The Kind of Like, Running Motion Towards Something

by Marston Hefner

The challenge of not having a mother in college was immense but I didn’t take her seriously when she suggested attaching herself to my back with one of those fetal strap things. I came back home after college and I think my father enjoyed me being back. I had nowhere to go which suited him nice because he liked having me around. I’ve heard parents should teach their children how to fend for themselves but my father always had a very large great sword in his study.

“You know what I’m going to do with it?” he asked me. “Slay your enemies.” He’d swing it around a bit.

In my bedroom I tried to understand why my girlfriend broke my heart. I also wanted to know a little bit more of what I wanted to find. In my bedroom at home with my parents tinkering downstairs with Tupperware I noticed a girl had liked an Instagram photo of mine. I then looked at a photo of her standing in front of a subway car with her tattoos and blue eyes showing.

I wrote her saying, “Put me in a hankie and go achoo and I remove your sickness.”

She replied with, “Today I bought a cat and I didn’t much care for it.”

She was very beautiful. I stared at my wall for a while longer and then I thought this is no way to live, that I was getting but hadn’t gotten to the way to live yet. The way to live was with her, maybe, and we’d spend a good deal of the rest of our lives together. Sleep is spent for most of our lives but she’d come second, time wise. The kind of smiles that say to each other and to ourselves that this is what we came to live here for. We didn’t come to live for sleep but we came to live for us and even though people say that’s an ugly thing to do we’d come to realize that ultimately it was true and how silly it was what other people thought. And it’s like, what we would have was like after falling, the part of catching, of feeling the support holding your body and the looking up into her blue eyes which would be smiling.

In my bedroom I looked at her photo again and I thought maybe her eyes are just the white sclerae that make up all eyes, and her irises just happen to be blue because her mother’s eyes were blue, and her pupils weren’t looking at me but the camera. That maybe she’s just science.

“Can we meet up?” I asked.

“Yes.”

After our first date I could not sleep. I called her phone but she did not answer. The difference between loneliness and being alone has always been negligible to me. To distract myself I went on my laptop. It wass harrrd.

“It was hard,” she said to me in the morning.

“What do you mean?”

“It was hard not calling you last night,” she said.

“I called you last night,” I said.

“I didn’t get your call.”

I said, “Hmmm that’s weird.”

“It was so weird,” she said. “Can I see you again? I mean I want to see you again.”

I took her to a restaurant. It seemed like her blue eyes like tinted her hair blue. It was all very exciting, the date was, and that night I didn’t feel devastated being away from her. The feeling was abdicated since I knew she missed me dearly, my mother probably but more my potential girlfriend is what I meant. She missed me in a dire way that I reciprocated the next day with brief kisses and a soothing of her tattooed bicep.

A few months passed and the overwhelming happy feeling of being around her tampered down. The days became every day and I enjoyed this. We ended up watching a lot of shows about girls putting on make up and looking at their faces in mirrors while talking to their friends who had their faces in mirrors and they talked about boyfriends but other stuff too. Every night we looked forward to watching the shows and during the day we’d text about it. It was pretty cool, the transition in our relationship.

And yea on the fifth month of basically good feelings she said to me, “You said you’d tell me about the darker stuff about yourself.”

I told her what they were of course, being in such a trusting and loving relationship I felt I could.

“Is that all?” She asked.

“Yes. I think so,” I said.

“To be honest,” she said looking at her lap, “I think we should break up. I’ve been worrying about it constantly even though I don’t want it to come true. The stress reminds me of mid-term exams.”

“You being too tired to study,” I said.

“The kind of responsibility that you don’t want to look at,” she said. “Being 21 years old in your dorm room and having the clouds start to come over your building. Everything dreary.”

“Running away from the next step,” I said.

“The next step being marriage and kids and a domestic life.”

“Which,” I said, “you told me you did not want. In the past.”

“And then I said I did want it with you, please note,” she said.

“And now it’s crunch time.”

“Now it’s crunch time,” she said, “and I’ve barely studied.”

“Knowing tomorrow must come but not wanting it to,” I said. “You being unprepared, wanting to sleep in, miss the exam which would lead to an F. But you hoping somehow, emailing that you’re sick perhaps, somehow there is a way out of the exam without failing, you hope.”

“I realize there are expectations completely outside of study hard,” she said. “There are expectations from friends to also excel at being a fun kind of girl. To have fun. The kind of fun with no rules at all.”

“And you wake up and you do it,” I said. “Over and over again. Until it’s no longer about the fun but maintaining the appearance of the fun.”

“And even though I know what happens,” she said.

“The pressure is too much. Some distance is necessary,” I said.

“Yes.”

“For how long?”

“I don’t know,” she said.

“Are you going to tell me when you know?”

“Yes.”

“I am not a monster,” I said. “I would never hurt you.”

“I never said you were a monster.”

Marston Hefner is a writer living in Los Angeles.

Artwork: Scantron