She passed me her smoke as we watched the ice melt. Few other things to do on a rainy, cold winter day. The hours of the day seemed to march by, unremarked if not of the click of the living room clock. We’d decided to de-ice our fridge, something we’d been putting off for a time when it was empty. Now the fridge was bare so we watched as droplets rolled off the white ice into a red serving dish I’d put under the iceberg. 

My mind had been wandering when she handed me the smoke. Something about today reminded me of a grey day years before when I lived in Seoul. I watched a similar day roll on, similarly bored, still smoking the occasional cig, but alone. For some reason today the cig tasted more like the ones I used to smoke back then than her current brand. 

I accidentally timed an exhale at the same moment she sighed. We looked at each other and laughed vacantly. “What the fuck is up with today?” she said to no one in particular, though I was the only one there to hear it. 

“Yeah, smoking a cig watching ice melt is a new level of boredom, a doldrum that I’ve never tried to sail through before.” 

She nodded and I handed her back the smoke. Silence again reigned in our small kingdom. I shifted my weight on the uncomfortable floor. I opened my mouth to tell her about how this reminded me of that day in Seoul but she beat me to the punch. “This reminds me of some time, though I don’t know when or where. Just a feeling that is familiar, if indistinct. I’m not sure what to make of it, but I kinda want to wallow in it.” 

“Wallow in it?”

“Yeah, it’s a sort of numbness that I don’t often get. Sometimes I like these sort of boring days, and the annoyment that comes with them, as mildly unpleasant as it is. It’s not unique, that’s not what I want to say, but it’s different, a conscious numb.” 

“As opposed to an unconscious numb?”

“Not unconscious, no. But how we live now, fuck, it feels unconscious most of the time. It feels like a life on autopilot, with a flashing new thing to keep your mind fixed on whenever a moment of pain or introspection crops up. This,” she gestured towards the melting ice, “this is a real feeling, something deeper, not inspired by the machinations of some algorithm or anything like that. It’s real, and I like it. Call me crazy.” 

“I won’t, I get you. This feeling is an old friend for me too, if not so welcome a guest. It’s definitely better than feeling nothing, that’s for sure.” 

She passed me the cig and a chunk of ice fell like a glacial calv with a hollow thunk. “Seems the day is just getting interesting.” She commented, and the drum of the rain punctuated our laughter. 

You might also enjoy: