His eyes traced a wide arc across the ceiling. Took in lines and cobwebs. Took in cracks and flakes of paint. Counted all the seconds that gathered where it met the walls.
Dry skin crested his cheeks, darkened only slightly by wavering slants of tear-water. Most of which was drying too, but some of which was touching beneath his nose, and catching in those two places where his bottom lip met his top. The salt and sour rush of it kept drawing out his tongue to wipe it clear.
I ain't never felt this way before. he said to himself. That old ritual. Maybe used to go through it 2 or 3 times a year, but recently once every two or three years seemed enough. It wasn't that age was slowing things, deadening his hunger. More that it was softening his shell.
He placed his thumb and forefinger upon his eyelids, massaged them, pressed slightly against the jelly-feel stuff underneath. Held them closed like they belonged to a brand-new corpse.
A few weeks more of crying. Of getting up and being angry and jerking himself off and then showering and crying again whilst he made breakfast. As he drank his coffee. A few more weeks of that and he wouldn't have to think of her no more, and he wouldn't have to worry that his hands might stray towards the phone some night and call her and say
I'm sorry. I was in a bad place. I need you. Come over.
He lifted his finger and his thumb, and the lessening in pressure caused the lids to buzz and throb. Patterns flashbulbed round in them like tangling wires, or like the mess of her.
He looked up at the ceiling again, and tried to smile at it like he would if it were an old friend. Tried to imagine what such a smile would be like.
Everything's gonna be OK as long as you don't flip and start being the floor.