A sigh. Exasperation. The sound of a suitcase being laid down on the ground. Louder than usual. More aggressive than usual.
“So, Leo. What have you done today?” She nods her head at me, leaning under the doorway. She coughs into her arm. “Little dusty here, huh?”
“Yeah. Uh, dead skin.” I say nonchalantly. I lean back into my chair.
She stares at me, and her upper lip twitches. “Don’t avoid the question, Leo.” She snarls slightly, then recomposes herself.
“Nothing.” I lie. It’s always like this. If I ever talk about my goals, my brain will automatically associate them as complete. Something about a premature sense of achievement. Whenever she comes over, I always reply with the exact same thing.
She narrows her eyes at me. I shrug, and turn back to the computer screen.
She looks down, and wipes her nose.She sniffles, and looks to the side. I know she doesn’t actually have anything in her nose. She’s just looking for something to say. She’s trying to hold back on berating me. She looks up, and brushes her bangs to the side. “Look, Leo, it’s December.” She tries to guilt me.
I’m stoic. I’m turning back to the computer screen, and looking up funny pictures on the internet to feign incompetence when she eventually looks at my monitor. “Mm.” I grunt out, gulping. At a certain point, she’s either going to find out that I’m lying to her, or she’s going to beat my ass.
She doesn’t bother coming closer to look at my monitor. She scratches her nose, and sniffles another time. She’s not crying; she’s pretending that she has a runny nose. “Hey, Leo… say, do you have any dreams? Like, what do you want to be?”
I stare at her blankly. If I were willing to tell the truth, I’d say “artist.” If I were willing to tell the other side of the truth, I’d say “programmer.” If I felt confident enough, I would say “a guy who fucks bitches and gets money.”
I tell her “I want to play video games everyday!” Smiling, keeping the mood jovial.
She recognizes this joke. My shoulders lower in relief, but I should expect this. It’s happened every other time. She’d probably be fine if I said that phrase at 30 years old. I feel like she’d be OK if I just lived with them and never got job. She’d be fine as long as I’m “happy.”
She comes over and pinches my cheeks, teasing me. She’s good at catching onto jokes. Seeing through lies, not so much. I wonder how long I can keep this up. Until I finally make something good? I’d have to find the definition of “good.”
It’s that sort of “underdog” mentality all over again. I’m trying to stay under the radar; lower her expectations, so that I can pass by with flying colours. Keeping her in the dark, then surprising her with blinding light. I’ll surpass everyone’s expectations. I’ll be better than I ever imagined. I’ll be fulfilled.
I’d… I sit alone, clacking away at my keyboard. She’s left already.
It gets lonely under the radar.