26. Sad skies and tired sighs

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     Birthdays were sad. A celebration of another year wasted away. It didn't matter if it was in Gaia's huge apartment that smelled of dust. It didn't matter if the Milan sky smiled at us and the music was so loud we couldn't hear our own voices as we yelled 'woohoo' after another shot. And the lucky guy, did it matter to him? As he stepped on pizza crumbles on the floor at 1 am, did he think of his parents not caring where he was on his special day? Flooded by superficial gifts bought at the last minute, did he really feel joy opening those boxes as though they contained the entire world. Maybe he felt pleasure tearing apart the colourful paper and throwing it in everyone's face. Did he even care about all the people that were here? Did he even know their names? Perhaps he didn't, that's why he got so drunk he forgot that we weren't supposed to talk. 

    He had a plastic cup filled with strawberry smoothie and he drank it through the thin white straw. Moving his hips to the rhythm of the music, he carefully analysed the bottles of alcohol spread on the messy table. When he saw me sitting right there all alone, he raised his brow. 

    ''Pit!'' he yelled. ''You're here!''

    I nodded. I had been here for the last 15 hours, but maybe he had just acknowledged my presence. But that wasn't the sad part. The sad part was that I couldn't tell if he was stoned or not. It was part of his DNA now, and I couldn't tell the difference. It was amusing to some, and maybe a few months ago I would have laughed at this idea. But now it hurt me. It bugged me and I wished I could do something to make it all stop. I wished we could take a train to an unknown destination and he could tell me all the things that scared him so much he had to cover it all up with nicotine and vodka. How did he feel tonight? How did he wish he felt? Did he prefer to get stuck in his sixteen-year-old mentality, waiting for the world to adjust? It felt good to be irresponsible, to do whatever you want 'cause for now it's considered acceptable. Did he wish to grow up, so that he could leave his house and say goodbye to his messed up family? Or perhaps to save them in places where they failed to save him. Did he count the days because he wished they lasted longer, for when he was here with us he felt life pumping in his veins? Did he have ambitions, dreams, a secret playlist? Why didn't I know what he was on the inside? Was I like them? Another face to be soon blurry, a pair of ears to share a stupid joke with. 

    He stared at me for awhile, with puzzled eyes that looked so drunk, yet never more honest than in this moment. 

    ''Why are you here?'' he asked. 

    He didn't yell, he didn't whisper. He said it loud enough for me to hear. Why was I here? For him, I guess. Although this question made me question everything. 

    ''I don't know,'' I said, ''for the free alcohol.''

    ''You're not even drinking.''

    ''I had a few.''

    ''What? Those? That's warm as hell, Pit. Everyone's drinking the beer from the fridge.'' He paused. ''Did you know that? That we had beer in the fridge?''

    ''No, I didn't.''

    He seemed confused, then his forehead creased and he looked at me like my mother did when I had to blow the candle surrounded by no friends. 

    ''Have you talked to anyone?'' he asked. ''Half of these people are from Milan and they have no idea who you are. They say, 'who's that guy in the corner?'. I say, 'that's my best friend, Pit'. They nod their heads and ask me if you're antisocial. And I say, I don't know, maybe.''

    I scoffed. ''They're Diego's friends.''

    ''Yeah, and so?''

    I shrugged. ''Nothing. It just seems dumb to me. They've just met you and they're acting like they've known you since kindergarten.''

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