He is an ignorant boy, easily succumbing to the pressures put in front of him, blinded by smoke, deafened by the chorus of empty bottles. This isn’t wholly anyone’s fault, there are two sides to this blame. Late nights spent with tiny screens illuminating shadows against the wall, making hollow suggestions—playing themselves out.

Just someone who isn’t sure of anything they want, he stares on through the haze, picking up small snips of conversation bouncing around the room like a carnival. He’s thinking, he always is, but about what? Does it matter? He hooks long enough to one dialogue and intervenes, cutting through with a joke. He receives a laugh in return. “Good,” he thinks to himself.

These are his friends. He wouldn’t trade any of them for anything, but tonight was different. Everything means something, even if it’s nothing. He hears this repeated in his head, a pounding warning of drums before the crescendo. He was playing every instrument in the symphony; he was also conducting it. So why couldn’t he extract the sounds he longed for?

His legs are long, slender stilts to some. They spread themselves out, across the rug, under the table. Is there no end to them? He fixates, aided by familiar inhibitors—thinking his legs will surely sprawl on forever. He’s lost, a stranger to the world in front of him, when a hand rests itself on his knee. Its tips painted black, chipped—a friend looking for a home. But, it won’t be here, at least not tonight.

He lets it sit, confused and helpless. This isn’t his first time, he knows this dance. Currently, it’s a stalemate; he is a defender, playing a slower game—reacting and adapting to his opponents moves. She isn’t his opponent, just a mutual player who entered into a game, perhaps unknowingly.

THERE!

The hand inches, ever so slightly upward. He wasn’t prepared, no matter how many times he had played the whole game in his head. Why was this time so much different? The blood was rushing, not only to his face. Washed. That’s how he feels. Washed and trapped. Encouraged from the right to move left. “It’s okay,” the voice assures him, steady and sincere.

He feels more uneasy with every inch the hand crept up the seams of his jeans. If only he could return to the moment of serenity captured during the fog where his legs looked like roads, stretching on forever—all leading to the same place. “One thing always leads to another,” an even older friend’s voice repeats on a scratched record in his mind.

It’s time to go on the offensive, he decides. Standing up, seemingly to stretch—with absolutely no intentions of returning to the succubi on the couch. His confidant in the chair opposite his position catches his glance. “I think I need to go,” he utters, secretly.

His goodbyes are forlorn. How great it had been to see these faces again. As his hand nears the door, he’s beckoned to a further cubby of the residence. He abides. An embrace awaits him around the corner. “It was great seeing you, we all missed you,” the partner in crime to the dark-nailed woman on the couch waxes. He returns the dialogue, almost verbatim. She hugs him again, he feels comfortable for a moment. 

What could he say? Besides a parting farewell, nothing. The whole ride home he lets his mind wander. Usually an easy task for him, now seems a confused vortex of questions. What caught him off guard was the overwhelming sense of agreeance he felt from both parties. He isn’t normal. They both knew that. 

He doesn’t dwell on it much before he fell asleep, thinking more about his friend catching his glances. What was in his mind? He cares more about that than everything else that had happened. His friend, playing his own game with the woman of the couch, received an unexpected (and frankly unwanted) competitor. How could he tell his friend everything in his head? His wall lit up, frantically trying to put into words what had happened—trying to maintain his trust.

He wakes up, his head still spinning. The small screen shows no responses, nothing new.