When a former girlfriend told me she had a mantra, I asked her what it was.
She told me it was assigned to her by a spiritualist. She told me it was a phrase in Sanskrit. She didn’t know what it meant. She didn’t understand it. She didn’t think it was even translatable. She said she repeated it with her eyes closed in the shower. She said she knew it sounded strange, but it seems to help her anxiety and depression in a way the Lexapro didn’t and couldn’t. She told me if she said it aloud to anyone else it becomes meaningless.
She said she would tell me, if I really wanted to know.
I then realized I did not love her as much as she loved me.
She wanted to share her inner peace with me, and I just wanted to have another drink at the bar across the street.
Last night I was going home after drinking more than I should have and sketched out a Chinese couple. In the train station, I wandered up to the couple, as they were arguing, and asked them what they would do if I fell onto the tracks.
The girl put her finger to her lip and contemplated the question. The guy asked what I had asked in Mandarin, and she translated. “I would help you,” she told me, “I would jump down and help you up here,” motioning to the platform. He nodded along.
“No, I think I would be shocked by the electricity in the line.” I shook my head and acted as though 600 volts were stunning my body, “you would just be electrocuted, too.”
None of us spoke, just listened to the station roar for a few seconds.
“Call for help,” he said. She nodded now.
I thought that was the reasonable.
We boarded the same train and talked about what they think of the city and what I think of the city and their studies and my studies. We got off at the same stop and parted ways on the street.
I hope they forgot about their fight I interrupted.
There’s a knot under my right eye where a kid named Evan punched me in 6th grade. Sometimes when I’m trying to concentrate on something, I find the knot with my index finger and wiggle it around a little bit, feeling pops under my eye socket.
I told Evan to put his finger in an electrical outlet and he did. He jumped and his fingertip turned bluish gray. Then he was mad at me for telling him to do it. I asked him what he expected to happen and he told me he didn’t think about it. I told him it was his fault for being a dipshit and he punched me in the eye. My mom told me not to talk to him anymore after that and not to say ‘dipshit.’
Nine years later, we were at a funeral for a mutual high school friend. Evan took a deep breath and patted me on the back. I nodded and he kicked some rocks around in the church’s gravel parking lot and we didn’t say a word.