It was the wrong thing to say.
Kenji’s expression changes. His eyes are suddenly, genuinely concerned and I worry I’ve said too much. These drugs are slowing me down, softening my senses. I touch a hand to my lips, beg them to stay closed. I hope I haven’t taken too much of the medicine.
“Hey,” Kenji says gently. “What happened?”
I shake my head. Close my eyes. “What happened?” Now I actually laugh. “What happened, what happened.” I open my eyes long enough to say, “Juliette broke up with me.”
“That is, I think she did?” I stop. Frown. Tap a finger against my chin. “I imagine that’s why she ran out of here screaming.”
“But—why would she break up with you? Why was she crying?”
At this, I laugh again. “Because I,” I say, pointing at myself, “am a monster.”
Kenji looks confused. “And how is that news to anyone?”
I smile. He’s funny, I think. Funny guy.
“Where did I leave my shirt?” I mumble, feeling suddenly numb in a whole new way. I cross my arms. Squint. “Hmm? Have you seen it anywhere?”
“Bro, are you drunk?”
“What?” I slap at the air. Laugh. “I don’t drink. My father is an alcoholic, didn’t you know? I don’t touch the stuff. No, wait”—I hold up a finger—“was an alcoholic. My father was an alcoholic. He’s dead now. Quite dead.”
And then I hear Kenji gasp. It’s loud and strange and he whispers, “Holy shit,” and it’s enough to sharpen my senses for a second.
I turn around to face him.
He looks terrified.
“What is it?” I say, annoyed.
“What happened to your back?”
“Oh.” I look away, newly irritated. “That.” The many, many scars that make up the disfiguration of my entire back. I take a deep breath. Exhale. “Those are just, you know, birthday gifts from dear old dad.”
“Birthday gifts from your dad?” Kenji blinks, fast. Looks around, speaks to the air. “What the hell kind of soap opera did I just walk into here?” He runs a hand through his hair and says, “Why am I always getting involved in other people’s personal shit? Why can’t I just mind my own business? Why can’t I just keep my mouth shut?”
“You know,” I say to him, tilting my head slightly, “I’ve always wondered the same thing.”
I smile, big. Lightbulb bright.
Kenji’s eyes widen, surprised, and he laughs. He nods at my face and says, “Aw, you’ve got dimples. I didn’t know that. That’s cute.”
“Shut up.” I frown. “Go away.”
He laughs harder. “I think you took way too many of those medicine thingies,” he says to me, picking up the bottle I left on the floor. He scans the label. “It says you’re only supposed to take one every three hours.” He laughs again. Louder this time. “Shit, man, if I didn’t know you were in a world of pain right now, I’d be filming this.”
“I’m very tired,” I say to him. “Please go directly to hell.”
“No way, freak show. I’m not missing this.” He leans against the wall. “Plus, I’m not going anywhere until your drunkass tells me why you and J broke up.”
I shake my head. Finally manage to find a shirt and put it on.
“Yeah, you put that on backward,” Kenji says to me.
I glare at him and fall into bed. Close my eyes.
“So?” he says, sitting down next to me. “Should I get the popcorn? What’s going on?”
Kenji makes a sound of disbelief. “What’s classified? Why you broke up is classified? Or did you break up over classified information?”
“Throw me a freaking bone here.”
“We broke up,” I say, pulling a pillow over my eyes, “because of information I shared with her that is, as I said, classified.”
“What? Why? That doesn’t make any sense.” A pause. “Unless—”
“Oh good, I can practically hear the tiny gears in your tiny brain turning.”