showing me her vagina and I realise that I’m stuck with the same job and the same person for the rest of my life I’ll write a children’s fantasy novel. Or a crime novel. Or maybe I’ll do nothing and simply fade away.

Whatever happens, I’m going to my finish my story about Anna. It’s a story that simply has to be finished, and it’s a story that I recently found out she reads, even after everything that happened. “Are you going to write about this conversation?” She asked me when we ended up speaking again. “Hey, why don’t you let everyone know about my Instagram?” She kept bringing up the fact that I posted this somewhere:

 

dear Anna

 

And then I called her a manipulative liar and we yelled at each other before hanging up.

Before all of that, for a while, Anna and I kept messaging each other every ten minutes or so. One evening, it stopped. It was a strange feeling, no longer receiving her steady flow of messages. I waited for a few hours and even went out to a bar with Jude to have a few drinks. I finally sent her another message: “Where the hell are you?”

She replied back with a photo of herself in tears. “I broke up with him.” I read the message a few times and thought about what this could mean for me. No one ever just breaks up.

“Are you okay?” was all I ended up asking.

“Just stressed.”

“Do you want me to stop talking to you?”

“You can’t just disappear on me like that.”

I didn’t know what she meant by “You can’t just disappear on me like that,” but one day I would. One day I would realise plenty of things about her.

She stopped speaking to me for the rest of that night. In the meantime, after several rejections, Jude and I met this girl in the bar. She was from Thailand, and apparently she lived in Saint Lucia, and apparently she wasn’t interested in doing anything too outrageous with two guys because she had a boyfriend, and apparently she was studying medicine. She giggled a lot, and she drank a lot. When I returned home early the next morning I checked my phone for messages a few more times before falling asleep.

 

HERE ARE 10 THINGS I MISS ABOUT YOU

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1. YOUR SMALL TITS

small chest

2. YOUR FLAT ARSE

flat ass

3. YOUR BIG THIGHS

big thighs

4. YOUR PRETTY FACE

pretty face

5. YOUR INFINITE SMILE

infinite smile

6. HOW YOU SHAVE YOUR ARMS

arm shaving

7. YOUR MONEY

your money

8. HOW YOU ALWAYS GAVE WHAT YOU HAD

floating sneakers(WE THOUGHT YOU WERE A DAMN SAINT)

9. THE FOURTH TIME I MET YOU

meeting on a bridge

10. YOU MADE ME BELIEVE I COULD DO BETTER

encouraging me to do better.

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HERE IS ONE THING I DON’T MISS ABOUT YOU.

 

1. YOU’RE A CUNT

you're a cunt

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It was August twenty-something four years ago, and it was hot but it was raining a little bit, and you were upset but I didn’t care. I didn’t know where you’d been and you wouldn’t tell me, and I yelled a bunch of things but you wouldn’t listen to one word. You stood up and ran and I ran after you, and you hugged me and we were out in public and people were looking and you wouldn’t stop crying. When you calmed down we found a place to sit, and we talked about things from the past: the Swarovski thing I bought you once, the four-hour drive, the time, on my birthday, when you bought me a wallet and wrote me a card and I cried. I drove you home, and that was the last time we spoke. It’s been years, and you’ve moved on and I’ve moved on several times over, but it’s as if I’ve left a large piece of me behind with you and it’s impossible for me to get it back. I wonder if you ever notice it lingering around, waiting for you to change your mind. I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do. I’m a functioning robot. But you’re there, in the background of everything in my life, dictating what I’ll think about when I sleep and wake up.

 

PAIN

Pain

The pain began a couple of weeks after Mandy and I broke up. It was a pain that was completely middle class and it was a pain that I was familiar with and it was a pain that pissed me off. She gave me back everything that I’d given her, and I deleted her number and completely cut her off.

I’m a grown up now, so I didn’t do anything tremendously embarrassing with the pain. I kept going to work, I kept going to boxing. I kept the pain tiny, miniscule, a small, dense marble inside me somewhere.

A bit later I met this girl in the gym. I called her Mouse, and one day she texted me: “Do you ever want to die?”

“Not really.”

“What would be a cool way to kill myself?”

I thought about it. “Make it clean. But don’t make people have to worry about you being missing. Cut yourself in the bathtub perhaps.”

“I don’t like blood. How about if I hang myself in my room?”

“That could work. But do you have anything in your house to hang yourself with?”

She didn’t reply for a bit. “I just checked. No :(”

“Too bad.”

“LOL.” I didn’t reply, so she added: “How would you kill yourself?”

“Yeah, bathtub, maybe jump off a building, but hopefully I won’t just end up being a living paraplegic.”

“I’m touching myself. Tell me more.”

I glanced around my room, as if someone could be watching what I was typing. “Or I’d like turn my car on in my garage, and I’d attach a hose to my exhaust and put the other end in my car. I’d write a letter to the Government as I’d slowly die, all alone in my self pity.”

“Snapchat me a picture of your dick.”

I downloaded Snapchat, signed up for an account, quickly figured out how it worked. I sent her a photo of my dick.

She replied with a photo of her vagina. She wasn’t doing anything with it. It was just a picture of her closed, hairy vagina. I’m not a big fan of vagina photos, but I thought I’d be polite and replied with: “nice.”

“I don’t want to wake up tomorrow. LOL.”

We continued texting like that for the next couple of weeks: we’d talk about different ways we’d kill ourselves, we’d talk dirty, we’d Snapchat each other photos of our genitals, she’d end the night with a sweet, “Good night, Dean, I love chatting to you:)” message or something horribly depressing, like “One day I’m actually going to off myself, just need the courage and not feel so ungrateful LOL.” I’d see her in the gym, and she’d look completely happy and never mention any of our texts. I constantly asked her to come out to see me, but she seemed content with what we were doing. She had a boyfriend, and they seemed pretty happy with each other.

Besides that I had no real interest in meeting anyone else but forced myself to do it anyway. One evening, I looked at Mandy’s Facebook account on my way to a party: she’d posted all these photos of her with someone new. He was an older looking guy; he looked better than I did and they looked happy. I’d never seen her smile like that. She looked beautiful. I flicked through her entire new album of photos before blocking her and turning my phone off. I headed to the party. I drank with the people there and smiled with them as they took photos. I drove home and fell in and out of sleep as I watched a movie a friend leant me some time ago.

 

If you’re depressed, visit beyondblue.

ALIVE FOREVER

alive forever

I wonder what it would be like if I was a crack dealer. It’d be a pretty fuckin’ stressful job. Or I wonder what it would be like to be one of those heroes that people always write about. Like a Nobel Prize winner or an Emma Watson or a Michael Jordan or something. I wonder if there are heroes out there who don’t wash their hands after pissing in the toilet.

I wonder if there’s a scale out there, like in the heavens or something, that rates everyone in the world from best to absolute worst. I’d like to know who that absolute worst person is. A lot of people would probably say pedophiles or rapists are the worst. But I have a feeling the worst person would be much worse than that. He’d do things with not only with kids; he’d be into animals too. Not like puppies or horses, but like the most fucked up creatures out there, like those moths that are the size of people, or those weird spiky frog things that look like dark vaginas. Would politically correct people get angry if I assume the worst person in the world is a man?

I wonder what it would be like if I was never jealous of other people. I still don’t know who I am. It’s a corny thing to say, I know, but there you have it. This is because I was born in 1832, and I’ve pretty much been told that I will continue to live forever no matter what. I have seventeen fingers. I have seen things: the sun up close, the insides of a skull, the rapid dreams of ants. I have never become a millionaire yet I’ve never become poor. I can’t touch reality, because reality is just a word. I swam to an island once, and there have been eighteen mornings where I have folded the sky five times over. I wonder what it would be like to be you. To be in you. To be outside you. To see you for who you really are, if that will ever be possible.

 

THE GIRL WHO WANTS ME TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY

Sara - the girl who wants me to make a lot of moneyIt’s been a while, hasn’t it? I suppose I haven’t posted in some time because I’ve fallen into the trap of working, and of boxing, and of reading a fuckload of books, and of promoting Surface Children, and of writing for a magazine. I also started doing things that writers shouldn’t do: I lessened the drinking, I began reading books on investment, I wore polo shirts. If I was in a movie, you could say that I was in the montage period of the movie where I finally decide to get my shit together. But what I can promise you is this: things have gotten better and things have gotten nowhere at the same time.

I met Sara during a group dinner. She looked good and she looked like she wasn’t trouble, which was the type of girl I needed at the time, so for a while, I ignored her and went about talking to other people. Eventually, I said hi. She told me that she works in medical research, and I told her that I write books and work in a job that’s so much more self-centred than medical research. She didn’t laugh, but she still gave me her number.

The next day, she messaged me:

“I bought your book online.”

“Fuck,” I said. “Really?”

“You write a lot of weird stuff. I mainly read personal development books.”

We went out to dinner and we talked about things and once in a while I’d remember the things that happened a few months ago and I’d become sad.

Sara’s a year younger than I am and she’s part Egyptian part Chinese or something. She was strange and great to look at. Her makeup was conservative and her jewellery was conservative and what she said, for the most part anyway, was pretty conservative. Her cheeks seemed to have this permanent rosiness to them that made her glow. She lived fifteen minutes away from me and has only ever had one job in her entire life.

After drinking tea for a while Sara lowered her voice, leant forward and told me that she did a lot of study on semen, and said that men actually ejaculate a lot of abnormal semen.

“That’s great to hear,” I said.

“Is it really great to hear?”

“It’s funny how semen is this magical ingredient that creates human beings, and us men, we shoot it everywhere: faces, stomachs, floors, fuckin’ everywhere…”

“Don’t forget inside socks.”

“Now that’s just crude.”

The truth was, Sara hated her job. What she really wanted to get into was real estate. She told me that she didn’t want to work anymore, that she just wanted to start a business in property. She had three properties already, and she was thinking of her fourth. Her next goal was to buy a BMW because she promised herself she’d buy a BMW outright before she turned thirty. I had no idea what I was getting into and she probably had no idea what she was getting into either. For the first time in my life I felt like one of those adults I used to despise: I had a 9-5, I went on dinner dates and talked about property investment, I had a book on Warren Buffet, I said the word “crude” in conversations, I pretended to understand wine. Had I grown the hell up… or was this all a lie?

I dropped her to her home, and during the drive to her home I told her that I liked her – she said nothing, but she smiled. I drove home and watched Eraserhead on my couch before dropping the remote and falling into a deep and normal sleep where I probably dreamt about flying or something typical like that.

The Key To A Happy Life Is –

The Fly UK movie poster 1958

 

I was busy, but we were under the moon. Or the sun. Or whatever was floating above us at that time.

Sam has a small office in the valley. Sam is about forty years old and has more wrinkles than most forty year olds. They crease deep, deep and hard. Sam’s a bookkeeper, and I’d known him since I was four. There are no windows in Sam’s office. There’s a shower, and a small kitchen, but there are no windows. Sam spent ten years of his life with a broken heart.

Sometimes I go to Sam’s place to type stories on his computer. Sometimes I go to Sam’s place to just sit there and watch his collection of movies: Sam was the one who introduced me to Ichi the Killer, Eraserhead, American Psycho, Cannibal Holocaust, The Notebook.

“What are you writing about?” he asked me.

“I have no idea.”

“Want to watch a movie?”

“Sure,” I said. “What do you have?”

The Fly. You’ve probably never heard of this one, but it’s a classic.”

Sam loves Asian women. He checks out every Asian woman who walks past us, no matter what the hell they look like. His computer’s internet history is full of Asian dating websites and porn searches. He frequently tells me about the Korean prostitutes, Filipina prostitutes, Vietnamese prostitutes, bukkake parties. He frequently tells me about the women he meets on Tinder. The ones from OkCupid. The ones from Instagram. The ones from Facebook, trains, parties, work functions. One of his goals is to fuck at least 3,000 Asian women in the mouth.

After we watched The Fly we went for a walk. We didn’t say much. I don’t know where his mind was; mine was on a volcano. We stopped in front of the Mini dealership and looked at the Mini hanging from the wall.

“One day that Mini is going to fall on someone.”

“You tell me that every time we go here.”

“Christine texted me,” he said.

“And?”

He shrugged. “Still angry. Still only requesting things.”

I didn’t say anything.

“You know the key to happiness?” Sam asked me.

“Yeah.”

“Like shit you do. I’ve read your work.”

“Then what the hell is it?”

“I just look at my whole life objectively and think about how whole I actually am.” He looked towards me, but not at me. “We’re lucky.”

Sam frequently volunteers for a basket brigade. He helps them pack food and household goods for the needy. He regularly flies overseas to countries such as Fiji and Cambodia to build homes, to build schools. He used to always buy me toys when I was a kid. And beer.

“I don’t want to go to work on Monday.”

We went back to his place, watched a few movies. He went to his room to sleep, and, ignoring the buzzing of my phone, I stayed on his leather couch, watching his television until the next day.

 

 

VALENTINE’S DAY LETTER

Valentines Day letter in the futureWell, picture this. The year is like, two thousand fifty or three thousand fifty or whatever, and the world is still the same old bullshit that it is. There are still cars that go on the road, and like, your bedroom, the one at the far corner of the house, is still a mess. It still has that strange smell and we’d still go there three to four times a week and have sex on the floor or on your bed or whatever, and afterwards I’d cover my eyes from the sunlight coming into your window and complain about the heat and you’d sort of laugh and you’d sort of not laugh, and you’d tell me to shut up and stop complaining and I’d slap your arm, and then you’d like, run to the bathroom to clean up and I’d be left behind to stare at your wall: the hanging masks, that framed picture of that old guy with a camera, the scribble you made when you were young. Whenever this happens I will only ever think about one of these four things: that I’m bored of you, that I’m crazy about you, that you need to clean your room, that the sun is too bright.

You still picturing this? You still picturing me? In the future, this future of ours (yes, that’s right: not your future, not mine – OURS – stop thinking that it’s all just about you and YOUR problems. It’s selfish to just think about yourself, did you fucking know that? Seriously, I don’t get you sometimes), I’ll be driving home from work every day at about six in the evening, and it’ll be a twenty minute drive, and you’re only finding out about this now, but I like to listen to really depressing music while I drive. I’ll listen to girls crying about love, I’ll listen to boys crying about love, I’ll listen to lyrics like, “I hurt myself today,” and, “I will follow you into the dark,” and, “he raped me in the chalet lines”. In the future, I’ll be bald like Natalie Portman. Actually, no I won’t: my hair will be a little curlier, my lashes a bit longer, my thighs so much thinner. Sometimes I just hate you. I really, really hate you. I often fantasise about strangling you against the bathroom sink, both of us nude, your hands just flailing wildly, bottles and toothbrushes falling onto the floor, my smile, your smile, your blood under my fingernails, your funeral, everyone’s tears, my tears, rain – no, maybe sunshine; me, hugging my pillow, crying, missing you and calling my best friends to tell them that I feel empty inside.

You know I don’t think things will be that different in the future. There’ll still be jealousy, there’ll still be love, there’ll still be some kind of Valentine’s Day. There’ll still be people who give value to the world, there’ll still be people who don’t. I don’t think we give much value to the world. I mean, like, your job, my job, what are they worth in the grand scheme of things? You once asked me if what I was doing was even that important, and you don’t know this, but it really got me thinking, and thinking, and thinking. This sounds corny, and I hate to admit this, but I feel lonely most of the time. Even when I’m with people, and even when I’m with you. I know I should be grateful for everything that I have. I know I should. You know, there will be a day in the future when I’ll find you just sitting there, or maybe lying there, and you’ll have this gentle smile, this gentle, gentle smile, and I’ll kneel next to you and touch your face and you’ll look up at me. For a very, very brief second, you’ll look concerned, but then you’ll smile again, and then I’ll smile, and I’ll tell you that you can keep me forever.

Imagine like, the year six thousand. Will we be ghosts? Will we be angels, or souls, or animals? Will I be able to meet you again, and again, and again? What kind of girl will I be to you if you were rich? What kind of girl will I be to you if I was in a wheelchair? Will I still think about cheating on you, will I lie to you as often as I do now? I wonder if the girls in movies ever wished they were real. I wonder if life didn’t have to continue once we told each other that we loved each other – that we could just die satisfied in knowing that someone loves us. Because sometimes life just feels like a movie with way too many sequels. It could’ve ended happily so many times already, you know? There’s just too much time for too many more mistakes.       

Imagine, like, the year two thousand and seventy. We’ll both be really old, and you’ll have dementia or something and I’ll always pee myself whenever a nurse touches my arm. At night, at the retirement village, I’ll creep into your room and just look at you in disgust and in love and in awe and in fear and in sadness, and I’ll kiss your forehead, and I’ll cry. I’ll always cry, no matter what. I’ll hold your hand. I’ll whisper about the kids you no longer remember, and I’ll whisper good night and ask you why you didn’t just let me kill you when we were young, and I’ll imagine my life spent differently, with another man, with two men, with many men, and I’ll whisper that I love you, and then I’ll slowly walk back to my room with my hands touching my chest.

A SHORT STORY, JUST FOR YOU

Girl smiling - A free short story by Dean Blake - Generation EndI’ve been flicking through some of my old stuff lately. Here’s a short story I wrote a few years ago, which I thought I’d share with you:

 

The easiest part about it was that she didn’t love him. They didn’t meet in a bar. They met at a party, through friends of friends and they shook hands and introduced themselves and talked crap. He wasn’t that good looking but to be honest, neither was she. Nonetheless he thought she was different; nonetheless she liked his smile.

Their first kiss was in his car.

“You taste like cherry!” he said.

“You taste like… um… I don’t know?” She said.

Here are some of the things she did for him: clean his room, lecture him about his car, buy him a few shirts, recommend getting a watch, organise a surprise party for him, encourage him to work harder, befriend his parents, buy him perfume, go on the pill. Here are some of the things he did for her: buy her jewellery, buy her perfume, turn her car seat pink, change his hair style, lessen his swearing, take her on a holiday, smile at her parents, learn to cook, make her cry (in a good, romantic sort of way), buy her an iPod, think about her.

Here are some of the things they argued about: friends, best friends, alcohol, tattoos, sex, drugs, piercings, clubbing, spending, boys and girls, good looking boys and girls, sports, television, yelling, too much arguing, winter, Facebook, Simpsons, parties, lying, China, Mexico, Germans, parents, jealousy, forgetting to call, not having enough time to call, running out of phone credit to call, calling for too long, not putting effort into calling, not calling when one of them needed each other the most, being cheap with calls, calling too often, running out of batteries to call, not having enough time for each other, apologising too much, complaining about calls, Britney Spears.

There was a lot of crying. There was a lot of, “Yeah but is that what you want?” There was a lot of, “I keep telling you but you never listen!” There was a lot of, “I’m sorry. Don’t go.” There was a lot of, “I really didn’t know!” There was a lot of, “I love you.”

Here is what she did after the breakup: text her best friend and then immediately get a call from her best friend.

Here is what he said after the breakup: Fuck!

The beautiful part about this story is that you’re the reader. You’re not the girl, you’re not the boy. You’re sitting on your arse and you’re reading this and you’re (maybe) being entertained by this, and you’ll have your brief opinion and life will go on. The beautiful part about this story is that you’re an optimist and you have better things to do, your own life to worry about, something besides relationships to worry about. You know they’ll move on and one day, even if the damage and the hurt will still exist, they’ll learn to hide it, drink it off, sing it off, cry it off, dance it off. The beautiful part about this story is that none of it is true.

 

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NEWS: My book of short stories, Surface Children, is now available on paperback. Check it out here.

HOW TO WRITE A BOOK AND NOT GET PUBLISHED

Rejection letter - Generation End

When I remember myself and when I remember my life it will all be portrayed in black and white. It won’t be in HD or 3D and it’ll be lower than low budget; the screen quality will be a little fuzzy and sometimes you’ll have to bang the screen to see it properly. A lot of the scenes, the scenes that weren’t really integral to the plot anyway, will be edited out. But they’ll still leave some repetitive bits and pieces in there to make it look kind of indie, like the scenes of me driving for hours, or the scenes of me just staring at the ceiling, or the scenes of me chucking a shit.

I’ve written about four or five novels, all unpublished and all repeatedly rejected by publishers and literary agents. For money, I’ve taken up a whole range of jobs.  I’ve delivered pizzas. I’ve worked in a butcher shop, a sushi shop, a noodle shop; I’ve worked as a copywriter for a major corporation. I hated them all.

Someone, I forgot who, once told me to keep writing books even if no one’s reading them. There’s a lot about what I do that I don’t often tell you about. In between all of my moments of love and loss and all that other shit are hours and hours of me sitting in front of a laptop, typing, or hours and hours of me writing things on napkins while I’m out, or several evenings when I tell people I can’t join them because I have to stay home to write or edit or work on a cover letter for a literary agent. Although I write about a lot of depressing things, I have to remain optimistic. Heartache may serve as fantastic fertiliser for good work, but all artists need optimism, no matter how unattractive it may be – our lives literally depend on it. Surface Children is the first “book” I’ll be publishing on my own. I know I keep saying this, but it’s almost done.

Anyway I only had one source of income and I fucked it up. I lost my only client – the two women who were paying me good money to write for them every week. Apparently I’d been missing all of my deadlines and had been drunkenly texting one of them, the one with the bigger ears, at four in the morning too often. They fired me via email.

“Ariel?”

“Yeah?”

“Did I wake you up?”

“You did,” she said softly. She was quiet for a while and I pictured her lying there with her eyes still closed. Eventually: “What time is it?”

“How the hell should I know?”

“Are you still coming by the bar tonight?”

I looked downwards, at me knee. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll see you tonight.”

I picked my car keys up and drove to a shopping centre. I walked to an ATM and checked my account balance: there wasn’t much left. I just stared at the screen, at the numbers and the pixels, until someone behind me cleared their throat. I withdrew three hundred dollars to pay for Ariel for the evening and sat down in the food court somewhere and did nothing.

“Hey, stranger.”

I looked up. It was the girl from the clothing store, Jamie. “Hey.”

She looked at the empty table in front of me. “Having fun not eating lunch?”

“You can join me if you want.”

“My break’s nearly over,” she said, but sat down in front of me anyway. “You look sad.”

“Who doesn’t?”

“You’re not working today?”

I crossed my arms. “I don’t think I’m cut for work. I don’t like people baiting me with money to dictate how I spend the rest of my life.”

“You’re going to have to support a family with that mindset one day.”

I didn’t reply.

“You should start your own business,” she said finally.

“Want to have a drink with me?”

She looked at her watch. “Come get me at five? We can like, drink then.”

I drove to some kind of RSL club, went to the pokies and lost ten dollars. I went to the bar and ordered a house red, followed by a whiskey dry, followed by another house red. I drove home, went online and looked at job listings. I closed the window and went to the Centrelink website and started writing an application for income support but closed the window again. I read a book, threw it against the wall, picked it up, threw it against the wall again. I fell asleep, woke up and drove to the shopping centre and picked Jamie up at five forty. We drove, slowly, to some place near the city that she heard about. We had dinner, we had lots of drinks. In the parking lot she told me that she was going to pass out soon, and I turned my phone off, and, while looking outside my windscreen, she said, “It’s funny. It’s funny how, like, you can only see the stars when it’s dark outside,” and I put a sleeping pill in her mouth before taking one for myself and we both fell asleep in my car.

 

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SOME NEWS: I’ve almost completed editing my book of short stories, Surface Children. If you haven’t already done so, subscribe now to receive three free stories and be one of the first to find out of its release.

PART TWO.

Laser Eye Loneliness - part 2 - generationend.com

Time is something you don’t necessarily have to hold on to. I don’t know why, but that evening, last year, when you walked out of the third party we’d been to that week with your stupid friends who didn’t understand us – who didn’t understand me – I couldn’t help but feel hollow – is hollow a feeling? I know I’ve met hurt and anger and happy and glad and all of those others guys before – but hollow? Where does hollow belong? As soon as you left, as soon as the ‘hollow’ came my pleasure in being social and any reason for me to smile and nod and make new friends vanished for good. I stood there in the lonely dark corner of the party and I looked around and I leant on a wall and I fumbled with nothing in my pocket and I thought of excuses to leave and I thought of time; the time it took to call someone, the time it took for a war to end, the time it took for a car to start, the time it took for an evening to rest and an evening to start and for us to die and for us to live all over again. But I stayed, and I stayed, and I stayed, and people came and went and I drank and eventually forgot about you and actually had a good time. As two in the morning came along and as this guy I met some time ago slung against my shoulder and told me how drunk he was I looked out of the balcony of the house on the hill we were in, past the passed out couple on the lawn and past the fences and into the complete black canvas outside. When had it become so completely dark? Were vampires real? Would I be awake in time for breakfast? What am I happy about? What am I sad about?

The second day after my PRK laser eye surgery wasn’t much better. It still hurt whenever I opened my eyes, which was annoying because I missed writing. I wasn’t allowed to participate in any sort of physical activity and everyone was either at work or out having fun. I spent most of the day taking pills, putting on eye drops and listening to the TV shows on my laptop.

Jude came by later in the evening. “You smell,” was all he said about me before telling me about his life: he spent the weekend at some hotel room with his new girlfriend and a bunch of other friends, and the week before that he worked a lot, and he drank a lot, and he smoked a lot, and he went to the gym a lot, and he also tried this new place in the Valley that apparently had lots of alright not-too-slutty looking girls.

“I hate not being able to do anything,” I told him.

“You should be lucky,” he said. “You know how many people are looking for excuses to do nothing? Doing nothing is fantastic. It’s what we all work hard for: to do nothing when we’re old and irrelevant.”

“Your wisdom never ceases to impress me.”

“I want you to try something.” Jude put something in my hand. “At the Coast, right, we rolled up old weed and crushed Panadol and tea leaves and smoked it up.”

“I’m not trying this.”

“Try it.”

I played with it with my fingers. “Have you tried it yet?”

“Of course,” he said. “It’s fantastic.”

We went outside and I lit it and tried it and nearly vomited. Jude laughed and said he’d never tried it before. I tried to punch him but missed, causing him to laugh even more. He took it off me and finished it off, coughing hard and saying how terrible it was each time he took a puff.

“How’s your book going?” He asked me.

“Slowly.” I sighed. “Even when I wasn’t blind. I want people to learn from it, I want people to read it and see the world differently afterwards, you know? To make changes. But I feel like I have nothing much to teach.”

“Listen,” Jude said, “as your really good friend, just write whatever the hell as quickly as possible and put it out there and sell it. Even outsource a writer from Philippines or Mumbai or South Africa or some bullshit to finish it for you – did you know that you can do that? That you can outsource your shit? I know you want to be artistic and pure and shit, but you can’t. You can’t do that. Your fucking Generation End blog or whatever, I mean, you’re getting all these readers but you don’t even have ads. How stupid can you be? You blew ninety percent of your savings to make yourself blind, you’re paying all these bills, and you go out and you party and you’re wasting it all away to the point where one day you’ll tell me that you’re homeless… you’re a man, Dean, a man, not a loser – men don’t do this to themselves. I’ve seen you be poor for the entire time I’ve known you and you’re going nowhere. Vail and I are moving higher in this world and you’re in exactly the same state as when we met you. Just finish it; who cares about the quality? You’ve written manuscripts before, right? I mean, where are they now? How have they helped you improve your life? You’re taking way too long. You’re single and you live alone and you’re jobless. Like, at least get a job or something, because your situation is just depressing, and no one is telling you this, but they pity you. I pity you. Get a job. Do something to make you money. This writing is getting you nowhere.”

I don’t know if you’ve ever cried one night after receiving laser eye surgery before, but it’s painful. I squeezed my fingers against my palms. I wanted to say something but I couldn’t. Nothing would come out. I couldn’t explain why I needed to do what I needed to do; I couldn’t even explain it to myself. We both said nothing.

“I’m thinking of running away,” Jude eventually muttered.

“What do you mean, run away? You don’t live with your dad anymore. You just gave me a huge lecture.”

“I mean from Brisbane. From this place. From my commitments. I want to see different things. I want to have sex with an African girl – in Africa. I don’t know. I’m bored.”

“Do it,” I said. I would’ve been glad to see him go.

“I mean it, Dean.”

“Why?”

Jude shrugged. “I have a few hundred thousand dollars saved in one of my accounts, just getting shit all interest. I might as well spend it on changing my life.” My eyes were closed but I knew he was thinking hard. Eventually, he stood up. He patted my shoulder and said, “I’ll visit you again,” just like Vail did. He made me a glass of water before saying that he had to go now because he had to meet his girlfriend for coffee at Milton and then perhaps have anal sex with her at her parents’ place afterwards if she wasn’t feeling so damn up herself.