Friday, 21 June 2013

20th June 2013 - Jack & George

File:Death Henry.jpg
Source: Wikimedia Commons

“I love you.” Jack looked into his lover’s eyes, filled with hope, but knowing that he probably wouldn’t get a response.

“Is maith liom bainne.” George spluttered the words weakly, and stared blankly past Jack, gazing into some abyss that was only visible to him.

Jack’s heart, momentarily buoyed when George opened his mouth, dropped back. The fever racking George’s body had distorted his neural processes, addling his brain and making cognitive, logical discourse somewhat of an impossibility. Jack sat back on the cheap armchair provided by the hospital for family members. He sighed as he sat back in the chair; leaning his head back against the fabric, he covered his eyes with his hands. A tear leaked out from under his hands, glittered in the light and ran down his stubbled face. He became shrouded in memories.

And that’s where I come in. I don’t suppose you could say that I ‘entered’ the room: I am the always and the everywhere, so I was in that room already. It would be better to say that I shifted my attention to that room, and focused slightly more of my infinite awareness on it. Willing time to freeze, the hospital room became suspended in liquid amber; everything slowed to a standstill, a single instant stretched out to forever.

It was George’s time to go. Reaching out tenderly, with the loving care of a craftsman, our two consciousnesses touched; my mind, infinitely superior to his, took George’s awareness completely and quietly informed it of what was to happen. There was a momentary struggle, as there always was, and then the release. George’s body sighed one last time, the sigh suspended in icy honey, and collapsed, deflated, into the hospital bed.

My job done, I shifted my attention away, spreading its infinity across the universe again. Time lurched forward with a jolt, and Jack, seeming to absorb George’s death by osmosis, leapt up and crossed the divide to grab his hand. He didn’t need to check that George had passed: the bond between them was strong enough to need no physical interaction.

“No, God, please no! Take me instead, I’ll do anything!” Jack grabbed hopelessly at George’s wrist, as a nurse in purple scrubs entered and gently led him away. Jack shed tears of painful memory; snot dribbled down his face as he collapsed into the caring, tender arms of the nurse, sobbing like a child.

God was one of the names that these people called me by. I was obliged to turn back, if only momentarily. I resuspended time, and refocused on the room. Reaching out, I made contact with the trillions of synapses constituting Jack’s being; caressing them, stimulating them, I urged them to divulge what they knew. They were only too eager to comply; as a unified, homogenous one, they spilt memory upon memory into my lap. I sifted quickly, finding the ones that I wanted.

Jack and George’s first meeting. An after-work social; George, the introverted HR assistant, was nervous as hell (excuse the phrasing), and had contemplated just turning around and not going; Jack, the outgoing and confident sales rep, was like a social butterfly floating from conversation to conversation. They only talked for two minutes, but George knew that he had found something special. Jack wore his heart on his sleeve and had his entire personality out on display for the world to see; George, an acute observer, felt instantly that they would match. Jack, less self-aware, took more convincing. George hid his personality away in a layer of enigmas, so that Jack took longer to reach George’s instantaneous conclusions. 

Interesting. I shifted slightly more of my attention towards the room with interrupted time (that woman in Haiti could wait). Sieving out more memories, I plucked the next temporally logical one.

Their first date. George had been too nervous to ask Jack out straight away; they had been chatting over the office intranet for several months before George finally suggested drinks. The drinks had been awkward and tense; Jack had used his phone incessantly and George’s conversation skills, considerably eroded by his introversion, did not help matters. George had decided not to ask him out again, until Jack, getting up to leave, knocked over his bag and dropped out a copy of Marilyn Monroe’s My Story. George, curious, asked about the book and found out that Jack had a postgrad in film studies, before being forced by an overbearing father to move into a career with ‘real’ prospects. The date for their next meeting was set for merely two days later.

Curious. One final memory would suffice for judgment. I plucked the final set of emotions and impressions from Jack’s cortex and examined them.

Their first major fight as a married couple. It had started over something insignificant—as the most major fights are wont to do—and escalated quickly. Before either of them knew what was happening, Jack was screaming slurs that he didn’t mean, and George was playing the victim and trying to guilt Jack. Jack, ever the drama queen, spent the night on a friend’s sofa. They reunited the next day, talked it over and apologised. For Jack, that had been enough; but something was niggling at this memory. Jack, for an instant, had been aware of something in George’s eyes, but had been unable to discern or disentangle its meaning.

I pulled my consciousness back out of the murky depths of this memory. I had seen that look before; usually, in humans, it signified infidelity. But it wasn’t definitive, and I couldn’t be sure.

Agonised now, I shifted even more awareness into the room in order to bring my full calculating powers to bear on the situation. I could only grant Jack’s desperate wish if I were truly convinced that their love had been symmetrical, reciprocated and unmarred. Jack’s last memory made it clear that I needed to do investigate further, but I had already released George into the void, and his memories were inaccessible, even to me. I could bring George back, if I offered another mind in return; but bringing back memories across the unidirectionally porous membrane of the divide was rather more difficult.

I sighed—the world darkened for an instant—and reached a compromise. Reaching out to Jack, I planted a seed in his heart, unnoticed by his body. It would spread and grow and engorge itself on the healthy flesh of his body. 

Soon, Jack might join George. It was a miserable compromise, but the best I could do. I turned my attention back to that woman in Haiti.

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