camel filters

The afternoon sun rests lightly over the fog that surrounds us as we sit on a wooden bench. Only a roof above us, a sad excuse for shelter along the bike path that separates us and the reality of her neighborhood, her parents waiting for us in the kitchen of her childhood home. We don’t care. We’re the modern prophets with the answer that everyone will ignore, but we don’t care, because they don’t.

She hands me a cigarette, and I allow myself to feel special for a moment because I know I’m the only person she’ll bum cigarettes too. I know this because she tells me this. I believe most of what she tells me, because why would she lie to me? She’s my guide, my teacher, my mentor, leading me down to become the worst possible version of myself. I follow because after so many years of searching for meaning above ground, I figure the next place to look is in the dirt, and so we dig. We’ve been digging for a month now, and the hole is only getting deeper. I wonder how long it will be until I can’t see the light anymore.

I cough, and she laughs because I still haven’t got the hang of it. I don’t even like cigarettes. I smoke them with her because I can’t think of a good enough reason not to. Passing bikers shoot us with their judging eyes, expressing their disapproval in a single expression as they pass. This is where the word irony comes from. People whizzing pass us on bicycles, getting into tip-top shape in desperate attempts to elongate their futile existence, and we’re doing just the opposite. We want to speed up the inevitable demise, we have no desire to live comfortably at a ripe old age, and we’re shoving it in their faces. We’re putting our staggering apathy on display to the world, asking them to care about the fact that we don’t. Look at us! We’re being obscenely self-destructive for you! We’re sacrificing ourselves for you, so that you have something to talk about, something to lament over on the 4 o’clock news. We’ll be a car crash happening before your eyes, and all you can do is watch.

Because this is what we want. We want to be the ones to dig so deep we reach the red hot center of the universe, we want to use self-inflicted misery because maybe, just maybe, it’ll get us there. To the meaning we’ve been looking for. To enlightenment.

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