Photo by  Nabeel Syed

Photo by Nabeel Syed

The day Obo yelled at his child for the last time, he got her onto the bus and then drove straight to town hall to file the application.

“Apply to do what?” asked the clerk, an eyebrow raised.

Obo, doing his best not to comment on the cliché of her eyebrow, doing his best not to tell her how trite her shriveled expression was, with its squinty eyes and its scrunched up nose—in short, doing his best not to be himself, he repeated that he wished to resign from the human race.

“Do you see the line behind you?” the clerk asked him.

He did, he professed, but the matter was important.

“I don’t have time for your jokes,” she told him, and then she looked over his shoulder, past him, and said to a lady with a walker, “Next!”

Dejected, he walked down the center of the road, straddling the left side of the double yellow line, hoping to be hit or arrested, or maybe both. Neither happened, for theirs was a sleepy town, a commuter town, and everyone had either left for the city hours before, or was in a line that wasn’t going anywhere, at least not anytime soon. Everyone except him, of course, he who was in between jobs, in between marriages, in between a lot of things.

He was home before he knew it, and his shout from that morning still echoed throughout the townhouse. It was faint, and he couldn’t make out the words, could no longer remember if it was about the girl’s unfinished cereal or her untied shoes, but he could still hear himself yelling at her.

So he yelled at himself now, for good measure, yelled until he coughed a spot of blood onto his lip. Then he wiped that, accidentally, onto hand towel from their good set, the ones they’d put out to help sell the house, and he yelled some more.

He screamed until the neighbors came knocking, but didn’t stop. He screamed until no sound came out of his mouth anymore, but still didn’t stop. He screamed until his head was filled with nothing but the sound of him torturing himself, and only when he couldn’t remember what it was he’d been yelling about in the first place did he stop. Only when he couldn’t remember what day it was, or where he was, or where the stars in his eyes came from—only then did he stop.

Then he looked at a clock, saw that it was 3:15, and hiked up the hill to get his daughter off the bus.

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