‘UnBoxified’ – BRIEF SYNOPSIS
Two lead characters’ first-account of a, partly fictional/partly based on true events, story in which mystery, gritty reality, comedy, romance and science-fiction, are the vehicles for a journey where the meaning of life, death and everything important in between, are the destination.
It’ll make more sense if you read it in order, though. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find Chaptisode 1 here: | Chaptisode 1: ‘Bloody Hell’ >
(Previously in Chaptisode 5… ‘ “Just get it together, idiot. There’s no hell and no heaven but what you make”, I said to myself.
I inhaled and exhaled deeply to try and calm down. Either way, here I was, and the love of my life stood just one doorframe away. For as long as this lasted, whatever this experience was, this present past, I sworn to change it.’ ‘)
Grabbing the doorframe for extra support, I lunged myself back into the kitchen, as cool and composed as one could possibly be at having the incredible chance of being able to, once again, talk with the only woman he had truly loved but never had, and being it all within the same exact setting and chronology where he had met her for the first time, with the extra added thrill of not knowing whether the experience in itself was just a really vivid dream or… an afterlife event. It was a miracle that I even dared to walk, so fucked up this whole thing was, but there I was, eager to jump back in.
‘”What are you cooking?” – My voice trembled, the traitor.
“Smells good” – I continued, fighting the bastard before it completely broke down.
She turned around and looked into my eyes with an intensity that I felt was even fiercer, and, at the same time, strangely peaceful, than that which I remembered.
My whole soul trembled this time, the wimp, because just being able to breath the same air she was breathing, after all this time, was the only thing I needed to confirm that I was probably dead and had gone straight to a hell of my own making; a hell where I could see but not touch, inhale but not taste, desire but not have, live… and yet be restricted from becoming fully alive.
“Well… nothing elaborate, I can assure you” – She giggled – “It’s pasta with some tomato sauce… onions and a few herbs. It’s all I could find in the cupboards” – she described while lifting her arms and pointing to the space around her, a cheeky grin on her face.
I was entranced by how musical her voice sounded to my ears. Entranced like I had always been by her mere presence; even the most ordinary of everyday elements turned into fucking magic every time I was around her, and now… Now! I still couldn’t believe it… NOW… as it had also always happened, I was no longer in charge of my body either, for, without consciously deciding it, I had walked the distance between the door and Audrey and was just a few inches away from her luscious mane, as she had half turned to stir the contents in the pan.
I inhaled deeply, pretending to catch a whiff of the sauce cooking in that pan, but really just trying to capture as much of her essence as I possibly could. The electricity between us was so damn palpable I used to wonder if holding a matchstick in the air filling the space between us, the thing would catch fire by itself. She tilted her head to the side, to get a better look of my wrinkled nose, and laughed.
“You are hungry, aren’t you?” – She looked at me as if wanting to take my whole being into her big sparkling eyes, her smile tempting me to eliminate those few inches of space physically separating us.
‘You have no idea; I would eat you whole right now’, I thought, tears of pure happiness threatening to invade my eyes. Heaven had arrived and hell had gone to… hell.
“Very” – I muttered, my own eyes letting her know what I truly meant with it, instead.
A cough behind us startled us both.
“Are you off work today?” – Logan’s voice cut through the air, the precious air that belonged to Audrey and I.
I felt a chill down my spine, and then a wave of heat rushing through to my brain. Back when this moment took place for the first time, Audrey and I had exchanged a nice to meet you and I only managed to mumble smells good from the doorway before taking off, without whatever it was I had originally come home to fetch, thinking, all the way back to work, how lovely she seemed and how I had felt this kind of sexual tension between us in the split seconds that our eyes had met… and how there was something else I had felt but couldn’t quite pinpoint just yet.
I hadn’t stayed enough time to bump into this asshole as he got back into the house.
And then I remembered that, back then, around this same time, the asshole and I were still good friends.
“Oh… hi, mate, yeah… no…I mean… I was about to call in, I’m feeling quite run down, you know, I’m going to take the day off and rest a bit”- I spluttered in a surprisingly fast and convincing response, despite the rapid melt down that threatened the last of the functioning neurons I seemed to have left.
Logan took a large step and positioned himself between Audrey and me, and grabbing her by the waist, squeezed her hard against his chest. I reeled back, as I put distance between the couple and myself.
“Well, be careful then, mate, don’t go near my girl if you’ve caught a bug, I don’t want her to fall ill, too.” – Logan blurted out, with a tinge of menace in his eyes that totally contradicted the friendly chuckle he had inserted in his tone.
“No, no worries… I don’t feel sick, I’m just tired” – I replied quickly, knowing what a putrid lie I had just let out, since I was feeling fucking sick just by looking at him and seeing him put his dirty paws on her; the bastard was marking his territory like a dog, all right, but she was not to be pissed on as far as I was concerned.
And right then and there, another flash of pure awakening shot through my mind. An awakening to the fact that over ten years had passed since I had lived this very experience in my past, and over those ten years I had managed to totally screw up my already screwed-up life from the moment Melissa had died; fuck, from the moment I had been born according to dear mum.
And it was quite ironic to also suddenly realise that, in trying to prove my mother, my father and my whole family wrong, I had only proved them right. Yep, I certainly needed no more to confirm that this had to be a kind of… afterlife, where you are given the chance to rectify all the mistakes that one makes while alive, in being led by all the pain and bullshit that suffocates one’s soul, heart filled with sorrow, mind filled with crap, if only so one can fucking rest in peace at some point.
“Will you eat with us? Please, feel welcome to it, there’s plenty of pasta for all” – Audrey chimed in, her voice a bit muffled by the asshole’s right arm, which he was using to complete the embrace that his left one had initiated at her waist; yet, muffled and all, I could feel the urgency in her words as they struggled to come out.
The old me in this old place would have stabbed himself with a fork before even contemplating sitting down to share a meal with the fucking asshole that, god knows how or why, had been lucky enough to get into Audrey’s pants. I recalled all the times the three of us had coincided in the same room and how I was only able to handle it not only on the present condition that the two weren’t entangled in each other’s limbs, but that there were also at least three feet between them.
“I’d love to, thank you.” – The just born and bold new me was fast to reply – “I’m just going to call Connor, my workmate, to let him know that I’m taking the day off, see ya in a bit”
I didn’t wait for any kind of response as I quickly walked out of the kitchen and into the hall, turning left at the end and running back up the first few steps of the carpeted stairway before remembering that I was, supposedly, feeling tired enough to ditch work for the day. So I slowed down the pace, which gave me time to hear the sound of Logan’s slobbering kisses all over her.
“I got the grated cheese, the one you like” – he was telling her in between the offerings of his disgusting saliva.
I felt like throwing up. Awakened and all, I still felt nauseous at him kissing her, touching her, damn, just going anywhere near her. Then again, this was my past, and a lot had rained since then, including finding out what Logan was capable of, what hideous thoughts had been waiting to be acted upon, lurking behind this, his apparent laid-back demeanor, that all good-boy facade he dressed himself with everywhere he went, and which Audrey had obviously bought, just like I did, back when him and I were still friends.
But the urgency I sensed in her voice when asking me to join them for lunch… that was new… that I had not felt when we had first met in that kitchen and neither after it, in the original timeline, and I wondered whether it was really new, as in it never had been there before, or if I had just been too wrapped up in my own bullshit at the time to notice. The latter possibility made me wince, as I felt a sharp pain piercing my also newly revived heart.
The notion that being back here was no longer a I’ll win this time kind of quest, as my mind had instinctively mapped out the moment I became aware of where and when I was, but an overwhelming need to understand, was already sinking in, as it was the knowledge that this understanding was going to be even more painful that the loneliness I had guarded myself in for so long. Understand… how to understand a life I had wasted till the very end? A life that, it seemed, I had actually taken from myself, because I just didn’t know what the fuck to do with it?
Heaven, hell, limbo, dream, second chance, twisted joke… the fuck I cared; now the only thing I cared about was to UNDERSTAND fully and thus, justify, somehow, this existence I couldn’t quite yet escape.
I went into my room and crashed on the bed as I picked up the phone. 4 missed calls. 3 from Connor and 1 from our boss. Shit. It wasn’t rare for me to turn up at work half done by a huge hangover, but I always, ALWAYS, turned up, no matter what. ‘They must think I got into a car accident and are close to death in some hospital’ I thought, and then smiled, not only for how close that could be to reality, as I was finding it, even if my death was in a future they had yet to see at this time, but also because I remembered how a truly good pal Connor had been to me all those years I worked beside him. He had always had my back, quick to defend me in front of our boss. My smile soured as I also remembered how I had pushed Connor out of my life, around the same time I had finally given up trying at music and, with it, any resemblance to feeling alive.
As soon as I pressed ‘Call back’ on Connor’s last missed call I remembered the text message I had woke up to that morning, warning me of my dwindling credit. Great. And then the ridiculously small screen of the brick-phone I had, back then, lit up. He was calling me again.
“Connor…” – I managed to answer, before I got interrupted.
“Mate, are you all right!? Are you in hospital!?” – Connor almost shouted, anxiety filling his voice.
I had been spot on.
“Mate, mate, calm down, I’m all right. I’m so sorry, Connor, I know it’s midday, I just… I just woke up… – I tried to reassure him before he totally lost it. I couldn’t believe I was talking to him once more, but strangely enough, it also felt like no time had passed at all.
“You… wanker!! I was so worried! I’ve had Dave up my arse all morning, and I was like, ‘dude, I’m sure he must be totally fucked if he has not turned up or called’. – he poured out in one breath – You sure you’re feeling all right? Did you get hammered last night after I left? – he continued, the noise of a strong wind engulfing his voice.
“I’m fine, just… feeling really knackered, mate… I couldn’t wake up this morning, I swear, didn’t even hear the alarm clock or your calls. – I stuffed in – No, I didn’t drink any more after you left, we packed the rest of the gear and came straight home.” – I continued explaining, as I remembered pretty well what I had done the night before my whole world had spun on its axis, for the second time around in my life – “I’m so sorry about Dave giving you a hard time. Listen, hand the phone to him, please, I want to apologise and ask him for the rest of the day off”
“Yeah, well, we haven’t been able to do much today, anyway. I was just calling you one last time to save your sorry ass the trip, in case you were still alive. Man, you’ve probably caught a bug, you should go to the doctor; my cousin, James, you know him, was down with the shits like two weekends ago, so it must be still around” – his breath got choppy as he hurried his pace – Hang on, I’m going to hand the phone to Dave, he’s in the van, it’s too damn windy up here, I think he was calling town; you’ll find he’s in a great mood, you know how much he loves to sit around, with nothing to do but look at his tiny willy” – Connor chuckled.
“Yeah, I know” – I mixed in with the laughter that Connor always managed to get out of me – “Is Georgie around, too? Tell Georgie to wank him, take one for the team” – I chipped in with a filthy joke of my own.
It was these silly moments, when one could be whole, dirt and cheese, flawed as fuck and cool as Dean, around someone else, that had kept me alive as long as it did. But most of the time, with most of the world, we wear masks, god forbid we offend anyone with our true imperfect self. So we hide that which we think is a wonky self, and we do so for so damn long that there comes a point when we no longer know where we put it or even if it exists at all. But we carry on, going through the motions, like in a zombie state, and that’s what really damages our soul. Or we leave the stage, as it appears I did.
“Ha ha ha… Georgie would probably love that… Oh! By the way, I mean, I’ve got to tell you something, I may go round your cave after work – Connor said hurriedly – You want me to bring you some soup for your delicate self?
I froze for a moment. As much as I loved hearing Connor’s voice again and as much as I wanted to give him a hug, I wasn’t sure I could handle so much emotion and… down right craziness all in one day… or however long this experience was going to last until I finally dissolved into dust and disappeared into oblivion, which was how I had always imagined death would be.
“Nah… no today, cheers, mate, I’ll probably go back to sleep as soon as I talk to Dave” – I lied, and felt immediately guilty for it.
“Your loss” – Connor mocked in a high-pitched voice – “No worries, mate, get well soon” – he added in his usual baritone – “Here’s Dave”
I ran my excuse again, this time for my boss, and after profusely apologising I asked for and got the rest of the day off. As I was about to drop the phone on the bed, after hanging up, Audrey’s voice, this time calling from downstairs, shook my whole being once again.
“Food is reeeeaaaady!” – She half-sang.
“I’m ready, too, babe” – I responded quietly under my breath, and finally throwing the phone on the bed, I turned to reach for the door and reach out to her, at last.