“Metal Conducts Electricity”
“You know you’ve got a bed, right?” Millie says, closing the apartment door behind her. Knowing my dearest roommate, she was out until 11:00 p.m. with her friends. And by “with her friends,” I mean quizzing each other on possible drug interactions using flashcards. You have to think that on long nights things devolve into something a little dirtier, like competitive ganglia nerve cluster diagramming.
I must have turned the heat in the apartment up to like 75 degrees, drawing a short complaint from Millie as she walks by, but I still feel cold. I’m sprawled out on the couch in my purple tank top and a pair of mismatched running shorts I changed into when I got back. Honestly though, I’m wide awake thinking about everything that’s happened today and how much I miss the people I love.
“There’s, um, some pizza in the refrigerator if you want it,” I mutter, unsure if I was speaking loud enough for her to hear me. Gosh, I must have been just staring up at the ceiling for hours now. It has become so incredibly hard not to cry. It’s like you can build that long-term toughness where you don’t cry at anything anymore. With practice you can sustain that stability for a little while, but then the dam breaks and you find yourself depressed even deeper underwater. I must have cycled through that process three or four times over the past two years. Millie is heading to her room, study materials in tow, without any intention of saying another word to me. The way I treated her this morning, I don’t blame her.
“Hey Millie,” I say meekly. “Do you want to stay up and talk for a while? It is Friday night, after all.” She turns around and looks shocked for a moment, but composes herself quickly and nods her head. In two years of being roommates, I’m not entirely sure we’ve ever really had a personal conversation. Most of it has just been school related – idle chitchat about stuff we’re learning that neither of us really care about. Or she’s just yelling at me for keeping things in disarray. Occasionally we’ll watch something on TV in the same room with each other, but it’s not like we chat about it. Mostly, we just live in the same apartment and keep to ourselves. Just roommates.
Millie sits down on the loveseat after putting her stuff in her room and grabbing the box of leftover pizza out of the refrigerator. I’m still lying there on the couch, feeling like I’m talking to a psychiatrist. She probably has a lovely view of my feet on the armrest of the couch, but whatever, I don’t bother to move them.
“Mil,” I say, clearly making her feel uncomfortable by the shortening of her name. “I’m going to be honest… you’re really the only person in this entire town who I consider a friend.”
It’s been a while since I’ve really opened up to anyone.
“I had no idea,” she replies with obvious sarcasm. Geez, that actually stung a little bit. She takes a bite of pizza and tilts her head, as if trying to decide if it’s any good. After a second, she comes to her senses, realizes the pleasure of the pineapple-bell-mushroom-bacon configuration, and gobbles up half the slice in one bite. Ha, I knew people would see my way eventually.
“You’re probably wondering why I’m such a bitch to you… or maybe just one in general.” Millie, who’s probably never said a curse word in her entire life, winces at my vocabulary choice. It annoys me when she does that, and I wish she’d stop, but I could also tell she is intrigued. Quite frankly, I’m fascinated that I have finally come to the point of telling someone about this, but I have to get it off my chest.
“The thought had crossed my mind,” Millie recovers and admits. I notice her big hazel eyes which seemed tinged with pain, and for a moment I feel a tug of remorse. I never took the time to notice before, but Millie is actually really pretty. She’s got this light mocha skin tone, a perfect contrast to her dark brown hair. It really brings out her eyes. I could have been a good friend to her, but I was too wrapped up in myself to give a damn. A few years ago, though, it would have been automatic to count her in my group of gal-pals. Maybe there’s still time.
“But I’m more worried about you,” Millie continued. “Half the time you’re reading some random book I’ve never even heard of, and half the time you’re like this. Just staring off into space, thinking about who-knows-what.” She’s right, I guess my favorite hobby is brooding.
“I wasn’t always like this, you know,” I say, as if pleading my case that I’m not actually an insensitive, antisocial, terrible example of a person. Not that I believe it – I know exactly what I am. She doesn’t respond, just sitting there on the loveseat listening, fingers interlocked together. I think it may be time to tell her about what happened to my dad on that day.
If I had to come up with a single word to describe my dad, it would be “cool.” He was legitimately the coolest person I’ve ever known. More than David Bowie. Cooler than Leo Tolstoy. What can I say? I’m into cute, long-winded, philosopher types. And if you think I can rock a pair of Ray-Bans, you’ve clearly never met that guy with his dark curled brown hair and his always-trimmed beard.
He had this strange fascination for classic metal music for some reason. Black Sabbath. Metallica. KISS. He was all over that kind of stuff, despite having the relative appearance of a normal working professional… and a pretty boring name. According to his badge, he was Dr. Norman Winters, Associate Anthropologist in the Azure Coast University Department of Life Sciences. But he never seemed to let the pressures of getting a Ph.D., gaining tenure, dealing with students, and constantly writing research papers all day make him stolid. No, if anything, his work gave him a sense of joy, and he had a zest for life stronger than anyone I’ve ever met.
I miss my dad.
A new section is released every Monday! Next week we’ll be continuing Chapter 3: “Metal Conducts Electricity.” As always I welcome your feedback in the comments. 🙂