My biggest failure is being human. Not really my fault, because I never asked to be born, and nor is it something I’ve ever been proud of. But yeah. Stupid humans with their stupid customs and religions and their self-important belief that somehow they deserve to be saved. If working in retail has told me one thing, it’s that humans, beyond a shadow of a doubt, don’t deserve to be saved. We are a virus; a pompous, sexual disease with little more worth than bacteria. We show flashes of forward thinking, but we’re crippled by superstition and damned by animal urges that undermine each and every flash of brilliance we can muster. We have our moments, but for every smile, there’s war. For every good deed, rape. Whenever we discover and create, somewhere out there someone is behind tortured; another tree cut down; another species of animal slain to the brink of extinction. Eating my breakfast in a friend’s back garden the morning after the night before, I write these words while others are inside comparing hangovers and bragging about last night’s exploits. How much was drunk. Who fucked who. It used to appeal to me, but the older I get, the more I know I don’t belong here. In the eyes of everyone I meet, I’m searching for someone who feels the same way, and I’m still searching after all these years. Lighting a cigarette and feeling sick, it dawns upon me that within twenty-four hours I could be dead. No, never mind that. Within the next ten minutes, I could be dead, and what awaits me? A lonely death, that’s what. No one knows how I feel. They’re too busy trying not to arouse suspicion and doing their best to lose themselves in their capitalist ways. I said the same thing to a girl last night as we walked back ahead of the group. She told me to cheer up before kissing me on the cheek. Cheer up? Yeah, maybe that’s where I’ve been going wrong all these years. Maybe I’ll get myself a nice office job, bang the tits off whoever comes calling and drive a fast car as fast as I can while pretending I’m not just another nobody with nowhere to belong. Drinking my cup of tea, I think about the old man who comes to work early every morning. He’s in his sixties. Scraggly grey hair. Always the same green coat and dirty jeans. He pushes a trolley around from aisle to aisle only ever picking six or seven items at a time. A few microwave meals. A newspaper and TV guide. Maybe some chewing gum. He never makes eye contact with me, and yet I wish he would because I know he’s just like me. He doesn’t belong here, either, but he sticks around because it has to be done. This in turn reminds me of some old boy I used to see on the streets of Wycombe back when I was at University. This fucker used to walk everywhere I did, and several times a day we would cross paths. From fields to the first floor of the clothing department in Tesco; from traffic lights to the steps of the town library; we were each other’s shadows, and yet not once did he ever acknowledge me. So many people on this dark globe, and yet we’re all pretty much strangers. Even those with the same hearts. Even those who want the same things. Lighting another cigarette, my stomach burns as it begins to rain. Closing my notepad, someone calls for me to come inside, but I stay where I am in the desperate hope that today will be the day that my hopes and fears won’t go unanswered any longer. Drenched within minutes, my gaze is steady. Focusing on the washing line at the end of the garden, my eyes have seen so many sights and yet so rarely have they glimpsed the truth.