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<center><b>ACT I </b></center>
For this opening scene, you have to go to a party, or, if you can't, to a café.
It's OK. I'll wait. Take as long as you need.
Now put on your headphones. Hit <span class="jukebox"><<button "play">><<audio "lagrima" loop play>><</button>></span>.
Take a minute. Imagine you are alone in a crowd.
Or, if you are alone, imagine you are in a crowd, then imagine you are alone.
<<timed 20s>><span class="fadein">OK.
From now on, every time you visit this place, remember [[how you felt|The Party]].</span><</timed>><span class="instructions">THE PARTY</span>
"Here, let me," Hayley says. She holds my eyelids open and drips a few pseudos onto my eyeballs. Then she lets go and the fake tears run down the sides of my eyes. Her breath is hot on my damp cheekbones. It's the most erotic thing I've ever experienced.
"Now do me," she says and hands me the bottle of eye drops. She tilts her head back while I run my finger over her jawline. She holds her lids open for me and I squirt some pseudos into her eyes. I watch her blink and fake-cry, her cheeks streaked with mascara. She pulls me towards her and kisses me. Her pseudos taste like strawberries. I prefer salty--more natural, more like the real thing--but I don't say anything. I try to focus on the sensation of the tears running down my face. Feel the release. I don't feel a thing, but it's fake it till you make it, isn't it?
I look around the [[room]]. My cousin <<textbox "$cousin" "Benjamin" autofocus>> is in the corner, sugaring up a girl, going on about all the times he's cried before, cried for real, and how absolutely fantastic it felt. Trying too hard, as usual. It's the same at every crying party, ever since we were kids, even way back, when we could cry at <span class="instructions">[[every little thing]]</span>. The girl doesn't look impressed, but she wipes away his fake tears anyway and smiles.
I've never done this with Hayley before. We've met at other crying parties a couple of times, but we've never shared. I know she expects me to, so I go ahead, [[give in|ask]]. <span class="jukebox"><<button "||">><<audio "lagrima" mute>><</button>>\
<<button ">">><<audio "lagrima" unmute>><</button>>\
<<button "<)">><<audio "lagrima" volume 0.40>><</button>>\
<<button "<)))">><<audio "lagrima" volume 0.80>><</button>></span>
<span class="jukebox">[[Credits|Attributions]]</span><<cacheaudio "lagrima" "lagrimaintro.mp3">>All Those Parties We Didn't Cry At"So when was your last time?" I ask.
"I was 12," Hayley says. "My dog had died. His name was Rusty." She closes her eyes. The underskin moist, smoky. "What children we were, back then, eh? I bawled for two days straight." She sniffles. It all sounds a bit rehearsed. "You?"
[[Can I tell her?|Instruction2]] Go find someone you love. Ask them to sit across from you and stare at them.
Think of the worst thing that's ever happened to you and which you've never told them.
[[Now Don't say anything.|Not_told]]
"I don't remember," I lie.
She looks at me sharply. "Come on, be real."
"No, really," I say.
"Whatever," she says, "suit yourself." She glances at her watch, fishes a tissue out of her sleeve and wipes her eyes. "I should get going anyhow," she says. She pauses for a moment. Then she gives me a peck on my right temple. "This was fun, I guess. See you around?"
"Sure," I say, but she's already walking away.
<span class="instructions"><center><b>[[END OF ACT I|Act2]]</b></center></span><<audio ":playing" fadeout>>
<span class="instructions"><b><center>ACT II</center></b>
The next time I see Hayley is at <<print $cousin>>'s wake. The fool cut his wrists and he didn't even leave a note. At first I felt betrayed when I heard the news. It was a feeling like a gut punch. We'd promised whoever went first would leave a note. He had broken the promise. But then I thought, that's childish. Maybe promises, impossible ones like that, go the way of tears. Maybe we're supposed to grow out of them.
We stand around the casket, <span class="instructions">[[say some words|words]]</span>, try to comfort his mother. I wonder what it's like for her, not being able to cry at her own son's funeral. She refuses to sit down, stays on her feet the whole time, upright, her back straight, but her face is vacant, as if she's left, she's somewhere far away.
But what would you say?
You could go for one of those little platitudes, the stunned nothings we've all said before.
"I'm sorry for your loss."
"He will be dearly missed."
Instead, go to a window. Open it. Breathe in. Think of the last time you held back tears.
See why [[we couldn't say a thing?|say]]Nobody talks about why he did it. I wonder if his mother knows, <<print $cousin>>'s reasons, my reasons, if she's known all along. I keep an eye out in case my uncle shows up, but I doubt he'll dare, after everything. Or I hope he won't. Do people wonder why he's not at his son's wake? Or have they finally figured it out? Has she? She must have. She did kick <<print $cousin>>'s father out, after all, eventually. She paces now, back and forth, tracing the outline of the casket.
Someone says we should have a crying party afterwards, but no one feels like it. It wouldn't be proper, [[fake-crying]] for someone you not-fake cared about.When we were younger and the world's tear ducts had not yet run dry, we devised a game in which each of us had 30 seconds to cry. The loser would live happily ever after.
Have you ever played that game?
Have you ever lost?
<span class="jukebox"><span id="buttons"><<button "NO">><<replace "#buttons">><<fadein 2>>Which one? Played? Or lost?
What are tears to you, anyway?
Would you give them up?
What would you give to [[give them up?|next]]<</fadein>><</replace>><</button>> <<button "YES">><<replace "#buttons">><<fadein 2>>
Which one? Played? Or lost?
What are tears worth to you, anyway?
What would you give up to [[get them back?|next]]<</fadein>><</replace>>
Hayley comes and stands next to me when I'm not looking. She takes my hand.
"I'm sorry," she says. "About the way I took off at the party."
"It's OK," I say. "Really."
"Wanna go somewhere?"
She doesn't wait for a reply. She leads the way and I follow. We end up making out in a little back room filled with fake flowers and oil paints. The wake sounds distant, a muffled soundtrack wafting through the thin walls. It's hot and musty and I can't breathe. I peel myself off Hayley and press my forehead against the wall.
"Hey... you okay?" she asks.
I think of the last time <<print $cousin>> and I cried together all those years ago in another little back room, cried for real. What children we were. "It was out of shame," I say, after a while. "The last time I cried. It doesn't make for [[a good party story|story]]." Now. For the difficult part. This one has two steps.
Step 1: Give someone you trust a knife.
Are they confused? Or do they look like they know?
Step 2: Realize they've had that knife all along.
Whether they chose to hurt you or not has always been up to them.
[[Did they? Didn't they?|ending]]Hayley stares at me for a moment with an intensity that scares me, but then she nods and runs her fingers through my hair. "It's OK," she says. "I understand."
Does she? <<print $cousin>> did. <<print $cousin>> knew. Look what it got him.
"We should get back," I say, so we do.
There are more people gathered at the funeral parlour now, and the sun has come out. It's bright and warm. <<print $cousin>> would have liked it, I think. He hated dark rooms. Not that it matters any more.
We hang out with Hayley's friends, who talk about the funerals they went to when they were small, and how everyone cried their hearts out, and Hayley squeezes my hand the whole time until it's all sweaty and gross, but she's not grossed out.
[[I look over|casket]] at <<print $cousin>>'s casket.<span id="rest">The girl from the crying party is there, standing over the casket, dressed in black, like playacting a widow. She still doesn't seem impressed. She fakes a sob as she leans over <<print $cousin>>'s body. I wonder, even if she could actually cry, would she still fake it? She presses a kiss onto <<print $cousin>>'s lips and smiles as she walks away.
There is dust in the air. It makes everything feel old, redundant, as if this moment is already in the past. I find it hard to breathe again. I wonder if this is also something we'll grow out of, eventually, if a time will come when we will think upon this day and this whole tear drought thing and </span><span id="link"><<link "say:">><<append "#remember">><span class="instructions"><span class="fadein"><center>remember,
remember when we couldn't cry? <<fadein 2 2>>
<<print $cousin>> had just died and we just couldn't cry. <</fadein>>
<<fadein 5 2>>What children we were, back then.<</fadein>></center></span></span><<replace "#link">><span class="instructions">say:</span><</replace>><<replace "#rest">><<fadeout 10>>The girl from the crying party is there, standing over the casket, dressed in black, like playacting a widow. She still doesn't seem impressed. She fakes a sob as she leans over <<print $cousin>>'s body. I wonder, even if she could actually cry, would she still fake it? She presses a kiss onto <<print $cousin>>'s lips and smiles as she walks away.
There is dust in the air. It makes everything feel old, redundant, as if this moment is already in the past. I find it hard to breathe again. I wonder if this is also something we'll grow out of, eventually, if a time will come when we will think upon this day and this whole tear drought thing and <</fadeout>><</replace>><<fadein 8 5>><center><span class="instructions">
<<cacheaudio "lagrima" "lagrimaintro.mp3">><span class="instructions"><center>REMEMBER?</center></span>
This is about the crying parties of my youth.
Maybe your own youth too, I don't know.
Did you have those where you're from? No?
We couldn't have been the only ones.
In order to understand what they were like, you'll have to <span class="instructions">follow my instructions</span> as closely as you can.
You can even cry along, if you want.
<span class="instructions">[[Ready?|Act I]]</span>I like making lists about all the things that hurt, and about those that don't.
Like this one:
<center><u>THINGS I USED TO CRY ABOUT</u>
Now, make your own.
What do <i>you</i> cry about?
[[When was the last time?|ask]]
"Una furtiva lagrima" from Gaetano Donizetti's 1832 opera <i>L'elisir d'amore</i>, sung by Enrico Caruso on 26 November 1911 for the Victor Talking Machine Company in Camden, New Jersey. Intro looped by the author.
Source: The Internet Archive, restored by Adam Cuerden
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"All Those Parties We Didn't Cry At" originally appeared in <i>Daily Science Fiction</i> (30 September 2016).<center><iframe src="/html/departureContent.html" style="width:150px;height:150px;padding:0;margin:0;display:block;border:none;overflow:hidden;"></iframe></center>