Tamika Wood’s Birthday Party

& Other Stories by Le Kendall

Alan Sebastian

I’ve gone home a lot of times since moving away. But I never stayed for long. It hurts to stay for the same reason it hurts to be away. Not just because of Scott.

It’s Michelle.

She’s not here.

I hope she’s somewhere. But she’s not here. I know that she’s not everywhere. But she could be anywhere. Anywhere else. She could be in Melbourne and I just haven’t seen her. She could be in America. She could be in Europe. She’s somewhere even if I don’t know where that somewhere is. She is not in any of the rest of the places. The places she isn’t far outnumber the places she is.

But here feels the most like a place she’s not.

And it hurts. I am lying here with Scott and I know at last and absolutely that we love each other and that we’re no longer going to run away from that. And its the happiest I’ve ever been.

But suddenly I miss her more completely than seems fair.

And I can’t sleep.

Scott and I napped during the day. So it’s not surprising that I don’t feel tired. And it’s nice in a way. Because Scott is asleep beside me. All I can hear is his breathing and the distant crashing of the ocean. And I feel warm and relaxed and heavy. And awake.

Normally, at times like this, I have a catalogue of daydreams I can select from. I wish I had a different word than daydreams. Because it’s not daytime. Imaginings. Scenarios. Stories about the human versions of the animal characters from my webcomic.

But Scott and I are together. We’re together and we’re together and I don’t want to leave this moment.

Sometimes I take time off from certain daydreams. Cycle through different sets of characters. Spend more time with some than others or get caught thinking about whatever book or TV show I’ve been into recently. Whatever I’ve got caught up in and obsessively decided to read and think about.

And I feel… guilty in a way. Like the elephant girl doesn’t get to live her life when I’m too busy thinking about Heroes or Doctor Who. I don’t want her to miss out on the only kind of life she gets to have – one that exists solely in my imagination.

But right now it’s my life that I don’t want to miss out on. I don’t want to spend a moment away from being here and being me.

So I lie here. Close to Scott but not close to sleep. And I think about Michelle.

And I remember how she used to wake me up when she was hurting so badly that she couldn’t sleep. How she felt so alone and scared and she just wanted me to be there. Awake with her.

And I wonder if she’s awake too. If she’s found another way to get through the long nights. If she’s got someone else to wake up and wake up with. Someone else to hold her hand. Someone to lie next to in the dark in love and happy the way I’m lying next to Scott.

“Go to sleep, Alan Sebastian,” she tells me.

And I do.

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