Storms fly outside of the window and keep everyone away. Forced solitude. Forced reflection. I'm just beginning to hate these days.
It isn't that I hate the rain, that I hate the weather at all, though I do sometimes, especially now--the sky all blueblack cold, writhing with the shape of the world, over skyscrapers. Hate the jagged lightning. I crawl instead of walk, when thunder can shake the floor at any moment, and it is in crawling, on my hands and knees and nothingness beside my couch, that the door tilts open.
"Looking for something?"
I pretend to be. Gory steps over and crouches down. I hear the rain and smell him, student-raw, pencil-marks still on his hands, hormones shaping his body language, odd sweat that doesn't stink so much as it permeates. My knuckles curl.
"Know I said I'd be back, but--"
"Yeah?" The legs of his jeans slide against each other; he sits cross-legged, feet near my temple. "I hadn't noticed."
"You aren't wet," and it's true. Even the bottoms of his shoes are dry. Though he might have wiped them on the way in. Rainwater on my carpet. Not a one of them has any manners--I think this fondly, of course.
"Well. I got methods."
I steady myself on the edge of a cushion, watch his hands skate centimeters closer to mine. I call him Gory because he is fascinated by the odd and the violent, or was, at least, the first time he came. This seems strange, remembering now, because his hands are clean.
The world doesn't shatter and the last lightning peal passed several moments ago, so I feel it safe to kneel, at least, to look up at him.
His face has smile-lines I'd never noticed--his eyes are ageless, and his hair could be gray if I thought long enough. All this I attribute to never looking at him properly. He usually doesn't stay long enough for me to try. Not that I would have, before the incident, before Muebla's running out. I want to tell him that I went to see her, and at the same time don't want to say anything, because that invalidates it, somehow.
I didn't say that.
"The world." He pushes one shoe off with the toe of the other, and it lands somewhere to the right of my thigh. "'S all bloody-sweet. Death for life. Pretty place."
I lean back, reach for my notebook. Case study. This, I am used to. This I know. And I move for it.
When things change I am not sure how to react; changes happen. Reactions to change determine everything in a person's life, personality, sanity, spirit. So what does it say, then, that I took the hand he offered and dragged him down? Or that he kissed me again and I might have let him, had I not thought immediately of his schoolboy smell and clothes his mother probably still washed for him, and the notebook spiral that snagged on my hair, and being professional--doctor to patient--
"Get off me?" I am not breathless but curious. Only that. He is not beautiful so much as he is strange and young and wise, and I don't want him, quite, entirely, but contact is also strange and contact, human contact, physical contact, is always beautiful, even when violent: he understands this, too.
We are tumbled. He atop me in a strictly non-professional manner, the smile lines gone and his face trembling.
"I didn't mean to do that."
"I mean. It's not you." He crawls. I curl. Apart. "The storm an' all. I got carried away."
"Right. And I--"
"You did, too?"
I nod. He nods back. Right.
"Don't suppose you still have the fish we bought? Ah, you don't, do you."
I consider, chew over the words, my mouth still a little twitchy, violated. Confidentiality. Truth. Weigh them against each other and they come out about even: neither is comfortable and both are hard to stick to. "I don't know what happened to it, exactly. But it's gone, yes."
"Mm. I'm not really hungry anyway. You know--" Not that I'm looking, but his mouth drops open and stays that way, and his tongue shoots out over his lips like a snake's. "I guess--hmm. You wanna go out? I mean for dinner."
Ah. Now I remember what I meant to say from the beginning: "Stop treating me like an everyday person? I'm a therapist."
His shoulder turns. "You're still a person."
"Not to you, I'm not," I say, and sit up, untangling the spiral notebook from my hair and flipping open pages. He is looking at me, but that's all right; they all look, occasionally, when they want a sounding board or a target or a make-believe friend. "You said you like violence?"
"You knew that already, didn't ya--hey. Hey, I think the rain's letting up. You sure you don't wanna go? I've got money."
"Hey." He lays his head back on the couch cushions, folds his arms across his knees, and we look at each other--rather, he looks at me, I think, and I stare at the notebook's blank pages and sneak glances at him above the top of the paper. Living down to his level. Schoolchildren. He swings his head towards the window.
"I like storms."
I write it down, and wait. He says nothing else. But someone has to fill the silence. So it's on me this time. "...I do, too."
"Know what I like about 'em? I like it when you're just sitting there, ya know, readingwriting something, staring off into space, and then--BAM!" He says it and I don't jump. Or I do. But it's only in my shoulders; I'm grounded. He grins. "Fuckin' thunder scares ya right out of your skin."
I make notes. Associations. He likes surprises. I write it down. "...And?"
"Damn. You gonna look at me or not?"
I consider it again, and shake my head. "Mmm-mm."
"I gotta earn eye contact back now, 's that it?"
"You know, you kissed me too."
"Automatic response. We're agreed it didn't mean anything?" I scoot backwards until I can sit up in my chair, and pull my knees under me, as much height as I can get without standing. I don't lie unless I have to, and I don't have to now, do I? Truth or confidentiality. Sometimes they're mutually exclusive terms, I suppose; now? Now nothing.
"I cleaned puke out of your sink."
"They weren't my socks." Because I'm actually used to this, having favors used against me, and I suppose it might hurt a little bit but he's not a friend, so it shouldn't. They're none of them friends. Spark, maybe, now, but she won't come back; only the crazies stay. "And I brought her flowers."
"The fuck are you talkin' about?" I hear him get up and I drop the notebook and grip the sides of the chair, and I stare down at the space between my knees, willing the storm to kick up again. "Hey--hey. Are you--"
"This is about you. I'm ready to listen."
"Hey. You're crying."
"This isn't about me." Because it isn't and never has been.
And these words are mine. I'll choose who is truth-telling. Since I don't cry, it isn't him. I am gripping my seat and breathing and nothing else, and he is not trying to twist my face up and I am not bending away. Just so, the storm spins, and then the lightning, white, brilliant, and then darkness. The power has gone out. Or I am closing my eyes so tight that everything is pitch. The point of view depends on what you think of destiny: did God want the dark, or did I? What would Spark have said?
Without the light I hear things, and one of these things is a voice, and as I hear it I feel someone trying to move me. I feel hands prying at mine. I feel smooth, sharp fingernails sliding under my knuckles, and I feel cloth around my face; I feel warmth. I feel like clutching my chair. The world is collapsing. The world is breaking. He will not tear me loose from it; a captain goes down with her ship. Never surrender. They are words from fantasy books.
He stops pulling. And the voice keeps on.
"--not the lightning it's the spiders don't bite me they're there I know stop trying to shake you're old you're old you're too old--"
Hah--I think--she's a crazy. Textbook. Chair-gripping self-rocking nonsense-babbling crazy. And it's me. But it can't be, because I'm the only one sane--what's the saying? Can't remove the speck from your brother's eye until--unless--and here I am falling. Oh God.
It's okay, I tell Gory, I try to, because things shake during storms and I'm one of them. I'm not sure if I evade him or shake him off, or if he's simply done trying, but either way it's all right; the only problem is I can feel the lightning in my veins, curling up in the base of my spine, and I want to cry--even though I don't and I'm not, I said that, remember.
"Hey--look--I think maybe--maybe I should--"
"Don't. ...I mean. It's just that--"
"Well I don't wanna freak you out anymore, right."
I shake my head because I don't know, though I do. The lights dim on, or my eyelids flutter open, take your pick, and I watch his feet, one sock-and-shoe and one simply sock. They shift. "...I really...I don't like storms."
"'S okay. Um..." He shifts again, like people do when they're debating whether to play a game or go home early. I hope he leaves. Truly. "...You got anything in the fridge? I'll make dinner?"
"You cook, too?"
"Can. 'F I have to. And why don't I listen, okay? I can do that, too."
I stretch out my legs, and compare my bare toes to the carpet. It's much darker but they're hardly anymore alive-looking. Haven't walked enough lately, I suppose. "You can go. If you want to."
"'S okay. Haven't even been here that long, right? And it's raining outside."
"No, it's not."
Which one of us is crazy? Because neither is lying. We let the question hang, and I like that, the dichotomy of truth and perception between me, 26-unmarried-too-sane me, and a kid who came out of nowhere and will return to the same, eventually. After dinner. I think we ate, and we might have spoken, but it didn't mean anything--small talk, which I hate and rely on far too often.
The sky didn't grow any calmer, but I might have. Or it might have been the food, which tasted numb and comforting, like chicken noodle soup to a child raised in Mother's kitchen. I think I drifted. I think I fell, and I think he caught me, but I'm not sure.
I think I fell asleep, and I think he whispered some apology, again, before drifting, too, towards the blueblack clouds.
When I shivered awake, my forehead sideways on the table, everything cleaned and a blanket draped around my shoulders, he was gone. Naturally. And I think I might have dreamed the whole mess. It might make more sense that way.
Except the door is locked, now. And I don't ever lock the door.