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Who is Mason?
“If you were a job description, what type of job description would you be?”
At the start of my friend Saul’s ‘We Graduated From High School’ sleepover, he asked our classmate Mason this question. Two weeks earlier, Saul applied to six summer internships at veterinary clinics throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts but had already been rejected from them all. I’d been accepted to my internship at the New Haven district attorney’s office. “Fuck you, Alex,” Saul had said to me.
“If I were a job description,” Mason said, pulling lint from Saul’s bedroom carpet, “I’d be an honest job description. I’d say, ‘I’m a job for people who need a job.’ I’d say, ‘I know none of you actually want this job and you can tell me that. You don’t need to lie and say you’ve always dreamed of a job like this. You haven’t. You just need a job and this is a job and this job won’t make you happy but it’ll make you money.’”
Mason hadn’t landed an internship either.
Who is Eric?
“If you were a street, what type of street would you be?”
Saul asked Eric this question an hour into the sleepover. We’d just finished all the chips and salsa. Eric’s upper lip had cracked from the salt. Mine hadn’t.
“If I were a street,” Eric said, patting Vaseline into his lip, “I’d be a street with car lanes and bike lanes that doesn’t really have room for both. Not a dangerous street but an inconvenient one. Too hard to drive down. Too many potholes. An annoying number of puddles. And I’d have trash sprinkled on me but not a lot. Just enough to be slightly unappealing.”
Eric ate some pretzels. His lip split further.
Who is Austin?
“If you were a punctuation mark, what type of punctuation mark would you be?”
Saul asked Austin this question five minutes to midnight as we threw magnetic darts at a barely magnetic dartboard.
“If I were a punctuation mark,” Austin said, “I’d be the interrobang.” Last week, the bonus question on our English final had asked us to define interrobang. Austin, Eric, Mason, and Saul all had no guesses and left the answer blank. I’d guessed, ?!?! I’d guessed correctly. “I’d be the interrobang,” Austin continued, “because it’s a great punctuation mark. It’s enthusiastic and curious. It’s full of energy. And it’s a punctuation mark that gets ignored. It’s a mark people don’t even know about until it comes up as a tricky bonus question and everyone gets it wrong. Everyone but you, Alex.”
“It was just a lucky guess,” I said.
Austin threw a bullseye but the dart slid down the board and fell to the floor. “Doesn’t count,” Saul said. I threw next and hit twenty points. My dart stuck.
Who is Saul?
“If you were a movie, what type of movie would you be?”
I asked Saul this question after Mason, Eric, and Austin had fallen asleep on the bed, each of their necks bent against the wooden headboard, each snoring with their mouths open.
“Sorry if that’s a dumb question,” I said. “Yours were much more creative than mine.”
Saul sat on the edge of the bed and said, “If I were a movie, I’d be one like Requiem for a Dream. I’d be a movie that starts out bleak and just keeps getting sadder and sadder and sadder until it ends.”
My friends have all become the same person, I thought, disgruntled depressives, passive cynics, kids able to imagine nothing but unending discouragement and unhappiness.
Saul fell asleep at the feet of our friends. I fell asleep on the floor.
Who is Alex?
“If you weren’t a person, what type of person would you be?”
In the morning, Saul warmed us each a bowl of macaroni and cheese and asked me this confusing question. The other three boys’ necks and backs hurt from their twisted sleeping positions. Sleeping on the floor hadn’t hurt me at all.
“That question’s too confusing for me,” I said.
“Well,” he said, “I just mean if you weren’t born a person but something else, anything else, what type of person would you be?”
“I still don’t really get it,” I said. “Maybe a fun person? A kind person? I don’t know. Sorry, I’m bad at this game.”
Saul slid us each our bowl of pasta. Eric took a bite and burned his lip where it had cracked last night. I fetched him an ice cube.
“Major cop out answer,” Eric said, the ice dripping into his pasta. “You’re the type of person who doesn’t get injured, who gets other people ice when they’re injured.”
“The type who believes in the power of positive thinking,” said Mason.
“Who can learn about global warming without getting depressed,” said Austin.
“Who can get away with uncreative questions,” said Saul.
Saul continued: “Yes, Alex. You’re a really, really lucky person. You’re the type of person who only gets boners when they’re supposed to as opposed to Austin over here who probably has one right now. And you’re the type of guy who’ll never go bald and whose packages always arrive on time and who will almost certainly succeed. Yeah, you’re the type of person who doesn’t need to think about what type of person you are because you’re just lucky. You will always, always be lucky.”
As Austin noted the superior sheen of my nails in comparison to most people’s, a tree fainted in the front yard. Through the window, I watched the thirty-foot oak uproot itself and tip into the street. The surrounding sidewalk got pulled out of the ground. Dirt misted through the air. I heard the crunch of metal. We all rushed outside.
“Fuck,” Eric said. The tree had totaled his car.
“Shit,” Mason said. His car, which was parked across the street, had been crushed too.
My car, which I’d parked right behind Mason’s, was only draped in leaves.
Max Kruger-Dull holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. His recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Eunoia Review, Baby Teeth Journal, Chronotope Magazine, and Filth Magazine. He lives in New York with his boyfriend and two dogs.