My ex sits on my parents’ sofa, his head slowly drooping down to his knees, his face twisted in a strung-out grimace. Invisible Friend Jesus sits next to him, gazing at him distantly.
“I remember being like that,” I say. “I’d wake up every morning curled in a tight ball around my pain. The world was cold and cruel and dirty, and the only thing that made it better was dope. But with every dose the world got crueler, the hustle a little more dangerous, the judgment of respectable people a little sharper. The only answer was to get higher, and to stop even trying to associate with respectable people.”
Invisible Friend Jesus doesn’t say anything. He just leans forward and pokes my ex in the shoulder with a long, graceful finger. My ex’ chin jerks up slightly, his lids cracking open over hazy eyes. Then he quickly sinks back into his nod, and Invisible Friend Jesus leans back on the couch once more, stroking his stubbly chin.
“There was no way out,” I continue. “No matter what I did, I just made myself hurt worse.”
“But you did find your way out,” Invisible Friend Jesus says.
“That’s the paradox,” I say. “There’s no way out of that place, but you can still get out. Escaping that hole is like an electron jumping from one atomic orbital to another. It’s difficult to say for sure which path it takes, only that it gets there.”
“Which is frustrating for you, because you can’t tell him how to do it,” Invisible Friend Jesus says.
I sigh. “There’s no right way. You just do it.” I squint at Invisible Friend Jesus and smile. “It helps to believe that there’s goodness and beauty in the universe though. Something to cling onto when it seems like there’s nothing else. A happiness that’s always there, no matter what, and that no one can take away from you.”
He grins back and picks up the remote. “Let’s watch Adventure Time.”
“Hells yes,” I say, and give him a fist bump.
Invisible Friend Jesus turns on the TV. I gaze sadly at my ex, sitting there sucking unconsciously on his lips, his grey forehead resting on his knees.
“You should find him a friend,” I say. “Someone who looks like Obi Wan or a Yaqui Indian shaman.”
Invisible Friend Jesus sprawls with his arms across the back of the sofa, examining him with compassionate eyes. “I’ll see what I can do,” he says.