What we know, we do not question. Even when all the senses reject the knowledge, like religion, we persist. So it also happens in Gray House, when no one questions why Adam said Ian and not Matthew, or how we knew that Matthew and Ian Curtis were always the same man, like a hand inside a glove. We just do. Because we do.
Hello, Jack. My name is Eve. Eve was not my first name, or my only name. But it might be my favorite name, given to me three summers ago by Adam, which was the same as ten thousand years ago, and the same as January 12th, 2013, and the same as November 11th, 2001, for all we know or care. I call myself Eve because I like it. I know you think it makes me a cliche.
But so are you, Jack, being both nimble and quick.
How was I Eve when I've never believed in God? I just am. I could show you, but you won't ask. There's a story there, like anything else, and we could walk there through the grinding of the beads inside this wooden mechanism to throw pink colors on our faces. I could take you to my room, to 1978, to the last years of the war, to the garden itself. But you won't ask. So I just am, and we just know all the cliches we wear proudly across our chests.
I am a guilty princess of Earth, and you are the nimble and quick guardian of the wall that separates that earth from this House and all who live in it. God (if he could be said to exist) sends you out as a sheep in the midst of wolves, to keep that wall strong and take on the twelves of us with each test of this magic, to bring back this knowledge of the way things are without evidence. You stand on the wall and tell the world below what you see to make their religion, and so Jack, be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.
Innocence. Yes. That's what I'm trying to talk about.
We are the Innocents, the Children of Eden, the Lost Boys, and naturally the last surviving attendants of Badham Preschool. The Innocent Ones, for whom innocence is bought over and over, at a sometimes terrible price (see Genesis 3:6). While all of that sounds grand and non-specific, the price of Matthew's innocence is an affliction he calls his "spells"; a hallucinatory episode in which he is thrust against the person he is in closest proximity to, in order to experience the sensory illusion of the loss of that virginity, over and over, in occasionally non-consenting or violent methods.
His history is pocked with long periods of isolation from strangers, avoiding this very eventuality. He finds it difficult to live through a delusion of rape around those he knows very well, much less strangers. They've mimicked seizures in the past, but this is the first that...
Matthew's mouth, wide and French with generous lips and a vulgar sneer, pinches now in the shadows of his room to something small and birdlike as he wakes. His shoulders shift and set askew. The thin and waifish boy of him who normally can only command respect with his heavy and sadistic glower melts to something not softer... but plainer. Missing his exotic gypsy tattoos and his low-slung designer jeans, his skin is white and blank, and his eyes open confused to the ceiling.
"What happened?" he asks, and Clyde pets his hair back, his wide fingers attempting a light touch and failing.
"Virgin," Clyde accuses him, and Ian sighs.
"Ah, alright," he agrees, his accent presenting itself now.
"You alright, mate?" Steph asks him, and Ian sits up, touching the gash over his eye from where he hit the cold concrete. Pete moves the amp he likely tripped over, and the cords spilling from it.
"Yeah, I think I was just..." Ian explains but trails off, his eyes unfocused in the cold cement afternoon. The light is gray and thin, and I tighten my navy sweater around my shoulders.
"I'll get some water," I offer, and Ian looks up, and quickly down again, remembering I'm standing here.
"No, I'll be alright."
I bandage him in the unfinished bathroom of the building, sitting on the toilet while he crouches on the floor by my knees. He looks apologetic, like he's sorry this happened, sending the boys home so early.
"J'ai entendu la chanson," I remind him. "I liked it very much."
He touches the brooch on my sweater, silver and shaped like a fly.
"Where did you get this?" he asks me, his fingers cautious and his eyes curious and distant.
"My father, when I left home."
He touches the ends of my hair, freshly cut.
"You ought to do it purple," he says, his tone softening as I dab at the wound on his face with icy water from the new pipes. I laugh short, and he laughs, also, like a child although I haven't told him the joke. "What?" he asks.
"Purple like an old woman?" I ask him, and he shakes his head.
"No, like it was that night. In July."
The single window in the corner of the room is open to the cold weather, unseasonable for October, but made worse by the naked cinder blocks he requires for rehearsal.
"Ian," I begin, touching his hand, and he interrupts me.
"We haven't made love in nine days. I came to your flat yesterday and you were out. Tell me, have I done something?"
"No," I insist, and Brad's head turns to look at me.
"Huh?" he asks me, and I'm standing in the courtyard, the dormitory returned, Brad's boxers hanging from his hips loose and rumpled.
"Um. I. Sorry," I tell him.
Matthew's been returned to his bed, and the crowd of boys dispersed. He sits up when he hears me talk, and calls out into the center of the house.
"Nikka, please answer me!"
Eyebrows raise, heads turn, and mouths open, and close again. All around me, the Grays react to what's happening by averting their eyes, closing their doors, and smirking as they walk away. As if they all knew and I was only one who didn't. And they might've. Because what they know, they do not question.