I was at the lowest point in my life when I met Sofia. It was during that blurry, hollow period after Cleo’s death, when, every day, I’d die a million deaths, wishing each one would be real.
I was at the library, drunk and sulking, looking at a book of Francis Bacon’s paintings, the ones of the blurry faces screaming in pain. The paintings were ugly, but I couldn’t help but stare. Sofia sat across from me and immediately tried to strike up a conversation, complimenting me on my fine taste in art. I remember trying to ignore her, but she just kept on talking and talking. This girl was weird, I remember thinking. Look at how pathetic and wretched I look, and she treats it like some sort of aphrodisiac. She was the complete opposite of Cleo. Cleo would shake me, tell me that public drunkenness is tacky (it is.) Tell me that Francis Bacon was a goddam slob (he is.) Tell me to quit feeling sorry for myself (I should.)
But then Sofia took off her coat and introduced herself. There was a small spark of life in me when I noticed those firm breasts hidden underneath that tight black sweater of hers. I hadn’t had any in awhile, and I was feeling sex-starved. We ended up hooking up, and I was happy for a couple days, thinking I could maybe build a fire with that spark, thinking that maybe I could finally get on with my life.
But the fire died. It died fast like it never had a chance...
Does Sofia know she’s a barnacle on the hull of a sinking ship? That’s the thing about Sofia, she loves all of my hideous character traits, thinks they’re just eccentric quirks. All the things I try to do to get her to leave me alone--the petty insults, the grumpiness and shortness of temper--just seem to make her naive loyalty more suffocating. She clings, and I can’t shake her off no matter what I do. And, actually, it seems like the more I shake, the stronger her burrs grip. So I’ve given up trying to lose her and she sticks around like a slobbering dog.
But, like the idiot I am, I always find a way to fuck things up a thousand times worse than they already are. Like that time, six months ago, when we were at a nice restaurant and Sofia was crying and holding up her hand looking at a ring--an engagement ring--while I sat there asking myself if I actually did what I think I did. And then Sofia starts crying and going on about how this was the happiest day of her life, and my heart sank.
When she left me alone to go use the payphone to tell her mother the news, I sat there staring at the remnants of my chicken alfredo, wondering why I always order it even though it gives me a stinging, almost unbearable, gut-ache every time.
I’ve had the death scenes before, just small ones, ones involving tripping on cracks and minor shaving accidents and things of that nature. But after the engagement incident, they started hitting hard.
That night when we walked out of the restaurant, while Sofia was lost in thought about wedding dresses, a bus veered off course and hit me, throwing my mangled body through a storefront window. A shard of glass from the window ripped my intestines apart and I winced, but Sofia didn’t notice a thing...
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