UNDERGROUND VOICES: PROSE
BRYAN FOX

Rebound

Wake.
Wake and wish for a morning where the first word you exhale isn’t the “fuck” that accompanies
your backhand slap at the bedside alarm clock.
A day where your first coherent thought isn’t “here we go again.”

Remember.
Remember a time when your stomach at rest was more taut than it is now when you suck in air
and hold your breath.
When your comb didn’t look like a used dog brush after you ran it across your scalp.
And the image in the bathroom mirror wasn’t that of a withered pickpocket who stole the past
fifteen years of your life.

Things you’ve noticed since It Happened:

The bed stays unmade because you’re the only person who’s going to see it.
The toilet seat stays up, where it belongs.
Shaving no longer figures into the grand scheme of things.
And the whiskey glass never makes it back into the cupboard.

There are days when you walk down a crowded street and wish someone would bump into you.
Just so you’d have an excuse to bump back.
Days when it’s easy to hate people you don’t even know.
You don’t smile at the pretty girl in the coffee shop anymore.
And eye contact has started to cause physical pain.
Like looking at the sun.

Seethe.
Seethe about that time you helped her move even though it meant giving up front row seats to
a playoff game.
That Christmas you wore that stupid fucking sweater she bought you.
Again and again, to show her you didn’t hate it.
Those two months her sister turned your living room into her own apartment while she was
“working things out” with her man.
Five Valentine’s Days, four Thanksgivings, three quiet New Year’s Eves in a row.

You started lamenting the lack of Time With The Boys, until you realized that the past isn’t what
it used to be.
And found out that if you turn down enough offers, they stop being made.
Everyone knows a body recovers from physical injury and illness more quickly in youth.
But no one says the same thing about mental wounds.
Though it seems self-evident that the same principle apples.

And you can start to exercise again,
eat right again,
buy new clothes again
floss again
and do all the other little things people do when they care.

You can head back to the bars,
act like you’re happy to be playing the field
when the reality is you thought the game ended years ago.
And your uniform doesn’t even fit anymore.

Rationalize.
Rationalize things and spin the situation any way you like.
Cut photos in half and delete emails.
Throw out Her-scented blankets and old clothing.
Rearrange the pictures on the wall.
Erase the files on your internal hard drive
      with tumblers of liquor and prescription pain pills
              which won’t cure the ones you’ve got.

Because the simple truth is that one person loved another person longer than it was welcome.
And the Whys and the Hows don’t matter,
because love’s not a feeling with an on/off switch.
No matter how long you grope around the dark chambers of your heart looking for one.

No amount of name-cursing and hand-wringing and self-hating and wall-punching is going to
right this.
No do-overs.
This is how reality tastes now.
Sleep with that tonight.
Weep.


Bryan Fox is currently living in Seoul, teaching teachers how to teach and
testing out the durability of his liver. He has also contributed to the
Seoul Writers Workshop 2009 anthology, *Every Second Sunday*, to be released
in October 2009. The anthology is available at http://everysecondsunday.wordpress.com/







© 2004-2009 Underground Voices