“There is another world, but it is in this one.” — William Butler Yeats
‘It’s 3 a.m.,’ I say.
What I really mean is ‘I want to go.’
Someone once said I had a taste for running away, a superficial serenity of mind and a distributed intelligence that keeps me away from the depths of life. The truth is that, well, they must have gotten one or two things right.
But tonight I want to make my way into his heart and forget that there might be something greater around the corner, and I should just keep floating. Tonight I just plunge into it, because the surface is getting cold and crowded and my head is spinning a little. Yet there is the little voice that tells me how it’s too soon to be fragile, that everybody loves strength and why showing anything less is a mistake that can cost you all future possibilities. And so I want to leave, because I don’t want to stay the night only to play it tough. I’m never tough past bedtime, or around men like him.
‘It doesn’t matter that it’s 3 a.m. There will be another 3 a.m. Come.’
As we step outside the bar, he zips up his coat and his cheeks are red and I can’t help wondering what my life would become if I left with him.
‘Actually, there are only so many tomorrows, until you run out of them.’
‘What?’ he laughs, and lifts my chin up. ‘You never know, we might live forever.’
You know that spark they talk about in movies? The one that you only get with the one – before he finds out that you’re engaged to his best friend but is still willing to take the first plane to your hometown and get a ring out of this pocket with one hand while fighting your secret lover with the other? I think that is, more or less, what I felt when he touched me.
It was electric.
‘There will be no other 3 a.m. like this one,’ I say. ‘They will all be boring.’
To hell with strength, it has always been my weakness. The next thing I know is I’m sinking my face into his shoulder and my nails into his back and I’m hoping that wherever he wants to take me – if anywhere at all – it’s in the wilds of the world and there is no fixed time to get home.
‘I can’t let them get too boring, then.’
‘Why is it all about you?’ I laugh.
‘Ah, I’ll tell you everything later.’
I shrug. I don’t have a suspicious nature. For all I know, he’s drunk, and I’m happy.
‘Fine, but at least tell me what’s so wrong with boring 3 a.m.s. That’s what they’re for – to be boring, and send you to sleep. This is an exception.’
His grip gets tighter and tighter and my breath stops for a little while. I think I understand what I dislike about all other nights. They don’t go like this one.
‘No. 3 a.m. is for blur, noises, city lights and stories about half made-up pasts,’ he whispers into my ear. ‘Your eyes glowing in the dark, shivers, warmth, goodbye kisses and caresses, plans, scars, your smell, the smell of home, the smell of moving on. Do you get it?’
‘Well, that’s one big contradiction there at the end, but I think so,’ I say. ‘You’re an artist.’
I realise that he is strong, much stronger than me. I feel slightly embarrassed and look around for a cab. I don’t know if I can put up with yet another guy I feel so small next to.
‘Hey, listen, I’ve got something to ask you. I’ve always wanted to ask you this’
I’m sure it’s going to be one of those questions guys ask at the end of the night, like ‘So, do you like movies?’ or ‘Which way do you go now?’ or even ‘Well, this was nice. Right?’
‘What breaks your heart, pretty?’
Ah, thank God he isn’t boring when it comes to endings.
‘You, right now.’ I say and start looking for money in my bag. ‘What do you mean you always wanted to ask me that?’
He laughs and thinks I’m funny.
Well, at least I get that.
‘Really, what breaks your heart? I think this is the kind of question everyone should be asking one another. This is what we all want to know about people after all – what makes them human, what makes them tick. I could never think of something that would break you, so I want to know what it might be from your perspective.’
‘Me?’ I laugh, and he smiles at my laughter and I am somehow beginning to feel a warm connection between us coming to life. ‘I don’t know what breaks my heart. Indecisiveness, maybe. Like, what do you want to do now? See?’
I’m shivering and I’m torn between wanting to go home and wanting to play this game for the rest of the night, even if it makes no sense, particularly because it makes no sense.
‘Ah. I knew it!’ he smiles.
‘Nevermind, nevermind. I’ll take care of this tomorrow. For now, come…’
So are we going together from here after all?
‘But of course we are. I want to spend as much time with you as I can,’ he says, and I realise I didn’t even ask where we are going.
‘I’m taking you to where you belong,’ he says, as if answering my thoughts.
How strange. It must be that connection thing…
‘I see. My place or yours?’ I laugh.
‘Yours, you fool.’
‘Fine. Just know that it’s messy, and I’m almost sure we should have gone the other way instead.’
He looks confused, as if wondering how come I am this easy.
‘I can’t tell if you’re joking or not,’ he says.
I have no idea.
‘I have no idea.’
Suddenly, he puts an arm around my shoulders.
‘I do. It’s this way – because we’re taking the shortcut.’
See, I don’t precisely know what we’re doing right now, but the feeling of being myself around someone is the greatest high I can hope for at 3 a.m. It’s terrifying and exciting and it might mean nothing and it might mean everything. It makes every alternative feel like a waste of time. I almost wish these streets would have no end.
If only things were always light and simple.
‘I really hope you never again end up leaving a party with a stranger because you’re not sure what feels worse, being alone or being used,’ he says, completely ruining it. ‘When we get to yours, I’ll pour us another drink and tell you my story. That should help.’
‘Oh, because your story is supposed to change my ways?’
Another drink or not, his newfound arrogance would probably keep sobering me up.
‘If words don’t change the world, I don’t know what does,’ he smiles.
I choke on my words before they come out right.
‘I’ve heard this one before, but I must tell you that I’m no god and neither are you just because you left with me tonight.’
He stops and shows me that we must turn right. I nod my head. He is right.
‘You know, you do look like a goddess to me tonight – ‘There we go, Romeo’ – and either way, yes, we all are gods. What? You don’t believe that everything we create is real?’
‘See, at this point I’m not sure if you’re charming or creeping me out.’
‘Charming, just charming,’ he laughs.
He doesn’t slow his pace and I’m wondering what is it that I’m still doing right that he wants to walk me all the way home.
‘Fine,’ I say. ‘You can be disappointed. I know that tonight I seem a very easy catch, and maybe I am that. Just know that in genera–’
‘I’ll find a way to have you fixed by the time I finish my story,’ he says. ‘It won’t be tonight, but I will think of it.’
‘That’s great news, all figured out then.’
We get to my place and I reach for the keys. I know it sounds stupid, but by now I can’t help wanting to listen to his story. He is strange and I feel strange, but there is this pull – this strange pull – that I can’t fight, and something tells me that I shouldn’t.
‘You shouldn’t, no,’ he whispers, as if telling me a secret, and I freeze with my hand up in the air.
‘I shouldn’t what?’
‘That – what you said to yourself. You shouldn’t pull away now. I promise it will make a lot of sense.’
‘Are you talking about…’
‘My story, yes.’
I’m staring at him and he is staring back and I can see that he is progressively realising what he just said, and he is not happy about it at all. I’m beginning to reconsider my options and whether or not I want him to come upstairs, keys still in my hand. I’m curious, but frightened at the same time. What started as a joke is starting to look slightly insane to me.
‘Look, as much as I like it when guys can read my mind…’
‘Just invite me in already,’ he says impatiently. ‘God damn I should have made this part short, just in case. It’s freezing out here.’
‘Hey Lucifer, watch out, I haven’t given you my soul yet,’ I joke in a thin, shaky voice, thinking of ways to get away now.
I don’t think he got it. Concerned, he takes a few steps in my direction, until his face almost touches mine. I feel as if the timing is wrong, or this was not supposed to happen at all, but I don’t just think it; I feel it in my very bones.
‘Listen, this is not about your soul, I am not the devil. Real life is hard and I don’t know how to be out in the open with girls like you. So give me a chance, will you? I know you’re feeling as if God’s suddenly pulling the wrong strings, but I never thought of what the right ones would be in this case. I mean, this is absurd in my book – us on a bad date, this is not in the story, you know? This… we’re just making this up on the spot, as we live. Damn. This is what I hate about life, it’s so unpredictable. I almost wish I would have stayed home to write tonight, because I feel like I’m making a fool of myself now and I’m not sure what to say anymore. Everything I say is only making it worse, isn’t it? Ah, I’m lost for words. Help me out, please.’
‘Are you crazy?’ I shout and push him away from me.
When he gets close to me and runs his fingers through my hair, his smile gone, I already know that the story is about me. It was never about him. His touch is electric indeed, but I fear it’s for all the wrong reasons.
‘The story where I don’t die, and I get the girl too. I wrote that. And yes, it’s all about you. But this is not how I want to tell you about it. It’s not as if, regardless of what happens tonight, I’ll still be able to change you tomorrow morning. It can’t be that simple, because this is happening too. Do you understand? This is still part of it. Whatever is written can never be unwritten, and I’m pretty sure that’s how life goes too. So you need to give me a hand here, because I can’t let you fear me or hate me.’
I want to sit down. I came home with a schizophrenic. I just wish somebody walked past us.
‘Everyone’s asleep,’ he says. ‘Actually, I don’t think there’s anyone alive at all. I didn’t write them. I mean… I didn’t exactly create a whole world from scratch,’ he bites his lips, nervously, and I am dizzy enough to still think that is sexy. ‘I’m so not good with endless details, Mia. I really only created you…’
‘Wait, what? How the hell do you know my real name? I didn’t tell you that.’
I take a step back before allowing myself to lean of my front door and feel paralysed by fear.
‘I gave you this name. I also made you stand up for yourself when you need to and right now, I kind of regret that. I tried to make you as good as I could think of, honestly. You do like Mia, don’t you?’
The night feels surreal and I wish it was only because of drinking.
‘Please,’ he says, ‘let’s go upstairs. I will tell you everything.’
‘You bet you will!’ I say and, before he can do anything to stop me, I pick up and throw a small rock at my building.
We both stare in silence. Soon, there is broken glass all over the pavement. I guess I overdid it…
‘Hey, what the hell is going on down there?’
An angry man in striped blue pyjamas threatens us with his fists from the second floor’s window.
‘It’s half three in the morning, you drunken idiots!’
I look at God, God looks at me, and we both know we’ve messed something up. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I shouldn’t have come home with a stranger and break Mr Norris’s window. He probably thinks he should have included more details in his story, so I would have fallen in love with him and stopped swearing by now. Soon after, we’re running up the stairs to my apartment, talking about how little coffee I’ve got left. He says he blames himself for that. I tell him not to worry, writers think about characters and plots, not how much coffee imaginary women have in their homes. He smiles and I must admit that he is quite good at this whole charade. He then asks me if I think he is crazy. I stop, turn around and ask him the same thing.
‘You look pretty insecure for someone who claims to be my maker.’ I say to him.
He shakes his head with a slow smile. ‘I told you,’ he says quietly, ‘I’m not following the storyline. There is no storyline for tonight. I couldn’t have seen this coming. We’re making it up, it’s all just as absurd to me.’
‘Running into you.’
I can’t believe myself. I brought home an insane person and I can’t stop playing along. I want to go talk to myself in the mirror until I sober up, but curiosity got the best of me and pinned me down.
‘What’s so incredible about it? You gave me a free night, I had every right to get out of your story and go get drunk in a bar.’
He bursts into a wholehearted laugh.
‘You should have made me immortal too. That would have been pretty wonderful. I would have thanked you in every prayer.’’
‘What for, Mia? You never take any risks.’
‘Excuse me? What do you call this? By the looks of it so far this must be the biggest risk I’ve ever taken,’ I say, looking at him, then around the kitchen.
‘Exactly. And do I look like I want to kill you?’
‘Ah. Well, I could have at least been Golden Girl by now, don’t you think? The truth is that I’ve never even made it to the loving myself checkpoint. But you know that already. Do you like messed up girls like me?’
I know that he wants to touch me, but I show him not to.
‘Honestly, was this all just a very elaborate plan to make me have another drink with you, or do you actually believe yourself?’ I ask.
‘Come on. Do I sound like a living, breathing cliché?’
‘Then tell me, how did you jump inside the story? This is too much to be just a coincidence. You wrote a new chapter, didn’t you? But it was about you this time. Why didn’t you at least change the scenery? You know I’ve always wanted to go to Mexico.’
He looks me in the eyes as if this is something serious.
I’m not as good with role-playing, but I try.
I like him, in a weird, twisted, friends-would-blackmail-me-forever way.
‘I didn’t write anything like that,’ he finally says. ‘Think about it, why in the world would I want to meet you in person in the first place?’
‘Because I am the girl of your dreams, I imagine,’ I say, dead serious, and take another sip of coffee.
He looks amused.
‘Do you really want to go to Mexico?’
‘Doesn’t God know everything?’
‘I’m not God.’
‘You’re my God, aren’t you?’
‘No. If I was, I’d make all your wishes come true.’
‘So write a new story where they do.’
‘I can’t, I don’t know what you wish for.’
‘I could make you a list.’
‘Mia,’ he says and puts his hands over mine and I let him this time, ‘I am not a magician, ok? I just write and write when the evenings get long and nights get cold, and the solitude dissolves in me like sugar in’ – he points at my mug – ‘your cup of coffee. It’s peace and quiet inside my head when I write about you, and I like it. That’s all I wanted to do, write some more. I never had any intention to… breathe life into you. I should have known that everything we create is real indeed.’
I can’t help but laugh at his stupid, stupid words, then yawn and laugh some more.
‘You’re drunk, my friend.’
‘Maybe just mad.’
‘So you’re saying that you went out to your favourite bar tonight, with nothing in mind but to have a couple of drinks before you went home and got back to writing your novel about me?’
‘And then I showed up there, and you couldn’t believe that one of God’s waste of words is walking around like she owns the place. “God damn it – or I damn it – I should have made her better-behaved, rebels are only good in books. Who does she think she is? I’ll get her drunk, take her home and tell her everything, so she learns a lesson before I get to write it into her”, huh? See, I’m curious, how did you know it was me?’
He looks a bit embarrassed.
‘It’s funny now that you ask, because I never wrote anything about your looks. But there was this vibe, I don’t really know how to put it into words…’
‘Said the master of words that can change the world,’ I say in a slow voice, almost to myself. ‘What’s your name anyway?’
‘Yes, your name.’
‘Alright, alright M. And the name of my father?’
‘My father. What was his name?’
‘How am I supposed to know that? I told you I didn’t think about your parents, or what you like to drink, or how you like to dress.’
‘Or the fact that I really want to visit Mexico.’
‘Or my deepest fears, or my favourite colour, or my date of birth. Right?’
‘What are you doing, Mia?’
I move closer to him in what it is a quite obvious manner, and kiss him on the lips.
He looks terribly confused.
‘You didn’t see that coming, did you? You never wrote a single paragraph about the kind of guys I like or whom I want to kiss over my kitchen table at four in the morning. You never wrote about my father and pretend you’re not good at details, but you forget that I can’t exist if he didn’t. You don’t really know much about me, and you sure don’t know as much as you claim. You’re just good with words, and I’m drunk enough to pretend I believe them.’
But his lips are now curled into a smile and he is twirling my hair around his fingers. Wrong plan, I guess.
‘Then it’s true,’ he whispers. ‘Words do change the world.’
I lean back on the chair and roll my eyes.
‘Just go, you’re nothing but a professional liar.’
‘And an amateur writer.’
‘I don’t know that, but I’d sure like to read everything you pretend you wrote about me… no, you know what, forget that I said that.’
‘Listen… no, don’t look away, listen to me. They never thought that I, in fact, only leave when I’m in shallow waters because I’m ready to dive into deeper ones. I never leave because of boredom, as if I wasn’t boring myself as well, nor because I’m the lonely wolf type, and I surely don’t leave because I have the attention span of a goldfish and thus its ability to empathise with others. I leave because the world is mine, and what a crime to waste my chance to embrace it. Breathe, Mia,’ he says as he caresses my hair and my back, repeating my last journal entry back to me, word by word.
I can’t take my eyes off of him.
‘You forgot to breathe, Mia!’
‘It’s ok, you do this every now and then. It won’t get you killed anyway.’
‘How do I die then?’
I can’t think about what he said. About what I said. I can’t. I can’t…
‘You don’t die, silly,’ he says and lights up a cigarette.
‘Burn me!’ I say.
‘You don’t die in my stories so far, I mean. I don’t know how or when you’ll die in real life. You’re clearly more than just a character. A burn won’t get you killed I suppose, but it’s best not to try anything that would just for the sake of proving me wrong.’
‘What if you’d write a story where I die? That might get me killed.’
‘Perhaps. I’m not sure how this goes.’
‘If I’m nothing but a product of your imagination.’
‘Hey, I think tonight just showed us that you’re as real as you can be.’
I’m thinking that, if this is real, then this is a moment that should stay in his history – God physically comforting one of his people. And it’s all happening in my apartment. I can’t wait to tell everyone.
‘You can’t tell everyone you idiot,’ he laughs. ‘No one will believe you.’
‘Maybe I just resemble your character so I’m thinking what she’d be thinking, M.’
‘No, you are her.’
I know that everything so far sounds insane, but as I reach for pen and paper I actually have high hopes.
‘Write about me. Let’s go to Mexico!’ I whisper and give them to him.
‘You know that’s not how it works,’ he says. ‘I have to believe in what I write.’
‘So what do you believe in, if not a beautiful life?’
‘Oh, Mia… I am so sorry. If I believed in a beautiful life I would have never written one story.’
But he starts writing and I clench my fists and gnash my teeth., hoping for something, for everything, for anything.
I created someone in my writings, I created a human being out of paper and vivid imagination. At first I thought I created Mia to hurt myself, to run my fingers through her soul and see what’s it like being inside a beautiful mind. To contrast and shame me at my worst, to give the best of me to my favourite character. Then I figured that Mia isn’t utopic, she’s real. Mia is here, she is accessible. She isn’t an unattainable trophy, but my hidden treasure. I didn’t create anyone, for she was in me all along. And, despite all, watching my imagination unfolding was like watching God at work – the best part of me, giving its best. Heavenly.’
‘Are you kidding me? I wanted to go to Mexico, or at least be prettier or smarter. What is this bullshit?’
‘I’m sorry, but these are the only things I believe in: you and my ability to write. I wasn’t interested in the plot, I just wanted to sketch a person.’
‘Oh my God – and that definitely is not you – to hell with you and your ability to reshape me then! Big fat liar, that’s what you are. You said you’ll fix me in the morning, I don’t feel any better. Or maybe you’re just sick, M. Have you ever thought about that?’
I’m too tired to kick him out, so I’ll just rely on his ability to read me this time.
And it’s probably working. A few seconds later, he stands up and says: ‘Mia, I’m going to go get myself killed.’
‘No you’re not,’ I say. ‘God, I’m so stupid – and so are you!’
But when he slams the door and I hear his footsteps on the hallway I shake my head, get up and run after him.
‘What do you think you’re doing?’ I shout.
He’s made it all the way down.
‘I told you, I’m going to jump in front of a car or something!’
‘That’s immensely stupid, why would you do that? And what about me?’
That’s two floors below me and I know I wouldn’t be able to stop him if he was actually serious.
‘I want to see if our next date will be in Heaven or Hell!’
‘But I don’t want to die yet!’
When I can no longer hear him, I go inside. It’s five in the morning and I’m wide awake as I stretch and curl under my blanket, still feeling the taste of alcohol on my lips. ‘I’m alive,’ I tell myself over and over again, but I’m afraid to go to sleep. I know that I’ll have one of those nightmares again, and this time it’ll be ink that pours out of me, not blood.
Eventually, I put a coat on and go outside. I’m cold and tired and I expect to see an ambulance any minute now.
I walk for what feels like hours until I give up and slide down a brick wall, back pressed against it, head in my hands. There is no one awake – or alive, as the man I spent the strangest night of my life with put it. ‘Just wait until you tell everyone that you’ve met your own personal Jesus,’ I say to myself and start laughing like crazy.
But then I hear that familiar voice from up above me, and I just can’t believe this is happening again…
‘Up here, Mia!’
‘Hi God, what a miracle!’ I shout back without looking, chills running up and down my spine.
‘Get up here, it’s cold!’
‘I would, I just don’t know where the elevator to the ninth cloud is!’
‘Have you tried inside the building?’
When Voltaire said that God is a comedian, he must have known something.
I finally see M looking out the third floor’s window, waiting for me to go upstairs.
‘I’m coming,’ I scream, ‘you hear that, you insane god, I’m coming to read from your book of secrets!’
Someone wakes up and pulls the curtains.
‘Hey, who’s that?’ I ask and point at the first floor window.
‘Miss Granada, why?’
‘Did you make her up too?’
‘Just get up here!’
‘Hey miss Granada, it turns out you weren’t good enough for him! Apparently I’m the girl of your artsy neighbour’s dreams!’
The front door opens and I get inside the building. An old man just going out looks me up and down.
‘What, have you never seen a character going off script?’ I ask, then run all the way up to Heaven’s gate.
‘Are you crazy?’ he asks and pulls me in, looking terrified. ‘You’re waking everyone up.’
‘You tell me if I am! Why do you worry about the neighbours, they aren’t real, remember?’ I laugh in his face until he cracks a smile too.
‘There you go, God, life is beautiful – or you still don’t believe that?’
‘No, no, no,’ he laughs, and I can tell he is nervous, ‘this isn’t a two-way street.’
‘Tell me about it. I can hardly make you laugh, when you wrote my way to your place. Life really is stranger than fiction, or maybe it overlapses it.’
‘Mia, I didn’t write anything about you coming here,’ he says and lies down on the couch, staring blankly at the ceiling.
I reach for his pack of cigarettes, take one out and sit down on the floor.
‘So how did I get here then?’
‘I’m not sure, but I’m not surprised either. But take a look,’ he says and points at his laptop. ‘Have a read. I just wrote that when I got in.’
‘Weren’t you going to die or something?’ I mumble and take a seat, then go through his text.
It’s one short paragraph — a disgusting sort of coincidence about a girl who makes friends with her inner dragon and asks him to share the power. They share a long moment of silence, both on the same side, no one trying to split anyone’s head open to decide who rules her world next. At the end, the dragon dissolves into her and she finds a place she can call home. Then she reaches for a pack of cigarettes and sits down, contemplating the surroundings.
I stop reading, despite his cries to finish it, and tell him that my head is spinning and I’m going to throw up on his desk.
‘It’s only natural, you’re hungover.’
‘I’m a mad man’s thoughts on a blog, that’s what I am.’
‘You’re a living, breathing, beautiful girl, Mia,’ he says from across the room in a low voice. ‘I just happen to know you really well.’
I put my chin on my knees and stare at him for a while.
‘You don’t believe it’s just that.’
‘I don’t really believe in much anyway.’
My God is an atheist. Oh, the irony.
‘You’re a coward.’ I say. ‘You would never kill yourself.’
He smiles at me.
‘I think I just did.’
‘You just wrote a stupid story where you free the girl, what’s the big deal? You fight life with words, and it seems that even your own words fight back against you. You say I’m not very brave, but you’re not exactly a superhero either. You’re just a scared boy playing God every night, who just ran into Lucifer.’
‘You’re not the devil either, Mia.’
‘Do you even hear yourself? Is that the best you can come up with to save a ruined date?’
‘I told you this – no, I wrote you this when we were in your kitchen. You’re that part of me I wanted to save, so I wrote about you. I just didn’t think you were going to… you know… exist. Or I was ever going to bump into you.’
‘This is too much for one night, do you ever wait until the second date?’
A couple of minutes later, he tells me to go sit next to him on the sofa. I go. He is probably sick, but for some reason – maybe because I feel like I’m inside a good film – I just need to figure it all out.
‘So you wrote about a fantastic girl because you still believe in making homes out of humans. Am I your safe haven, the best thing you have to make up for your lost faith?’
‘You are, in a way,’ he admits.
‘Well then, I guess I turned out to be pretty flawed, judging by our first 3 a.m. spent together.’
‘You weren’t meant to be perfect, just raw and real and beautiful. I’ve watched you all night, you make me proud.’
‘Thanks, I guess. God, this is awkward.’
‘M for you.’ he laughs.
‘I’m sorry, you aren’t funny anymore.’
‘I know, I know, I am sorry.’
I look at him with a frown, then look away. He tries not to laugh at me.
I try not to laugh with him.
‘Do you remember what I told you? That I write stories where I don’t die?’
‘And then you try to see if getting ran over by a car will get you killed, yes. By the looks of things, you really are immortal.’
‘I wasn’t going to do that,’ he laughs, ‘You know that. I just came home and…’
He is smiling, but I can tell how nervous he still is.
‘As much as it pains me to say this, I wrote the ending and I need you to finish that. Then I’m done as a writer and you’re free as a bird,’ he says and shows me the laptop again. ‘Tell me what you think. I’m doing this for you.’
‘Nice try after everything, but I think I’ve seen enough.’
‘Just read it all, please, then you’re free to go. That’s all I ask of you. This is crazy for me too.’
I give in. I take the laptop on my knees and start scrolling up and down to convince myself there is a story after all. My name appears in most paragraphs and it makes me sick. I can feel his gaze and then his breath on my shoulder. I’m shivering again, but try to control myself. There is one last paragraph at the end that I hadn’t seen the first time.
‘Jesus. You made the dragon vanish, but let me live? You’d make the perfect boyfriend.’
He ignores me.
How do I still feel stupid around him, after knowing he’s insane?
‘Aren’t all geniuses insane?’ he laughs. ‘But I think we’re even now that I’ve released you. The dragon dies, Mia, I gave you the lead ropes back. So much with the false, imagined immortality I got by playing God every now and then. I don’t think I’ll ever create another character.’
I’m just about to laugh, but I can’t.
I will never finish understanding this.
‘Well, I’m not leaving, I tell him. I’ll never find another guy who goes clubbing, reads my mind and writes like a god.’
The truth is that I am exhausted and I really like his house.
He looks surprised.
‘Well then, stay. Do you want breakfast?’
He goes to the kitchen and I go through the text one more time. There must be a catch to it.
I’m standing by the kitchen’s door.
He is so good-looking. Shame about his distorted reality.
‘When did you write that?’
He thinks about it for a minute.
‘It must have been five or six in the morning, right?’
‘Half five. I don’t know what you usually have for breakfast’.
‘I got here at seven. How did I still find your house if you had released me by then? Surely me reading that didn’t make a difference to how your writings turn into reality.’
He looks at me, puzzled, his smile fading.
‘I don’t have all the answers, Mia. But we must be bound together, somehow.’
‘Bound together as in you will always have some power over me?’
‘I really don’t know what to say to that…’
‘It’s almost funny,’ I say, walking around the kitchen like a lion in a cage. ‘You’re trying to play both Adam and God. I hope you at least call me Emancipated Eve in your next stupid literary attempt.’
He looks genuinely concerned. I don’t know why I’m still here. He asks me to hold his cup of coffee while he brings the laptop to the kitchen. I ask him what’s going on and he mumbles something about figuring stuff out. I roll my eyes.
After typing something quickly, he closes it and comes take his mug back, puts it aside and swirls his fingers around mine. Electricity runs through my body, wild and intense. I suddenly don’t want any of us to ‘figure stuff out’ anymore, and admit to myself what a nice feeling holding his hand is.
What is it about this man that I can’t pull away from him?
‘If you were to go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?’
Before I can say anything, he kisses me and I know I’m trapped in one of the most beautiful moments of my life. My body is pumping energy and joy to my every cell. Happy, yes, I guess I am most of the time. But it’s just plain, ordinary happiness, the there’s a cookie, chew on it and keep quiet type. This time, I feel alive. And I don’t think anybody has ever made me feel alive before.
‘Nowhere,’ I say, amused. ‘Why? I just want to be here and uncomplicate you.’
I’m not ready to wake up from this and sigh back to reality. Like a selfish little Cupid, I want to see us together for a little bit longer. At the end, or should I say, the beginning of the day, we belong next to whoever we are happy with.
‘How about Mexico?’
So much for warm, fuzzy feelings. There goes a cold shiver down my spine, then a warm one, then a cold one again as I go to his laptop in a hurry. There is one phrase on the screen, only one. It’s quick, it’s nothing. It’s something. It’s everything.
If I am right, then she falls in love with me. And stops swearing, for a bit at least.
I can see him in the corner of my eye, smiling and cooking breakfast on this warm, late August morning, when the whole world seems to be dead. Ah, I should be so happy here, if only he didn’t pretend to have fallen from the sky. But when I realise that it’s 8 a.m., I swallow what feels like hot rocks and rush to the window. There isn’t a single person out there, driving to work or walking their dog. The world seems emptied out of all the details that makes it come alive.
‘Do you like spicy food?’
His voice cuts me open.
I get a sudden urge to pray to God, but I remember that he is probably next to me and could tell what I’m doing.
‘Do you?’ I ask back.
‘Then I guess the girl of your dreams likes spicy too.’
He laughs and I take a deep, deep breath.
‘You’re mad, M,’ I say in a thin voice and try to smile.
He turns around to look at me and I’m not sure if I love him or I hate him, or both. I guess it all blurred together in the end.
‘It sounds like I’m quite a dream come true too then. Don’t girls like mad artists?’