Just the sight of the stretch marks in his arms, close to his armpits, was enough to make him swim abruptly and very fast, further into the ocean. He could see the people and the beach getting away, he couldn’t feel the bottom anymore and, when he stopped, he noticed he had passed the border marked by the buoys. He swam towards one of them and rested there for a while. He was very agitated because of the effort, his chest going up and down. It seemed he was having problem breathing. Shortly after, a lifeguard boat appeared and offered him help. But he was able to say that he didn’t want any and then swam towards the beach.
It took him a little more time getting there, making a few stops along the way. The salty water of the ocean mixed with the salty water from his tears, but no one knew that or noticed that in the beach. No one really had seen him going that far, everyone was minding their own business, not caring if a guy just swam like a mad man. When he got to the beach, he stood on the edge for a while, cleaning his face and letting the water drip from his body. Then he walked up to one of the showers by the walkway and showered thoroughly there, he had sand all over the place. When he finished he walked up to the parking lot and changed by his car. No one was there to watch.
After that, he drove home and there he ate one of those salads, the kind you buy in the supermarket and are already done for you. He was hungrier than a salad but he didn’t want to go out again and eat something else. He instinctively gazed at his arm but he had a shirt on now and didn’t bother to yank up the sleeve or anything. He just finished his salad and then sat in front of the TV and put some silly documentary about aliens. They were always on, always with some crazy theory. They were the best shows for him to sleep to because he didn’t really care what they were all about. He only knew he was really tired.
When he woke up, the room was in darkness. He looked at his watch and just sat down, covered his face and then stood up. It was time to go to the gym. Once he got there, he realized he was too tired. He tried several machines in a very short time but he just couldn’t do much on any of them. He didn’t know if he was tired from his earlier workout or if he was just not in the mood to do any exercise. Even though he clearly wanted to leave, he made himself stay at least an hour. He didn’t wanted to waste time, even if he preferred to be home reading or watching TV or doing whatever else felt more attractive than being in a gym, not being able to do much. Again, in that place no one really looked at him and he luckily wore a sleeve shirt too. Somehow he had never been a sleeveless shirt type of guy. He just wasn’t many things…
When he finally came out of the gym, he intended to go and eat another salad in his home but he chose, instead, to go and walk around for a while. He was very close to home but he didn’t wanted to go there just yet. He wanted to think for a while or maybe not think at all. He just wanted to keep moving because when he stayed still he began torturing himself and he didn’t wanted that at all. He walked looking at the people going up and down the street, some were alone and others were in couples or even in groups. Some seemed happy and others not so much. Some were in a hurry and others just sat in the benches and just were there, not doing much more than looking at the cars and at the people, like him.
He stopped to check out many store windows, some of them selling toys, others videogames or home appliances or even art. The street on which the gym was located, the same that passed near his house, was very commercial and active. And as the night progressed, more and more people popped all over the place, entering bar and restaurants, greeting people with hugs or only a cold handshake. It was Saturday night after all and everyone was out and about, no one wanted to be alone at home and he was certainly one of those. Normally he wouldn’t really care but this time was different. He felt he needed to stay outside for the remainder of the night because if he went back home he would do the same thing he did every time his thoughts cornered him.
People never really watched, never really cared. They always excused themselves on a false sense of modesty or on a fake respect that no one ever asked of anyone. When he exercised in the gym the first few months he had a trainer. She was very strong and beautiful. He knew she saw the marks on his forearms, on his forehead. They were difficult not to look at if one really thought about it but she never mentioned anything and they saw each other everyday for at least three months. How could she not say anything? Did she really not mind or was she appealing to that false sense of respect that no one ever asked for? It’s not that he wanted to be asked but at the same time he did, he needed to be recognized.
But no one had ever asked, no one had ever been interested. Besides he was very good at curing himself, he knew how to do it in order for anyone to miss the obvious marks. But nevertheless, they were obvious and anyone could have seen the problems, what was bubbling below his surface, that emotionless face and the stretch marked arms and the tired body. Everyone knew but no one cared. He was aware with that everywhere he went, even in that street, walking among people that seemed to be having an ice time with each other, that looked like they couldn’t care less about what happened beyond that place.
He stopped at a small park and realized he had passed his home several blocks ago. He turned around but as he did, a voluptuous figure appeared in front of him. He didn’t really want to have that interaction, not then. It is common that the only people that see those in the shadows are people in the shadows themselves and these people really were. The police, the city officials and the neighbors all knew about it but no one really did anything to prevent it. Prostitutes had taken over and had taken the park as their place to work and get work. The lamps were not as bright as they could have been and some places were just very dark at night. Not only prostitutes hid in the shadows and he knew that well.
Before she could offer him anything, he told her he wasn’t interested. She walked closer, in order to get in his way. She was very tall and had very strong legs and a wide chest and back. But she had the most luxurious head of hair he had ever seen on a prostitute. He repeated himself, told her he wasn’t interested. She then explained what she could do for him, what she liked to do and what he might like to do. She got neared but he took a step back. She smiled and he didn’t and she put a hand on his shoulder. It was a heavy hand and he felt as if he had sunken a couple of centimeters because of that hand. She assured they would have the best time ever and that she wouldn’t charge him too much. But the think her arm, pulled her hand off him and told her he wasn’t interested.
This time he walked away and heard the prostitute insulting him and saying a bunch of derogatory terms, one after the other. She was like a machine of insults and, it had to be said, she was very creative about it. He tried not to hear any more that meant that he had a small penis and just walked home as fast as he could. It was late and the weather outside got very cold without him noticing. When he got home he took off his gym clothes and put on a pajama. Again, he turned on the TV and tried to watch some documentary about sharks, then a movie about some teenagers lost in an island and finally some cartoons. But the thought was already there and he couldn’t get the image out of his head. He had to do it, he had no option.
Hours later, he was in his bed, head on the pillow looking up but with his eyes wide open. He was shaking and his arms were slightly opened, as if he was playing to be an angel of sorts in his own bed. But it wasn’t an angel one would have thought of when looking at the large blood stains in the blankets. They were rapidly expanding, forming the wings of the possible angel. But no real angel could have been found there. He closed his eyes to sleep and, this time, he cried again. He understood this was the day in which it finally got to him, in which he lost his grip on everything. He was finally lost and there was no one that could save him. Then again, there was no one at all.