03/04 by Daniel Allen

I set the paper down on the table to think, but my head is ringing. The buzz of the air conditioner... was it yesterday that it broke? I can't remember. Maybe today. I look back to the paper, but my head's too full, so I chug some water. When I die, they'll say “at least he drank water.” I want to go camping. Tomorrow is the fifth, I know that much, but I can't stop the ringing in my head.

“Maybe I'll go for a walk.” Outside, tiny rain falls harshly, I realize I've forgotten my umbrella.—My thoughts slip in and out.—I pass by a small shop filled with bright fluorescent lights and empty benches, the owner watches as I pass; I feel his eyes track my progress across his field, I quicken my pace.

“Hey, what are you doing outside?” Her voice startled me. “Aren't you going to melt?” “Oh, it's you. I'm on a walk.” “Yeah?” “Listen, I'm kind of busy...” “You always say that. When do you ever relax?” “Hey, come on, I just need to finish this month.”—We both knew it was a lie. “Alright, well, some friends are coming over to my place, I think you should join us.”—I could tell she hadn't planned on running into me.

“I might go.”—We both knew it was a lie. “Hey, I've got to get going, it was nice to see you!”—We both knew it was a lie. “Yeah, I guess I'll see you later then..” My head was still ringing. And the sun was setting. I took the stairs to my apartment; I heard it was better for you than the elevator. I collapsed on the couch, completely out of breath and slowly fell asleep.