I tried to tell you once before that we’d met, but as it happens so often, you
to mean leave, but your eyes
some internal place that I’ve come to call Cockaigne.
It was me who had the book, remember? You asked me, “John, is there
nearly dawn by then. The mosquito bites were red on your bare skin, flashing your pulse like the slow revolve of police lights. Red. And red. And red.
I should stop here and say that I find you very beautiful, but difficult to really
And it wasn’t like that. At any rate, it wasn’t nearly enough, was it? Just as when you see those people speaking on their phones in their cars and you can
but perhaps it was the word that really mattered. I can’t say which one, exactly, but surely one of them in that sentence I murmured to you that morning. The truth is I did not know, and could not have told you. And so a lie was created.
That I could become him for you, is something which I’ve always known. No, not him, perhaps. But the version of him which you prefer. While you cannot see me, and would never know me, not even enough to remember my name, my invisibility becomes my asset when I can put him on for you, like a coat, and wear the face of the man you love.
If only for the one night.
And here now, is where you’ve begun to give me your attention. Because from the low points of my existence, you are aware that while he is so very many things, I am the same things, but burning hotter and with a stiller flame. And you hold him to crimes for which he couldn’t possibly be responsible.
Because he’s flippant. Because we were all so young. Because he had something to prove. Because he liked to show off. Because you were not his first. Because he is crass and jokes about your mother. The moments with him ring keening from your longing, and he has done nothing but made you feel the way any other boy has ever felt.
I may hate you for your contempt of him, but that becomes difficult when I know the things you love in him are me. And I may hate you for your dismissal of me, but that becomes difficult when I know of all the time you’ve spent wishing to be seen. And I may never be able to speak with you, Jack, but I had tried to, if only on the one night.
This might be hard to explain, but there are times I think… that you can’t ever see me because I am already the thing which you wish Brad would become, and he would never become. There would be no sport in bringing me to your service, no, but sport in bringing him to it, my god. Your contradictions have always made my head spin, and you terrify me.
But we may as well have done with it.
It was early spring, late May, as it is now. You had not had dreams for months or years, I can no longer recall. The pools of your eyes were dark and wide in your disconnections from all magics. You’d begged Grady, and I’d watched, for the dreams to return. The dreams, yes, the dreams. And Grady had come to Evelyn and plead your case, and she had shrugged because of your row, and so he’d gone to Brad, and he had eagerly agreed.
You went to sleep hardly innocent, but had forgotten I was in the room. Your bedroom was covered in collage at that time. You were groggy from medications and had been smoking marijuana most of the day. Your hair fanned out beautifully dark around you, on your pillow. I asked if you wanted me to leave, and you did not answer me, and so I began to read through your journal and wait for Brad.
The patterns of light on your ceiling were cast there by the lamps outside. I remember the sound of the dogs outside the window, from down the street. Brad works fast, through nightmares. I thought he might come to you over the ceiling, as he is often fond of doing. But I did not see him descend, and instead fell asleep.
There was a curve, ever so slight, in the floor of your room, then. I think water damage. My spine would not settle into it, and it creaked with Brad’s foot on the floor. He came as a shadow, his knives flickering the same light which scattered your ceiling. He stood beside you whilst I laid on the floor below, and he both pushed his hat back and touched your forehead with one knife, gently pressing just between your eyes with the tip of his blade.
I asked him what you would dream and he watched you a long moment before answering.
He told me you stopped dreaming when you stopped believing, and I knew that to make you believe once more, he would visit unbearable horrors on you.
For now, he said you were stumbling through your school day, unable to do anything because you couldn’t find a pen.
He clicked his tongue against the remnants of his mouth and arched one missing eyebrow as if to say what a waste, or he were genuinely sorry, but I knew the truth was he was sorrier still for all the ways you’d never know him.
He told me then that you’d be better off if made to forget, and only in pieces, as if to remind you of the life you could be living, but at once deprive you of it.
When he left, you woke to a terrible cold feeling, and lonely. Your eyes opened to me directly, and when I held you, it was without the questions asked of why was I in your room to begin with, and what had I been intending to do there. It was all easily forgotten, under your tears.
We made love, although you do not recall, and the next morning you had only a reminder that anyone had come to call on you - my semen in your hair - which you mistook for his regardless.
can find the way back
But it’s no matter now.