“I’m alive,” says the boy. “Sure I am. I’m happy with things as they are. Life’s just thin at the edges. It’ll work out.”
Still she stares. Still she whimpers, this girl, this china-doll woman with autumn eyes and winter hair. She sits perched on the stool, across the table from him yet still a thousand miles away.
“I’m sorry about this. Really.”
Up and under comes the boy, his knife twisting into her ribcage and his face as innocent as ever, totally naive, blissfully unaware. Surely no hearts are broken on this night. November 22nd is for lovers.
Still she wants, still she fears, she hopes. He must know what’s going on here, how much she’s wanted him all these years yet lived, twisting in the wind and wrung around the Silent One’s neck…
“You never really liked me until fairly recently, right?”
Out. Out comes the heart.
“How much do you know me, James John?”
“I…” he sweats, he wonders. Perhaps she’s not so cheery.
“Tell me. If the perfect person walked up to you tomorrow, would you fall for her?”
He has no answer to this question. It’s a trap, a game, isn’t it? She does believe me?
“I guess I would.”
“I knew it,” says she. “Now let me cry.”
Now the boy sits alone. He pushes the ice back and forth in his glass with a straw. At least I can still handle the ice, says he. It’s the women…the women are the two weeks’ milk. Warm a bit, sour a bit…but all milk, all nourishment, all life.
He looks at the empty space. It is a rude companion itself. It is the loudest woman ever to sit in front of him.
“I would give myself to the ideal woman, yet…I feel like I turned her down just five minutes ago.”
No pain, though, right? The door is closed, yet light crawls in through the crack and promises everything. The joy, the sorrow, the pain, all in one honest view.
He stares at this light. He wonders at his own room. “I can’t remember why I’m in here anymore,” says he. “Was it a game of hide and seek? An escape? A rest?”
One shall pass.
He looks around his own room. A trove of hypothetical documents, a launching pad of new learning and a bed made uncertain by the mattress. The mattress is eight inches short. He outgrew it long ago.
What if there’s more?
“More?” wonders James. “What?”
“How do you know what this room looks like? It’s dark! There could be anything in there!”
Yet there is no sign, no crossguards, no guideposts in this world. I know there is light and heart and raw, painful emotion. The door is cold iron and the unusually static doorknob is not an obstacle, but a shot.
He stands at the door. Give me strength.
He opens it and walks in.