I wrote this a while ago and submitted for my masters application abroad (which was rejected). I figured I'd publish it here and I really want to know what you think.
In the midst
The cigarette came slowly to meet his lips, his breath dragged the smoke from within it, causing the white cylinder to smolder in reddish orange flames and just as their blazing frenzy settled down, his hand moved back down to rest on the table, the tip of the cigarette gently leaning on the edge of the ashtray, seemingly drained and visibly shortened, a signal that soon it shall meet its end. He looked up and tilted his head a little, his lips curled to form an "O" as he slowly emptied his abused lungs of smoke, which quickly spread all over the crowded table, prompting girls to frown and wave the smoke away, while some of them faked troubled coughs. Seeing their reaction, he mischievously smiled and continued to smoke the cigarette like nothing happened, some of the people gave him dirty looks. His girlfriend put her arms around his waist and slowly crept to his side so that her mouth was almost touching his earlobe, as she whispered something in his ear. He looked at her inquisitively to which she smiled pleadingly and then he put out his cigarette.
It was about to end anyhow, the cigarette that is, he thought to himself, but it's nice to have her win something every once in a while. He looked around at the people at the table, they were all speaking in a sarcastic tone, engrossed in some filthy office gossip; they were her work friends, but he knew them well. During the many times he went out with them, they would criticize and demean everyone they came in contact with, no one escaped them; they would even gossip about each other. He was amazed at them, amused by their petty existence and yet inadvertently he was one of them. He became one as he shared their conversation, their fancy restaurants that served foreign food which he didn't really like, but rather feigned amusement to blend in; he was amused by their disconnection from society as they huddled inside their inner circles afraid of going out of them lest they can't come back. They were so typical, predictable and stable, they were so still as people; as if they were refusing to develop and yet they had a strange sense of superiority acquired through their social and economic statuses.
"Birds of a feather flock together" came to his mind and he wondered whether his was of the same feather, was he as superior, vicious and limited? Would this be his world from now on? He laughed. He didn't really care, come to think of it he never really cared about anything, which amazed and bewildered those around him. What they didn't know is that he started doing this since childhood and so he had years of practice; it comes so easily to him that it had become a reflex action, an innate nature, or a basic instinct that developed from a survival mechanism. People often described him using words such as “inhuman”, “a machine”, “a robot” or as some girlfriend once tearfully exclaimed “a merciless monster,” he smiled again. It is not that he didn’t care about people, it is just that he didn’t care how they viewed him or what they thought of him; he acted the way he wanted and whoever wants to be around him, should choose for themselves and ironically enough, he found that people became more seeking of his company than before. Despite him being so blunt and emotionless, people wanted to be around him, they liked his company; some fearing him, others admired him, some were amused by him and a rare few appreciated his unadulterated honesty; those ones were his real friends, the ones who went weeks without speaking to him and yet when he needed them the most, they were always there.
He realized that he had no reason to change, his way of life has become comfortable to him and it didn’t repel people away; it is as some would say a win-win situation. It wasn’t always easy, especially with his romantic conquests, those were the hardest; girls always wanted him to “open up” and “share”, when there is nothing to share or to talk about, he wondered why they wouldn’t be happy with whatever he had to offer, why they always wanted to push him towards the edge, why don’t they just accept things face-value instead of digging around for reasons. His relationships often ended before it could start; they would start with a few good weeks then there would be the first fight, to which he always acted nonchalant, prompting the girl to accuse him of not caring or not loving her or whatever the hell she wanted to believe and then it would come to an end and none of them really amused him to the point where he would try to make things right, and so when it ended, he would always find himself relieved.
A roaring laugh brought him back to his surroundings, the table was huddled around, laughing at a man in a nearby table; he looked eccentric enough, untidy, and wearing a strange combination of colors; a purple shirt, white trousers and bright red sneakers, his hair was greasy and sticking to the nape of his neck and his eyes seemed to have some kind of nervous twitch; a poor soul, he thought, trapped between reality and his faulty brain, only to be pegged down as “abnormal”. Yet, who’s to say what’s normal anymore? He thought, it’s a strange world we’re living in.
He looked at his watch, it was getting late and he was getting tired of this charade, yet he was in no hurry to get home because he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep, he never really slept nowadays; he would go days without sleeping and then suddenly his body would shut down and he would find himself sleeping all through the day and sometimes night; it was more of a temporary coma, which caused him sometimes to miss important events and meetings. He tried desperately to regulate his sleeping patterns, but time after time these attempts would be met with great failure. A friend of his once told him that there has to be a certain reason, “A trigger”, she said for why he couldn’t sleep, some tragic event that troubled his psyche. He dismissed that thought casually, but maybe she was on to something, he tried to remember the first time he couldn’t sleep; he was 21 and he had a huge fall-out with his family. According to his parents, he’d turned into a vicious self-destructing person at that time, but for the life of him he couldn’t remember the details of his destructive youth. It was as if his mind built a brick wall around this part of his life and whatever effort he exerted to destroy it was met with failure. Every now and then he would remember snapshots of events; people he’d met, things he’d done, places he’d visited, but they were just pieces and he couldn’t really glue them together.
It was his first year working after his college graduation, it was an IT support job that his father had gotten him as a favor from a friend, not that he needed any strings to be pulled with the grades he had or the confidence he exhumed, but his father’s friend needed someone he could trust. It was a pretty good job, boring sometimes, but not greatly annoying. He remembered one particular aspect he liked about this job, his supervisor; she was a foreigner and she could have been mistaken for a Greek goddess with her hour-glass figure, flirtatiously plump pout and the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. She was a vision, but when she spoke, he found it even harder to concentrate on account of her sexy deep voice. She was generally nice to everyone, but she was especially nice to him, smiling, flipping her hair and sitting playfully on his desk when she spoke to him. He never really reacted to her, because she was technically his boss, but he always found himself looking forward to their chance meetings. Things progressed into lunch meetings and coffee-runs, to which she always treated him. He thought that she was nice to him because he was young and it was his first job, and when she was flirtatious, he attributed to her being a foreigner and not attuned to the country’s strict traditions. To him, she was carefree and fun to be around, and so what if she touched him a lot and was a bit suggestive, it not like she was hurting him or forcing him.
Two months into the job, she got a job back home and she was leaving. He remembered her last day on the job, he’d worked late again because of a new software the company was installing on all of its workstations. He’d spent all day working with bugs and error messages and he was exhausted, and so he made himself a cup of coffee for the road and then headed for the garage. Just as he was getting into his car, he heard a clunking sound or rather the sound of a car that won’t start, so he got out of his car and went to see if he could help. It was her car that wouldn’t start and so he offered her a ride home, after all it was her last day and it was a company car. He dropped her off, but there was a heavy box in the trunk which she couldn’t lift by herself, so he carried it to her apartment and set it in the reception. She insisted he’d stay for a cup of coffee, he hesitated, but her house was an hour away from his home and the effects of the first cup of coffee was fading, and so he agreed. And that was all that he remembered of this night. All he remembered next was his parents’ faces unto his and he was in a hospital bed; they looked concerned and angry at the same time. They’d found him unconscious at his supervisor’s apartment, his clothes were torn, and there were needle marks on his arms; according to the doctors he’d overdosed on some drug. He tried to convince his parents that he’d never used drugs and that the tests must have been wrong, but they wouldn’t hear him. They sent him to a rehab facility, where he wasted 6 months of his life getting rid of a habit he’d never picked up. Yet, day after the other in the rehab center convinced him that he was a drug addict and that he didn’t remember because of the destroyed brain cells. All he remembered of that year was working hard and being a normal boring person, but according to the doctors and his parents he was distant, unresponsive, secretive and temperamental. When he returned home, he moved out of the house and lived with his uncle for a while; he figured he needed some time away from his parents because all they did was reminding him of his mistakes and he needed to forget.
“Honey?” it was his girlfriend that snapped him out of his trip down memory lane; it was finally time to leave. He still had to drive his girlfriend to her house and then return to his, they got into his car and his girlfriend immediately started to talk about how stupid some people, at the outing, were. He nodded and smiled, but truly wished she would stop talking. He dropped her off and went home, climbed into bed, dressed only in his shorts, and he stared at his arms which were covered with small scars of the year he couldn’t remember. He stared at the ceiling and tears rolled down his cheeks as he remembered every detail of that fateful night, every detail that he feverishly denied.