i liked you better when you were a blank canvas for me to project my hopes and dreams upon

He knew he was over her six weeks after she left, when he went back to emptying the entire packet into the shells and cheese dinner without feeling a twinge of guilt. It had been a tough run lately, but he was finally starting to snap out of it. Hitting the gym couple times a week. Shaving his neckbeard. He realized it was gonna be good for him to get out there again. He had been in a bad rut the last few months, and it took her leaving for him to realize that. He was even starting to feel grateful to her. As difficult as the solitude was, sitting there in that apartment, it had allowed him time to reflect on his life. Some parts were not easy to think about. In high school, he waited three long years for the starting quarterback job, but by his senior year the school’s team was terrible. The football program’s reputation had fallen to the point where five different teams had scheduled the Calvert Mustangs as their homecoming opponent. They went 0-10, same record as they would have had if they hadn’t had a quarterback at all. The experience of having 11 year-old kids call him a loser at the mall sent him into a downward spiral that it took him nearly all of his college years to overcome. The only thing he had enjoyed about that time (he had had to move four times in his twenties to escape the silverfish that came to live in his stuff at this one duplex) was the fact that 1997, with its rich litany of Hype Williams-directed music videos, was a great time to be a thrice-daily marijuana smoker. Trying as those times were, they did not break him, just as this time wouldn’t. His struggles then gave him the resilience to become a professional success, and throwing himself into his work was where he always found himself when little else seemed certain. As he went in to the office, he could feel a new chapter in his life beginning. Beautiful women were all around him everywhere he went, and he was finally starting to take notice again. Things weren’t so bad. After all, he was the guy in the sleek suit and sunglasses silently overlooking the nightclub from a balcony in an action movie. He surveyed his kingdom. It wasn’t a bad gig. Below on the dance floor, people writhed seductively under the lights to the hypnotic pulsing beat of the DJ. His henchmen sent signals to one another as they waded through the revelers, reaching inside their jackets as they closed in on the unwitting vice cops. All was right with the world.


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June 2012
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