I hope you don’t find me, Charlie | a short story

*for a fully immersive reading experience please listen to this*

The whole night didn’t feel right. His body felt too cold, his bed seemed unfamiliar and yet he slept through the darkness behind his windows. He sat up in his bed, his elbows on his knees and rubbed his eyes. Something around him didn’t recognise him, had disintegrated him whilst he was asleep, but he looked around his room, his belongings and his furniture to realise that everything was still waiting for him to move in this space that he deemed his.

He unplugged his phone and started to catch up on everything that made him feel as if he was behind. A hot gluey sensation clawed his guts as he read through his messages, everything he seemed to have posted, photos included, his fingertips sweated, he dropped the phone, not breathing properly and he tried to stand up on his weak knees and he felt like the world had caught up with him. But what kind of world? What kind of him?

Stumbling across his room, he tried to find something to hold on to, something that wasn’t wobbling, something that could identify him, something that saw the truth in the big picture, him as a human being, not a construct, not a fake, not a bunch of one-liners in an ever-growing speech bubble filling up an empty space with neon colours.

He started crying, but he felt that he was too old to call for help, to beg for his parents to come and protect him. He felt like the world was too big, too alert, lurking and waiting in disguise, chivalrous and armed to the core, ready, eyes popping, infrared, on the target, he felt like his parents were nobodies to the world, to him, how could they give him back his stability, his home, his world. He thought about love, but he felt that it was so far away now, so unattainable and he felt it slipping away from him, he shrank in a well of a room beneath a circus, trumpets blasting out his voice, the glue stuck, the blood was called out of his body. He couldn’t contain himself, his fear offered his body to the world that found a way into his bedroom. He just wanted to be left alone. He couldn’t understand why his friends couldn’t realise that it wasn’t him, it wasn’t his voice, why did they rally against him without knocking on his door, without asking how he was, what happened, what was going on, they were all gone, and nobody had been in his room.

His hands fell onto the pictures on his wall. All the photographs of him and his friends. But someone else had taken his place. It wasn’t him, not where he was supposed to be. Everybody in the picture seemed to know this guy, but he didn’t. They had the same faces, but this guy posing as him didn’t. He looked as if he could see him through the paper, the gloss. He felt looked at, but nothing and nobody was moving, but he felt the world come towards him, come for him, through this man’s gaze who wasn’t him. He had been replaced by a stranger in all his memories decorating his wall. And the world believed this impostor. He had lost against the world. This guy fit in, knew how to. He seemed worldless. His room was still so quiet, the air whispering against the shut windows, the sunlight streaming in and distributing artful shadows on the floor, nature going on outside, except for the endless sounds of notification after notification on his phone begging for his fingertips to come back and lose control.

He hovered above the phone that was blinking on the floor and stared into the abyss of ever-changing, ever-distorted canvasses, people were addressing him, the user, the avatar, the presence, and he felt addressed, they were taking over his body over breakfast or whatever else they were doing in their own absence, their words kept pouring in, his body overheated, he waited for the door to open, for someone taking care of the problem, of him, everything that was wrong with the world, his room, maybe he deserved the world to bury him, and get rid of him to the sound of faraway applause, an ever-gluttonous audience waiting for the next free ticket, silence and ruins, whatever, swipe, scroll, who?

My own drawing © Laura Gentile 2022 | Instagram: croque_melpomene

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