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It's all downhill from there. What would you expect if your former best friend wanted to see you again after seven years of silence? Not this, Henry thought viciously as he swung his axe back and forth, like a murderous metronome.

The Art of Being Alive - Revisited: Success Through Thought

Never this. I just… I really wanted to see that idea fleshed out, and then things just spiraled from there. See the end of the chapter for notes. The studio looked different; instead of the crisp lines and precisely placed boards that he remembered, what little Henry could make out in the sun-lit entrance hall almost looked drawn. Henry pressed his palm against the wall. Despite their sketched appearance, the wood panels still felt like solid wood.

Letting his hand fall back to his side, he glanced over his shoulder through the open door.

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When he had seen the state of his old workplace, Henry had doubted Joey would be here at all, yet the door was unlocked. Taking a deep breath, Henry stepped fully into Joey Drew Studios and let the exit bang shut behind him. Almost a decade since we last saw each other. How time flies when one is busy. Despite the nature of our parting, I must ask a favor of you.

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If our friendship ever meant anything to you, please, come visit the old studio. Whatever day works best for you, my door will be open. And now he wants a favor? With the war behind him, holding onto that old grudge had seemed like such a pointless endeavor. So here he was, traveling through the halls he still knew like the back of his hand. Tempted as he was to find his old workspace before hunting Joey down, Henry resisted.

Entering a better lit open space, Henry got his first good look at the inside of the studio. Despite only closing a couple years ago, it was neglected in a way he never would have expected. There were hastily patched holes in the walls and ceiling, loose boards littering the floor here and there, and strange pipes curving in and out of the woodwork. Stopping beneath one of the black pipes, easily as big around as a basketball, Henry wondered at how new they seemed compared to the rest of the building.

Music was playing somewhere nearby, a familiar tune that both he and Joey had loved. It was one of those rare things that they easily agreed on. For all the mess in here, the plaque reading Joey Drew was still as shiny as ever. The familiarity of it overcame Henry, the sensation powerful enough that he grabbed the door knob and twisted, pushing forward without bothering to knock, just as he always used to.

Henry brushed his fingers across the top, lost in memories. Henry lifted his head, staring at the wall in front of him. His friend stood there, looking perhaps a bit worse for wear, with far more gray in his otherwise black hair than the last time Henry had seen him, seven years ago.

There was a dark liquid soaking his pants halfway up to his knees, his tie hung limply around his neck, undone, and his shirt sleeves were rolled up to his elbows. Irreparably stained gloves covered his hands. It was the most unprofessional Henry had seen him since that time Joey had gotten drunk at a highly illegal celebratory party in their senior year. Henry could still remember watching his friend climb on top of a table and rip his shirt open to the cheers of their fellow peers.

Before Henry could ask if he was all right, Joey was back to beaming a mile-wide grin. Henry laughed; it was true, after all.

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The studio looks— well, it looks drawn, to be honest. His throat constricted; this was Joey he was thinking about, one of his best friends. Henry followed Joey through the halls, each as recognizable to him as the last.

Even after years away, this studio still felt like home. He knew a lot about life, but he got the feeling none of those answers would be the one Joey seemed to be looking for. Thanks to the war, he knew a lot about death, too. Creating it, to be exact. Before Henry could even begin to ask what that meant, Joey reached behind himself, turned the knob, and threw the door open, stepping inside and gesturing Henry into the room with a flourish.

Towards the back of the large, otherwise empty room, standing beneath a spotlight, was a machine.

The art of being alive; success through thought

Big and bulky, it struck Henry as being out of place in its sketched surroundings. Peculiar as it sounded, it looked too real.

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Was that ink too? And without a guiding hand— without a concept of what it should become— the ink, well. Those creatures are now a violent, muddled mess. Someone you have to let in, Someone whose feelings you spare, Someone who, like it or not, Will want you to share A little, a lot. Have I mentioned my love? I usually do. Has this universally magical experience really happened to me? I met Alistair late at night one evening in May and chatted to him for all of fifteen minutes during a weird chance meeting.

On paper, this man is not my type. He eats the same five meals every week and really enjoys iceburg lettuce. Seems I like my men the same way I like my music: old, quiet, nourishing and occasionally challenging, but something in this sweet Australian is important, and some chemicals in my brain saw that. I moved to the city and after a wonky start, we fell in love.

Alistair has held me and stroked my hair for hours on end while my life caught up with me in the first couple of years of our relationship and licks my face like a caring puppy.

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