results, pt. 5


When you called and asked if I could pick you up from the airport, I made plans. I guess it doesn't really matter what they were now, but I made them. I wanted you to have fun when you got home from London, because at the time that was something I cared about.

Then I remembered what happened every single time I'd made a plan for you. How you always had a better idea, and how I always quietly let you have your way, because that was the sort of thing I did, and anyway you seemed happier that way. But I kept trying, because I figured one day you'd be happy if you were surprised, or even just if you let someone else drive for once.

But I learned what sort of results I'd get if I made plans for you: nothing at all. Just this once I wanted to actually do what I'd planned--and, if I'm being honest, I think I wanted to repay you for all your years of disrupting our plans. So I decided I'd just skip the bit about the airport and go and do alone all the things I'd planned to do with you.

I'd hoped to get a sense of smug satisfaction as I ignored your texts, but, true to form, you wouldn't even grant me that. Instead I just wondered whether we would have actually had fun for once, like we'd come so close to doing so many times before.


results, pt. 4


It was sometime in the fall that we first met, wasn't it? Some party neither of us really wanted to be at, where the city was shrouded in fog and the evenings weren't quite cold enough to keep us from hanging out on the back porch and staring at a city that seemed so beautiful and quiet. So we sat there in the dark and watched our breath cloud the air and talked about how we both hated parties, and I made plans.

I had the whole evening planned out. I'd walk you home, then I wouldn't let you kiss me and I'd vanish into the fog. In the morning you'd call and I'd keep dancing just out of reach. And everything went exactly according to plan, like you were some character I'd made up. I don't know if you ever understood how frustrating that was. Things aren't supposed to go according to plan. It's supposed to be this dance.

The thing is, I figured that the only reason my plans all turned out so well is you had a plan of your own. The hope of that result kept me from even considering altering my plans. So I kept dancing away, right up until the point where you finally gave up following.


results, pt. 3


One of the biggest ironies of living a life so obsessed with plans is you don't even have time to consider whether or not you're getting the results you wanted out of them. I remember my calendar used to be full of these little notes for weeks in advance: lunch dates with people who were useful to know, parties full of the sorts of people who went to parties to network. So when the 24th rolled around, for instance, I'd know exactly what my day would be like, who I'd be talking to, and all that jazz.

It was seldom very pleasant, but I did it, because everyone around me seemed convinced that without plans, there was only chaos. So my life was very orderly, of course, and also extremely hectic, because it takes a lot of effort to maintain all that planning. And despite living at all times on the brink of disaster, I'd look at people without my organization and say something like "There but for the grace of God go I."

My sister has always been the one who helped me step outside of myself. She showed up unannounced and cancelled all my plans, and despite my initial anxiety, my life did not collapse. I was able to relax and only spend time with people I actually liked, and it dawned on me then that the only thing my plans were actually accomplishing was making me hate my life.


results, pt. 2


I remember once I was delirious with fever, and instead of staying home in bed like a smart person I decided I'd follow through with the plans I'd made with Alex the week before. It was something stupid--she was out of town and she promised to buy me ice cream when she got back. She noticed I was sick right away, of course, but when she asked if I was all right and I gave a weak "I'm fine, it looks worse than it is" she brushed it off.

This was back when Alex being gone was the worst thing that could happen to me, and I managed to endure a week of that because I had fixed in my brain the thought that at some point in the future we were going to get ice cream. But the moment was here, and I was barely able to focus on the fact that there even was a moment.

We sat in the corner of the ice cream parlor and she talked. She probably told me about her trip, but I couldn't understand any of the words. It was all I could do now to focus on the ice cream, the very thought of which had sustained me. Now it was my anchor to the real world, and Alex was just some dim memory, something that happened to someone else.

Later on she told me she had fond memories of that evening. "It was just so . . . so you, you know?" And I did know, but I don't think she really did. She didn't understand that this innocent plan we made helped me realize that the relationship I clung to so desperately was just an illusion--no more real than the fever dreams. And suddenly I wanted something tangible. I wanted something I could sink my teeth into, cold enough to make my head ache and send chills down my spine, sweet enough that that wouldn't stop me. She could never offer me anything more than an idea, I realized then, and somewhere in my heart I knew that ideas are just a prison.

Of course I'd never talk about this. It was a realization that took place subconsciously, and my waking mind spent all its energy trying to fight that realization. But everything changed from that point. All because we made plans.


results, pt. 1


It was always impossible to make plans with Eris. She was just one of those people who is made entirely of chaos--and that was probably part of the draw at first. Sure, she'd always stick to the letter of any plans I'd try to make, but there was hardly any point to it. She destroyed the spirit of the plans just by being there. So way back when I still called her 'porch girl' I started making these elaborate plans, just to see if she'd actually follow through with them. And no matter how convoluted she always kept them perfectly, and despite that the entire thing was ruined.

She reveled in the chaos, of course. She has this infuriating little smile she does when things go wrong, like it's just so exciting and why aren't I enjoying myself? I saw that smile a lot. Somehow, though everything went according to plan, nothing turned out the way I expected. I never really understood it then, but I think it was mostly just her reaction. Like she knew how I wanted her to react and she refused to follow the script. She had her own idea of a good time.

The most infuriating thing is how often she was right. Her suggestions always stuck with me, as crazy and unpredictable as she was, while my own plans were utterly forgettable. I'm confident now she was quietly mocking me--no matter how intricate my plans, she could do better without thinking about it, without trying. But she would always, always give me a chance, even after the end had come and gone.


a prelude for october

October is actually the month where all of this started. I wrote seven ghost stories for October last month. Later, when I was talking about the ghost stories to a girl I'd never speak to again, she asked if I did something like that for every month. "I do now," I said. I tried to do something for November, but it didn't happen. Then I thought about it, and I decided that I wanted to do this project, with themes and counterpoints. May would be about life and November would be about death; then I filled in the rest of the months and have been tweaking that list ever since.

October didn't get much tweaking. April was always about plans and October was always about results. I don't think I'm using "results" in the typical sense of the word, though, because when I hear the word I think "he gets results!" But the results for these characters you've been getting to know all year aren't always good results, because they don't always make good plans. (Sometimes I'm not even sure good plans really exist.) Results are what happen when plans meet reality. The explosion that follows is sort of like the one that happens when matter comes into contact with antimatter.