• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 04

He Spoke in Symbols

He spoke in symbols. So many symbols it took years to string together what he said.

He spoke mostly about feelings. Tactile feelings, not in those in the gut, or worse, the heart. Things like, "soft, stiff, knotty," but all things that meant something else. "Soft" meant "weak," "stiff" meant "trustworthy," "knotty" meant "complicated."

I began to decipher what he said the very first time I met him, but I didn't know I was doing it. But, on my face I could feel amusement with the semi-words he communicated to me. The amusement within tickled at the sides of my mouth. And light slanted upward behind me from somewhere and followed me around, lifting me from the ground.

There was a look in his eye often, too, of sanity gone so far that it teetered on the precipice, a newly busted seam from which something threatened to come out. But then his sanity always came back. And it terrified me worse because it felt like home.

"What," I said so often. To him, to myself. "What do you mean?" to him. "What are you doing?" to myself. But never did I ask "Why?" like a child. I didn't need to. I knew the world by then.

The symbols intrigued me as they began to form a picture; it set my skin on edge. My skin reached for him from a place curling inside, below my intestines, behind my bladder, so deep it felt like it was on the Outside. Not outside my skin. In another realm.

It occurred to me as love took over that my cells had rewritten themselves. My hair changed color, my cheekbones changed shape.

I was doomed.


He Spoke in Symbols

Inside the symbols the strings of life braided together and came out looking whole. But I was half. That was the message that he'd been sending me for years. I was half and he was half. Together, of course, not half anymore.

But have you had a finger grafted back on? Let's try something simpler. Have you felt a wound heal? It busts open at the slightest provocation, allows threads and fuzz in, and puss comes out. Blood. Weird clear-ish liquid that soaks the bandage.

He was a wound of half my body, toe to temple. And as the symbols strung themselves together to say more, they said, in upside down words, "Run."