autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

Conversation with the Animus

They sat as they always did, directly across from one another on smooth, flat river rocks; the burbling rush of the waters nearby, their private symphony. This place was their refuge; a secret space wherein all things could find sanctuary. She looked him straight on and smiled for his presence, the monolithic support of him. Today, he wore The Farmer’s garb; a well-worn flannel shirt, hap-hazardly tucked into equally time-worn jeans, he was a study in casual comfort whose cobalt eyes blazed as they studied her carefully and without pretense, “So you’re feeling more settled then?” He asked, a slightly lifted brow indicating his skepticism.

“Yeah,” She said, “Somewhere recently, the sharp edges of it softened enough for it to drop into place.” The look on his face did not lose any of its disbelief, but he sat forward a bit, engaging the conversation more fully, “What do you think caused that?” She shrugged lightly, settling back in response to his forward movement, the non-verbal indicator of discomfort did not escape either of them and he smiled to her to convey it wasn’t something he intended to pounce. “Well, I think perhaps it’s time to admit that certain patterns always bring the same ends,” She sighed, “And maybe the pursuit of them in hopes of other outcomes is just what we’ve always said it would be…”

He chuckled softly, “Insanity?” She nodded and looked out across the river for a moment to let the words sink in more fully. “And have you told any of them just yet?” He was curious, but not pointedly so. She studiously kept her gaze focused on some far point across the river as she replied, “Indirectly, yes. It’s hard for me,” She shifted on the rock, bobbing a foot as she continued, “When all you’ve got are people who hang out for reasons you can’t bear, but you’re hamstrung by the certainty that if you turn that away, they’ll leave all together,” She looked across to him, “It’s kind of hard to be blunt, let alone speak with finality.”

He reached across the small distance between them and placed his hand upon her leg, smiling as she immediately went still. “Wouldn’t knowing there’s nothing be better than waiting for something that never arrives?” She looked him in the eye and quietly said, “There’s a big difference between knowing that and feeling it.”

“Is there?” He queried, leaning back and breaking contact to observe her more closely, “Or wouldn’t you say you’ve been feeling it all along and trying to convince yourself otherwise?” She flinched and he blinked and nodded, having the grace to blush slightly for the evidence of touching the sore spot. “I’ve been trying to let someone prove me wrong,” She whispered, “But they never do.”

“Maybe it isn’t a thing another can prove to you.” He quietly responded. She shook her head, eyes cast down and hooded, “No, you’re wrong,” She paused a moment, swallowing hard, “They prove all the time that I am right.” He sighed, “So it’s time to agree then, is it?”

He watched her shiver slightly and prepared himself for what he knew was about to happen. He sat still and silent as she slowly raised her head and the long-gone light gleamed from her eyes. “Well beyond time, actually,” She said calmly, the curious shift out of wistfulness and into complacency and surety was a twin olive glow in her face, “There is only so much striving or aspiring one can manage before realizing it is an exercise in futility.”

His face softened as he moved closer, pulling her into his arms and letting her rest her head upon his shoulder, “I don’t think it is ever truly futile,” He said, whispering against her hair, “But maybe it would be helpful to stop waiting for it. Maybe it’s time to stop caring if it might arrive and find you gone.” He tightened his hug momentarily, then asked, “Don’t you think?”

She nodded wordlessly, eyes closed and savoring the sound of his heart beneath her ear, “Yes,” She finally muttered, “You were right. I should have listened to you.” She could feel the rumble of soft laughter under her cheek as he softly said, “I can hardly blame you for that,” He dropped a soft kiss upon her forehead, “After all, I am the man who doesn’t exist.” She grinned as she darted a gaze up to his face, “Well, anywhere but here, yes.”

He reposted gently, “So then, tell me, what is the difference between a male friend and a boyfriend?” She replied sardonically, “A male friend never stays over.” She felt more than saw his nod and, in that moment, she felt a sense of resolution settle into place; it swept away all the hurt, all the frustration, and all the longing, leaving her feeling weak with relief, “Will you remind me when I forget?” He hugged her more tightly and said softly, “You won’t forget anymore.”

(MP3 available: conversation with the animus)