When I walk down the street, when I abandon the relative comfort of my city apartment, when I step outside, not knowing where it is that I am going, and when I at last decide to head to the corner 7-Eleven, I see many others, and fiercely do I hate all those others whom I see. I turn away from their hopeful gazes, their kind and searching hellos. I refuse to return their curious greetings. Why should I greet them? Why should I offer them my hello? I do not know them, and do not think that they know me. They do not share my thoughts, my line of thinking. They occupy themselves with different thoughts than I do, feel different emotions. They do not see the world through my eyes, through what I know. Their teeth don’t ache the way that my teeth constantly ache. They do not know the weight, the discomfort of my belly on my belt, the pains in my fingers. They do not feel my fear due to lack of health insurance, or my annoyance at the presence of grease-stained dishes cluttering my sink. They do not know the sore spot on my thumb, or the tear in the seat of my favorite jeans, my addictions to nicotine and caffeine, my dearth of income. They do not suffer as I do each waking hour due to my sweaty crotch, and my sweaty ass. They don’t know the nervous tic that lives behind my left eye, departing it only to take up residency in my right; they don’t know my post-nasal drip, the tickle that haunts the back of my throat, my insomnia, my heartburn, my hair’s split ends, my generally damp and unpleasant odor. The smell of something secret and hidden. The taste like decay in the back of my throat, like rotting sausage, or day-old dog excrement, that flares up every five weeks, my allergic reaction to all brands of soy milk, and which can only be relieved by my abstaining for one week from drinking soy milk. They don’t know my desire to slip a sharpened pencil tip deep into my eyes, into both of my eyes, rooting around to evict their twitches. They don’t know my dumb want to step in front of a passing bus or subway train. They don’t suffer from my incessant need to yawn, the cramps in the sides and in the bottoms of my feet, in the soles of my feet, or the muscular stiffness in my pelvis that can’t be undone, that no stretch I attempt ever loosens. They don’t share in my lightheadedness, my dizziness brought on by not having eaten any breakfast, or not having eaten any lunch, or not having eaten any dinner, or between-meal snacks. They don’t know the freezing numbness in my hands and in my toes that comes after eating ice cream, or the giddiness that overtakes me at the thought of eating yet another pint of ice cream, of stepping outside and walking the seven blocks to the convenience store right now and purchasing yet another pint. They don’t know about my tendency to overfill the bathtub, to turn the water on and then turn to another task, forgetting to turn off the tap until water’s pooling in the hallway. They don’t know my lack of patience, my inability to wait for even three minutes, to allow the microwave to finish reheating my leftovers all the way through before I gobble them. They don’t see the grime that builds up underneath my thumbnails, infecting my hangnails, the spots that I’ve bitten down, lying in bed, unable to sleep, turned edgy by my anxiety and ennui. They do not know my restless leg disorder, my charley horses or my absentmindedness, my incessant feelings of inadequacy and shame, the fact that I can’t afford to take proper care of my cat, or to buy new shirts, or to keep a girlfriend. They do not know my constant guilt. They don’t know my confused thoughts, the mushy disarray of recognitions that I laughingly call my mind, my haphazard inventory of scattered recollections. And how could they know this? And how could they ever be made aware? They don’t know the corrections that I intend; they don’t share in my intent to improve my ways. They don’t share in my regrets, in my many excuses, in my fuzzed-out sense of sickening despair. They don’t hear my apologies, lame as they are, and muttered only to myself; they do not hear my “Oh my my’s,” my “please forgive me’s,” my “mea culpas.” My embarrassingly insincere and pathetically sorry sorries. I mutter them under my breath, to myself, alone, as I walk, as I trudge along the sidewalk, my head bowed, my mind clouded, my eyes turned resolutely elsewhere, my conclusion predetermined, predestined, incontestable. They do not hear me, and they do not see me, and they do not greet me, and they do not care. They do not know me.
A D Jameson is a writer, video artist, teacher, and performer. His fiction has appeared in the Denver Quarterly, Fiction International, Brooklyn Rail, the Mississippi Review Online, elimae, Caketrain, PANK, and elsewhere; it is forthcoming in Fiction International, Mad Hatters’ Review, and Action, Yes, among other places. His novel Giant Slugs is forthcoming from Lawrence and Gibson later this year, and his prose collection Amazing Adult Fantasy is forthcoming from Mutable Sound, also later this year. He contributes regularly to the group blog Big Other.