Perspiring in North C: A Short Story

Brook Johnson
12 min readJul 1, 2019
Wikimedia Commons

goodbye megan

these are my last words to you but it doesnt really matter what i say though i wish things had turned out differently but they didnt turn out differently because youre not aware of anything outside of your blissful life and im not saying your life is always blissful but to me its artificial so im closing the windows and pulling my blinds and its late afternoon and i want to be alone and i dont want to think about you but i want to see you so im holed up in this room thinking about you and i dont want to go anywhere because if we went out to eat somewhere my nose would run uncontrollably and i would turn you off and i dont want to be a turn off but i can barely eat anything outside of meal replacements and you must think i have issues and yes i have issues but you cant handle hearing about issues so youd rather think its a turn off so i just want to stay here and i dont want to go outside and i can barely get out bed because im so tired and you must think i look pale and maybe thats why you dont like me because of the colour of my skin and i feel like i can read your mind because you must think im listening to pinkerton right now but im not listening to pinkerton though im falling for you and i think im doing more than projecting i think i get it i think i know why you dont like me but i cant face the truth so im just lying in bed with this kitchen knife and i cant get these thoughts out of my head and everything gets so bad and everything gets worse than i imagined and youre blissfully unaware

and i noticed how uncomfortable you were around me while we sat on a bench outside kirkus hall waiting for dylan and trevor to show up so that we could go to that alpha-beta-sigma house party and i couldnt think of anything to say so I just sat there wracking my brain desperately trying to come up with something to ask you like how your majors going or if you have any weekend plans but i already knew the answers and you didnt ask me anything and you didnt even try so i started explaining to you how im like tired all the time and maybe im not getting enough sleep and how it feels like somethings really wrong with me because i have all of these other symptoms like pain in my joints persistent headaches heart palpitations dizziness nausea and so on and then you started sliding away from me on the bench like i was going to infect you and then dylan and trevor showed up and the four of us walked together across campus and i felt like an awkward 5th wheel trailing behind you guys and i wish i knew it then but now i know your life is messed up because youve got no one but trevor who seems to like you so much and youre going out with him and dylan to a party tonight and this hurts more than anything and im tired of this lifepain and im tired of blocking out the painbirds because i hoped youd fill my life with unknown pleasures so i guess love just tears me apart because i found out that you have nothing for me and thats ok because ive accepted the indifference but im not othello and i would never smother you even though you decided on anyone but me though youre not in a relationship with trevor even though in your profile pictures you look happy together so i guess youre undecided and i cant understand it because if youre so happy you should be in a relationship with him so i guess im like nick drake wondering which will you choose because you wont choose me and you dont give me your full attention when i talk to you and its like either im bothering you when i try to talk to you or you go to even greater lengths to ignore me so i guess im just a big nothing in your mind and i see you around campus and im tired of your preening in front of the boys and ive had enough of your girltalk and i thought it was cute when i first met you and now i dont know what i think because now i think your voice is starting to bring me down and it didnt bring me down at first but now its bringing me down more than anything so heres what i wanted to say and i wasnt ready to say it before but now im ready to say it so heres the heart of the matter i thought you were breathtaking when i first met you and ive never seen a girl like you before and you really found me after i couldnt get over natalie and yes i used to like natalie but i made a mistake and i woke up dreaming about you but now i wake up almost every morning feeling like i want to go synthia plath myself into a gas oven so i wish i had never met you and things could go back and i might be less depressed and im talking in need of electroconvulsive therapy heavy medication david foster wallace esque depressed and i might be less suicidal even though i dont have an infinite jest to my name but im still here and youre still blithely apathetic and you know it hurts me but you dont know it hurts me more than anything when i walk past you in north c and i stand there awkwardly looking at your face and you dont even look at me or acknowledge me but pass by like im part of the scenery and you dont know how bad that hurts do you and you dont make eye contact with me because you dont want to lead me on but there must be a better way to tell me than this LIKE ACTUALLY TALKING AND COMMUNICATING WITH ME INSTEAD OF TREATING ME LIKE I DONT EXIST WHY DONT YOU ASK ME ANYTHING ABOUT MY LIFE WHY ARE YOUR EYES SO BLANK WHEN YOU LOOK AT ME why do i feel emptiness from you so now i need drugs like im hunter s thompson because it’s an insane bullet to the chest this neverending sadness and i thought we were in the same circle and i thought we were friends so this is difficult to say when i thought we were close and you smiled at me that one time and i thought something was there but nothing was there and we had a conversation in seidman hall after our 20th century preludes to fourthwave feminism lecture was over and i stared steadily into your brown eyes and tried hard not to think of you as a sexual object to be offensively conquered by my hyper masculinity and you told me the story of your recent vacation about how you and your girl went on an adventure to italy and how you were in rome and saw the colosseum and how you almost got locked out of your hostel at 3am in the morning and how you were searching for the guy you rented the room from and you couldnt find him and no one spoke english until a car pulled up and it was some guy from canada who happened to find you guys and speak english and he helped you get into your room and i said you got lucky and you said it was a small world but i guess ive got that parker luck because everything goes wrong and my world keeps getting smaller

you have no idea whats been going on in my life because you never ask and you dont want to know how my life is cursed and i know it because i only get rejected shout out to natalie chloe rachael jade emily susan so i only have no one and i only have no future and i only get bad choices and my health is unbearable and ive got a page length of symptoms and ive got 10 pages to write on diane arbus for my 20th century preludes to fourthwave feminism term paper and i havent started because all i can think about is extreme suffering and horrific death and no one wants to hear about my problems not even the doctors and i cant find a doctor who will help me and no one can help me because ive had a million blood tests and they cant find anything wrong with me but i know somethings wrong with me AND IM LOSING MY MIND TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH SCHOOL AND LIVE THIS DAMNED LIFE AND YOU WERE THE ONLY THING WORTH HOLDING ONTO and i needed you but you cant even look at me so you walked away coldly but i felt feverishly warm because i got you to laugh when i tried to explain mrs dalloway to you that one time in the common room but i couldnt explain it to you because i couldnt get the words out so i just awkwardly stumbled over them and jumbled the order up incoherently and then spliced them together like they were stuck with glue and then my voice broke like it did when i was 13 and then i went on with the conversation as though nothing had happened but you seemed unbearably tense and your head was on a swivel like you were searching for an exit and i started mumbling quietly to myself and you kept saying what what i cant hear you what i cant hear you and then i finally gave up and hung my head in defeat until you saw one of your friends pass by the common room and you waved at them and then you left me without saying goodbye so i guess youll never find out what happens at virgina woolfs party though youre going to a party tonight with dylan and trevor but im not going to that party because im saying goodbye and i dont know what you see in trevor because hes made of plastic but im not made of plastic because im often severely depressed and i cant find nirvana because im so filled with anxiety that im crawling like chester was and i was perspiring while we talked and i hoped you wouldnt notice my mouth was dryly clicking together and my lips were flecked with white film sticking and sucking disgustingly together with lines of spittle stretching from my bottom lip to my teeth even though i drink so much water to stop it from happening but i cant stop it from happening and it makes me want to slit my throat in front of you because you smiled at me as though i was your special friend just like natalie did after she said no thanks but i dont want to be your friend like hemmingway I NEED A SHOTGUN BLAST TO THE HEAD

so im going now ready to slice open my veins blood running down my arms yeah cover me in blood and paint a rothko of me white and red because ive got this knife and my fist is clenched and my veins are getting hard as anything and ive got this empty room and im hiding from a black hole sun so you know its a perfect day for banana fish and ive got no reservations so you know im traveling to parts unknown and dylans at his class and afterwards hes meeting up with you guys to head over to that party so you wont see my tonight and these are my last words but i think youll forget them after you read them but im not sure youll read them because i think youll avoid my body when you see it though we both live in north c and i dont know how you can avoid me but i think that somehow youll find a way and i hope youll be proud of me that i had the courage to face death because i dont know if theres an afterlife and im still afraid of hell BUT I WANT OBLIVION AND IM HOPING FOR OBLIVION AND EMPTY NOTHINGNESS because anything is better than this life but now that im so close i dont want to die because some irrational part still holds onto you still foolishly hopes of being with you still grasps hold of something that cannot be but this isnt a short film about love and i can see it now you in the hallway avoiding my eyes and looking straight ahead

i need you right now youre not here for me you were never here for me why do you treat me so badly what did i ever do to you i hardly look at you anyways how can such a kind person act so cruel dont do this to me why are you so far away from me i would sell everything just to be with you look at me listen to me talk to me why do i always do this i dont want to do this anymore this is not life im dying


I let the pen fall out of my hand and place the note on my dresser. I lie down on my bed with the kitchen knife and contemplate the notion of everything ending. Maybe I should do this in the shower…I wish I had a bathtub like Diane Arbus. The heat in this room oppresses me. Sweat runs down my back. I need to buy a fan…I guess I won’t need a fan though. I hear someone at the door. Who is that? Is that Dylan? What is he doing here? I hear voices. Is that Megan? I roll to the side of my bed, tear back the covers, and quickly hide myself with the knife underneath the heavy blankets and sheets. Lying on my side, I face the wall, curl up lifelessly in the fetal position, and pretend to sleep. Dylan fumbles with his keys and then opens the door and flicks on the light switch, bathing the room in fluorescent light. Laughing voices crash into my solitary space:

“ — supposed to be a lame party anyways…just a bunch of frat bro jerk-offs.”

“Ohhh, frat bros…my favourite,” says Megan dryly.

“You know you want one,” says Trevor crudely.

“Oh…guys, shhh…he’s sleeping…”

“…Yeah, he does that sometimes,” says Dylan.

“Anyways,” says Megan, resuming her conversation with Trevor, “…maybe you’re right; they’re just like inflatable dolls…I can just…buy one, right?”

“They’re exactly the same. There is literally no difference,” responds Trevor, who I can tell is trying very hard to be clever.

Megan laughs. “I want one with blonde hair and blue eyes.”

“Oh…just like a German…” says Trevor awkwardly, and unable to think of anything to keep the banter flowing he abruptly changes the subject: “Yo Dylan, where is this bar at?”

“29th and King — ”

“Oh sick! It smells like garbage in here!” Trevor shouts at the top of his lungs, changing the subject again. I think he’s trying to impress Megan by deliberately being obnoxious.

“Trevor, SHHHH!”

“What? It does.”

“Trevor, shhh! He’s sleeping.”

“…Do you think he’s really asleep?”

“He’s always sleeping,” says Dylan dismissively.

“Dylan, shhh!” says Megan and then laughs.

“Dude, why does it smell like garbage in here?”

An awkward silence follows.

“Him?” Trevor cries, seemingly delighted.

“Yeah,” affirms Dylan.

“Dude, it’s so hot in here…and it smells like crap. Yo, open a window.”

“Just give me a sec; I can’t find my wallet.”

“I think I’m going to puke.”

“Here, I’ll open it,” says Megan, and she brushes against my bedside as she releases the latch.

A loud crash of pots and plates scraping together is followed by laughter.

“Trevor, shhh!”

“What? I’m just cleaning,” Trevor explains and bursts out laughing, “Dude, your sink is disgusting! Look at all these dirty dishes! Are they his?”

“Seriously, be quiet. I don’t want him to wake up,” says Dylan as he rifles through drawers and rustles through what I assume is dirty laundry.

“He must be really tired…” says Megan, drawing near my bedside. I can feel her dark eyes resting on me. I’m starting to perspire excessively beneath the heavy blankets.

“Is something wrong with him?” asks Megan. I can hear the disdain in her voice.

A pause follows.


“What? I can’t find my wallet.”

“HEY!” says Trevor loudly from across the room, possibly trying to regain Megan’s attention. “Why do you have so many hats?”

“What? I like them,” says Dylan irritably.

“That is a lot of hats…” agrees Megan.

“YO! YOU READY TO GO!” Trevor shouts belligerently.

“SHHH! Trevor…he’s sleeping,” Megan explains.

“WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU, MEGAN!” Trevor roars.

“SHHHHH!” says Megan.

They both laugh.

“Guys…I’m ready; I found it.”


More suppressed laughter resounds from across the room. Megan laughs too. These are not my friends…I think I’ve known this for some time.

“Yeah, yeah…” says Dylan chuckling to himself.

I think I need a change of scenery. I don’t think I can be here right now.

“Hey…what’re you looking at?” asks Dylan.

Maybe I’ll move back home. Being alone is better than this.

“Give me a second…” says Megan, practically hovering over my still perspiring body.

I want to be with people who care about me…wherever I can find them.

“YO! What is that?” demands Trevor.

Not here.

“…It’s a note.”