by Hakeem Anthony
“A profound love between two people involves, after all, the power and chance of doing profound hurt.”
— Ursula K. Le Guin
[fore]playing gta v
Sky sat smiling in the seat in front of the TV, fingers pushing buttons here and there but mostly the left thumb was controlling the left analog which was steering the all-white car. The right hand was pressing A or B, controlling the acceleration.
Grey walks through the door and sees the back of Sky’s head underneath the screen showing a character that’s being controlled. The character gets out of the car and walks into a place called, “Vanilla Unicorn”.
“So, what are you up to?”
Inside the place, the character passes a few other people and walks up to a stage. Grey starts walking over from the door. Sky’s hair spills over the back of the seat; the reddened dreads in a mix of free-form and braids. Grey playfully interlocks some fingers into the dreads – and the question again, “so, what are you up to?”
On the screen, Grey can now tell what place the Vanilla Unicorn is as the character takes a stripper into what looks like a VIP room for a private dance. Sky doesn’t reciprocate any of Grey’s advances and focuses instead on getting the character some pleasure.
After the dance, the stripper and the character decide to go back to the character’s house. The stripper puts a name in the character’s phone: Nicky.
“Is everything ok?”
After Nicky starts to leave the character’s house, the character pulls a gun out, aiming. The character starts to shoot random people. Grey stops playing in Sky’s hair and goes to sit in a seat, taking out a grinder and dutches to start making a blunt. Both contribute to the smoke now conditioning the air in the small apartment.
“Why does it seem like so much fun to fuck and then kill people?”
Both of them are looking at the screen, watching the character running amok with a grenade launcher. The sounds of the controller cannot even be heard, as if the character is controlling itself at this point, doing what it wants without regard to who is supposed to pull the strings. It blows up a helicopter that falls onto some houses.
“It’s the two extremes though, right?”
“Like tears of happiness or tears of sadness.” “Destruction. Creation.”
The character disappears as the screen goes blank, the lights in the apartment turning off as well. Grey gets up and looks out the window, rain coming down with streaks of lightening in-between the water. Sky also goes towards the window. What looks like hail on fire also starts to fall down.
“Does the rain evaporate or run away from lightning?”
“I heard that getting struck by lightning makes you remember everything?” “Is that worth the pain of being burnt?”
“Why not leave with something if you’ll get hurt anyway?”
“Is all lightning the same? Some probably hurts more than others and there’s no guarantee the memory thing happens.”
“Then don’t go outside. Stay inside. Interact with people on a video game.” “After a while, don’t you want to try it for real?”
“Don’t we question if it was real after every time anyway?” “Pain is very real.”
“I wonder, when I was born, what was my first and last decision?”
The lights come back on and Grey and Sky go back to their seats, both picking up a controller to prevent the other from controlling the character. The lights shut off again.
saving the friendzone
Grey sits on a bed, in the dark. A speaker underneath the bed plays “W.A.Y.S.” by Jhené Aiko and questions asked, are not answered aloud. The other day, Grey got a text from Sky asking if they could meet up and talk. There was something melancholic about the text and Grey had no hesitation, going to the store to buy some drinks and meeting a plug for some weed so the conversation could get as emotional and deep as it needed to be. Lately, Grey had been feeling unattached – questioning things like how the moon maintained a relationship with everyone without moving while using the sun’s gift of light to shine down on the earth at night or if it’s possible to walk out the door and demand money from everyone that walks by because we’re all just putting on a free performance right now. If the moon was destroyed, there’d be no more spotlight and then maybe people wouldn’t have to act, but would just do what they wanted in the dark. It’s all hopeful but then Jhené started saying, “there’s really no fail / there’s really no winning.” Grey then remembered that even when the moon disappears for a while, the night is still illuminated anyway. Grey and Sky cried together a few times to fall asleep.
Sky and Grey cuddled a few times to fall asleep. Not lovers, just two people that needed each other. Two people that loved each other and, weren’t lovers because why do they need to be? Waiting for Grey, Sky started playing music and Jhené Aiko was the artist the iPod decided. “W.A.Y.S.” was playing and Sky was sitting on a seat, in front of the TV, unconsciously asking as well, “why are you smiling?” The world was always asking questions but never asking the questions Sky wanted. Every day, like the sky, Sky consistently adapts to what the world wants. Friends can help remind you what you are, is what Sky thought when sending the message to Grey. The message was – I really need to talk to you, sooner the better. It didn’t really occur to Sky that Grey may take the message as gloomy until they were both finally in the same room, somewhat unsure how to handle the reunion – it had been a few weeks since they spoke. Sky was also forcing a smile. For no reason, or maybe because the song they listened to was stronger than anticipated. Or maybe because after weeks, they were finally reunited and now it no longer seemed like their friendship was at stake.
first & last decision
They both sit in a room illuminated by the fires and lightning of outside. They both sit in a room with a window open so the sounds of rain, thunder, crackling, cackling, sobs, and “run”, “run” come together. Some sirens also appear to play their song.
“There’s really no point in running right?” “People will die. There’s no stopping that.”
Sky responds and then smiles holding the controller between the index and thumb, slightly shaking it. “It was always predicted anyway.”
Grey watches the controller drop, as outside something that looks like a white car crashes on the gas station, exploding almost everything within its vicinity.
“I’ve always loved you. There was no stopping that,” Sky starts. “Is this what you wanted to talk about? Sky. I know. I—”
“Let me finish,” they had already started drinking what Grey had brought. “Since before everything. Before my mom leaving me back in high school to follow her dreams without helping me think about mine – you randomly asked me to join the philosophy club to recruit. Gave me something to think about. Solipsism was very interesting and I tried to make myself my own ruler. I wanted something to love and it became you. Not a mother replacement but just something to love. If this world is all my mind, and the world is falling apart, I would still be fine because I was given love. I don’t really know if it’s real or not but, I just wanted to thank you. Thank you for letting me love you.”
“Grey. Please. Just let us sit in a little silence please,” Sky pours another cup from the
*** *** ***
Grey wakes up and removes Sky’s arm to get up from the bed. In the silence, they had moved to the bed and had lain there. Above them, Sky’s neighbors had started making the noises that some makes when one of them is going off to war for a long time. It had seemed like one of those moments where, what else should be done? Grey and Sky had both agreed there was no point in trying to create anything new when everything was about to end anyway.
“I always have, and always will love you too Sky.” Grey leaves the bed and goes into the living room, trying a light switch and realizing there’s no power still and won’t be any anymore. Feeling a little hungry, Grey takes an apple and knife from the kitchen. By the window, everything seems dark. Deep in the horizon, there’s a line of pink showing the sinking of the sun. Grey takes out a cell phone, “still at least one bar”, and makes a call with the speaker on.
“Hey mom. I want to be able to say I hope everything is ok, but I know there’s really not that much time and so I want to make this quick. I just want to thank you for raising me the way that you did. For exposing me to all different types of love – that you can really love without being in love and sometimes that is stronger. But… But I also hate you. You didn’t show me all the sides of love. Only the happiness. The jubilance. The excitement. You never showed me the pain of losing someone that I may love and because of that, I don’t really know how to feel right now. I will soon lose a person, many people actually, but one person in particular that I love and I don’t know if I can stand it. I don’t really know what to do and I know time is almost gone.”
“And then last night, almost everything came out. Sky expressed so much love, and I couldn’t talk, not that I could,” laughing nervously, “so I sat there and listened while tears seemed to choke my heart. I just need the end to come already.”
“GREY!” Sky screams, wrapping arms around Grey’s body to hug from the back. “Look,” indicating the window. Outside more chunks of the moon and meteors were crashing down, coming in the direction of the apartment. The news had said this would most likely be the end—that there wouldn’t be too many survivors. That if you pray you should pray but neither Sky or Grey pray.
Grey looks out. “Good night mom. Good night,” and drops the phone. They turn and
look into each other. And smile.