Just Words

By Raph al Guul

“I’m sick of it.”
“Of what?”
“All of it, every little bit, every single thing, everyone, just sick to the core and of it all – the rain, the sun, the grinding noise of traffic beneath the kitchen window, the cunt at the cash register.”
“What did the cunt at the cash register do to you?”
“She looked at me.”
“Looked at you.”
“Like sir, you can’t have two flavors of ice cream – ice cream is for little kids, sir, you are a spoiled fuck.”
“What did she say?”
“Just that’d be 8.98, thanks sir, have a good day, thanks.”
“Condescendingly.”
“Burn in hell, sir, for what you’ve done.”
“With the ice cream.”
“You are fat, sir, did you forget?”
“But you are not fat.”
“I am a little fat.”
“Just the right amount.”
“What’s the right amount of fat?”
“This.”
“And if I ever get fatter?”
“That.”
“Do you care?”
“I am not sure. Are you sick of me?”
“I am just sick of it all.”
“How can you say that?”
“It just comes out. It’s easier than it looks.”
“Sounds.”
“Sounds.”
“I don’t want you to be sick of me.”
“Neither do I.”
“What is it like?”
“What is what like?”
“Not wanting something you want.”
“You mean wanting something I don’t want.”
“It’s the same.”
“Is it?”
“You tell me. What is it like?”
“Some zoo animals were not born in captivity.”
“They were captured. They were wild.”
“I imagine there comes a day in a zoo animal’s life when it wakes up and realizes it no longer wants its freedom. It knows that it should, but it can’t.”
“The cage broke its spirit.”
“Yes.”
“Do you feel trapped?”
“Is it a trap if you walk into the cage willingly?”
“If you don’t know it’s a cage.”
“I feel broken. Little pieces of me here and there. But no one knows for sure which of them are actually me and which ones are just dirt.”
“Does it hurt?”
“Very much.”
“I would like to touch your hand with mine. I would like to make you feel connected. Not just whole – that too – but more than complete.”
“Leave the dirt behind?”
“But I am scared that you are sick of me.”
“It would make it worse.”
“Wouldn’t it?”
“I can’t be sick of you.”
“Everyone can be sick of everyone else.”
“I can’t.”
“Why?”
“I love you.”
“Those are words. Being sick, that’s feeling, that’s action – you can perform being sick. Throwing up, that is real. Gag reflexes are gritty.”
“I love you anyway.”
“I love you too. But it’s just words. What good is your love when you’re sick of me?”
“I can’t be sick of you.”
“Can’t? Mustn’t? Shouldn’t?”
“Don’t want to.”
“But you want what you don’t want.”
“The other way around.”
“Really?”
“Of course. At least as long as it doesn’t matter which is which.”
“More often than not it doesn’t matter which is which. As long as you have two.”
“When I was a boy, I built my own skateboard. It didn’t look very impressive, but it worked just fine. Nowadays skateboards have a front and a back. They’re skateboards by design. My skateboard was one by nature. It didn’t have a front or a back. Except when I was skateboarding. The front was where I was going. It was one skateboard, four wheels, two ends. Sometimes one was the front, sometimes it was the back.”
“Sometimes the end was a beginning?”
“It didn’t matter.”
“What happened to it?”
“The end?”
“The skateboard.”
“I don’t know.”
“Did you get sick of it, too?”
“I can’t be sick of you.”
“But are you?”
“We have kids.”
“I know.”
“I bought them ice cream.”
“I know.”
“They loved it.”
“They love you.”
“Like you said. Just words.”
“Kids’ words are different. They are real.”
“Like vomiting.”
“Kids’ words – your kids’ words – make it better.”
“Vomiting?”
“If you are, yes. But I mean everything. The world. Your kids don’t know shit. Your kids are so small. Can’t even hold a regular-sized umbrella straight up with their tiny fists. If I hold your hand, will you be angry?”
“Hold my hand.”
“But they can open their little mouths and they can make weird high-pitched barely articulate sounds that become meaningful.”
“It’s not like you and me.”
“No.”
“Where we sometimes think we hear meaning and then there’s none.”
“What do you hear now?”
“Your skin makes a weird sound on mine. Like rubbery fabric. I hear you breathing. There’s a fly or a moth around here somewhere.”
“Remember the first time we held hands?”
“I do. Very well.”
“Did you think you could ever get sick of me then?”
“I thought you.”
“Me.”
“Not even a name.”
“My name was generic. My name was Smith.”
“Not even that. Just you. The way you were there and I was sort of there, but forgot.”
“Because of me.”
“Because of you there. And our hands touching.”
“Do you miss it?”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“I know you better now. Better is always better.”
“Even if it makes you sick?”
“I think so.”
“What’s going to happen?”
“Like in the next five minutes? Or the future?”
“Aren’t the next five minutes the future?”
“The next five minutes are just that. Five minutes are not big enough for the future.”
“Since when can you measure the size of time?”
“Only in comparison. Like you don’t know the number of grains of sand, but you know which mound is larger.”
“The future is larger than five minutes?”
“Yes.”
“What’s going to happen in the future?”
“I don’t know.”
“Guess.”
“Our kids will love us. Not just words.”
“I will love you.”
“Right.”
“You have to say it back.”
“But it’s just words.”
“Still.”
“I will love you.”
“Really?”
“It’s just a guess.”
“What’s going to happen in five minutes?”
“We’ll sit here and you’ll be holding my hand. Like this, almost exactly. Although I’ll want to kiss you very badly by then.”

Hand in Hand

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