His life was simply escalating discontent, each bout worse than the one that had come before it. Once it was the disappointment of another fruitless hunt for a job. Another time it was the disappointment of finding out the girl he’d fallen for was just as empty as the ones he’d loved before. He had many acquaintances, but few, if any, friends, mostly due to his own inability to trust anyone, especially himself.
I met him at a very strange time in his life. Stuck somewhere between disillusionment and a desire for a reason to hope, he found, in me, some comfort, not because I gave him hope, but because I, too, had had a life of disappointment. Despite this miserable history, I wasn’t upset, and neither was he, because disappointment is a lot easier to face when it’s mutual. I was an open book; he was a treasure chest whose key hadn’t been lost because it had never been made in the first place. Perhaps that kept us so close. He was always finding (or at least it seemed so), but I was always searching. Then one day the ultimate disappointment: “I am nothing, really. None of my existence has meaning, and it especially does not have significance.” I looked up from my book, concern streaked across my face. I got up, walked over to him, took him in my arms as he wept, soothed him, told him he meant something to me and doesn’t that matter?
Actually I didn’t. I didn’t even look up from my book. I simply asked him what he meant.
But I guess it did mean something because he set his apartment on fire the next day while I was at work and I didn’t make it back in time to save his books or his paintings or his legal documents or him, really. I don’t know where he is anymore. In fact, I’m pretty sure I lost him as soon as I met him. But that doesn’t matter much, anymore.
Actually, it does, it matters a lot because I’ve never been good at losing people. Actually, I have been, I’ve been great at losing people, I haven’t been good with dealing with losing people.
A week or two after the fire, I decided to see if I could find anything in the rubble. All of his things, however, were extremely damaged, if not entirely destroyed. I was about to leave when I noticed a scrap of paper on the window sill, so, naturally, I picked it up. I read it, and I wept.
That was years ago, decades, centuries. I still have that scrap of him, though it’s tattered and worn. Like me, I guess. What I wonder most is would he recognize his own words if he saw them now, when so much time has passed? I guess what I really mean is, actually, would he remember that he was writing about me?