»People often say that island people are special. I say it, too, but the difference is that when others say it, they put air quotes around special. I don’t.
But living on an island does something to a man. (And woman, I don’t mean it like that). I don’t know what it is, like you don’t know what booze does to a man until you see it, you don’t see the island in the man – until you do. But it gets to every one of us, believe me.
I heard the tape had originally had some KISS songs on it, believe it or not. I don’t know if that’s true, so I probably shouldn’t be spreading rumors but I also figured that since nobody remembers or knows who the original owner of the tape was, I won’t be hurting anyone. No foul, no harm, right?
Everybody should have a friend like Emma. I don’t know if I deserved her, or if that’s even a word you can ever use about your friends, but I’m really happy she’s my friend. Or that she was my friend. Or possibly is, I don’t know which word to use since I haven’t seen her in almost thirty years.
It’s always been like that, though. Not that you always don’t see her for thirty years, but it’s always been Emma who’s chosen the level of friendship we were going to have.
Her first words to me were, “We’re going to be friends forever.”
It was just another Friday night. Or late afternoon, to be exact, but all I had on my mind was Friday night. It had been a rough week, and I had managed to put together a real nice string of them lately. It was the eighth rough week in a row – not that I was counting.
My landlord was, though, which is why I was trying to get out of the office in the afternoon, and hit the downstairs bar before he’d show up to collect the rent. He says it’s six weeks late. Some people have no patience.
He wasn’t a religious person. He was, however, “a spiritual person”. His words.
It meant that he was snacking on the big buffet table of different faiths and beliefs. Some days he believed in reincarnation, other days in nothing, and on yet some other days, he believed in everything from astrology to God to magic and other dimensions. Those were the days he was at his happiest, although, it was difficult to see cause and effect there.
In short, the happier he was the more he believed in everything and everybody but effect could have also gone in the other direction.
And he was never happier than when he walked through town early in the morning in the summer after a long day and night in his favorite bar in the middle of the said town.
He couldn’t wait to tell her the joke. It was an old joke, for sure, and he didn’t know what had made him think of it just now, but it was a good one. He had even chuckled out loud while standing in line to pick up a package from the post office. (It was a book, if you must know. Which one? The latest Harry Potter book. Happy now?)
My great-grandmother had always told her daughter that when she died, she’d come back as a ghost, and she’d haunt their home.
“But in a good way,” she’d said, “like a house sitter.”
By the time I was born, my great-grandmother had already passed away but she had, by my grandmother’s account, found her way back into the house. Whenever my grandma couldn’t find her keys, she blamed her mother. When the windows were open when she got home from the store – her mother’s doing. When people were walking their dogs outside her house, and the barked, they could see something not any human couldn’t: her mother.
People often ask me how come I’m always so happy. Now, nobody’s always happy and I wouldn’t even dream of saying that I’m always happy, but it is true that I often seem to be smiling, even when I’m not. I can say, though, that there hasn’t been a day when I haven’t been smiling going to work, and then I just keep smiling all day long.
I think that helps. It’s hard to be unhappy when you’re smiling.
And it’s hard not to smile when you’re riding a rollercoaster all day long. Literally.
She woke up with a short gasp. A silent one, but a gasp nonetheless. She wondered how long she’d been holding her breath in reality. In the dream, she’d raced through long corridors until she had come to a dead end and then she had heard a door close behind her, and then the walls had started to close in on her, and she had screamed and then she had tried to push back with everything she got, before she had blown a bubble with her gum and hoped it would hold the walls, but the bubble had burst and the walls got closer and closer, and then there was … a circus and … she had flipped a bird at a guy watching her at the ceiling window and … just as the walls had touched her on both sides, she woke up.
She didn’t need to analyze the dream all too long to figure out two things about it. First, it was nonsensical like most of her dreams seemed to be. They didn’t feel that weird to her when she was having the dreams, but when she told them to him in the morning, he always laughed, and told her they didn’t make any sense.
And second, she knew what had made her brain produce the image of walls closing in.
“Hey,” he said, startling me. We had been sitting in my room silently for so long that I had forgotten that Mikey was there. I’m pretty sure he had been there, sitting in my room, reading comics and listening to music, while I had gone to the kitchen and made a sandwich (ham and cheese, my favorite).
“Hey,” Mikey said again.
“Hey,” I said.
We were up to three heys there, and I’m not sure even one was needed.