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Life as Fiction, Part I

When I was eight, I would lie in bed and stare at one particular brick on the ceiling and, with all my imagination, try to displace it. I always failed.

When I turned thirteen, I came to realize that such a task was impossible. But alas, it had become habit. The more I tried not to stare at the ceiling, the more insomnia set in. By the beginning of my fourteenth year, sleep deprivation had become an issue. I had trouble staying awake in class which caused my grades to plummet. My mother was not happy.

I was sent to reform school at age sixteen with hopes that it would straighten me out. For two years, I was put on a strict routine of waking up early and going to bed early. I tried to do the latter successfully, but was unable to. I would normally get about two hours of sleep a night, and then crawl away to a corner during lunch to rest my joints. In general, I was a sociable human being. I worked well with others and worked hard. I had no enemies and a few could even be considered good friends. But at the end of the day, I still lay lost, in my bed, empty of life and thought, still staring at the ceiling. I no longer tried to magically displace the bricks. Instead, I didn’t try to do anything at all.

Halfway through my eighteenth year, I left school and headed out to Manhattan. My uncle lived in a two bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side where he kept his dog happy with lots of caviar. He was a handsome, rich man but without a wife. As a pioneer in the field of chaotic dynamics, he had won scholarships and been awarded a significant amount of money. But he and I were a lot alike: Alone and empty. We were both people who you’d like, who you’d think were normal, but when the end of the day came, we were both out of place. Our homes weren’t our homes, and comfort was not our friend.

Then, on a cold day in November, I turned 19. A Tuesday, it was the day I met Marguerite. And as stories go, our lives were never the same again.