He spends too much time watching TV. Staring at the screen of his cell phone. Sometimes, he does both at the same time. Wasting hours that he’ll never get back watching media he won’t remember the next day.
Remember that one TikTok video you watched while taking a shit? You sat there for at least five videos before you wiped and got back to whatever you were doing before nature called. Five videos worth of time after your final push. You sat on that toilet for five more videos breathing in shit particles exhumed from your shitty ass. And you saw that one video—not a thirst trap, but you do tend to like those as soon as they start—and it made you laugh?
Of course, you don’t. Nobody remembers what they watched.
Sometimes he does remember. He’ll bring up a video viewed on TikTok about cooking during casual conversation. Or talk about how maybe he’ll take up chopping wood as a hobby because the guy, woman, non-binary person made it look so easy. So effortless. Never that he doesn’t even have the upper body strength to lift himself up let alone to build up enough force to swing that axe down.
In the morning, he wakes up with a hard on. At this age, he is glad that his minute pecker can still wake up at full attention. Though his erections don’t stick around for too long. He is unsure if this is a blessing or the beginning of the end.
He wonders why he cares anyway. He’s not using it outside of self-pleasure. Maybe handling his cock less would bring him greater pleasure. Maybe he should try abstaining from masturbation since he’s already celibate.
He remembers when celibacy was a choice he made because he was tired of sticking his dick into someone he didn’t love. Unlike most men, he realized that meaningless sex wasn’t for him. He traded in the bored housewives for Porn Hub and Only Fans, but even that got a bit too weird for him. Watching these women who were decades younger, most of them barely out of high school, fornicate and masturbate on the screen.
He still found them attractive, but there was something predatory about it now.
At work, he spun around in his chair. He brewed watered down coffee—as per company breakroom policy. He stared at the cream-colored walls while dissociating. He rode the elevator to the top floor while trying to find meaning with the scratches on its walls. He spoke about local sports teams while not knowing a thing about them. He listened as others overshared about their medical problems, problems at home, the chick they fucked in the bathroom of a bar.
And none of it brought him satisfaction.
He doesn’t remember the last time anything brought him satisfaction.
At home, he jerked off to a video of a young college coed getting fucked by three black men. He doesn’t remember the plot, nor did he care.
And when he came, he didn’t bother wiping it off.
The phone call wakes him. His room still smells of stale cum and sweat. It’s Delilah. He hasn’t heard from her in seven years. And it’s time for the gift exchange.
But he knows that each year, as they get older, the gift exchange period gets closer and closer.
They are the last two of the original group, which means it’s time to invite a guest. Invite someone new into this curse.
“I’ll pack a bag,” he says. “You just make sure your friend isn’t too spry.”
This will be a road trip year. They will visit the old haunt. And maybe—just maybe—this will bring him some satisfaction into his life. Some peace and happiness in exchange for a gift. But dread still clings to him.
Because he knows that at the end of this road trip, one of them will die.
Recently, my depression has gotten the best of me. Things I loved doing aren’t doing it for me anymore. And I noticed that my feelings are easily bruised. With whispers of the invisible friend, that repugnant Voice whispering into my ear, there has been moments where certain thoughts run wild. The scratching of notebook paper with ballpoint pens.
Last Tuesday, my friend celebrated their birthday. We—being them, me, and another friend of ours—went to Sonic, the public library, and the Dollar Tree. (This is, after all, how adults celebrate their birthdays.) During the ride from point A to point B, birthday friend started blasting Woodland by The Paper Kites on the car stereo. It made the whole moment feel like on of those bad Wes Anderson movies.
It gives my depression a break. Those fleeting moments with friends, though I always fear of saying or doing something that will bring down the moment. But in that bad movie moment, I started thinking about a story. A story that stemmed this year’s Christmas post.
What if there was a group of friends who, every so many years, had to participate in some sort of ritual. And while there are a bajillion stories and movies just like this, I began to wonder what I could do differently. Make the story my own.
And while I try to outline that, I started thinking about characters. Thus this narration was spawned.
Call it an outline. It’s not even a rough draft.