The Apex Chapter I: Neon Blues

I should be an active somebody, and be productive, and energetic like the rest of all Americans. I should be able to be motivated to get out of the sheets, and begin another boring day. I should be like a normal person and do something—anything. Ninety percent of Manhattan is up-and-ready at this moment: working, driving, eating, walking, insert gerund here. I have plans today, in t-minus forty-nine…hundred-and-forty-nine…two hundred-and-nine minutes. Scratch that. Two hundred-and-eight minutes. And here I am, still in my apartment, still in my room, staring straight at a blue ceiling, smothered by a linen comforter. My limbs melting into memory foam. Exhausted.

I'm so pathetic.

Last night, I went to bed early, for the first time in a long time. At exactly 11:00 PM. And like always, I wake up in the critical hours of 1:00-5:00 AM. I was planning to sleep for as long as I could. Hell, I don't even have to go to work until next week—as if that were embarrassing enough. I've done pretty much everything that Google demanded: I've worn earplugs, eye masks, played soothing music, turned off my phone, and chugged down some chamomile. Hell, I've even suffocated my window with blinds, pillows, and duct tape—lots and lots of duct tape. And yet, I've been damned to suffer from this stupid case of insomnia. None of that shit worked.

Except (maybe) the melatonin.

The only thing that seems to brings me company is this stupid light I got from thrift store three years ago. It's a blue cube the size of my hand, with giant LED bulbs that brightens up my entire room. With a little perk, it even shows the time, down to the smallest decisecond. A sign of impending doom for the mornings. It was a spontaneous purchase. Was like ten bucks. I found it in my closet three weeks ago, removing shit I didn't need anymore. Guess I did find a purpose for it after all.

Isn't it stupid for a twenty-four-year-old adult to sleep with a night-light?

I shift towards the left side of my bed, where it's cold, only to have my phone press against my elbow. It makes me sorer than usual. I turn over again, this time away from the phone stomach first, and lie down on the memory form. I rotate my blanket to a side that I haven't used in a few hours, and my body temperature shrinks by a few degrees. It's both prickly and comforting at the same time, my skin crawling with goosebumps and hairs on edge. I stuff my face into my pillows, and breathe through the pillowcase. A minute or so of this and I can make a semi-perfect imprint of my face. I could stay here forever. In comfort in comfort. Smothered by linen. All alone, alone with myself.

Then comes a knock, a fucking thud at the door. Loud and vivacious. Echoing even through my closed door. Thrice in succession. Thrice in a row. I rise in a daze, my palm spread flat on top of my pillow, ruining what was supposed to be a fantastic imprint. I thought the 80's "neighbors asking for sugar" cliché died back in the 90's. And then my phone vibrates, the screen illuminating and playing up to the first thirty seconds of "Dearly Beloved"—I should really get rid of it, it's embarrassing in public. The dead black screen comes to life, portraying a selfie of "Jeffrey 'Jeff' Brooks," a ditzy, yet responsible and likable guy. My best friend, the whom I cancelled brunch plans with this morning.

The one I assume knocks at my door at this very hour, like a lunatic.

"What in the world is going on? Didn't he read my texts?" I exhaustedly mutter under my breaths. I hesitate touching my phone. Wouldn't it be nice to pretend I wasn't home and wait until he leaves? Couldn't I just chuck my phone to the other side of my room and hide under the sheets? Would it be acceptable to ghost a ghost that suddenly, out of the blue, yesterday afternoon, tries to reunite with me after working a three-month-long internship from Deutschland? I feel the heat trickling down my neck, as the rings continue. My guilt is enough. I slide my screen to the right of the green answer button and immediately place him on speaker.

It doesn't matter if you're a ghost or not. You will live on as an asshole in spirit.

"H-hello?"

"Sup, Adrian! You ready for brunch or not? What? Don't tell me you forgot!" Jeff replies, chuckling under his breath.

"No, I…didn't." I stretch out that last word while minimizing the call and switching to my messages, to see what the hell went wrong. I know he's persistent, but damn, this takes the cake. I look at my chat history, and browse the evidence quickly, starting with the bottom speech bubbles.

Yesterday:

JEFF: "So quick change of plans the restaurant that we agreed on is closed tomorrow for renovations I just walked past it today should I just meet you at your place and we can talk about stuff and what we wanna do???

ME: "I do know its a grate ida maybe caramels?

JEFF: "KK..lol sounds good"

Today:

JEFF: "Hey I'm here you up?"

JEFF: "Hellooo?"

JEFF: "?

I frustratedly punch into the memory foam thrice in a row. I meant to type "I don't think it's a great idea. Maybe cancel?" I was so dazed last night that I didn't pay attention to my stupid spelling. I sound like a drunkard, illiterate and out of his mind. Great. Now I have to go. I knew I should have double-checked. Perfect. Here I thought I was in the clear, and now there's Jeff outside, raring to go, occupied by a closed door.

Damn autocorrect.

"Hellooo! Anyone there? Adrian?"

"Just give me a sec!" I frantically reply, kicking ten pounds of sheets off my bed. I bounce off the carpet, and sprint towards my bedroom door, only for my left foot to clash against the blue cube. I step on one of the edges, and recoil from the shock. I hiss under my breath and frustratedly punt it towards the right. Stupid little shit! I open my bedroom door, and sprint my living room's hardwood floor. Great, now I'm motivated—in the wrong way—flushed up with adrenaline.

I can't keep him waiting like this; I just can't! Any more of this and it's going to get more awkward as it already is! Great, this sucks. This sucks, this sucks, this fucking sucks! I press my heels against the elongated edges of my jogging pants and slide across the front door, like an amateur figure-skater a frozen duck pond...at night. I can hear him inside and outside the door, with his bombastic volume and the speaker. I quickly remove the bolt out of the latch, and open up for the day, clumsily.

Here stands before him a loner in the dark.

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