“Even when he smiled, Glenn always seemed sad. They say there just isn’t any pleasing some people, but I honestly don’t believe that.
I think everyone is capable of happiness, and I aim to prove it.”
– The Journal of Charisma Roberts
“Y-yet another dream; will I ever be rid of t-these?” Glenn Redcliffe lay there for a moment, staring at the ceiling. It was only when he sat up in his bed that he realized he was covered in sweat.
“This c-certainly can’t be good…”
He pondered his options before crawling out of bed and looking out the window. The light hurt his eyes. He stepped away from the curtains, letting them conceal the window and shroud the room in darkness once more. He could barely make out the shapes of the quietly messy room as he stumbled about. He found his way into the living room and stood there for a moment, scratching his head. He glanced around: shirts lying on the floor, nearly all long sleeves; the sink filled with dishes; and his small kitchen table cluttered with books and other assorted papers. He shrugged.
Every window remained draped with heavy curtains, preventing any more than small rays of light from shining through. He lived alone in a small apartment, leaving ample room for his large bookshelves and scattered notes. A dingy t-shirt hung off his lanky frame, barely concealing the patches decorating his old cargo pants. His shaggy, mud colored hair resembled the dim echoes reverberating behind his glasses as he brushed loose strands aside. Today was his twenty-third birthday and he sat at home, alone as usual.
He flicked on a dim light in the ill-lit living room. There was a bowl on the counter, filled with half-eaten dry cereal. Glenn opened the refrigerator and pulled out a cold gallon of milk only slightly past its expiration date. He looked it over and took a strong whiff. He poured it into the bowl anyway and placed the nearly empty carton back into its specifically designated location within the even emptier fridge.
The apartment was silent, a place so bereft of sound he could hear the distinct fizz of milk interacting with cereal. He sat down at the disorganized table, brushing aside a spot for his breakfast, carelessly knocking several objects onto the floor. Maybe he should’ve been careful–perhaps there might’ve been something important amid all of that clutter, but he doubted it. He ate, ignoring insomnia’s weary grasp on his body. He adjusted his glasses and cleaned the crusties from his eyes.
“If this k-keeps up, I’m never g-going to get any better.” He leaned back in his chair, tilting it off the ground as his thoughts drifted to more relevant matters.
“What am I d-doing getting involved with a bunch of c-children?” he mumbled aloud.
He began to doze off as he ate. His head bobbed forward, the momentum bringing his chair back down to ground as he caught himself just before hitting the table. An annoying ringing sound chirped out from amid the mess. Half-startled and half-asleep, he regained his posture and began searching for the phone. He found his way to the floor and scrambled through the various medication bottles and papers until he finally found the receiver. He pressed a few different buttons until he heard it connect.
“Mm…h-hello?” he spoke into the phone, holding back a yawn.
“Glenn? Hey. How are you?” a female voice replied, leaving him mystified until he recognized who it was.
“Oh…Charisma! What’s the matter?” he woke up a little.
“Nothing, I’m fine. Just checking up on you.”
“Me? I’m the same, f-fine, just a bit t-tired is all.” Glenn’s stutter became more pronounced.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes…so what did you n-need?”
“I wanted to see if you needed help packing. I got all my stuff done earlier, so I figured maybe you could use some help.”
“Yes…I’ve, uh…b-been working on that.” The uncertain wavering in his voice betrayed him.
“I figured as much.” Cris’s dry sarcasm came through clearly. “So once Kody and I get our stuff together, we’ll come over and help you pack. Just sort out what you need, and we’ll take care of the rest, okay?”
“Are you sure? S-seems like a lot of work for both of you to d-do on my behalf.”
“Yeah, it’s fine.”
“All right…thank you, C-Charisma.”
“Glenn, relax. And I’ve told you a hundred times already…call me Cris, okay? Cris.”
“R-right. Sorry, I’ve some business to attend to before you both arrive. B-besides, aren’t you in school? You’ll be late for class.”
“Heh…it’s no big deal. It’s just math.”
“If you insist. In any case, I’ll talk to you later Charisma—Er…C-Cris. Goodbye.”
He hung up before she had a chance to finish.
Glenn set the phone down and remained on the floor a while longer. The world started feeling lighter, less connected. He clutched his head as he felt like the room was beginning to spin. Unwelcomed as this sensation was, it was not unfamiliar. He doubled over in pain. He started taking slow, deep breaths, trying to calm himself.
He held his sides, gradually recovering, though not fully recomposing himself. Reality seemed less…real; he stared blankly at the phone, almost as if he expected it to ring again with pleasant news, or at least something that interested him. He was convinced it was bound to happen, though he knew this to be a lie. It was always a lie.
He remained focused on the phone when he got that funny all-too-familiar feeling in his belly right before he passed gas. He jumped, scaring himself, though he scarcely even noticed.
He sighed, deceived by the phone yet again. He staggered, making his way back to the table and eating a few bites of his cereal. Having lost his appetite, he stood there in place, noticing little, with even less passing through his mind.
He felt a small gag in his throat and doubled over once again, now hunched over on the ground as the contents of his stomach liberated and revealed themselves. He was no longer bothered by this and continued to heave, waiting for this session to end. Eventually, there was nothing left, and he was able to breathe.
He looked down in wonder at the unamusing creation he had brought forth. He recognized small bits of cereal and little else. The wretched stench began to foul the stagnant air, and only the light breeze of a fan behind him recirculating the vile odor in the background made any difference.
He grabbed some of the papers resting on the ground next to him and used them to clean up what he could of his mess. He trashed the papers and scrubbed the carpet with a washcloth, making sure to spray plenty of air freshener and being grateful for the fact that his landlord’s horrible taste in rug colors actually happened to coincide with the former contents of his stomach’s. Though he tried for several minutes, his best effort proved useless, and he wandered back toward his bedroom.
He searched in the dark for his nightstand and reached for some pills. It didn’t matter to him which they were, though he knew by shape and texture exactly which ones he had grabbed. He fumbled around a bit more and found a glass of water from the night before. He swallowed the pills half-heartedly while taking another sip from the glass, before collapsing onto his bed.
He hated staring at the ceiling. It was too dark to accurately define anything, yet he was certain he could always make out the image of the monsters lining it. He could make out an eye here, claws there, and of course, always the teeth. Always the teeth. He could barely tell if he was watching them, or if they were watching him.
He sometimes imagined that he was in the ceiling, observing a pitiable man feigning his way through life, toward death. He wondered why he dragged on, either indecisive or watching this grotesque display; why he didn’t take initiative and expedite the process or end it altogether he had no idea. He had no respect for such a false character in either case.
His thoughts became less coherent while his rationale depreciated into simple amusements and pleasures at any inane notion still cogent within him. The medication began to kick in. Drowsiness overcame him, and he finally began falling into what he was sure would be a restless sleep.