No matter what they say, life continues on.
James only spoke in profound phrases other people had already said. James desperately wanted to be the first to say something, but hard as he tried, he failed. We all fail. That one was taken, too. James said goodbye to Anne with a Bible verse. Cheater. He only called her Anne after she passed. The word “mom” never felt right, anyway.
Some people just come out ordinary with no marks or distinguishing features of any kind. James’ body was smooth like sanded wood. James’ body was clay nobody bothered to sculpt. So he ran and ran and walked a little until his legs heaved more than his chest. He ran towards a feeling in his ribs. He opened his eyes and saw sand, cars, desolation. He saw East Texas.
James tried comprehending how far he ran, but numbers weren’t his thing. He figured, carry the two, he ran at least 1436 miles. For a split second, shorter than a split second, James wondered if this was death. Someone was thankful it wasn’t. So James walked towards civilization.
“Tell me everything,” said James.
“Everything sounds better on a full stomach,” she replied, almost too quickly.
“Give me bacon, eggs sunny side up and a metaphor nobody understands.”
“Coming right up.”
She kept her promise and explained what happened to Rick Cowlishaw after he molested his daughter and when the football team lost by 3 points but the other team cheated. She told him her name was Julia, but she didn’t explain why. James felt uneasy around her, but he did feel something, which was better than before. He asked her if he could stay at her house. Not like the way an old friend asks, but more like the way a crazy uncle does. Strangers don’t stay that way for long, especially when they sleep on your couch. Julia’s couch could use the company.
“Well it isn’t much, but it could be worse.”
“I have no idea what perfection looks like, and this probably isn’t it. I’m willing to be ignorant.”
Julia was moving slowly in the kitchen, vaguely aware of burnt toast, very aware of her swishing robe. You know, just in case James was her uncle. There was no attraction like normal people have. There was a want stronger than any scientific concept. The strongest things are those that take the most time. Or so she told herself. James showed no interest of doing anything other than sleeping on her floor and watching the news to get depressed and then drink away his depression. He washed dishes at her diner, but that was just for his hands. His mind needed something else. Julia wanted into his mind. She wanted to understand parts he didn’t even understand. Julia was going to lobotomize him out of love.
“ Why are you staring at me?”
“ I’m staring through you,” she said.
In another life, James would have loved Julia as easily as he would have left her. Something formed inside him during nights under the stars and days in the kitchen. James would imagine her smile when he was looking right at her. He knew everything about her without asking a single question. He hummed her favorite song while in the shower. James disguised time in the wrinkles on his face so she would never get bored.
“Remember when we met and you told me a metaphor that made no sense?”
“Yes, of course.”
“I get it now.”
Holding hands was one of those things James and Julia hated. Proving love wasn’t something that could be done, they figured. The point they started thinking the same thoughts, using the same brain, is unclear. But if you ask James, it was a Sunday without any shadows. Julia thought it was a Wednesday. Time blurs the most important memories. Consequently, Julia started wearing makeup.
“ Did you know this would happen?”
“ I knew we would happen.”
Who said what wasn’t important.