See Horse Bleed

Look through the right eye. Look through the left eye. Look through both. Binocular vision is an interesting thing, makes him feel a little alien within his own skull when he becomes aware of it. He thinks of the idea of the bicameral mind. He wonders about the holographic universe. And then he ponders how having someone to talk to can have a similar deepening of perception.

He is alone. He is confused. And all the people in the cafe move around him unaware. They smile – and his lazy reflection fools their surface read. He comes here for this, even just for this … it’s something. It is something.

She refills his coffee cup, and he salutes her and she giggles. If she weren’t this friendly to everyone it might mean something, but it doesn’t. The country-fried breakfast sausage platter tasted good – he might regret it later, but for now it hits all the right spots. He eyes up the pies – he is thinking chocolate velvet, and maybe pumpkin. A couple of slices. He is getting out at least, right? Right.

How long has it been? How long is it since the break-up seemed like a legitimate excuse for the depression? Did it ever? It stretches thin over everything and it was a worn drumskin from early on. He doesn’t even have the energy to pull off even a vague echo of the early rhythm he used to throw into the patter that became his rehearsed excuse. He feels sad. And some of that sadness is that he keeps relying on this shorthand distancing mechanism to handle people. Keep pushing and see how many people continue to push back – it saps the energy.

A mouthful of chocolate velvet. A mouthful of pumpkin pie. A mouthful of coffee. He smiles like a big kid. The waitress sees him transformed into the younger man he has forgotten how to be most days, and it pulls forth the smiling younger woman that she has forgotten how to be. The moment is brief but it is a a little sacred interlude in the everyday.

He remembers the seahorse he saw at the aquarium last week, he remembers the facts about them – the whole male pregnancy thing, which frees the female up to produce more eggs. Wasn’t he a seahorse for a while? He smiles. They called it Couvade Syndrome, named for the old spell that used to be cast to transfer the pain of childbirth to the man. But as she said – he didn’t really know what it was like to have a life growing inside him – something spiritual and not purely physical. For him it was a symptom. He told her he felt the loss like she did, but even as he said it he knew that couldn’t ever be true. It was the wrong thing to say. That thin tenuous link between them ruptured and blew away in the strong wind of her grief. He did feel grief, but it felt like such a selfish thing.

Another mouthful of chocolate velvet. Another mouthful of pumpkin pie. They have turned to mush. Another mouthful of coffee. It tastes lukewarm and muddy. He doesn’t even know that he is crying. Anyone who sees it turns away. This isn’t the place for that kind of thing. A middle aged man crying in a family diner? Who ever heard of such a thing? It just isn’t right.

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