“You channel other people’s pain –“
“It’s a gift and a curse,” I said exhaling a cloud of smoke that quickly floated upwards blending unwillingly with the whiteness of the ceiling. That morning (and mornings for me usually began at seven with the lingering taste of last night’s alcohol and a feeling of gloom) I had spent a significant stretch of time staring outside the toilet window, with the toothbrush jailed firmly in my mouth, at the adjacent unoccupied hotel room window with the uneasy hope of finding somebody there looking back at me. And although, absolutely nothing that happened following the aforementioned stare had anything to do with the current scheme of things, I couldn’t stop wanting to fit it into our conversation at the moment.
“Nobody’s staying next door,” I whispered with triumph, inhaling tobacco-laced air in gulps that might’ve been mistaken for yawns.
She wore the faintly curious yet faintly ignorant look of a rebellious teenager at the onset of personal victory. “Even if someone was staying next door, that someone would tell you that it’s a gift – what you have.”
“I don’t know,” I retaliated, giving away to recline. There is a peculiarity to silence that makes everything else in the background seem more important, the ticking of the clock, window panes shifting less than a centimeter in the wind, birds and breath.
“In any case I think you should start doing things differently from now on, like you planned to. God knows how many times you’ve ranted about it. The time has come to act, darling.” She paused. “You hear that? That is thunder and you’re getting to hear the overlords perform in concert just to mark the opening scene. Fucking-awesome.”
I nodded, absent, glazed eyes creating the impression that i was staring over her shoulder, and began patiently, as though teaching a two year old to count, “one, two, three, four…”
“I get it,” she said, leaning forward so our foreheads touched, so i had no choice but to lock eyes with her. “Flinch,” she started, and, sensing a challenge, I held my gaze, unblinking. “Drunk.”
I gave an intoxicated and somewhat amused smile making sure it offended her confidence murmuring, “You wish.”
She leaned to the side spontaneously shifting her lips jointly leftwards from her nose, “Fine, be that way! See if I care.”
“You would, I know that much.” I retorted undeterred by the threat.
“Would it change?” I asked moments later, an eternity later for Rahul Raman, who’d in that time given up smoking, liquor, sex and sarcasm—each for the span of two seconds, at least. “Caring for me, If I slept with someone else, for instance.”
“If you cheated on me,” she said levelly, “the only pain you’d be channeling, is your own.”
“Good point,” I murmured into her hair.