Locust House Variations, A Weekly Fiction Column by Adam Gnade, “The Morning Star–after Lora Mathis’ Instagram Poem from Six Days Ago”

I walked the Mission Beach boardwalk alone at 18 and watched the sea—wild and dark blue and torn to white caps by a windstorm—the smell of briny salt and dank tar in the air. I drank too much Four Roses last night and talked in a punk French restaurant about virtue and hell, and how artists can be divine or satanic. I had lunch with Irvine Welsh (sober) at a hotel in Portland ten years ago but was too shy to say much of anything, and only talked of my own work for a small moment, and looked down at my hands when I did and felt like a crumpled paper bag. I have never felt anything but grim, inapproachable, and unromantically vampiric in public, and I am sorry for that because no one good wants to be an asshole—not me, not you. I love and have always loved being left alone. I hate and have always hated being ignored. I will never—and I promise you this—respond with an emoji or use the word “awesome” because life is too fucking short and we must set standards for ourselves because most will not. I am a fucking monster. I read last year how Karl Ove Knausgaard said he’s never talked to a stranger in public unless completely necessary, and I felt as if part of a family. I played with children I didn’t know when I was a child because my parents were worried about my strident desire to be alone in my bedroom. I sat alone in my bedroom at 9 and at 13 and at 17, and I have sat alone each year after that, and sometimes I was lonely and wanted to die, and yeah, sure, sometimes I felt fine, but this was the year that made me realize how much I need people. Now I can venture out in public with the blazing light of the morning’s first star. Adam Gnade, author of After Tonight, Everything Will Be Different