(c) Odalaigh
(c) Odalaigh

David runs up to the girl he loves. He runs up to the girl he loves, he runs and he says, he says in a grinning sort of way,

“Gosh, I’m such a stalker,” he says.

This is not the right thing to say. David calls himself self-deprecating on his blog, calls himself a cynic which is why he says things like this, things that make people think exactly the wrong thing. The girl David loves looks like she doesn’t recognize him but she says,

“Yes,” she says, which might mean she recognizes him after all but who knows.


Sometimes when he is unable to sleep, or when he is younger than he is now, or when he sends off an email to the receptionist asking her out to lunch, or when he finds out that his ex-girlfriend is into BDSM, David wonders about death.


David follows the girl he loves to the bus stop. The girl David loves is soft in places David would like to call his own, like the tip of her ear, and sometimes she scares him. She is a terrible hope inside David’s chest, something extraordinary that turns into something ordinary the moment she looks into David’s eyes. She is 5’9” and maybe ¾ of an inch.

The girl David loves crosses one leg over the other. David doesn’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the other man to ask permission before he sits down, sometimes David wonders why he’s the only one who seems to care about cuddling anymore. The other man’s lips close around a cigarette and David is reminded of a blow job of balls cock-sucker anal semen whore. On top of everything else the other man is fat and bald. The man owns a tiny dog that hunkers down in the middle of the sidewalk and takes a piss. The piss is yellow and David is disgusted and the girl—the girl is in despair. She tilts her head to flick her hair over her shoulder, like tadah! and like everything David has ever wanted in a girl.

“Shouldn’t you be going now?” the girl David loves asks David.


David writes a blog post on blue balls and life. David thinks, this is it. This is it exactly. The post gets four comments and one share. David films himself making shrimp pasta for one on New Year’s Eve and puts it up on YouTube. David drinks a can of Coke and washes the frozen Lidl shrimps in warm water, gently chopping them up into smaller pieces.


David is in the gutter. He sits in the gutter and taps his feet in the water and watches the dirt soak into his pants. David knows the one true thing now, the one true thing about man which is that the only true thing about man is that man is fragile and that he changes his mind and that he breaks. Soon David will forget this thing, and he will try to move on, but by then it’ll be too late. He goes to a bar and orders a drink. David puts his chest to the wood. He bounces back in his seat, surprised and sad, and feels his heart ache. Before him, etched into the bar, is a crude version of a star. Love me the most when I deserve it least. Love is a steady hand.

The man who is going to kill David mumbles something to himself, laughing at something he thinks is funny. David glances sideways and gets up to leave. He is sad and he knows the one true thing now and besides, David’s never liked to talk to other guys much. The man who is going to kill David looks up.


“I have a regular,” the barman tells David when David enters the bar, “and his name is John.”

“Oh,” David says, and tries to make the wood vibrate with his heart.


The man, whose name is John, sits next to David in a bar. John blows his nose and carves another star into the bar. John laughs. John is basically, yes, pretty much, a man laughing in a bar with a knife in his hand. John is a man laughing like a character from a Japanese role playing computer game, like he he he and ha ha ha, with his head suspended but moving a little bit backwards and a little bit forwards.

“Well done, John,” John says and thumps the knife in his hand with a closed fist. The barman, heavy with all of life weighing him down, walks over and dumps a pitcher of beer over John’s head. The barman knows it’ll do no good to throw John out of the bar. They have no security here, and John always comes back. John turns once again to David who was about to leave, but who got held up by the spectacle of the barman dumping a pitcher of beer over John’s head. David looks into John’s eyes and fathoms that something extraordinary is about to happen.

“Do you like stars?” John asks.

David looks around himself with eyes wild and blue. “I don’t know.”

“That’s no good,” John says.

“I’ll stay a while,” David says and sits back down.

David can’t recall how long he stays at the bar, but after enough time has passed he forgets the season. John balances the knife on the palm of his hand and tells a story. John tells David that he learned, from an early age, maybe from the very moment he appeared, to cheer himself on.

“I’m more of the self-deprecating type,” David confesses.

When John was a boy he would do his homework and then he would put a gold star next to his answers and then he would write well done, John! in the margins. It did the teacher no good to take John’s stars away from John because John just went out and bought new stars. When John joined the football team, John came up with a cheerleading routine which went give me a J! Give me an O! Give me an H! Give me an N! and they never won any games. His team members complained and John was kicked off the team.

“Don’t be such a feminizt,” John said and scribbled i agree wit John on the locker room wall.

When John moved into his first apartment, John celebrated by sitting on the floor with a gold star tacked to his forehead, making love to himself. John makes love to himself by bending forwards and coming in his own mouth. John wants a baby. John wants to be a mommy and a daddy and he wants a boy that he can look at the stars with. John has an active sex life, but still no baby.

“To be fair, though,” John says, “some couples try for years.”


David is scared for his life, an exhilarating feeling. He wonders if he has ever been able to separate himself from the people he loves. David pushes the feeling down inside his throat and feels his extremities swell and tingle. John’s skin is sticky from the many pitchers of beer the barman has dumped on top of his head. The bar is almost but not completely empty.

John places the knife next to him on the bar, and the barman sighs and thinks of his wife and kids who are maybe at home waiting for him.

“You and I are the same,” John nods. David shakes his head and tries to count the minutes until he’s back safe in his own bed.

“We’re both the bearer of truth,” John continues. “We know the world, we know what it does. Everyone else is just a cock-sucker.”

“The girl I love is not a— that,” David says. He blushes and bruises.

“You should stop worrying about a girl and start taking yourself into your own hands,” John advices. “Every man is an island.”

David knocks back three shots in a row. He is over his limit.

“I don’t know what that means and anyway I don’t think so,” David says. John runs a finger through his hair and puts it inside his mouth.

“Ha ha ha,” John says. ”I’m just saying you should get to know yourself. No one else will. Especially not the others. You know.”

“Uh oh,” David says. “Have something to drink.”

“I don’t drink,” John says and stares angrily at the barman. “Then we should tell her not to be a pessimist. Let’s go tell her not to be a pessimist.”

John takes a picture of himself with a Polaroid camera he carries around with him. He waits for the portrait to develop and then puts it on top of the photograph of the bar’s resident darts champion.

“Well done, John,” John says and slaps himself on the back.

“Everything breaks,” David says, still believing that it is so.


David stumbles after John, his new friend who is dancing down the street with a knife in his hand. The alcohol makes David want to finger somebody preferably the girl he loves. The thought makes David very uncomfortable and he goes back to thinking about male appreciation.

“Look at the stars,” John hollers and points.

“Whatever, man,” David says and stares at a group of people dressed in all white. “I don’t care about the stars.”

David focuses on the shining lapel of a jacket and feels a wave of nausea crash through him, appearing and disappearing and reappearing. One of the men in the group looks like a prince, with slicked back hair and a big black shiner.

“Princes dressed in white are the most provocative thing I know,” John says, rousing David out of his daydreams. John follows the man into a bar and David stumbles around outside, looking for a way in. A minute or an hour later John comes back out. He holds up a slick piece of hair in front of David.

“Another trophy,” John says, triumphantly.

David throws up on the side of the road. He wipes his mouth with the inside of his jacket. He spots the fat bald man from before, stepping into a circle of light, then he’s gone. David runs after him. Without knowing how it happens, all of a sudden David is on the ground, punching the fat bald man in the face.

David is weak but filled with soot. His hands drip wet from the gutter. Most of all, the fat bald man is unprepared, and in five minutes time David won’t remember what he did because David will be running and sometime after that he will be dead. He stops punching the fat bald man. He looks at his own filthy hands.

“I don’t want to finger anyone,” David says. His breathing is laboured, his mouth is full of blood.

“There there,” John says.

David gets up to face John. He blinks and his hands start to shake. Again he feels that strange sort of liveliness and fear deep in his soul—he has a sudden premonition that he’s about to disappear.

“I need to,” David says, and takes off running.


The girl David loves lives in a house with her parents in the suburbs. The windows are dark. It’s late. David picks up a rock and looks at it, wondering what he should do with it. John strolls up the driveway, whistling a tune. John tells David to climb the trellis so David climbs the trellis. He opens up a window and says, says in a desperate sort of way,

“Hello?” he says. The room is empty. David tumbles inside. John climbs in after him.

“Why are we here?” John asks David.

“Because the girl I love is here,” David says, turning his palms up flat, begging. Can’t you see? John looks around the room. He’s bored but there’s a terrible edge to his boredom.

“The house is empty,” he says. David shakes his head.

“She’s here, I know it,” David says and starts to cry. John opens up the door to the hallway.

“So go look,” he says.

David runs through the house. He runs through the kitchen, through the bedroom, through the study and through the kitchen again. There is no trace of the girl David loves. David stands at the foot of the stairs, crying, listening to the sounds John is making up in the bedroom. David walks back up the stairs. When he enters the room he sees that John has taken off his pants and is writing something on the wall, humming to himself. John turns to the side and David sees that John has written JOHN WAS HERE on the wall.

“It’s not that I’m angry,” John says, clasping a hand around David’s shoulder.

David moans and looks down, startled at the sight of red pouring through his fingers. David bites into his own arm and falls down on the floor. David rolls around and around and around. The room is unbearably hot. Hot like the day he felt shame for the first time, hot like he imagines the girl he loves to be, hot like that, yes, like that, and David feels something slick touch him, David remembers and regrets-


Te amo, formosos femina. David is fourteen years old the first time he tells a girl I love you. David leaves the letter in the girl’s locker and signs it with a pseudonym. This is not the day, the day to feel shame. David believes in love, in what it can do. David knows that one day, he too will know what beauty feels like.



John, the man who has just killed David, smiles.

“Well done, John,” John says and sits on the bed. In a minute John will turn himself in. The police will arrive and John will go to jail, and the girl David loved will look at her wall and be in despair, and outside the window the stars will die, one after another, but only after about another two billion years.

Elin Hellmark Kristoffersson

About Elin Hellmark Kristoffersson

Elin Hellmark Kristoffersson graduated from University of Toronto with a MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing in 2011. She lives in Stockholm, Sweden, where she works as a translator. She has no spectacular likes or dislikes, except maybe for that thing she hates that thing you know where you pull on something too hard and it rips a hole in you.

Elin Hellmark Kristoffersson graduated from University of Toronto with a MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing in 2011. She lives in Stockholm, Sweden, where she works as a translator. She has no spectacular likes or dislikes, except maybe for that thing she hates that thing you know where you pull on something too hard and it rips a hole in you.


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