by Anith Mukherjee
John killed a man today. He didn’t want to, it just kind of happened.
Like one time John was at a game, and suddenly the section of the crowd he was sitting in all stood up and started booing and throwing things. John wanted to be included so he stood up and threw a water bottle. The bottle was almost full, a heavy projectile. As soon as he threw it a girl a few rows in front of him stood up into the path of the bottle. John knew the girl would be hit right in the center of her neck, and it would be painful for her. He could see it happening but could do nothing to stop it.
John wiped his hand on his jumper again. Half dried blood on his fingers smeared into the half dried blood on his jumper. The dried blood flaked off and made little red specks on the ground. A trail leading back home. It was very late at night and only a few people around. Everyone who saw John just looked and then quickly looked away. Continuing with their own lives, their own problems. Have to wake up tomorrow. Have to tell Mike the project report will be late. Have to remind myself to ask Emily to dinner. No time to think about the guy with the red all over his jumper. Not my problem. Don’t want it to be my problem. Don’t make eye contact.
John coughed. He coughed up a ball of phlegm and blood and spat it onto the ground. It hit the trail of red behind him. Phlegm mixed with blood mixed with blood. John wiped his hands on his jumper again. The half dried blood on his fingers smeared into the half dried blood on his jumper. John shook his head abruptly, violently. He felt his brain bump against his skull. John clicked his fingers. John slapped his chest. John stamped his foot. John coughed up a chunk of phlegm and blood and spat it onto the ground. It hit the trail of red behind him. Phlegm mixed with blood mixed with blood.
John turned a corner and walked through a park. He dug a hole in the dirt with his hands. Dirt clung to the inside of his fingernails. They were dirty anyway so he didn’t really care. John placed (object) into the hole. John spat into the hole. John filled the hole back up. John looked up at the moon. It was a cloudy night so when he looked up he really didn’t see anything. John looked at a random patch of the sky and assumed the moon was there. The moon looked nice, he assumed.
John walked into a 7/11. He got a $1 coffee from the coffee machine. Cappucino. But then he realized he didn’t want a cappuccino, he wanted a flat white. John put the cappuccino down and went back to the coffee machine and got a $1 flat white. John went up to the cashier and put his red fingers into his pocket and pulled out a $1. He gave it to the cashier, and the cashier said thanks. The cashier held the red dollar and watched John leave. The cashier went back to thinking about how many donuts he could eat before his manager would notice there were donuts missing. Probably three. The cashier ate four donuts. They were dry.
John walked into his apartment building. He finished his flat white and placed the red cup carefully on a ledge. John walked up the stairs. He walked four floors before he started to get tired. He looked at the white stairs ahead of him. He looked at the red stairs behind him. John remembered one night when he smiled. John walked up the stairs until he got to the door to the roof. The door had a lock but it was unlocked. He walked onto the roof.
John saw the city under him. John saw the lights around him. Ten thousand people with ten thousand lives. Ten thousand relationships, ten thousand experiences, ten thousand problems, ten thousand pens aggressively scratching paper to see if they had any link left. Ten thousand stories. John will never know any of them. They will all know John’s.
John looked at where he assumed the moon was in the sky.