I lay down in my bed alone again. There was just this feeling, like the bars on my chest were drawing closer, becoming smaller, suffocating me in my own body. My eyes felt like they were groping around blindly, searching for anything. Generally, I just felt unloved, uncared for.
"But if they knew, Cecil, if they knew, all these people would be sad too. Old woman Josie, she'd be so sad, she'd take you bowling right away. Steve Carlsberg, you might hate him, but he would still feel terrible- he would bring you something, just to hear you complain about him again. And Carlos, dear Carlos…"
I started to cry. I didn't feel any better, it was just a game I played when I was lonely- who would feel worse, me or them. I always won. There was no escaping it.
It was a secure prison, my mind. You couldn't even see their tortures on my face. I stayed stoic, but why?
I reached over for my phone. The legs temporary retracted and I texted them. I texted them that I knew it was late, but I needed something. I texted them that I needed to know that I was okay.
They responded. I don't know what they said, but it alleviated the loneliness long enough for sleep. Long enough to stop worrying and moping until the light of morning forced me to awaken and perhaps feel it again. It was a lottery, loneliness, showing up all the time, but never quite the same. I dressed deliberately in the gray morning light, trying to leave before the desert sun began to beat down.
Carlos saw me walking out. He stopped right in front of me to get my attention. He then took my hand and walked with me. "You're okay. Did you know that? I think you're okay, at least for today."
"I just want to be okay today with you," I said. He stared at me and started to give me a brief hug. I held on tightly to my ballast. I was going to be okay, at least for today. At least I would be okay here, now.
I reached the studio, throwing my weekly blood offering to station management. They'd hardly notice if I died, but it was nice to imagine otherwise. The floating cat needed feeding. it tried to rub my arm, cheering me in that way only animals can. The kittens were so adorable, floating and mewing.
I checked to see how my new potential intern was doing. Typically, they were wrestling with station management over their wage. "It's not livable!" I heard, then a screech and a thump from behind station management's door. Maybe I wouldn't have a new intern today.
The loneliness set in again. I tried to keep myself busy, working on the show and the news, but what did it all mean in the long run? I was no one, nothing, even to my friends, who would get over me in time. I gave up, setting my pen down and allowing the melancholy to subdue me. What was left to me, except to sit here and sadly contemplate that I would never amount to anything, except a lonely voice crying out here in the deserted wilderness as my friends fell around me.
Station Management gave an especially piercing scrreeeech. I knew there would be no new intern, no need for my blood offering today. Another friend lost to my uselessness. I wept.
I walked out of the studio after finishing what had to be done. I did what I had to, that was all. Carlos met me soon afterward, again walking on the sidewalk. "You aren't feeling any better, are you?" he stated inquisitively.
I held my tongue. "No really, I can see it on your face- you're not feeling better at all." He was clearly shocked at the pain he saw. I just shrugged.
"Well, then, we're going to go somewhere together. I don't want you to feel lonely. Where do you want to go?" He was honestly shocked and determined, so I gave him the honest answer: "Away. I don't want to be here. I want to be somewhere else. I just want to... not be here."
"All right, away we go," Carlos said with an endearing, infectious smile. We drove to the mountain, away from all my friends and the crowds and everything. Carlos left me there for a minute, right on a ledge, so he could hike back down for a blanket he'd forgotten- the desert's chill is not pleasant for those unused to wind.
And I sat there, alone, but less lonely than I had been hours before in the crowded, friendly desert community I called home. And I stared into the void, not dreaming of my meaninglessness but of the joy it brought me to be here. Of the joy that concentrating on one friend instead of a crowd could be.
And then I just gently fell off the ledge, and began to fly. I saw Carlos walking below me with that beautiful navy blanket of his. I scooped him up and continued to fly. We laughed and laughed and smiled.
And then... I woke up. I got dressed. But I smiled, knowing that maybe I could talk to Carlos, or Josie, or Steve. Maybe I could take it today.