7.02 / February 2012

Hikikomori Romance

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“The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare defines hikikomori as people who refuse to leave their house, and isolate themselves from society in their homes for a period exceeding six months.” –Wikipedia


The girl, animated, big eyes on TV late-nightly, the one you took for wife even though she couldn’t consent or consummate. In this scene, she is at the shopping center with her friends. Everything is pastel as usual. She sees her boy by the abercrombie or foreign equivalent. Him just vague enough to be you; she scripted to stop and ogle across the complex. Pause playback and stare. After too much 3D hardcore, all you want is 2D cute. You get erect for her sake. First time hard, guilty for broken innocence, hers and yours. But she seemed unchanged, so you continued. It’s fake. Romance with training wheels. Still, you trick yourself. You and she are very long distance. She stares at you and you see her smile and get screens sticky. It used to come out like that.


You sip beer and grow fat and she remains just the same. Her voice, too high. She looks at an angle, off-screen. What is she hiding? Is she cheating? You are. You sometimes fuck, but not like before: Lie back and leak and don’t clean up and avoid eye contact. She always does the same things, over and over. Mall, friends, boy, school, work, clean, nod-off early, wake, rinse, repeat. So responsible. You can’t blame her, but no new seasons leaves love stale. You have changed channels and she has stayed the same. Tune-out in your too-small loft and find another lover.

Reed Gaines, when bored, deserts his real-life friends to hang out with characters on television. He fails to go outside some days because he forgets the Internet isn’t “outside.” In his free time, he plays strategy games, takes walks in the woods, and cultivates his beard. He avoids people who overuse statistics when they talk about politics. This is his first published work.
7.02 / February 2012