Mercury-Marvin Sunderland (he/him) is a transgender autistic gay man from Seattle with Borderline Personality Disorder. He currently attends the Evergreen State College and works for Headline Poetry & Press. He’s been published by University of Amsterdam’s Writer’s Block and UC Santa Barbara’s Spectrum. He’s @Romangodmercury on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Artwork by Co-founder M. R. Pitter.
Wireless Headphones on Full Blast
Julius was waiting for the bus. It was raining, but he didn’t mind it. Portland does get a lot of rain, after all.
He was pacing, distracted. His wireless headphones were on full blast. It hurt his ears sometimes but he felt way to preoccupied to think of anything else.
It was one of those days, when you try to focus on anything but all your thoughts are just way too loud for you to do anything other than worry. So he tried to drown it out, but all that really did was make his loud thoughts compete with the loud music. It was like trying to drink a glass of water while lying down — everyone knows it doesn’t work, but tries to do it anyway.
Right now Julius was in a one-song-on-repeat mood, so he had Digital Love over and over and over again. He’d heard this song so many times, but none of Daft Punk’s work ever got old to him.
Last night I had a dream about you
In this dream, I’m dancing right beside you
And it looked like everyone was having fun
The kind of feeling I’ve waited so long
Don’t stop, come a little closer
As we jam, the rhythm gets stronger
There’s nothing wrong with just a little little fun
We were dancing all night long
The time is right to put my arms around you
You’re feeling right, you wrap your arms around too
But suddenly I feel the shining sun
Before I knew it, this dream was all gone
Ooh, I don’t know what to do
About this dream and you
I wish this dream comes true …
Julius’ bus arrived. He grabbed his college ID and showed it to the driver. He was going to miss how that counted as free bus fare. He sat at the back of the bus, and stared out the window. The skies were gray and sometimes he just got so tired of this Earth.
He had two reusable grocery bags in his hands. He didn’t know how to drive and he hated grocery shopping by bus, but at least it was free for him.
I wonder how Diego’s doing, he noted. He was honestly so awkward around any of the guys he liked. It wasn’t like he was in any way the amount of a hopeless romantic that he’d been in high school, but it was still a problem for him. Somehow he still felt as clueless as he did all those years ago and it really wasn’t uplifting. This would be one thing if he was younger, but he still couldn’t believe the fact that he was well into his twenties and had only had one relationship in his entire life.
You have a lot of nerve for thinking of him as just a guy that you like.
Ugh. Don’t remind me.
Julius did his best to distract himself by looking outside. Maybe I need a different song. He set his phone to shuffle and mashed the buttons.
Instant Crush. Make Love. Game of Love. Something About Us. Touch. He wasn’t sure how he was managing to only get Daft Punk love songs, especially since most of that band’s songs are literally about being a robot. Frustrated, he turned off the music and took off his headphones. He then facepalmed.
That’s Diego’s favorite band, numbskull.
He sighed. It was finals week and that always left him feeling distracted and anxious, but that didn’t change the fact that he really needed to change this aspect of his behavior. Julius had a real big problem of getting way too caught up in old memories and letting them consume him. He wondered if maybe there was more going on to him than just being autistic, but he came from a family of a lot of neurodivergence and that wasn’t saying much. ADHD, depression, anxiety, PTSD. Those were the others he knew he had. Of course, autism and ADHD are genetic, but he wasn’t so sure about the others. He wasn’t exactly a psychology major, after all.
I’m sitting. I’m on the bus. I’m holding grocery bags. I’m on my way to the grocery store. I live in Portland. I’m in college. My name is Julius.
He wasn’t sure why, but this seemed to help. His therapist had taught him this trick just a week ago. He could be a bit reluctant about these sorts of things, because his pride could really get the better of him sometimes. It took him years to actually listen when people told him he needed to take deep breaths, let alone adopt other behaviors.
It’s cold. It’s raining. I’m inside the bus. I’m going to get off the bus when it gets to my stop.
Reality was a funny thing, really. So easy to lose a grip of it.
From the Editor:
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By In Parentheses in IP Volume 7
32 pages, published 1/15/2022
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