Deconstructing the Nihilist

I asked Evan once what he believed. He paused, scissors in one hand, photograph in the other.

“Everything,” he said. He touched his tongue to his lip, all his focus flowing to a point, and he snipped a near-perfect circle out of the picture.

“What did you do that for?” The picture had been taken by my father when we all went skiing two months before. He’d told me that Evan seemed like a real put-together sort of guy.

“It wasn’t quite right.” He handed it to me with an unapologetic shrug.

I tucked the picture into my purse, to put with the others when I got home.

I met him a year ago in Palo Alto. Clean shaven with a he’s-had-work-done smile. He always wore a three piece suit and carried a briefcase, even though it was mostly empty. I bumped into him on the sidewalk when I was taking a picture of my apartment to send home to my folks.

He told me I was almost perfect. The first time he said it, I blushed, hid my face behind my hands. He pulled them away and kissed me. I was sold.

The second time he said it, we were in his bed, his arms around me, finger tracing a scar on the small of my back. Emphasis on almost.

For most of our relationship, he remained an enigma. I’d ask him about his past; all he’d tell me was that he was born in Detroit, where things were ugly. I’d ask him about his goals and he’d tell me he meant to find the best there is, but he wouldn’t elaborate. I’d ask him his plans for tomorrow and he’d shrug and ask my point. I would give up and trudge back downstairs to my cluttered, chaotic apartment. I’d be alone there. He never came in.

I looked through the pictures. Evan in his swimming trunks, shirtless body tanned to perfection. Faceless. Evan at the foot of a redwood, trunk and trunk. Evan at a party in his three piece suit, drink in hand and no mouth. Evan in his bed, just an outline beneath the sheets. Always an excuse — there was something on his nose, his eyes were crossed, his smile was on crooked.

I asked him once what everything meant. He had that air about him, like he might actually know.

“Why don’t you tell me?” he’d said.

“To me, or you?”

He stared into my left eye, and I knew what he was looking at. A discolored spot where the pigment couldn’t decide if it wanted to be blue or hazel. A tiny circle, no bigger than a pencil tip. He’d said he had to go, swinging his briefcase as he walked down the hall. He didn’t have a job, just the look of a man with one. The only place he had to be was nowhere.

I slipped a note under his door to tell him we were through. When I woke the next morning there was a picture on my welcome mat. Two bodies, no faces.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what everything means to me.