Disclaimer: Clearly, I don't own "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."
A/N: I don't even know what this is.
He remembered, at different times, how life used to be.
A cone of hastily-arranged flowers purchased from a street peddler (whatever happened to street peddlers, these days?), but nowhere to go. He was prone to sitting on sun-baked cobblestone steps in his button-down blue oxford and pretending not to notice the people he knew pass by him. Or maybe he really didn't notice them.
He was beginning to wonder if his father had a few overlooked psychological disorders somewhere that required immediate attention. Then again, he wasn't entirely sure if (alleged) inherent traits could even be cured.
Same words, different songs.
Paper slippers, courtesy of his roommate who claimed he hailed from sunny California. Maybe he wasn't the only one singing the blues, but it was relieving to know that not everyone was made of glass.
Two o'clock in the morning.
So he hedged his bets (who wouldn't have?). Easily waylaid by a single breath, a blink, a misstep; he rolled the dice. He was fully aware how, when he walked away in the same clothes they would always remember him by, his backed turned so straight and stiff and unfamiliar. It was the only kindness he had thought to offer.
Sigma Phi Epsilon (ΣΦΕ).
Nobody knew. It was just as well, anyway. He had lost a part of him that would never be again.
Every night (it seemed).
But it was still two o'clock in the morning.
He considered scanning faces for the second time. It wouldn't change anything, but each sweeping glance flooded him with disappointment when he found it was somebody else.
Roman cokes, two-thirty. It wasn't much consolation, all things considering. But nothing ever was. He knew if he stayed up a couple of more hours, he'd be tired tomorrow, the next day. Really, his whole life. He hoped Washington was at the end of somebody's tunnel, but he ran out of gas a long time ago to wonder if he could make it through life as a liquid.
Third quarter of the last game of the season.
He didn't like to remember that knee blowing out when it (conveniently) did. It was long overdue, he knew that, but he kept the ball the same way he kept his sandwiches wrapped in layers of old sheet music.
Passage of time.
There used to be letters. Unmarked, unaddressed, unopened. Why were they unopened (why were they unaddressed, for that matter)?
That one Thursday.
Sometimes, he would find himself gently kneading the smooth skin that surrounded the corrugated ridge of flesh jutting across his shoulder. He wasn't supposed to have it because, really, all he did was get sideswiped. But still, he couldn't bring himself to touch the scar. Sideswiped as I sidestepped, he thought to himself. He smiled now, if he didn't smile then.
A lot of Thursdays.
Well. It was starting to get tedious. He bought a simple pea coat on a whim and vaguely wondered why, when he wore it with a cable-knit sweater, it didn't look as strange as he imagined. He also wondered why he owned a cable-knit sweater.
He didn't know how to tell her. Since he couldn't decide that he even wanted to, he decided against it and ended up saying nothing of that nature all night (he didn't like feelings anyway, because it made him feel things). She had a shy smile, and even though he was fully aware that he would never remember her name, at that moment he knew how to whisper it in just the right timbre to get her to part her lips.
Tap water coffee in a pair of baggy drawstring pants. He anticipated another sleepless night, but anything that promised to get him to the next minute was necessary. No wonder his legs shook, his hands shook, and he unconsciously grinded his teeth so hard at night that his jaw was sore every morning.
He dreamed that he died and went to heaven (or whatever it was) only to be thrown back with the words, "You! What are you doing here, after you were so hard on me!" Startled, he muddled through several polluted apologies before helplessly ceasing to speak altogether. It wasn't until after he awoke that he discovered his hands bruised and swollen with no idea how that happened. He committed himself to more coffee, and he was sure at this point he had more caffeine in his body than he had blood.
When he was notified by his roommate's departure for home, he was baffled (although he didn't show it). He pointed out that they haven't had graduation ceremonies yet, partly because it was true but mostly because he didn't know what else to say. His roommate announced rather wearily, "I'm not planning to go through with that." Go through? All he had ever wanted was someone to drink coffee with, not "go through" anything. But as circumstances would warrant, he had neither, so he watched with vested interest as his roommate turned to leave.
Four years' worth of birthdays.
The first two were hard. He recalled involuntarily participating in a competition regarding who could consume the most alcohol. He had lost... consciousness. The third, he poured half a liter of coke into a bowl of cereal and called it a night. The fourth he forgot and was still figuring out if he ever remembered.
In the morning, he discovered that his alarm clock had been completely smashed. It was such an unusual concept, so unlike him, that halfway through the ceremonies, his mind kept reverting back to how helpless it looked on his bedroom floor.
Summer after (redux).
Nameless, lowly suburb of Pittsburgh; take two. He wandered purposefully into the old golf course he used to frequent in his schoolboy days, wearing his familiar oxford (now too short in length) with flowers wrapped in newsprint tucked underneath his arm. He certainly didn't expect anything, so he wouldn't be disappointed. And he wasn't.
Some people turn their backs to the phantom figures that float in their minds, these ghosts conjured up by either desire or fear that move restlessly under the guise of elaborate smoke. And some can't bear to stand witness. They crack and hurl themselves off bridges, drink themselves to oblivion, or (in his case) stand in the middle of blurry roads under the pretense that they'll feel something more than just this.
Maybe he finally realized that he really wasn't going to live forever, and that melted his heart.
High school reunion (five years).
When he first heard the familiar voice, he didn't know what to do (he didn't really want to come, but he ended up being more or less dragged there). Instead, he fixed his gaze on the paper cup and wondered how that slipped by him unnoticed. Brad broke the silence first. He said, "Well, you look shocked." Frowning, Patrick replied dryly, "You hate coffee." Brad smiled (God, he missed that smile) and said, "Right, but I figure it's a lonely life out there if you don't like the stuff. Just ask those other two or three guys, if you can even find them. They're probably asleep somewhere."
Patrick laughed. Empowered, he said wryly, "I think you like me." There was a brief, shocked pause. Solemn and sober, Brad's face gradually settled into benign indifference, the way it used to when they were young (Brad, too, disliked feelings).
"I think I love you."
The cable-knit sweater still smelled of cologne, a faint scent that clung to the fabric after all these years hanging dormant in his car. And at that moment as he turned the sweater over in his hands, he just knew. For every wilted flower, football game, and unsent letter thrown into the percolator; he would drink it now, and that would be enough.