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Snippet #933

located in Life, a part of Almost an Allegory, one of the many universes on RPG.


The container of experiences that a living creature goes through, whether asleep or awake.


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Sitting on the edge of the fold-out opposite David, the mattress protesting under my weight, a dart strikes my heart. Am I sinning irredeemably with this betrayal, this abandonment of ritual? The night of her funeral, an event I heard of later as I was too timid and guilty to attend, I had cried myself to sleep while clinging to the granite slab in disbelief. It was unusually clement that night, that year, comforting even, but comfort has little to do with the fact that I now should be freezing atop the barrier separating me from her. Instead, I am now warm in someone else’s home, at rest in someone else’s bed, and wearing someone else’s clothes—a departure even from my relatively normal routine where, in a medicinal stupor, I nakedly collapse atop sheets I can call my own, much to the offense of my roommate.

Needing to abandon all thought, I lean down and force my cheek against a lumpy pillow. It smells faintly of mothballs. Bedsprings bite at my side, and the unnatural sensation of sheets and garments coils around me with all the affliction their creases can inflict on my torso and neck. A few moments pass, and I shift my weight to smooth out the wrinkles, but that does nothing. Frustration creeps in, and, just as I determine to sit up and pull off this wretched shirt, a callow voice melts the stuffy air behind my back.

“Those are my older brother’s pajamas. My daddy killed him,” are as startling to me as the first words out of the kid’s mouth, and immediately any craven demand of physical appointment disperses behind a cloud of rage and sorrow. Before I can acclimate to the discussion in time to interrupt with a sincere, but utterly impotent, gesture of commiseration, he continues, flooding my mind with halting whispers of the cruel event.

It feels wrong that I am being so cold, so distant, when he is exposing so much. Perhaps he isn’t aware of it, of just how intimate these thoughts he freely shares will become in a matter of years.

As in every case, where I know what is proper, I ruminate over the implications and try to talk myself out of it—but there is no suitable evasion to withhold comfort. I roll to my other side, my legs bumping into his, and face him. David doesn’t retreat, but merely pauses in confusion, which he seems to dismiss for the sake of finishing his story. I have no idea how long he talks, but when he is done, I wrap my arm around him, say, “Goodnight, David,” pulling him him into a brief, clumsy hug.

It has been a while, but it feels right, so I allow it to continue.

A moist heat gathering over my heart breaks me out of my trance. His head is against my chest, and he is breathing evenly. By the time I gather the courage to tell him part of my tragedy, the soft, nasal whining of a snore accompanies the throaty sighs. He is asleep. Thinking better of the idea, I close my eyes, and pray for silence in my dreams, knowing I won’t receive it.

* * *

The next morning, it isn’t the oscillating blare of an alarm clock, but the persistent, high-pitch chime of a doorbell that rouses a man from his Tiger Milk coma.

Standing outside his door is Amanda Torres, just as she had been standing for the past five minutes; calmly, professionally, pressing the doorbell every minute on the minute. The angular planes of her face slope upward into a pinched mouth and intense blue eyes. Accompanied by the tight bun of auburn atop her head, her face gives the distinctive sensation of dissatisfaction and suspended belief. Straight shoulders, pulled back in a casual indifference, are held in place by a coal gray jacket that chisels the outline of her lean torso in straight lines, punishing the very notion of femininity. It drops down past her waist and flares out around her hips, hiding the top of her trousers, which are of similar lines and color.

Once more, she lifts her finger to the doorbell. It rings, and after a few moments the door opens. On the other side is a man, disheveled and unshaven. She had woken him up, evidently from a deep slumber. His pupils indicate he is hungover, although his breath doesn’t immediately reek of it.

‘A closet drinker,’ she surmises, reaching into her jacket and withdrawing her credentials. Pushing the badge under his nose, she says with a tone of sharp disdain, “I am Detective Amanda Torres, of the St. Glears Police Department. I would like to ask you some questions.”

“Huh?” the man says, clearly not awake enough to grasp what is happening.

“May I come in while I wait for you to get dressed?” she says, looking into his eyes. He is still having trouble concentrating.

“What’s this about?” he finally asks.

“A murder,” she replies, in a resolute but apparently bored tone. “This is very serious matter, and I would appreciate your cooperation.”