Short Story | ‘Sunday Morning’ by Max Cohen, Illustration by Filipa Silva
You sigh. You said that you’d do your paper yesterday, but what to write about? You wanted to sign up for this class—you didn’t have to; yet, here you are on a Sunday morning delaying the start of your assignment, the one that you thought you’d enjoy. You hear your roommates downstairs playing video games, laughing. Perhaps you can go down with your laptop and casually start to outline the fictional tale that’s going to wow your peers on Monday. No, you know deep down that going downstairs is a bad idea, and you try to repress the laughter that you hear echoing from the floor below. Every story you think of writing is bleak and depressing.
Your girlfriend is delicately asleep next to you in bed; she wonders why everything you create has a melancholy approach. Maybe it’s because you’re depressed. You don’t like to use that word. You shrug off that thought and determine that you can carry the sadness of the world because you are stronger than everyone else—a pompous thought.
You bask in your sadness, repressing it with cigarettes, various forms of inebriation, and constant company. You realize that most of the things you enjoy are sad. Your favorite genre of music is the blues. Your pastime is walking around late at night because of the quiet tranquility that the urban streets provide. The company that is provided, friends, is not one that you particularly enjoy; however, it is better than being alone. You go through the social steps because you feel as though that’s what a happy person would do. You lock yourself in your room and play music. Your girlfriend asks you to open up. She looks at you with her soft eyes, slightly glazed from light tears, waiting. You cannot open up. You want to relieve her with some closure, but you cannot find the words. You’ve been locking yourself up for too long, long before she came into your life — likely after she leaves as well.
Stop it! You’re getting distracted. You need to work on this assignment before you head out to see Dad’s new apartment. Oh yes, your parents are separating. They invited you home for dinner last night, a Saturday, which was strange, especially since they expressed that they did not want any guests attending this dinner. It doesn’t come as a huge surprise. After they bought the beach house, there was ever only one parent in the house anyway; however, you did think that they would wait until your younger brother was off to college. All of your worry falls on him; you aren’t able to feel any sense of loss for yourself, only concern for the only stable thing in your life, your sibling. You decide that you don’t want to see Dad’s new apartment. Your parents are getting divorced — separated, whatever. You want to let that marinate for at least 24 hours before you have to see his new home.
Underneath the sense of loss, divorce brings a sense of relief. Perhaps in a few years your parents will be healed; there will no longer be a poisonous environment, like the one that you grew up in. Maybe your brother will stop being so angry now. Maybe he’ll get worse. Your parents deserve to be happy, and if that’s with other people, then you’re happy for them.
You check Facebook. Hours pass. You get up and put on your favorite jazz record. The Modern Jazz Quartet, live at the Lincoln Center. You listen for the empty static on the speakers as the needle on the record player lowers itself. That’s your favorite part of the entire record. The instrumental music starts to play and magically all of your pain and suffering has been transformed into a beautifully chaotic screenplay in which you are the protagonist. The music is your soundtrack. After laying in bed listening for a few songs you decide you need to force yourself to start your assignment.
The twang of Muddy’s acoustic guitar, accompanied by his low growl set the tone perfectly for this evening. Maureen and I hadn’t spoken in years. The burn of the whiskey kept me alive, I loved that amber liquid.
No. That’s too melancholy…
Illustration by: Filipa Silva