I’m only awake right now for the music. Music keeps playing from my earphones, 90’s hit songs mostly. Songs I haven’t heard in a while. The music is the only reason why my face is glowing faintly from the light of my computer screen at 2am, my eyes lazily fixated on the crosshair on my screen, aiming from one virtual soldier to another in my computer game. Someone in the game server is playing music into his microphone, broadcasting his playlist for everyone to hear. Normally this should be an annoyance, because in this game I need to listen for footsteps, for distant gunshots, for any sign of an enemy around the corner. I normally need to be focused. But I honestly just don’t care right now. The song playing right now is a Bee Gees song and my score is 0. I haven’t killed a single person yet this game, and I’ve died like 11 times. I’m honestly only on right now for the music. And not just any music. For the music that this person is streaming into his microphone. Songs that he’s selected, that he has decided that he likes, and has decided to play. For some reason, being in a game, listening to someone else’s music, makes me not feel alone. I didn’t even realize I felt alone until I heard the music. And then realized that I didn’t want the music to stop. I’m exhausted, it’s the first day of February, and I’m only playing a video game so that I can listen to someone else’s music online. All so that I don’t feel alone.
And there it is. I’m alone again.
The loneliness, the bitter holy water. It baptizes all that I do with desperation, with longing.
Deep into the night is when I’m always most aware of my condition. And I wonder if loneliness is the demon of my soul that will stay with me forever. Will it be there as I lay awake on the night of my wedding, wondering if I made the right choice? Will it be the one I whisper to in the hallway after I tuck my kids in and walk back to my bedroom where my wife is? Will it dig its claws into my shoulder as I spend my time with friends? Will it whisper in my ears when I attend my friends’ funerals? And will it kiss me on the lips as it lays me down for a final sleep?
I hear the final gunshot. The game’s over. I don’t even look at who won or lost. The game ends. A popup menu appears on the screen, with a list of the different maps we can choose to play on. All the players enter their vote. The screen flashes to a loading page as the winning map is being loaded on all the different players’ computers. Players begin dropping onto the map. A countdown starts the first round. The game begins. But there’s no music. There are footsteps and distant gunshots, but I don’t care.
The music has left.