Intro by Joyce Carol Oates,
Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton
Facial Hair (MP3)
I was sitting apart from her on the couch, staring into her eyes, and there was just nothing there. Iím not trying to say sheís an idiot; I just wasnít feeling those sparks, you know? There was no energy, no tension, no predatory hunger. Which sucked. I mean, she looked bored. Hell I was bored, and I desperately wanted to be there. Iíd been fantasizing this moment for weeks. Christ, man. Staring into her eyes was depressing the hell out of me.
And so I wanted to tell her that my baby brother had died. Which would have been a lie. Itís not true at all, actually, my brotherís fine. But I started to fantasize about what it would be like if he wasnít, you know? I even sort of wished he wasnít, just so I could tell her about it and not have it not be a lie. Get a rise out of her, have her show a little emotion, or sympathy or interest or something. I mean Jesus- I wanted her to be interested in something about me- I donít know.
But I felt bad for wanting it to be true, man. I mean, damn. I can be twisted. The kid is diseased for crying out loud. Heís got diabetes, which really isnít a joke. It kills you if you donít take care of it. This kid I went to middle school with died a few years ago because of diabetes complications.
Not that thatíll happen to my brother. HeísÖ different, you know? Heís thirteen, but organized as hell. He takes care of himself. His AC1, which is this number that measures your ďaverage blood sugar levelĒ over long periods of time, is really good. His numbers are better even than a lot of people who donít have diabetes. I mean heís this awesome lacrosse player, he eats right, he does well in school. ďDoes well in schoolĒ doesnít even begin to do it justice- the kid works so hard, and heís so brilliant and he just loves his life so much even though heís sick-Ö heís beautiful, you know? Heís like this little superman, albeit a slightly disease-ridden superman.
And all I could think of was how touching it would be if he was dead. I just wanted to get a rise out of this girl. Jesus. I was sitting on her couch in this emotional vacuum andÖ I get lonely, you know? I guess thatís why I started fantasizingÖ well you know. I thought that if I could show her- look, this kid is beautiful and just knowing that heís good keep me whole- if I could make her believe he was gone, it would show her how I have this void I wanted her to fill, you know? Which is just fucked because my brother isnít gone and so I donít have a void I need her to fill.
But I felt bad, man. I mean, how could I think that about my boy? God- Iíve been reading too much medieval Japanese poetry. Medieval Japanese poetry is all about beautiful people getting fucked and how beautiful it is. It sucks. It sucks and itís making me morbid. And selfish.
Itís selfish but I wantedÖI donít know what I fucking wanted, but I sure as hell wasnít getting it, you know? Damn it.
Still. It scares me that I almost did, though. Tell her, you know? That lie? What was I thinking? I dunno. I just get lonely.
- by Alexander Jay Adam
© Copyright 2009