“Hey, Cliff.” I said, as I set the keys in the bowl on the counter.
I just got back from the store in Saco, because they had the nicest organic section in one of their supermarkets. It was about an hour drive, but it was far better than anything else surrounding us, and Shoreville didn’t even own a store.
Shoreville was the tiny little village along the coast of Maine. It had around 600 people, and a school was placed inland about 15 miles in Silver. Silver, Maine, had about 2,000 people, so they joined with the 600 of us to form one school. Saco was the closest city to Shoreville, and was north-west of us.
I looked around the room. It was oddly clean.
“Hey, Austin, how was work?” he asked.
“Ehh, I stopped at the organic supermarket, too, so we’ve got more food.”
I looked up into his grey colored eyes. I looked up at his head; he had shaved it while I was gone. Now, you had to look at his beard to see that his hair was a sandy blonde, as his eyebrows were dark brown. The large gauges in his ears jiggled a little as he talked.
“Sweet! So work was OK, then?”
Cliff was easily angered, and he hated when I said I guessed something. Quickly, I changed my tone.
“Oh, yeah. It was alright. I mean, as far as work goes...”
Cliff was 24, and three weeks ago was his birthday. He was the reason I was here, in Maine.
“I got bored and cleaned the house while you were gone.”
“I noticed! Looks good, man.”
“Thanks. Haha, you know, cleaning isn’t all that bad.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Yeah, everyone always avoids it, though. I don’t know why.”
Cliff would go on and on. It was the way he was. Everyone always had to know what he was thinking. I guess it wasn’t all that bad, because he’d tell you how he was feeling straight out, so you always knew when to leave him alone or comfort him. He was one of the most honest people I knew. I tried to be honest, but I knew sometimes lies were so much easier and even a little better.
“I think it’s because no one else cleans. People just don’t pick up after themselves. So it’s usually pointless to clean, because it just gets dirty again. You’re a pretty clean guy, though. That’s good.”
“Thanks, Cliff. I got a bunch of tofu. What do you want to eat?”
“You should make those wraps again! You got the extra firm kind, right?”
“Good, I hate it when it’s not the extra firm.”
Cliff and I didn’t eat meat. Mainly, he didn’t, but we never had meat in the house, so I just went along. If I did have meat, it was organic. I’d never eat meat that wasn’t organically raised.
I set out a bowl filled with soy sauce, and began to cut up a fresh block of tofu, and threw them in to soak. After a couple minutes, I had a large bowl filled with tofu bits. The rest of the block went into a container filled with cold water, and then into the fridge. I looked up into the metal panel behind the stove, and saw myself.
God, I was pale. I looked even paler with my hair dyed black and my blue eyes. Naturally, my hair was a light brown, but I had dyed it earlier that week, just before the soldier had come home. It naturally went down to about my nose, and I flipped it to the side, so it rested just above my eyes. Repulsive. I was repulsive.
The tofu went into a frying pan filled with olive oil, and I started chopping up lettuce, carrots, cauliflower, and a bell pepper. These would all be stuffed into a tortilla wrap with the tofu and sour cream.
The smell of soy sauce filled the kitchen, and made my mouth water. To me, it was the most delicious thing in the world.
“Hey,” Cliff came back into the kitchen. “you want a beer?”
“Uh... yes. Yeah, I’ll have one, thank you.”
“Yup, no problem, they’re not cold, though.”
“No, the mini-fridge downstairs is broken. I moved all the beer into the one up here. They’ve only been in here for a couple minutes, so they’re still warm.”
“Yeah, it’s fine, I’ll just take it warm.”
“You sure? I hate warm beer.”
“Yeah, it’s fine.”
He opened up the fridge and took out a beer.
“Well, it’s sort of warm, anyway.”
Cliff and I were unlikely best friends. He was hot headed. I was mild mannered. He was honest. I was a liar. He was a big talker. I stood quietly in the shadows and watched the talking. Yet, we lived together, and it worked out alright.
I ended up putting my beer back in the fridge. I hated warm beer. After supper, Cliff and I sat on the porch drinking them now that they were cold. Shoreville was such a crappy town, but it had such a beautiful view of the ocean. One of the best views was about a half an hour north. There was a little lighthouse on the beach, and the sunset always seemed to look the most beautiful from the rocks. The sand always seemed to be the softest, and the grass always seemed to sway just as the ocean did.
This was the boring mundane life of Austin Carter and Cliff Johnson. Day after day after day, this is what I did. I could I assume I wasn’t the only one who led this type of life. It was a wonder why more people didn’t kill themselves.
Slowly, things faded into a deep blue night, and the smell of saltwater filled the air. The lawn chair on the porch creaked as I got up out of it, and hit the same note as the cricket chirping off in the distance. The chimes would have given the night a magical feel if I didn’t already listen to them every hour I was home.
I looked out to the east. Miles of vast ocean was all that could be seen down the block. Maine wasn’t so terrible. Actually, it was pretty. Maybe the terrible thing was life.
Everyone was just waiting. I stood out on the grass. Cliff was still drinking his beer. So I looked up and counted the stars. And I waited.