It all burned out faster than we thought possible. The tiny bulbs in the street lights and on front porches were the first to go. Then the larger self-indulgent ones in out-dated film projectors and those softly hidden behind television screens. By the time our block was mystically darkened by an unexplainable wave of square-grid failure, there was no choice but to accept the inevitable. We would need to unwrap the commemorative candles from their cellophane and hope that the wicks hadn't softened and become routinely flimsy with time.
We could only pray that they would hold onto some ancient charm more than other momentous afterthoughts had in the past. We had forgotten what love looked like even when the cartoon hearts and cloudy cupid wings were deliberately etched around our heads in some kind of double-sided panoramic animation cell. The flip side never quite offered up enough perspective even when it was blank and lacking definition; identical to our outlined faces in the somber living room. We had all decided to sit impatiently on our cold-forming and licensed-for-comfort furniture, smoking the last few violent puffs of our cigarettes and wondering if anyone was working hard on some kind of inevitable solution.
Reactions were subdued; an expected mixture of disgust, intrigue, and tender boredom that had started drifting out of our inaudible mouths with each chest-filled breath. The electric heat was a convenience that not one of us took for granted, even on sporadic and out-of-tune days like that one. The bill was astronomically disappointing, each and every month, without any stifled or lowered costs, even when the sun did manage to surprise us.
I had recently stopped looking and waiting for its blinding presence over the hills, knowing full well that if the two of us were given the proper amount of time to know one another, the act of sustaining my happiness would be quickly crossed off of the list. People had come first. Friends and family (if you could call them that,) book definitions getting slightly twisted when forcibly held up to a mirror. Steam marks never formed around their expressions, but rather I abruptly discovered that I was living in a manufactured society of ghosts, all of which hoped they wouldn't notice everyone else's transparent faults.
And so I quickly darted towards those that I could use or who I couldn't help but be used by. Shared and free-forming addictions that helped sustain me until finally the classifieds offered up a lopsided solution that meant I wouldn't really have to worry about the disappointment of conversation anymore. They were all blind and deaf except me, cold but unable to express such feelings of bitter frost, every single one knowing that the other wasn't listening.
They hadn't noticed that the lights had burned out, or the unexpected murder of mostly everyone's vitality the moment they realized that this temporary inconvenience could very well be a permanent stain on all of our overcoats. I didn't say anything out loud, though, or bother to move or stir in my spot the second the couch stopped receiving a thermal boost of warmth from the encased heating vent.
Instead, I merely bit my tongue in the dead bolted living room and wondered if the new blond nurse would arrive at the same time the following morning, with promises of dry lands and rounded corners. I wasn't sure if she knew the truth about me yet, and was simply keeping her mouth shut to avoid dramatic shifts in her daily routine. Part of me hoped she did know, and was just biting her lips just as I was refraining from any deliberate crucifixions, both obtusely aware of the fact that who we are and pretend to be in the places we occupy usually is directly dependent on how much we can legitimately ignore.
She was doing a stand-up job, and I almost felt inclined to tell her about such a well-received performance, but instead I huddled my knees to my chest in the growing shiver and figured that the weather was supposed to be much brighter the following morning.