from Wild Thoughts: A Floral Guide to Feeling by Garrett Huon

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The text came at a quarter ‘til eleven, lighting up the phone he’d just put aside for the night. It was an unwelcome shock. His eyes were tired, pulled tight at the edges and burning. He felt every wrinkle, every fold, as he blinked to see who wanted his attention.

It wasn’t a surprise to see one of his cousins messaging him, but normally it was in the context of one of the various group chats they shared. A direct message had him opening it immediately. But really it was nothing new. There were greetings and catching up, and he was on the very edge of cutting the conversation short because he knew his cousin had been drinking more lately. He doesn’t, though.

They used to be close, more like siblings than cousins. The distance between them was more present with each new message.

“I’m sorry I haven’t talked to you more.”

“It’s okay. I haven’t reached out a ton either.”

“Nah, man. I’m trying to do better. I’m sorry, man.”

He knew then that it was the alcohol talking, knew it was a missing filter over his cousin’s thoughts. Because the only time they ever talked about stuff like this was when they were playing video games together as kids.

“You okay, dude?”

“I’m alright, I guess. Things just kind of suck, you know”

“Yeah. I get it.”

He laid his phone on his chest to give his eyes a reprieve. His vision buzzed and shimmered in the dark. A sigh blew out of his lungs, harsh and heavy, and his phone sank into his body as it decompressed. Lifting his phone up again and rubbing at his eyes, he finds the conversation has ended.

“Gotta go, dude. Really miss you. Love you.”

The words he typed into his phone came automatically. Then he shut it off and finally went to bed.

“Love you too. See ya.”