Quarter Life Crisis


My bed is collapsing. The cheapest all-black bed frame I could find on Amazon has eight legs, five of which have maintained their balance on six-inch bed risers. I slid down the bed on the night of my 25th birthday, edging towards the leaky brick chimney and the seven bottles of Havana’s finest rum it houses. There’s nothing on the mattress except for a pillow. I blacked out in March and woke up in a pool of urine; once my sheets were cleaned, I lacked the energy to reaffix them. I got Covid for a second time soon afterward, and by the time I ended my isolation the mattress had accumulated thousands of fuzzballs. I bought new linens but didn’t want to subject them to the discomfort of being my bunkmate. *** I work for one of the world’s most infamous war criminals. He cancelled his birthday party, which coincided with my own, and decided to Zoom into Davos as a precaution against Covid. I wonder if the gravel in his voice results from an accumulation of kidney stones that God is saving up for his final months. His oldest student, my day-to-day supervisor, is upset that the Trump administration did not execute his plan to murder the president of Venezuela. He pines for the good old days when the CIA needed only two degrees of separation between top leadership and assassination attempts. *** My phone can’t recognize me. The photos app thinks I am five different people. It’s not the angle or the lighting, it’s that I have been starving myself for almost half my life. Losing one hundred pounds in a year didn’t make the stretch marks fade. It just made me stretched thin. Cords constrain my ribs, triceps, adductors. Scar tissue dampens my pulse. *** A dove is nesting above my front door. I named her Tabitha. Her eyelids are pale blue—the hue that people say those with bluer eyes than mine have. Her boyfriend, Jefferson, brings an unreasonable number of sticks to her each day. The wind has blown three of her nests off of the ledge, but she continues to assemble new shelters. I use my defunct, United Nations-branded umbrella to lift the fourth nest onto her precipice, but she seems unable to move over to it. The next morning there is a shattered egg on the stoop. *** Vomit in my belly button. Stretch mark on my dick. Haven’t brushed my teeth in weeks. Something new under the sun.