I go to Dascomb to see her.
I sit at the counter of the dimly lit café, sipping thin coffee. It is easy to spot her. She dresses in black and white, with a slight accent. Today she wears a pink shirt, black jacket on top. Her thin long legs glide from table to table, a cool breeze in the stuffy room. She grabs a sofa by the window, and the clouds part, blessing her with sunshine. I see her out the corner of my eye to gorge on her beauty, neglecting my brown grass and mushy gray meat.
Three people surround her, each thinking they are the center of the world. I don't even remember what they look like. Their mouths open and close rapidly spitting out words as bland as their face. I yearn to share her light and I feel like throwing a rotting apple in their big flopping mouths. She watches them all with sharp intelligent eyes, and when she does speak, they all laugh.
I laugh at them.
Really, I laugh at myself.
I feel I can take their place, that I can make Andrea happier than they. But no, she lives in the conservatory with other musicians, who carry bulky boxes containing precious wood, hollowed empty like their hearts. The guy next to her stood, picking up his cello, the two girls their violas.
She has no box, she's a pianist. She's not a musical idiot. She has a second degree in econ. She aces both. I'm not even playing her up. These are facts.
The four exit, three clad in uniform, expensive clothes. But Andrea is Andrea. She is a someone. I'm a no one.
Really, I laugh at myself.
From behind, I hear two voices, one low and one high. Whenever I witness pairs, I feel a pang of jealousy. I turn my head to see two girls. One opens her mouth to release the hoarse voice, the other chirping way too high.
Anything is better than being alone, is my philosophy. What if I went to a random table and asked permission to join? Can they refuse me or are they so caught in pretending to be nice? But even if they give me a chance to hang around, I won't be that interesting.
One of the few people I speak with came to sit with me. We don't have anything to say to each other anymore, but we still eat together. These days, we are too lazy to fend off silence, the harbinger of death.
He sits next to me and starts to eat. He doesn't ask what's up, as he already knows nothing is the answer. We too make a pair, I think.
He has a girl friend. He cannot stop smiling when he is with her. He prefers to be with her. Bottom line, for him I am a filler and he would leave me for her if she were around. I don't have a girl friend. Andrea.
I want to tell him to leave if he doesn't want to be with me, but I know that anything is better than being alone. I say nothing.
“Is that my girl friend?” He's suddenly lively, his eyes staring out the window. A girl is bobbing up and down at a light skip. I'm still trapped inside.
“Be right back.” He was off, grabbed her, and had returned before I had a moment to think.
Anything is better than being alone. A wretched smile came over my face, and I saw him smiling brightly at her. He brought the sun inside with her, and the glare was too much. I abandoned my philosophy.
I pick up my tray, and leave. He raises his hand, in his usual gesture, but it feels cold. I know he means nothing special, and it feels all the more cold. Our friendship was dying, although we had yet to feel a real connection, and I feel myself dragging its corpse as I leave him with her in his happiness.
The café and my room are under one roof. The convenience traps me, and I only go back and forth, bed to food, bed to food. I never need to go outside, no excuse to see the sun.
I open a door and enter a small corridor branching into lives only connected in space. Posters and photos mark the closed portals guarding private secrets.
I halt at a door with nothing. I open this door, one that only I can open, to enter my room.
Anything is better than being alone.
I live in a supersingle, one person occupying a space for two. The second bed is an emptiness covered inadequately by my scant possessions. The bare mattress hurts my eyes.
I used to have a roommate. He was an ugly man with dots for eyes and perpetual loud music. He was chubby and fat. God made Eve in the image of Adam, and he found an Eve for himself. Love is beautiful, I read, but generalizations should be made with more care. The two clumps of slobbery fat that merged across the room was love, but never beautiful.
Anything is better than being alone. I take back that generalization.
One day, she came in, Fat Eve. I sat on my bed, reading a text for economics. Saying nothing, she flicked on the TV. Loud.
The next time I saw my roommate, I said, “She's not coming in here again.” He moved out within the week. He must have heard the determination in my voice.
I remember my friend saying, “A lot of my friends, their roommates run away from them. John, you, me, we all live without roommates, although we're ‘supposed to' have one.”
Today, my roommate lives down the hall.
Anyway, no more Adam and Eve, no more loud TV, and no more mess in my room. I clean whenever I don't want to work, so my room is always clean. No, it's more barren than clean. A couple of jackets hang in the closet, the rest of my clothes folded in the cabinet. All my books are stacked beneath Adam's bed, and the small stuff is ordered on top of the cabinet. Small stuff is too fancy for just shampoo, pens, and a water bottle.
My supersingle life is a desert.
I get rid of distractions to focus on nothing. Thus, my life gets thinner and thinner, with no fat for future development. Everybody has some talent, some genius, said a book. I see why it was shelved in fiction.
My only rain is Andrea.
“Hey, what's up?” I never know how to answer this.
“Um… nothing?” Awkward smile. Kiss-ass smile. That's my response.
“If you aren't doing anything, do you want to come to our party?” He's looking down at me. I don't even feel the anger. I just see myself standing in my usual corridor.
“Yeah. When is it?”
“I'm going right now.”
I follow him even though I should study. A distraction gained, to feed the fire of inferiority. It's a conservatory party, with conservatory kids looking for conservatory mates, no place for me.
We walk out into the night, my first departure from my roof in days. I smoke to go outside. Still, I don't venture very far. I have nowhere to go. Cigarettes don't give me a buzz anymore.
I wanted to see a bright moon, shining through the night, but clouds hang low in the sky. The only points of light are the military planes patrolling their land; they piss gasoline to mark their territory.
We walk, exchanging little, watching the landscape change from dorms to house.
Eventually we reach the party.
Not having more to say, I find myself a corner to begin drinking. Quickly, he is absorbed into friends. I'm alone, surrounded by people.
They had vodka tonight. It pays to kiss ass.
Getting settled, I glance around the room. Four cheap lamps give off amber light and a dozen people with long shadows milling slowly from kitchen to couches. And there she was. Andrea.
Our eyes met, and she came over. I had been looking her way for at least an hour, so our eyes had to meet at some point, but I still felt fate. As I stare, she walks over and sits facing me.
“What's your name?”
“I'm Andrea. Where are you from?”
That was it. We never spoke again.
Takuya Murata is a politics and art major at Oberlin College. He grew up in Tokyo, and is going to south India for one year on a fellowship starting from this summer. Takuya is the founder and the former editor in chief of In Solidarity, a people of color newspaper. He is currently the co-chair of the Asian-American Alliance at Oberlin College, and is actively involved in coalition building among the people of color communities. His work has been published in gallerythe.org and Sidereality. He has been an art editor of Sidereality since July 2003. .