You can't understand, he says as though he knows all. As though he's a god. Maybe he is a god and we've missed it all along. Maybe he's been feeding us hints like candy in hope that we might catch on—might understand—and then we'll become addicted. His essence. Quintessence. A high.

But there's a bruise on his face, next to his smooth green eyes. Eyes that have no luster, eyes that look like glass marbles alive in their sockets. It isn't a dark bruise, or particularly noticeable, but I notice it. I notice that he's still human. He's still himself.

You can't understand loneliness, he says again with an extra remark. But you will. The way it's said, the way he rolls the words from between his teeth, makes me want to understand, just so that we—he and I—are on the same echelon. We share the same odd bond of loneliness ironically together. Bearing the same burden. If he desires this, it's hard to tell. He's always been unreadable.

I tell him I want to understand. I don't say why. He smiles as if to pronounce Very Well, or You Asked For It, and steps in close. So close I get dizzy. I can smell his familiarity; it gives the world an extra turn. Now do I understand?

But something came before this. People don't just do this, naturally. He wouldn't out-of-the-blue tell me I can't understand. There's more. But not much.

---

There's something in my shoe, grinding against my flesh. It's giving me a raw blister, and I suspect sand is to blame. The sand seems to be everywhere anymore. Like gossip. They both cause pain. I think my face twists up in a half smile, Selphie stops gossiping long enough to demand to know what I'm happy about. Do I need a reason to smile? The silence goes on long enough. She starts gossiping again.

I stare out to Destiny Island, green and gold against the sea, a face looking up into the sky, searching. What for? Difference, I suppose, change. This reminds me of him, of what he always seemed to be looking for. Alteration. Modification. Transformation. Revolution. Completion. I wonder if he found it, that which he craved.

Let's go to the island, I say randomly. She looks at me disapprovingly. Selphie is all about maturity now, the strict dogma of adulthood in which butterfly spontaneity isn't openly welcomed. It was immaturity. She considers my offer, hanging in the air between us. Ethereally, ready to fly away the moment an answer appears. I almost wish it would drift on forever. Selphie's reply shows on her face moment before it popped out. Like ruined currency: no one wants it anymore, it has no value.

No, she says, somewhat disdainfully. I shrug. She may do as she likes, so she may like what she does. I give my farewell, and turn toward the beach. The sand tears away at me, just like her incredulous gaze on my back. She can't believe. I can't either. Someone is pulling me. My feet have strings.