“Life is cyclical,” his father had told him every night as the fire from the hearth warmed his ruddy cheeks, his small toy cars drawing circles around his father’s large, socked feet. He hadn’t known what cyclical meant at the time. He hadn’t cared, hadn’t given much thought to whether life happened to be a square or a circle or a trapezoid. All he knew was that he was a big kid at the age of 6, that his father enjoyed talking about shapes, and that toy cars were cool, and real cars even cooler.
His father never cared to explain what he quite meant, either. And he never quite understood – until the night when he was an even bigger kid at the age of 8, waiting for his father to come home and the police were there instead, greeting him with their sad eyes and grim faces. Strange words poured out of their mouths and all he could really understand was that cars weren’t so cool anymore.
The rest was a blur. He could still hear his father’s words, but he couldn’t understand them. Life was not cyclical. Life was a jumbled mess, life was the leftover crayon lines in the used coloring books thrust into his hands, life was the never-ending line of adults that came into the building, their eyes passing him as if he were never there. Life was the endless stream of ‘Oh, he’s too old, we were looking to adopt someone younger?’ that fell from the visitors’ lips, the ice that formed in his chest as each visitor turned their backs on him. Life was the ironic posters decorating the walls, their gaudy colors throwing together tips, all arranged on a perfect line, on ‘How To Build A Lasting Relationship With Your Adoptive Parents’. He hated those posters, hated the walls behind them, hated the very ground he stood on.
Then came the day he turned eighteen and the doors thrust open and he tumbled out, no longer required to stay within the very walls that had trapped him for 10 years of his insignificant life. Nobody quite wanted him in their either. Nobody could say it to his face, but the truths were known: he was useless, he was taking up space, and he was taking up valuable resources that could have been used on more desirable occupants (read: the children under the age of 2). And it was on that day, as he walked out onto the streets, alone and lost, that he decided that he was done with being rejected. Relationships were a waste of time, and much too difficult to maintain.
He was quickly proven wrong.
On the street, relationships were everything. They were the ticket to heaven, locked away in ziploc bags and released into the bloodstream. Relationships could get him the euphoria of lying on his back on the softest carpet known to mankind, the air clear as crystal and singing with music. He was invincible. He was the best, and everything was sunshines and rainbows excreted by flying unicorns – except when he wasn’t, when he was lying face down on the disgusting carpet soaked in vomit and blood and urine, and the air choked his lungs and his head spun, his chest ached, and he wanted to die. Then he would beg, would rob and pillage, would do anything for a few shiny coins and rumpled bills, anything to purchase the next high. Then he was the king, he was the Emperor of Mankind, he was floating on a cloud up high in the sky, and the next moment he would be deep underground in the lowest levels of hell, every breath like a flame slowly eating his corroded lungs. And as he lay there, clawing his way to the door, every movement sending daggers up pain up his spine and into his shorted-out brain, he could hear his father’s words: life was cyclical.
It was time to break the cycle.
He was the idiot in the drawn-in circle, condemned to walk an eternity, going nowhere, while the others laughed and went on to do their work. But he was the idiot no more. Life was not cyclical; he was here to prove his father wrong. Life was no circle. It was a broken rollercoaster, with ups and downs and loops until the metal ran out and empty air remained.
So he packed up his gear. Picked up his needles, formerly cast on the ground, discarded as mere tools to a means of pleasure – and destroyed them.
Then he stepped out onto a busy highway.