Fears of Normality

Fears of Normality

A Story by Petar Oklobdzija

too much too soon


“I don’t know what I plan to see. I don’t want to know. Okay maybe I do, but that doesn’t mean I have to admit it. The people who yearn to know exactly what’s in store for them scare me. Why do they know? Do they really even want to know? Or have they just been programmed to spend the entirety of their life preparing for a future they don’t want to even start? I don’t know. I’m an anxious being, things often trouble me that wouldn’t even come to mind for most. I worry.”    

            “Same man.”

            I looked at Johnny as he returned his focus to the cigarette smoke dancing around the room. The sun shone through a crack in the shade and illuminated the haze. Mary was sitting next to him.”

            “Don’t be such a prick Max, I’m trying to enjoy myself here,” she said.

            Johnny slumped into the couch, and laid down his suddenly heavy head on her lap. I don’t know why, but for once, the over sized man child didn’t seem incredibly out of place in the lap of his much smaller lover. They were an odd match, but a right one.

            “Can we smoke? I feel like I’m about to peak, and I’m suddenly not all that into the idea of the possibility of a visit to tomorrow.”

            “Huh?” we both replied, though unfortunately starting to feel the same.

            Mary glared back at us, the blacks of her eyes having taken full control now, “Just roll a damn joint Max.”

            “Yes princess,” I replied. It took a second for me to stand up. The pot was a few steps away, the papers a few steps further, though I felt like a hobbit gearing up for a grand adventure.


            The sun had recently gone down. The room reeked; everything seemed to have a smell, even sound. I was lying on the floor; Johnny and Mary had taken over the couch.  He was playing with her long black hair. She didn’t seem to mind, her full attention was on the T.V. I can’t allow myself to even pretend she was seeing what I was. The screen was showing the same thing, but being seen in three completely different ways. In the past we used to say what we saw, compare and contrast, try to figure each other out. Now we just keep to ourselves, and try to make sense of it all, on our own.

            “Yoko f*****g sucks man,” Johnny said, rubbing his eyes.

            “Agreed,” I replied, “How horrible of a person do you have to be in order to have the capability, the nerve even, to destroy one of the best things to ever happen to the human race?”

            “Right!” Mary chimed in.

            We were watching Yellow Submarine, though it was near the end. You know, the part where they start jamming and Pepperland comes back to its colorful self. Somebody was knocking on the door.

            “Who’s that?”

            “You heard that too?”

            “Heard what?”

            “Max go get the door,” Mary snapped.

            “Fine fine,” I said as I stood up. Johnny dug his head into a pillow and Mary sat up to reach some water. I got to the door, the knocking having picked up again. Without looking through the peephole I unlocked the deadbolt and opened it.



            “Nice to see you too Max,” she replied rolling her eyes. There she was, standing alone looking the same as the last time I saw her. Blonde hair flowing down past her chest, blue eyes trying to work the same magic she used to rely on so often. I didn’t quite know what to say, I was instantly lost in my own mind, memories smacking me in the face without mercy.

            “Max? Who is it?” Johnny shouted from the living room.

            I snapped out of my trance and regained my bearings. She was still there.

            “Who’s in there with ya?” she asked.

            “What are you doing here Jess?” I snapped.

            She let out a subtle sigh, and scrunched her face, “I don’t know, are you going to invite me in or what?”

            “Invite you? More like allow you, c’mon.”

            She walked past me and I followed her into the living room. Mary and Johnny were munching on some pretzels.

            “These pretzels are making me thirsty,” Johnny said trying not to laugh.

            “That was horrible, Constanza like even,” Mary said glaring back at his dopey face. They looked up once I closed the door. It took them a second to realize who it was with me, and once they did, well, their faces said more than I’m sure they realized.

            “Ah, I should’ve guessed it was you two making all that noise back here,” Jess said with a smirk.

            “Hey f**k you s**t,” Johnny said, only to be smacked by Mary immediately after. He glared back at her, then turned back to us, “Excuse me, Hi Jess how ya been?”
            “Good boy,” Mary murmured.

            “I’ve been good Johnny, looks like Mary still has you all locked up as always.”

            “I sure do,” Mary said, “Nice to see ya Jess, Johnny and I were just about to go take a nap in Max’s bed, right Johnny?”

            “We were?”

            Without a word Mary shot up and dragged him away. The door closed and the thin walls made it easy for us to hear her scolding him.

            “Nothing new there,” Jess remarked as she took a seat on the couch.

            I didn’t sit next to her, it didn’t feel right, I instead took a seat on the recliner across the living room. There was a joint rolled on the table. I looked at Jess and nodded towards it.

            “Sure, why not,” she replied and grabbed it. She lit it with a match, meanwhile I got up and turned off the T.V. then mozied over to the stereo and turned on whatever was in there.

            “Lou Reed?” Jess asked in between coughs as she passed the joint.

            “Yeah, Velvet Underground, way to remember.”

            “Hard to forget.”

            I took a drag and closed my eyes, I had no idea why she was here. I can’t even remember the last time I saw her, it must’ve been more than a year.

            “How long has it been Jess?” I said passing back the joint.

            “I don’t know, has to be more than a year, I’m surprised you’re still living in this dump, I half expected some angry Korean to answer the door thinking I was a selling something.”

            “Now that I would love to see,” I replied, “But really, why are you here?”

            She took another drag and slid down into the couch, “I honestly don’t know. I was out walking around my block and then somehow ended up around here, then subconsciously I guess, just, decided to see if you were around.”

            “Sure,” I replied, the usual bullshit flowing strong as usual from her.

            “Yeah,” she said to the wall.

            “Well, I’m not going to say it’s nice to see you again, though I feel like its been long enough to let go, I’m still not quite over how big of a piece of s**t you were.”

            “Hey now.”

            “What? Would you like me to sit here and pretend you were the best thing to have happened to me or something?”

            “No, but a little freaking civility would be nice. You don’t know how hard it was for me to knock on that door.”

            “I don’t see how it could be, it’s not like you’re here to apologize, nor does it seem likely you would even think I would consider somehow falling for your bullshit spell again.”

            “Can we just talk? For once can we just have a conversation, like we used to in the beginning?”

            “Yeah pass me back the joint and we’ll see.”

            “Nice,” she said handing the smoke back over to me. I took a deep drag, then unwillingly got up and took a seat next to her on the couch.

            “I’m sick of reaching over to pass this s**t to you,” I replied to her confused look.

            “Of course,” she said.

            “But of course of course,” I mocked.

            We sat in silence for what seemed to be an hour but probably only a minute or two. The music continued to play on, the joint burning out on the table. Suddenly Jess shifted her body closer to mine, then as if without knowing or even trying, laid her head on my chest.

            “What are you doing?”

            “I don’t know, she said, not moving, “just let me be comfortable, can we just be comfortable for a minute?”


            Jess sat back up, and scooted back to the end of the couch, looking hurt for almost a moment, before shaking it off. I looked at her, instantly I remembered what I saw in the early days, what brought me in against my better judgment. I cleared my throat and grabbed a cigarette. After lighting it I leaned my head back and took a deep drag, sighing as I let the smoke flow back out from between my chapped lips.

            “Why did you do it?”

            “Do what?” she asked.


            “Oh,” she replied, her face going a bit pale.   

            There was silence again, I leaned back, looking at the ceiling, waiting for her to presumably get together the explanation, or maybe she would just leave. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t mind either way.

            “I was scared,” she said, quietly.


            I straightened up, and looked at her. She wasn’t looking back, instead staring at the map of Canada on the wall. Without a word she snagged my cigarette and took a drag, then immediately put it out in the ash tray.

            “Um,” I said, “I guess I was finished with that.”

            “Sorry,” she replied, looking as if she was trying to string together a line of words that could make sense.


            “Well,” she began, “I was scared.”

            “Yeah, you said that already.”

            “Well I started to think, is this it? Is this the last person I will ever be with? I couldn’t find a thing wrong with you, was I ready for that?”

            “Mary, Johnny, f**k off,” I said, followed by a bit of a crash.

            “Sorry about that Max!” Johnny yelled as we could hear them scrambling back to into the bed.

            “How did you know they were listening?”

            “How could you not know? What else are those stoned b******s going to do when my cheating ex girlfriend shows up at my doorstep after a more than a year?”


            “So you were saying,”

            “Have you ever heard how some adventurers become depressed after finally reaching their destination? They fought their whole life to get to where they wanted to go, but once they’re there, they realize that the adventure is over. I guess I just got scared the adventure was over. This incredible fear of normality took over me and it honestly just freaked me out.”

            I didn’t say anything, not that I really had anything to say.

            “So I was scared,” she went on, “The adventure was over, no more surprises, no more searching, because I’d finally found what it is I was looking for. What was next? What else was there to look forward too? We were there, we made it. Didn’t that f**k with your head?”

            “To be honest it never really came to mind.”

            “I don’t know. “Were we lucky? Or were we screwed?” she said, “I mean what was next, what was there left to do, was it over? Was all we had left to look forward to; marriage, kids, a house and the white picket fence? Normality? We weren’t normal people Max, I didn’t know if we could’ve handled it.”


            “That’s it,” she said, I could feel her eyes looking me over, but I wasn’t giving away anything, not yet at least.

            “So let me get this straight, you were so comfortable and happy with me and our relationship, that it scared you into f*****g another guy? How am I supposed to make any sense of that, or even take that presumably bullshit story seriously?”

            “I needed a way out, I felt I needed to burn the bridge so I could never cross back over it.”

            I was utterly confused, “So in return for me being everything you wanted me to be, you decided to f**k me over in the most painful way possible?”

            “I don’t expect any of this to make sense to you, but it did to me, at the time, and that’s just how it happened.”

            “I need a drink.”

            I stood up and went into the kitchen and poured myself a glass of whiskey, “Want any?” I asked.

            “Can I just have a sip of yours?”

            “Fine,” I said as I made my drink. I walked back into the living room and handed her the glass. She took a sip and handed it back to me, I chose to go back to the recliner. I took a seat and sipped my drink, then lit another cigarette.

            “Well,” I began, “So is that why you came here?”

            “I don’t know, maybe, mostly I guess I just wanted to see you one more time.”

            “I think that’s for the best.”

            “I thought you would.”

            She stood up, and so did I. We locked eyes for what could have possibly been the last time, and I was oddly okay with it. I won’t lie, I did still miss her. There was a part of me that wanted to tell her that, but my common sense blocked it out. I made my way to the door, and she followed. We stood there for an extended second, then she kissed me on the cheek, opened the door, and left without a word.


            I continued smoking my cigarette alone on the couch, the music still playing. After a few more minutes, Mary peaked her head out of my bedroom.

            “Is she gone?”

            “Yeah,” I replied, “she’s gone.”

            Mary turned back into the room, “Hey, she’s gone, wake up.”

            I could hear a mumbling aggravated Johnny struggle to regain consciousness. A couple moments later the couple joined me and took a seat on the couch.

            “Velvet Underground? Really?” Mary asked with a smirk. Johnny had already fallen asleep again.

            “Shut up, I replied, “It was in the stereo already so I didn’t bother changing it.”

            “Whatever you say bud,” Johnny murmured, now only half asleep and a little more coherent.

            “Whatever,” I said with a sigh.

            “So what happened? Why was she even here?” Mary enquired.

            I broke my gaze from the glass of whiskey still in my hand, “I don’t know, I don’t really want to talk about it.”

            “Oh f**k off you don’t want to talk about it.”


            “Thank you,” Mary replied.

            “Well,” I began, “Apparently she was just an adventurer who loved the journey more than the destination. And as much as that really f***s me up, I have to give it to her, you have to respect the person who can find so much joy in the journey.”


            “Nothing. Want a drink?”



            “Yes please, with a shot of espresso.”


            “Never mind.”

            I stood up and went to the kitchen to grab them glasses. I don’t know what I am ever going to make of tonight. Closure is a word I can think of, but it isn’t one that was truly earned. I feel like I was cheated out of a destination, my journey cut short, but not by my own doing. What now?

© 2017 Petar Oklobdzija

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A very good story shared. I like the conversation and the characters. Fear and journey. Things not done make us wish for being more wild and crazy. I liked the ending. Wide open ending make the reader want to know more. Thank you Petar for sharing the amazing story.

Posted 12 Months Ago

Petar Oklobdzija

12 Months Ago

thank you again!
Coyote Poetry

12 Months Ago

You are welcome Petar.

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Added on July 26, 2017
Last Updated on July 26, 2017


Petar Oklobdzija
Petar Oklobdzija

Milwaukee, WI

21. Creative writing major at UW-Milwaukee. more..