The Conversation

It’s my birthday! As my birthday is progressing, I have decided I’m going to talk about that which is my favorite to talk about. I’m gonna tell you all about the love of my life. This is a section of my autobiography. It is the third volume, and the thirteenth book of the autobiography titled Reality of the Unreal Mind. This section is called The King’s Concubine. It’s about the times when me and my wife almost got together spanning from the last day of eighth grade til six years later, when we actually did connect. So today we talk about the near-misses of love. This is the ninth post in this series. I will be releasing them all day.

Now we’re talking about my day, and I live on a 48-hour schedule. So a new one of these will be coming out every two hours and 45 minutes from now until 2 in the morning on the 24th, when I go to sleep.

I’m not in Little Women. It’s the fall play my senior year. It has Vonny, and Draconic. It has Ty and a few other geniuses. Me and Mary are breaking each other, and we are at an afternoon practice. I am going to be a light guy on show nights and I have no reason to be here, but I have every reason to be here.

See, drama is my life. It’s all I know at this point. Teddy is gone. The Degenerates are huge with me, but they demand I be on all the time and sometimes Shadow needs to not be the Shadow Show. So every chance I get, I am here. This group accepts me whether I am in the play or not. I am a bit of a leader here and they all want me around. At this point in my life, I am a leader everywhere.

This is all before I am banned. The director will ban me from ever being in one of his plays again after this production.

This is before that. I am not with Draconic, but Mary is around. She is my girlfriend, but she is about to fuck that up. We are at the top of a ramp, on a landing that opens to the first floor of the fine arts building. We are all talking, and Mary is sitting right next to me when Bekah comes out. She looks around and our eyes meet.

No Mary.

No Ty.

No Chalice.

No Bravo.

They are all there, but not at the same time. All that exists is Bekah, all that has ever existed is Bekah. It’s just not until we are before her that we realize this.

“Sit,” I say. “Bravo, make room.”

Bekah giggles and sits.

“What are you doing here?” I say. “This is a Saturday.”

“Band,” she says. She looks soft. Why does she always look so soft? She looks clean. Not sullied by anything or anyone. She doesn’t belong to anything or anyone.

“What sort of band?”

“The kind with music,” Bekah says.

I laugh. No one else does. Everyone else is watching. They have nothing to say. They are all transfixed, all except Mary. She has lost me a few times by then and she thinks she knows what this is.

But this is soulmates. No one here knows what they are looking at. No one here has ever seen this before. No one in high school is prepared for soulmates.

“Your boyfriend is an ass,” I say to her.

She does not look at her lap. She does not say a thing. She is not embarrassed or upset at all. At this moment, Brett is so far from her mind yet right there. He is cardboard. He is smoke. Brett is a guy she walked past in a hall once. She sees him and knows him. On some level she knows she is with him but none of that matters at this moment.

“Yeah, he is pretty bad.”

“What? I mean how?” I say. “How Brett?”

“Means to an end. Dark alley to run through to get to a street I want to be on. That sort of thing.”

“Well now you have yourself a loser boyfriend for your trouble,” Mary snaps. She has no true name for what she is seeing, but she can see danger when she looks at it.

Bekah and I don’t even look at her.

“Let’s talk about something else. This is boring.” Mary says. She loops her arm around mine in that way I have always loved. But this time it is awkward. This time it feels wrong. Like our arms are bent backwards. I look at Bekah and never take my eyes off of her.

“Talk about something else?” Chalice says. “Why would you want to ruin this moment?”

“Girls like you, they just find guys like Brett,” Mary says.

“Out,” I say. Because it doesn’t feel like a leave, get away sort of situation. This seems like we are in a building. Like the winter is not here and the sky is not boiling with dark clouds. This feels like being in a home, because it is one. “Get out,” I say. But I can’t raise my voice. I can’t yell at her. I can’t even push her away. I can’t get mad. No rage exists in me. All that is here is understanding. And my understanding is that this girl just hurt Bekah. “If you don’t go away, I’m going to throw you,” I say.

Mary jumps to her feet and storms away.

Again, breathing as if through my body. Bekah looks sad but not really. Like she is living some disappointment but not at that moment.

“What street do you want to get to?”

“Something bright. Fun and exciting and perfectly comfortable,” she says.

What I don’t know is that she was only hanging out with Brett to get into the Degenerates. But he is her only tie. So he has told her that me and him are best friends. He has told her that we are a tight group that doesn’t let in outsiders. He has told her that she needs to learn to play Magic the Gathering, a game I hate, in order to get in our group. And when he has her desperate to get near me, he says that boyfriends and girlfriends are always welcome.

If she was his girlfriend, she could get in.

But once he has her, he never brings her near because he knows this. This is what happens when the two of us get together.

Mary yells that it is time to get back to practice but it is not. She is rushing us all back because she has to stop this conversation. She has to shatter it because her boyfriend is with an energy now that she can’t name. He is moving in a way she has never seen anyone move before. Glowing in a way that people don’t glow.

Everyone is leaving and Jesse and Bekah stand.

“Hug?” he asks.

She does not answer, just walks to him and enters his space. She belongs right here. This spot right here. And he belongs here, too. This is the only place they belong. Arms wrapped around each other. Cheek on chest. Chin on the top of her head. This is home, it always has been.

It has been home for decades and centuries. It has been home for millennia. But never has it been like this. Always the lives they lived have gone against them. This one does, too, for the time is not right yet.

It wasn’t right in the 1400s. It wasn’t right in Egypt. The time wasn’t right at the dawn of time, and this right here is not the right time.

They pull back, arms still wrapped around home, and they look each other in the eye.

“See ya,” he says.

“Yeah, I hope to see you soon.”

Then it is over. The time is still not right. But after all the lives and all the times they missed, they can be patient. They are willing to wait for it. Work for it. Cry for it and nearly die for it. This can’t be rushed.

They have to do it right this time.

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