The presents had been opened, wrapping paper torn through with the usual mix of anticipation and terribly feigned apathy. The birthday dinner had been eaten, the long estranged parents coerced into conversation. The cake had been cut, a homemade low fat affair made for the benefit of the newest wife on some obscure diet or another. The real problem began when the parents inquired as to what the wish was.
Most sixteen year old girls wish for cosmetics. Cars. The more ambitious wish to be eighteen. It must have been the first time someone wished for a penis. The thick silence was broken with forced laughter on the part of the new wife.
To say he (for that was the pronoun he asked for these days) stuck out like a sore thumb would be a grave understatement. No. he stuck out like a large, pus filled dismembered thumb still writhing in pain. This boy, he steps up to the podium, hands fidgeting nervously, molding themselves around the diploma as if cradling a child. He is deathly afraid of crowds. He pictures everyone in their underwear. It works, but he cannot help feel shame at the noticeable lack of bulge in his own. There is scattered applause after the speech. All he hears, however, is shrill laughter.
He steps over a cup of long forgotten ramen, wincing as cold noodle slides across the floor. He pauses mid-wince, staring at his reflection in the now expanding pool of ramen flavored water. He drags his heel through the water with uncharacteristic anger, squeaks of the worn tennis shoe coming out as peals of garish laughter. The reflection breaks, ripples taking its place. Somehow, he can't help but feel as if he is breaking too.
The doorbell was meant to be a harmonious chime. To his ears, it is staccato peals of laughter filtering from doorway to doorway, echoing in his ears long after the bell has stopped ringing. He opens the door with shaking fingers, skin around his fingers a mottled shade of red. He exchanges not a word with the balding grocer, takes care to avoid eye contact, shuts the door as quickly as possible, all propriety forgotten. He has been doing this for little over three years, once a week, yet it remains the hardest thing he has ever does. He curls, knees to chest, willing his hands to stop, his eyes to dry. He eventually drifts off into restless sleep, dreams haunted with the chiming of doorbells.
He brandishes a kitchen knife, testing it on his thumb, smearing the ensuing blood across his jawline. He brings below his temple with unsteady hands, cutting with jagged lines. It falls to the floor, blood rushing after it, pooling in its crevices, coating the floor in thick rivulets. He stares, transfixed at the red hued version of himself, face contorted with delirium. A small detached part of him marvels at the irony of his reflection being the last thing he sees. The laughter recedes, a low hum of pain taking its place. And then, there is silence.