Me, Myself, and I by Izzy by old_archive
Me, Myself, and I by old_archive

When I was seven years old I wore my Halloween costume for a week and a half straight. I was a magician for eleven magical days.

It was July.

I almost made it to the twelfth day, but my magic wand broke and I had already realized that pointing it towards my mom and saying 'poof' didn't make her happy. It hadn't fixed the broken lock on the door, it didn't make the car run better, and it hadn't made it stop raining.

The wand breaking was just what had to happen next. I took it in stride and retired.

In August, I became Zorro.

"Aren't you going to sleep?"

I had heard the glass door to the balcony slide open, but I had consciously ignored it. There was a scraping noise as the other chair was pulled next to mine.

"Pick a card, any card." I held out the deck I had been holding, still not looking in his direction. No card was drawn. I turned my head. He was giving me a curious look.

I looked away again, lowering the hand of cards.

"Whatcha thinking about?"

I shrugged. "Not too much."

"You've been out here over an hour."

"I don't say anything when you stare at the ceiling for hours saying nothing, Nick."

I felt him hesitate then.

I shrugged again. "Just thinking... you know."


"I'm okay," I added softly.

Nick gave a small smile. "Okay. Want company?"

I shook my head.

"Well... I'm gonna go to sleep..."

I didn't say anything.

"You can wake me if you want to talk."

I nodded and looked down at the pile of cards as he left.

Who was I? The ace of spades? Maybe on some days.

August of my seventh year, I slept with a plastic sword every night, fully masked but in Spiderman pajamas. We lived with my grandparents at the time, and my grandma was the only one who could convince me to take off the mask for bath time. It didn't make sense to me why I couldn't wear it in the tub, but I bent the rules for her and for her only.

For me, it wasn't pretend. Adults didn't seem to mind.

"Alex," they would say, "don't ever lose your imagination."

I never thought I had an imagination.

Two weeks later that month, I, Zorro, once again retired.

In school the following year I told everyone that my father was a mercenary overseas and that I was actually in the witness protection program, while my mother was in the FBI and working undercover. My real name wasn't Alex, it was Antonio, but if you called me that you might be in trouble. I carried a briefcase for a couple of weeks. I didn't have many friends.

I changed my handwriting frequently in school. Almost as often as I changed my story.

I seemed to have a problem expressing myself.

Flash forward. Had things changed?

Less than ten years later I was going by AJ and was surrounded by four guys who seemed to want to accept me for who I was. That was another sort of escape for me, only I wasn't really too sure who that me was that I was supposed to be showing them. I was a little too big to be playing Zorro, magic didn't work, and the last time I had tried to be Superman I had sprained my wrist.

It seemed like AJ was going to be something a little new. Something to escape to, not escape from. And retiring AJ wouldn't be as easy as taking off the cape or throwing away the mask. AJ was a little more permanent. AJ was a tattoo.

And that was fine for awhile because I soon became comfortable in this new skin. For once there was someone I was supposed to be, even if that identity was given to me under contract and I couldn't pick the details. Sure I could be a bad boy. Not a problem. It seemed to suit me.

I shivered as a wave of cold air washed over me, and I opened my eyes. I stared at the dark sky for a minute, squinting at the moon because I hadn't remembered it watching me before like it was at that moment, and then decided I was going to have to move myself inside. I hadn't felt the chill until then.

The room was glowing from the television, its volume too low to even hear. Brightness in the room, and then just a soft glow. Then brightness again as the scene on the TV changed.

"I thought you were sleeping?"

"Yeah," he said from his prone position. His voice was drowsy, but I knew for Nick that didn't mean that he was close to sleep.

I dropped the deck of cards onto my bed, watching them slide into a scattered position on the comforter, and then dropped myself down onto the other bed next to him.

"Shark week," was his greeting.

I just nodded. I could see that.

A hammerhead glided across the screen. I glanced at Nick's silhouetted profile.

"Can't sleep?"




"Do you think I'm..." I trailed off, not even sure what I was asking. Did he think I was what?

"Weird?" Nick supplied.

I paused. "Thanks."

"I didn't say you were. I was asking. If that was what you were asking."

"How should I know," I muttered. I didn't know what I was.

A moment went by and then I heard, "You're not."

I didn't answer. I watched the television as a massive creature swam across it.

"That's a big ass fish..."

"Whale shark."


"Whale. Shark."

"Is it a whale or a shark?"

"Shark," he said.


"It's the largest fish in the ocean."


"It's harmless."

"It's a shark trapped in a whale's body," I said, watching it carefully. False appearances. I wondered what it considered itself. Sure, we gave it a name and a species, but...

I wondered why I was psychoanalyzing a fish.

It probably didn't even care.


I glanced at Nick. "What?"

"Are you all right?"


"Really," Nick pressed, looking at me.

"Really," I repeated. But I was unsettled.

"I never liked Jaws."

I glanced at him and said nothing.

"I mean, people give sharks such a bad rep." He turned onto his elbow, looking at me. "They're not out to kill people. They only bite when people get in their way."

I just let him talk.

I was comforted by his babble.

When he trailed off five minutes later, I turned my head.

He was looking at me curiously.


"Nothin'..." He turned his head away, but that wasn't it. It wasn't nothing. Finally, he spoke again. "Is it what Kevin said before?"

I hesitated, then, "What did he say before?"

Nick said nothing. My apparent act of dumbness did not fool him.

We had been talking, Kevin and I. I don't remember about what. It didn't really matter. All I know is that we had been talking and then something he said made me snap. I don't remember what it was.

Did it matter?

My temper got the best of me. It happened. People lost their tempers.

Maybe not as randomly as I sometimes did.

"Damn AJ, it's like you have a multiple personality disorder."

Nick echoed the words, and I gazed at him silently. Stoically. He stared back.

I blinked first.

"He didn't mean it literally."

"It's okay," I said. Of course he didn't. But then again, maybe he should have. I had such a hard time deciding who I was, maybe that would be a nice road to take.

"Oh, come off it, AJ."

I lost the blank look I had been trying for and started to involuntarily frown.

"It's okay."

"No, it's not. I saw your face."

"Well, maybe he's right."

Nick rolled his eyes. "You don't have a multiple personality disorder."

"No," I agreed softly, speaking to the ceiling now. Nothing I said would make sense. "But maybe I'm not sure what my one person is."

"Is anyone," Nick muttered. He paused as an open-mouthed great white flashed on the screen and then looked back at me. "People change, anyway."

Was he saying I had changed? I had. But hadn't we all?

And why did I feel like I was someone different everyday. Why couldn't I feel constant, or settled?

I just shook my head, shutting my eyes. It was my story from day one. Was my whole life some big game of pretend? The only constant was that I would probably change myself some more tomorrow. Change being the constant. That was ironic part.


"I'm tired, Nick."

I was tired. And I wasn't sure what to say exactly. I wasn't sure how to explain myself. Explain my tempers, my quick changing moods, my need to change my appearance every now and then. Expression was a hard thing to explain. Especially when it was jaded.

You would think after this many years, I would have some answer.

Nick rolled off the bed and grabbed his wallet and keys off the dresser.

"I can't sleep. I'll be back later, okay?"

I nodded, keeping my eyes closed. I heard the door creep open, and then felt the hesitation. His next words were spoken softer.

"Well, you're my bro. At least you know that, right?"

I opened my eyes to the door shutting, and felt the frown on my face fade slightly.

Maybe there was another constant.

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