The day does not start with the sun in my eyes or with the aroma of coffee in the air or with a sleepy blinking and a stretch. It starts with me pulling the comforter from my tangled body and my legs slowly swinging over the side of the bed and me staring at the clock and then the floor and then feeling an emptiness in the pit of my stomach. The dull massage of panic simmering inside. Faint rays of daylight barely reaching at my bedroom door. Everything within me rising with the sun.
I get up and struggle to my computer and hope she is online so that I can say hi. It is the first thing I do every morning and while I do it I cough into my hand and phlegm gathers in my throat and I spit it into the trashcan next to my desk. I stare at it sliding into the crumpled paper and cigarette ash and think of my future and wait for her to say hi back. She usually does but I secretly I feel one day she wont.
I get up and make a pot of cheap coffee —using toilet papers squares as filters because I recently ran out and have been too lazy or busy to go to the store and buy more— then I go back to my computer and sit down and stare into the screen as if inside it lie all the solutions. Like the ones and zeros that make it up can in some way provide an answer for me, a cure for my anxieties, as if beneath its words there is a mystery unraveled and I have just yet to discover it.
Shes says hi back and there is a boiling I feel in my stomach and at the same time a profound hollowness and I cough again and spit into the trashcan and it is as if I’m being choked but from the inside out. I ask how she is doing and she says fine.
I go to pour myself a cup of coffee and I wonder what she means by fine. Fine is a word used to replace other, more truthful words. Fine is a word only meant to placate a conversation, instead of encourage it further. There is nothing behind fine, it means simply things are without any worry or contentment. To be fine is to not be pleased nor be troubled. It is to be and no one can just be. You say fine when you want to say nothing else. When you say it there is a period at the end. You are fine. End of story.
When I sit back at the computer she has asked how I am and without pausing I say fine as well.
I sip my coffee and light a cigarette. The gray sky washes light along the avenue outside. Miles climbs on my desk and sits in front of the screen and then jumps off towards the windowsill because a bird flew by. He stares at it flies off into the sky above the rooftops and i follow his eyes and the bird gets smaller and further away. I cough again, this time in a fit, and a huge pool of mucous rolls into my throat and I get up and go to the bathroom and spit it into the toilet. I cough again, my stomach like a collection of knots and my chest broken and wheezing like a machine with parts in it that don’t belong. I lean over the bowl and let myself get consumed with racks and gasp until finally gooey bile releases itself from my mouth. A hideous retching noise echoes along the tiles of my bathroom and the cats stare up at me without concern.
I wipe my mouth and brush my teeth and walk back to my desk, through the bedroom and stepping over dirty jeans and single socks and sighing as things I should sweep stick upon the soles of my feet and again I wonder about my future.
I sit down in front of the computer again and I try to think of something to say to her, even though I know I don’t have to, that shes not asking me to, I still think of something to say to her. Inside my stomach is brawling with last nights alcohol and nerves and mucous and I cant remember the last time I ate. I think about writing. I try to ignore everything I feel. I open a word doc and the page is long and blank and intimidating. It is the horizon and it reaches on forever. I decide to write something even if it is nothing. My stomach turns again and I light another cigarette. I wonder if it is too early for a beer. The coffee is lukewarm and everything around me is silent.
I ask her how she slept last night.
It is the only thing I can think of saying.