Authors: Sarah Buhl
Table of Contents
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
dissonance. Copyright © 2014 by Sarah Buhl
All rights reserved.
Cover image by ©2014 Corepics Vof
Book design by Sarah Buhl
Edited by Michele Ziemer
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing: November 2014
1: lack of agreement;
inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one's actions and one's beliefs; an instance of such inconsistency or disagreement
a mingling of discordant sounds;
a clashing or unresolved musical interval or chord
For the pure joy of living.
For those who always manage to give a genuine smile.
Some of you I know in real life, some of you I only know from the computer screen, but each of you are cherished.
And for those that choose not to smile or have resisted the opportunity out of fear—
May you one day meet someone or do the one thing
that makes you feel alive.
The figure dressed in black climbed the fire escape to the top of the apartments. Once on the roof, they turned toward the wall of the adjoining building. With a roll of the shoulder, the shadow of a human pulled out the spray can from their baggy pants.
Shaking the canister in preparation, the figure walked with fearful determination toward the wall. This was it—this was the moment that was going to be the first step on the path. There was no turning back. Once the paint spread across the darkened bricks, the question will be raised, though the silent figure will not hear the answer.
Questions, questions, questions—so many of them floating in the figure’s mind.
This is as it should be—questions waiting for answers. No one can answer for another, but it's the question that everyone must ask themselves. Every answer will form from this one.
The figure, the writer, painted a quick silhouette of a hooded persona painting the wall. Then with broad strokes above the painting, the writer posed their question.
Who are you, really?
The moment that repetitive screech sounds in the morning, no matter what dream is had, it turns to shit. Yes, my alarm clock blared in my ear reminding me the time had come to climb from the comfort of my bed. It's the worst part of the day, hearing that sound. I hit that damn button just to prolong the inevitable—getting up to face the fucking day.
I tasted the remnants of last night’s partying as I swallowed, trying to adjust to being conscious. It was disgusting, and I looked forward to climbing from bed and brushing my teeth. But that eagerness to wash away the party didn't win with my need to hit snooze.
I fell back asleep for the five minutes the snooze gave me—only to have it shake me from sleep yet again.
I turned the alarm off and put my hand to my face, rubbing away the sleep from my eyes until I finally opened them. I kept my eyes to the ceiling as flashes of last night ran through my mind.
Abby was at Henley’s Pub last night. I couldn't stand being around her anymore. This is serious coming from me because I’m the guy that doesn’t want to piss anyone off or hurt anyone’s feelings.
I am everyone's friend.
This backfired with Abby. I was weak when she applied the right pressure to me.
Abby reminded me of a super villain in a comic book. That chick wanted nothing more than to destroy me. She blames me for her unhappiness now that I ended things with us. I had enough of whatever it was we had together. There are only so many misused words, trashy one-liners, and egocentric comments I can take.
If it weren’t for my friends, my dumb, drunk ass might have gone home with her again, just as I did last week. I’m a guy and unfortunately most guys share a common weakness and Abby put on a good act—until the second or third date. She read me and understood what I wanted, using it to manipulate as she saw fit. She played the part of seeming to be one of the guys—liking video games, MMA, and action movies—all lies. Once she got me hooked, she tried to emasculate me.
There’s a big word—emasculate
. She tried to mold me into the dopey guy that did whatever she wanted. Not happening.
She can’t take all the blame though—I was the dumb ass that kept letting her win.
Now I found myself letting her win again because thoughts of her confronted me first thing in the morning.
Damn it, I needed this to end
. The first step in ending anything, whether it is an addiction, a bad habit, or a nervous tick, was to acknowledge it. I acknowledged the shit out of the fact that I needed that girl gone.
With a sigh and one last close of my eyes, I finally made myself climb from bed and took my shower. Five minutes later I walked into my living room and found Karl lying on my couch. He crashed at my apartment on occasion and even had his own key. He didn’t have a place of his own. But don’t take that as him being a squatter. He wasn’t a squatter—he just enjoyed being free to move around.
He made sure to give cash or food for his stay. I told him he didn’t have to, but he always pushed it. He was notorious for resorting to hiding the cash in random places. I found five bucks in my egg carton once. He explained his outlook to me,
“Money is just paper. It only has value because we believe in it.”
Karl was a deep guy, and more and more lately I’ve surrounded myself with deep thinkers, because I’m not one myself. I am what I am.
I started a pot of coffee and heard Karl begin to wake.
“You’re so fucking lucky I was there last night Blake,” Karl said in a sleep laden voice.
“Abby,” I said, as I walked back into my room to grab my work boots. “Is that why I’m lucky?”
“Uh, yeah man. She was up in your shit last night and in prime form as she did it. She played her princess act—wanting to be taken into the care of her knight in shining armor. The role you so willingly play with her, I might add. I think she said that at one point,” he said, running his hand over his face.
“Dude, your hair looks crazy this morning,” I said, pointing at his hair fanning from his head and reminding me of a frill-neck lizard.
“Whatever, not as if I have to impress you or anyone else at work today. Here’s your cash for coffee, man,” Karl said as he stood from the couch and threw his five bucks on the counter.
“Really? Five dollars for one cup of coffee?” I asked as I pushed his money back.
“Okay, I’ll take toast too,” he said as he popped the bread in the toaster. “I’m going to take a quick shower before we head to work.”
“Go for it,” I said as I walked into the living room, eating my own breakfast.
I met Karl last year through the Böhme, a group of artists, musicians, and writers—basically anyone with a need to create. Most of my friends are from there and Henley’s Pub.
Karl started working for my dad shortly after I met him. Now we both are roofers. It’s a shitty job, but it keeps us outside and being outside is better than stuck in a fucking office.
I have too much energy to sit behind a desk and stare at a computer screen. I tried it once—when I graduated high school. I told my dad I didn’t want to work as a roofer and thought I needed to expand my horizons. I worked at this law office for three days. That was as much as I could take of the fluorescent lighting and sounds of copiers and fax machines.
My dad was right; I belonged outside.
Karl managed to get cleaned up and dressed in less time than it took me to finish my breakfast. He never wanted to make me run late.
Again, that’s just how Karl is—he wants to make life as easy as possible for everyone.
Life to him is a gift and adding stress on relationships over the little things isn't worth it. Looking at him, I saw why people might think him crazy as hell though. The guy looks as if he lived in the woods for decades, but he was my age. Though I was positive he lived more in his years than I had.
We didn’t say a word as we stepped into the normal routine of our work day. I grabbed my keys and coffee and we headed out of my apartment. The morning held crispness to it that late Spring weather still holds. It was one of those days that froze in the morning, and then began to heat up the farther into the day you went.
I started up my Jeep and looked through my music to decide what today warranted, definitely not something heavy. My head was throbbing, and I wasn’t ready for that level of rampage.
“Whoa, that’s badass,” Karl said as he pointed out the front window of my Jeep.
I followed the direction he pointed and found that on the side of the building was the usual graffiti, but painted over it were large black letters posing a simple question—
Who are you, really?
“That makes you think, doesn’t it?” Karl asked, keeping his focus on the building as we drove past it. “Can that question be answered though? I mean we’re constantly changing, evolving, we can never define ourselves. I don’t ever want to have a distinct definition of who I am. But a baseline is doable.”
“Yeah, that’s too much thinking for me at this hour, man. Maybe we could have this discussion later when I’ve been conscious for more than forty-five minutes,” I said. But the question still rang in my head. It turned out to be not as simple of a question as I first thought.
We made it to the work site and found my dad leaning against his truck looking over paperwork on the hood. I took in the gut my dad now had and laughed to myself. His time spent behind the desk, and not on site, caught up to him. Yet another reason it’s good to stay away from the office life.
I parked next to his truck and Karl went ahead to talk to the other guys as I went to my dad. He began to speak without looking up, “Blake, ya know it's best if ya didn’t come ta work hung over, right?” My dad’s accent always came in thick in the mornings.
“I’m not hung over Dad. Yeah I went out last night, but we didn’t have that exciting of a night. I'm fighting a raging headache, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the beer.”
He set his reading glasses atop the papers, “Ya didn’t bring Abby home with ya again?” he asked.
Yes. My dad knows the story of Abby. Our family is unnervingly open.