His hand brushes against his arm and in the brief moment he feels a thumping jackrabbit heart that flutters like moth wings in his stomach, like the flutter of his eyes when he is trying to hide in the in-between of two worlds.

The arm is jerked away from his fingertips as if he had been shocked with electricity. His fingertips feel cold, and a loud rush of blood in his head tries to fill the void left in the wake of that jackrabbit heartbeat, as if still trying to catch up with it. His eyes readjust to the current environment once again, and he is no longer within the warm, wet, pulsating mysteries of the circulatory system, but the stale air of his bedroom on an overcast afternoon in November. A bedroom that had been gradually growing colder by the minute from the chill between the two boys seated in it. It could've been that or the draft coming from the cracking windowsill that had been left neglected. but who was to say, really? He absently wonders if his room had always been quite this big, or felt quite so empty.

The reverberations of the arm-brushing incident had faded away and now silence fills the room. Lots of things can happen in the silence. Once, the silence had been a place where sweet nothings could pass without being said and smiles of the eyes travelled freely, serenely, floating on whim. Now the silence was a no-man's-land of furtive glances awkward fidgeting, where wordless hurts were sent out to do battle in the air, and almost-sentences died straight on stiff lips. He hated this feeling. He liked control. He liked knowledge. With this, he had no control. This was a situation he couldn't make right, couldn't talk his way out of. He felt like a child, like an infant. In/fant. In Latin, meaning, literally, "no/speak". How ironic that the Boy with the Words finally had none to give. His words were useless now anyway. His breath was useless now. He wished fervently to run out of air, and to just cease breathing completely. To his dismay, oxygen continued to circulate rebelliously throughout the room. He, on the other hand, is almost the exact opposite. His breath was coming in shallow, barely audible little gasps that were quickening in pace. This was like him though. It was his signal that he was building up to a climax of some sort; the horrifying final moments of a nightmare, the blurted, last-ditch attempt at something resembling an answer in school, tumbling over that fearful edge to paradise in sweet, muffled, nighttime embraces, or the trembling confession rising agonizing slowly until it leaps up out of his throat like a frightened gazelle, or becomes irrevocably lodged and strangles him there.

His eyes dart around the room. Those haunted eyes; scared of their own dark passages. Those are the eyes that belong with him, the Boy with the Nightmares. The one who can never quite believe he's awake. Just like the mad phantom he always compared himself to -sometimes joking, sometimes not-, he was always on the brink, everyone secretly watching to see when he'll fall off.

He watches him with tender eyes and wants to reach out to him, but his words still aren't working and now, neither are his arms. Instead, he sees wispy, smokey tentacle arms wrapping and squeezing him, encircling his limbs, and he wonders how longs they've been there and why he didn't notice them before. He's thinking of saying something about it, when all of a sudden, a sob bursts out of his chest and he leaps up so swiftly that the chair he was sitting in complains loudly before toppling over in defeat. He flees like a mad phantom, like a jack-rabbit, like a moth, like a boy. He dashes after him and he is running and he is running, from what, though, remains unclear. Then before he knows it, he is catching him and he is collapsing, collapsing on his knees in the dirt road, collapsing into his open arms, breathing him in between shuddering gasping and choking. He isn't a jack-rabbit now, or a phantom, but painfully, painfully human. The two boys hearts grappled clumsily, but anxiously together in their dark, warm, sloppy pulsating rhythms, trying to find each other and cement themselves there. The Boy on the Brink was trying to breathe everything in and keep it somewhere it couldn't get left behind. All the memories, the touches, the words, the glances, the futures and the not-futures. He buried his face in the other boy's chestnut hair, too fraught to speak. The other boy bit back tears of his own and shushed his hiccoughing stammers with the only words he had left.

"I know," he said, "I know."

And then there were none.


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