As I'm walking, I hear a man sing. He has a beautiful voice. He's behind me, walking and singing to himself. I don't ask him what he's singing or otherwise speak with him. But I slow down so his voice can follow me for longer.
The electric shock feels like a rubber band snapping hard against my fingers.
Though he no longer smokes, he still keeps careful track of cigarette costs. He likes to imagine himself buying cigarettes, while reminding himself of how much money he's saving by resisting the impulse.
A short, thin needle goes into the arm. The muscles flex. The monitor crackles. Muscle activity turns into a roar.
At the table, he presses his face into a book, his body radiating embarrassment.
Red flags on his cheeks, a feverish glaze on his eyes.
Behind each question is the same insistent, unspoken question: "Do you measure up exactly to my standards?" And the unspoken follow-up: "You'd better, or else."