Shades by Blake Johnson

I’ve taken to wearing sunglasses indoors, at least when you’re around. It’s childish, yeah, but not in the way you might think. I’m not trying to stand out or embrace the brand of asshole cretin that seems stamped on my every move, though I’ll admit it’s sometimes deserved.

Here’s the truth you’ll never know—or at least a part of it:

I keep my bruised eyes covered because of what you’d see if you looked my way. With this cheap plastic tint separating us, all you’ll find in my gaze is a reflection of yourself, ignorant and trapped in darkness.

It’s for your own good. Believe me.


The timing. It all comes down to the timing, doesn’t it?

I was content to be that goofball friend, the one you could laugh with and poke fun at, like a homeless dog who’s friendly and filthy and generally tolerated as a passing source of entertainment. You’re with someone else—I understand that. But there was a part of me that thought if I stayed in your orbit long enough, eventually we might come face to face as something more than human and adopted pet.

Patience was my virtue; despite everything else broken in me, I could manage that. I could wait forever, if that’s what it took. What I didn’t realize was that some of us don’t have forever.

The doctor called. He didn’t mince words.

The timing was never right for us. Now it never will be.


Please don’t feel bad. No one else at work knows either. I know you’ll despise me when my obituary hits the news, assuming you see it. Chances are you won’t. I’ve taken care to disappear from your life in increments, to make this whole thing easier.

You understand, don’t you? Why I can’t tell you everything?

I don’t want love returned as pity—never that. Give me something potent, something real. Give me your hate, if that’s all you have left.

I’m still trying to figure out what to give you in return—but what do I owe to someone I never had a chance to love?


Last day in the office. Last lunch in the break room. There are going to be a lot of lasts over the next month.

The funny thing? I broke my sunglasses a few minutes ago. Dropped them a few too many times, I guess. They were cheap, six bucks, actually, and they weren’t built to last.

So when I see you approach, I face the other way, like a dumb animal who believes that if prey cannot see predator, then predator cannot see prey.

I know why you’ve come.

You’re here to talk, to find out just what’s been going on. Your cruelty and kindness demand that you pull at all of my frayed ends until I’m unraveled, revealed. You’re here to figure me out. The worst part? As soon as I turn around, you will.


Blake Johnson writes a lot of fiction–sometimes he eats and sleeps, too. He grew up in Maine, but recently moved to Florida where he is searching for a literary agent to represent his latest novel. You can find him hanging out in the Twitterverse under the handle @bjohnsonauthor.