Chapter 12: Chapter 12
When I get home Friday night, I feel strange, as though I have just read a Roald Dahl short story that has taken an unexpected turn. For the worse, for the better, I don't know I don't know anymore. The pure joy I felt is still there but it's tarnished. I've been thinking too much, I can't figure out what this means, that Mick is Kaspar and Kaspar is Mick. They seem so different from each other. Maybe just the way I've construed them in my head.
I regret leaving so much of myself in the W volume. I forgot that Kaspar had to be someone real.
I try to go to sleep, unwillingly. Sleeping seems so useless to me. Why can't my body just function normally all the time? Why do I need rest? Why am I designed so inefficiently?... I'm tired.
I lie still. If I do this just right, and I relax every part of me completely, I feel weightless. Like I'm in a vacuum. Like I am being sucked upward by some black hole above my body. And every ribosome, every phospholipid layer, every rung of my DNA is all contained within me. I function. I canfeel my neuron synapses. Every cell of me feels alive.
Saturday morning, I take my car through the Shell gas station drive-through car wash. I love these things. I pay the attendant, and he smiles at me and takes my coupon and gives me my penny back, and I guide my wheel into the track and put my car in neutral. The track grabs my tire and I go slowly into the tunnel, a feeling of childish excitement welling up in me. I get an idea, and I twist the volume knob to the right, and the car is filled with "One Headlight" by the Wallflowers, and I just sit there and absorb the experience.
I love this feeling. I can't define it. But there's something about being alone in my car, with the car wash's brushes and flaps slapping my windows like the paparazzi, with my music cranked up loudly and overwhelmingly, and it's like nothing bad could ever truly happen to me.
I am invincible!
And then I emerge into the real world after the giant hair dryers that shake my windows, and I put my car into drive and turn down the music and turn out into the street, heading home.
The Wallflowers make me think of Mick. But I don't want to overthink him, so I think about the actual Wallflowers band, how they're just a real rock band. Nothing too complicated.
And then I think about music and how funny we all are, declaring that we hate hip-hop or we despise country or we adore oldies, when really music's just noise with a beat, noise that is refined and repetitive, and we've been trained to like it.
And song lyrics, well, they're just lines of words that people write. And they try to hide emotions and feelings in them, or they try to write to a certain standard, but ultimately they're just words. Devices of complex human communication. They're just talking to us.
But no words or sounds or images or anything could ever truly describe the feeling that I had in the car wash, sitting alone, surrounded by water and soap and cinderblocks, my speakers vibrating against my leg.
I guess, if I'm honest, I feel a little angry about the situation with Mick/Kaspar, because I feel like there's some sitcom scriptwriter in the sky involving himself in this one instance in my life. Everything else can go wrong, sure. Let Juliette mess herself up. Let Nelly feel so insecure about herself that she translates her self-esteem into her hair color. Let everyone else suffer reality, but hey, let's give me this storybook ending.
I don't want it. I deserve far less. I deserve complications and pain, disappointments and exasperations.
On Sunday afternoon, I talk to Lorris on the phone. I need to be honest with her.
"Hey, Lorris," I say.
"Hey, you," she says. I love how she knows my voice. She sounds like she's sitting with her feet propped up on her desk, sketching something in her journal. "What're you up to?"
"I," I say, "am calling to tell you the truth behind my collage."
Silence, and then - "Really?"
"Yeah. It's passed, and stuff has happened, and you wanted to know, and I didn't want to wait until tomorrow or whatever because right now I'm putting off an essay for - "
"Oh, just tell me," she says impatiently.
So I tell her. I tell her about the poems we left for each other, about the forward motion he inspires me to take, about how I stopped writing to him. I don't tell her that it's Mick or about last night's milkshake incident. "So what do you think?"
Silence again while she analyzes. "I think... that that is the most beautiful story I've heard in years and years and years and years and - and I think that it makes your collage that much more amazing to me. God, I just - I wish stuff like this happened to me!" She laughs. "Thank you for being so honest with me. I knew there was something behind your Boringtown sign." Ellipsis. "So... "
"Who do you think it is?"
"You're just like Nelly!" I cry. I twirl myself around until the phone cord is wrapped around my middle. Do I tell her that it's Mick? Would he care if Lorris knew? Is this personal?
"Well, I think it is incredibly romantic," she declares. "I can see it now - you guys arrange to meet, and you're all, 'Kaspar... It is I, Cordelia.' And then he'd be like, 'Mon amour! I simply knew it was vous!' And then you'd kiss - "
"Why does he suddenly have a French accent?"
"Shh, you're interrupting. And then you guys would have this amazing summer. And... that's all." She sounds satisfied, so I begin.
"Yeah, maybe." I voice a thought I'd had before Mick came along. "Hey, Lorris. What if I am Kaspar?" Just to see what she'd say.
"Like in Fight Club. Or Secret Window. Or A Beautiful Mind. It's not that uncommon. It seems like he knows... the way I think."
"You're not Kaspar," she says. "He's got different handwriting, right? And you aren't insane." This is always a comforting thing to be told.
"All right," I say, "I guess I'm not Kaspar. I'm just not cool enough."
"And you're also not a genius, like Steve Nash."
I roll my eyes, even though she can't see me. "Maybe I don't play pro basketball like Steve Nash, but I'm also not a genius likeJohn Nash." I don't know how I know who Steve Nash is. Dad, maybe. Or the newspaper.
"Oh, don't mock me. I knew I'd heard the name Steve Nash somewhere. This is a mock-free zone. Are you listening to me?" she demands over my mocking snickers. "Stop it!" But she can't help but laugh, too. I am infectious. But not in the way a disease is infectious.
"Lorris, you know I love you," I say, smiling at my wall and untwirling myself from the phone cord.
"I love you, too," she says, "but sometimes I really doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion."
"Actually, Lorris, I was just toying with you." This is me being honest. "I know who Kaspar is."
"You do? Really? I hate it when you do this to me. Who is it?"
Silence. "The Mick I know?"
"Yes. The Mick you know. The Mick in art class. The Mick I'm kind of friends with."
"But - he doesn't really... seem... like the type of guy to leave poetry in books." She chooses her words with care.
"Yeah, I know," I sigh, and lean against the side of my bookcase. "It's kind of weird, you know? Like I should have expected it to be him somehow. But at the same time, it's just too...weird." I have such an admirable range of vocabulary.
"I don't think it's that weird," she says. "I think it's beautiful. It's only as awkward as you make it."
"Thanks, Lorris," I say, meaning it. "I think I needed to hear that."
"I think you did, too," she says, a little quietly. "I think maybe sometimes you need someone to tell you that it's okay for good stuff to happen. To just go with it. And hey - it's another opportunity for you to talk to people."
Where will I be next year without this kind of daily advice?
An image of me signing her last high school yearbook flashes in my head. That won't happen for another three months, I know. But nevertheless, my eyes thaw and the runoff begins to Niagara down my cheeks.
At school the next day, during second period Library Aide, I'm shelving books again. Someone apparently had a report to do, and apparently it was about World War II. 942.39, 940.21, 941.003... At least I know the Dewey Decimal System by now. I turn to grab more books from the shelving cart, and I see it.
The W volume.
It's got a thick stack of papers between its pages, and I know what it is before I open it. It's all my old poems. My thirty pieces of teenage angst. I was angrier two months ago than I am now. I realize this, skimming every line I scrawled, imagining myself as Mick reading them for the first time. I may as well be hanging upside down for all the blood in my face. I am ashamed of these poems.
I shelve the rest of the books on the cart, and I return to my writings. One line, which I remember writing just before Kaspar began to write back to me, reads:
I want to stop traffic for miles and miles,
And they're all bored and trapped because of me
I want to deface public property,
And they're all smudged and soiled because of me
I think about what I wrote on the toilet paper dispenser in the bathroom. So juvenile. If I have to deface public property, I want it to be in a bigger way.
"Thanks for giving me my poems back," I say to Mick outside the physics classroom, on our way to the lockers to get our books for fifth period.
He smiles cheerfully at me. "No problem," he says. "You can keep mine, if you want. They weren't that good, anyway."
I roll my eyes dramatically at him. "Oh, stop it, Mick, they were good and you know it. And anyway, weren't we going to Milo's at some point? To exchange them, peace treaty style?"
"Oh, yeah. I forgot. Yeah, sure. Hey, you know what? Nadia, the cool harpist, is playing tomorrow night at Milo's," he says, and I can tell his excitement is genuine. "I'm telling everyone I know." The disclaimer. It's not just me he's inviting. I'm okay with this, though. I feel that same milkshake feeling of purity and joy. I feel like Mick would understand this in his own way.
"Cool," I say. "I'll bring along some of my friends, then. What time? Seven tomorrow?"
"Probably," he says, and then the late bell rings. We're still standing outside the lockers. "Oh." He grimaces. I love that he is so expressive today. He doesn't withhold facial expressions or tones of voice for fear of being too honest. I like this about him.
"I'll see you later," I say, and walk into Spanish, where Huckleberry teases me good-naturedly for being tardy.
I look at him, summoning all the weariness and cabin fever restlessness from my soul and projecting it to him via my convex eyes, and I say, "Huck, when you are a junior, you will understand the apathy with which I intend to handle this."
He raises his eyebrows. "Hey, you've only got another year and three months until you graduate." He is being ironic at my expense.
I lower my head into the crook of my elbow on my desk. "Please, don't say that." I sigh, and I can see my breath condense on the false wood desktop.
"Cheer up, slugger," Huck says, and I can tell he's saying this genuinely and sarcastically at the same time somehow. "At least you're not a freshman."
I tilt my head so one eye sees him over my sleeve. I pause for effect. "Yeah, that's true. Life sucks for you. Thanks for reminding me."
He shrugs. "I do what I can."
And that's all anybody can do, isn't it?
Before I leave, I drop by the bathroom after holding it all through Math. I do the gotta-go dance as I arrange toilet paper on the seat, just so, so my butt won't have to touch it. It's only when I sit down that I realize that something's different in the stall. That lines and lines of writing cascade down the wall.
I have a crush on my sister's fiancé.
He's not a virgin. Also, it's small.
I cheated on a Bible test.
My friends make fun of me and I hate them for it.
I'm in love with a guy I met in an online chatroom.
Sunday was the saddest day of my young life.
And on and on. The things these people are living, I can't believe it. I read them, reread them, I can't comprehend that the two lines I scribbled the other day began this outpouring. A hum of something incomprehensible begins to ring in my ears, the hum of a thousand human beings leading a thousand different lives.
Driving home after school, I move forward. I am in a line of cars waiting for that sacred green circle. I ease up on the brake and inch forward, and I look in my rear view mirror and I see the car behind me crawl forward, and the car behind him, and the car behind him. I feel powerful again. As though I am able to have an effect on people around me. I don't know why I never saw it before. Yes, they can survive without me. But I have changed them. In a miniscule way. In a big way. You know what they say about one flap of a butterfly's wings.
I want to leave my mark.
In art class on Tuesday morning, Lorris asks how I'm doing.
"Just swimmingly," I reply, and this seems to sum things up nicely.
"I meant on your watercolor," she says.
I look down at the faint sketches of garbage I've feathered with my art pencils. "Well," I say, "when I say it's rubbish, I mean it's actual rubbish."
She laughs at this and vigorously washes out her paintbrush in her cup of water. "Complete and utter trash!"
"But this is a good thing, right?" she grins.
"Some things," I say wisely, "are meant to be garbage."
"Amen to that," says Brandon from across the room, and he raises his cup of dirty paint water to this.
After class, I'm about to leave, when Mrs. Morrisson tells me I can take my collage home if I want. I look at the wall where mine is and it's alone because everybody else has taken theirs home.
"There's really not much room to keep them all here," she says, staring at my collage with me. "So it'd be great if you could drop by after class and take it home."
"Sure," I say. "I'll do that."
And all during speech, I think about where I'll hang it in my room. My dream is to decorate my bedroom with my own works of art. And friends' art, in the case of the portrait of me Lorris painted. I imagine a whole wall as a gallery of art. Different media. Some photographs. I've been meaning to investigate lomography, which I discovered by accident online.
According to the websites I've visited, some students on tour in Russia bought these "Lomo" cameras - really cheap, bad lenses, not cameras you'd want to use for, say, a wedding. But somehow, the garish colors and blurry edges the camera produced appealed to the students, and they began this lomography movement. Its credo is "don't think, just shoot" and online I found galleries and galleries of random, spontaneous photographs. There is beauty in spontaneity. Lorris and I have been planning to find a cheap camera at Longs and experiment by ourselves, but we just haven't gotten around to it yet. Summer project, maybe.
I want to take photographs from the hip. I want the odd angles. The unusual subjects. The over-saturation. All by design.
After school, with my collage stuffed into the backseat of my car, I walk into the thrift shop alone. It's not Thrifty Thursday. Nelly isn't with me.
The Wingnut is sitting where she usually is. She's wearing a sweatervest that is inundated with rhinestones. She's wearing an ugly Aztec-inspired necklace. She's reading a Spanish newspaper.
"Hello," I say politely.
I must have startled her, because she jumps a little and she jerks the newspaper down an inch. "Hello," she says, a little wary, a little embarrassed.
"Get, uh, get anything good in?" I ask. What am I doing here?
She looks up at me again, probably wondering the same thing. "New donations in front," she says, nodding towards the window.
So I browse the racks by the front window, and maybe it's just because Nelly isn't here with me, but I find nothing. So I float over to the jewelry table, and I am a tactile person so I touch everything I see. A ball chain threaded through a dogtag with a cross engraved on it. Lengths of seed beads pooled into circles like cables. A little kid's necklace with a wooden clock charm.
Then I see the only quality piece on the table, something that must have cost some money. It's a gold chain with a jade heart pendant in the middle of it. I run the pads of my fingers over the jade's smooth, cold planes.
There's a mirror next to the jewelry table. I hold the pendant up to my clavicle, and it's like in a movie where the camera refocuses on someone else's reflection in the mirror, because I see the Wingnut looking at me over her newspaper. And her forehead's all mangled in a frown that encompasses things I don't know.
I clear my throat, look down, fiddle with the clasp, give her time to flatten out her frown, and then I turn and buy it. $7. Such a sad little price tag. It probably cost over $40. But nothing here will sell for even a third of that price.
"Thanks," I murmur, crumpling my change into my dilapidated wallet.
She mutters something in reply, slips my new necklace emotionlessly into a flat, brown bag. She hands it to me and looks into my face, and her eyes are like fifty-foot-deep wells. I can't understand what she's thinking, so I just leave silently and go back to my car.
Parked next to me on the side of the building is a blue Geo-Metro. It's got one brown door and two missing hubcaps. Somehow - probably because this car is here every day - I know it's the Wingnut's car.
I don't know what I'm doing or why, but I know that there is something inside me that loves her. So I tape the necklace to a piece of notebook paper and write "Please wear this" on it. I lift one of her windshield wipers, and I leave the paper there.
Maybe this will make up for my purchases of what I think are her old clothes. Who knows, maybe she's just sad for every shirt or skirt or scarf that goes off to a new home. Maybe she is certifiably insane and this is the only way she can support herself. Maybe she'll take this jade heart as an insult and the next time I walk in there with Nelly, she'll refuse to sell me anything.
But driving home, I imagine that she finds it, she weeps for my thoughtfulness, she wears the heart every day for the rest of her life to remind her that people are perceptive. And people are nice. People can tell when you're feeling badly. It's just a matter of trying to make you feel better.
We make up roughly half of Nadia's audience. Nelly, Dana, Janice, Juliette, Riana, Lorris, me, Mick, Parry, Logan, Galen, and Brandon are all there. I guess Brandon is Galen's friend. I can tell some people are annoyed that so many teenagers are all grouped together inside Milo's, draped over couches and each other, chattering and hyped up on caffeine. Mick and I convince our friends that Nadia is the most amazing musician we've ever seen in person, or at least something to that effect. I think that we're the only ones who have come for the music. I suppose the real reason all of us are here is so that we can chat, we can laugh, we can joke and relate and have a good time and make it a worthwhile night. So we do.
"Nelly, I can't get over your hair," Juliette says.
"I know, me either!" Nelly says excitedly. Is she ever sad? "It feels so weird and... short."
"I was thinking of putting red streaks in my hair for the summer," Dana says.
"Ooh, that would look really good on you," Riana says.
"You think? Or should I go for more of a honey tone?" Dana ponders.
I'm perched on the arm of our usual couch. I sip my coffee and look to another conversation within our group.
"It was totally real," Brandon is saying. "I mean... would they lie to us?"
"Yes," Mick snorts immediately.
"Just look at the photographs," Janice says forcefully. "There's no atmosphere on the moon. How, then, do you describe the flag waving? And who took pictures of the craft landing, if no one was on the moon before them?"
"Maybe they sent up robots, or something," Logan says through a mouthful of cookie.
"Mm-mm," Janice says, shaking her head. "Technology wasn't that advanced back then."
I look to Lorris, Parry, and Galen, who are also in their own conversation.
"You know that shot where the camera zooms in to the photograph and then it zooms out slightly and it's a different scene, and the group of men start to move? That's my favorite shot. Ever. The cinematography techniques are just... just freakin' amazing," Galen is saying, shaking his head in awe. "For the time, anyway."
"Which I think is more admirable," Lorris agrees. "Takes more thought and innovation, you know?"
"Yeah," Parry nods, "I'm kind of sorry that computers have come along. Now it seems like anything is possible - "
"But it's fake," Lorris inserts.
"Yeah, exactly," Parry says. "The real thing has more, I don't know, clout?"
"It's more respectable," Galen says, and he gets fervent nods in response. He turns to me and sees me listening with interest. "Citizen Kane," he explains.
" 'Rose... bud!' " I say in response, and then - "My favorite shot is the one where the camera goes through the sign and then through the glass, you know, where she's telling the reporter to get out."
Galen gets excited. "Yes! Yes, that one's unbelievable, too. Gregg Toland is pretty much my hero."
"You filmmaking nerd," I tease.
"So what if I am?" he exclaims good-naturedly.
"Is that her?" Lorris asks. She nods toward the front of the coffee shop, where Nadia is setting up her harp and pedals. She is dressed in a tie-dyed skirt, a loose white peasant shirt, and a bright orange scarf that is wrapped around her head.
"Yeah," Mick says, looking too.
"She's dressed a lot more cheerfully this time around," I observe.
"She's a freakin' hippie," Brandon says, and when Mick turns to look at him, he adds quickly, "But, you know, hippies are cool."
Nadia sits down, angles the microphone toward herself, and says, "Hey there, everyone." She gets murmurs and grunts in response. "I'm Eleanor, and I'll be playing the harp tonight for your listening pleasure." She smiles benignly. "If you recognize a tune, please feel free to sing along."
"Eleanor?" Mick whispers to me as she begins to play an upbeat, European sounding song. His mouth grins to the side.
"Lies," I reply. "She's definitely Nadia."
Her set is as magical as it was the first night I saw her. She still amazes me. Her fingers trill up and down the colored strings and her foot bounces on the pedals every now and then to change the effect.
Then she pauses, and I think at first she's going to announce a break, but instead she says, "I'd like to introduce tonight's percussionist." Sparse applause.
Mick and I look at each other in surprise.
Her percussionist stands up from the chair to the side of the mini stage. It's an old guy, liver spotted, gray haired, slow and creaky in his movements. I notice he only has one hand; the other is a lumpy end. He's carrying lap drums and a tambourine. He sits down on a hollow wooden box next to her and nods. He starts to work out a rhythm by hitting the sides of the box upon which he sits.
They begin to play what I recognize to be the Beatles' "Help!", and in accordance with Nadia's introduction, Nelly and I begin to sing along. Mick and Lorris join in, and my core inflates when I see the lips of other people in the coffee shop begin to move to the words. Nadia and her percussionist look pleased, delighted even.
Voices of different pitches and octaves and volumes combine to form the rumbling verse - "... But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured - now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors."
I close my eyes and simply experience it. Something pumps through my veins again, like the night of the milkshake. Love? Music? Adrenaline? Joy? I don't know what it is, but when I open my eyes and turn to the side, I see Mick with his eyes closed, and I know he feels the same way. I see Lorris and Nelly singing along, and Dana gazing at Nadia, and Galen staring at the percussionist while mouthing the words, and I know that this perfect, full hum of life is vibrating through the marrow of all of our bones. It's not so much the music as it is the humanity. The relationships, the friendships, the love, the... Well, the life.
Here we are. This is it. We exist.
We wander outside onto the sidewalk after Nadia finishes and Juliette starts yawning. Once again, several conversations overlap each other at once. I'm in a quiet kind of mood, so I mostly listen to the burble of discussion of Sugarcult, of Mrs. Maked, of plans for the summer. Brandon and Logan leave, and then Janice, Dana, and Juliette leave. The rest of us loiter, leaning against the wall, sitting on the curb.
"What should we do?" Nelly wonders. "It feels like a Friday night."
"Could go to Borders," Lorris says. "But it feels more like an outdoors night."
"We could go commit random acts of vandalism," Parry suggests sarcastically.
"Sure," Mick says. "We could go around to the sidewalk newspaper stands and take out all the papers, even though we only paid for one."
"I've always wanted to deface public property in a big way," I say. "Sadly, I don't have any spray paint in my car. I only have my collage."
"Your 'talk to people' collage?" Nelly asks. I nod. "Maybe you can put it somewhere."
"But I wanted to put it up in my room."
She shrugs. "I just think it would be cool to be walking or driving along, and then just see this big talk to people sign. It would probably make my day."
We end up on an empty freeway overpass, jumpy from nerves and coffee. Parry provides the duct tape and keeps a lookout, and we the other four fasten my collage onto the outside of the chain link fence. I'm terrified we'll drop it but our fingers hold onto it in the darkness and we whisper even though the duct tape screams when we unroll more of it.
When we finish, we are suddenly afraid that we've put it on upside down, and since we can't see the front from where we are, we get back into our cars and navigate ourselves to the street below.
And there it is. Shining in the lights meant for the green mile marker signs. It's crooked, but it's there. TALK TO PEOPLE. I wonder how long it will be up before someone takes a knife to the tape and tosses my epiphany into the trash.
I hope it inspires people like me to push themselves away from the wall and into dangerous territory, to a place where they'll have to risk a part of themselves. But it is a place where the rewards are so much greater than the risks. It is the place where humanity thrives on itself, where we can love each other not just because we want to be loved back, but because we want to share ourselves and know everyone and everything.
Everyone's worth sharing. Everyone's worth listening to.
It occurs to me, sometime during the following early morning, that these are the best days of my life. I have surrounded myself with good people. Good people. It seems like every day is a day I'll remember in twenty years, and I'll wish that I were seventeen again, that age when my friends are the most important people in my life. That age when I can afford to relax and simply think about things. I'll miss Milo's. In twenty years, it will probably be torn down to make room for a newer shopping mall. I'll miss art class. I'll miss Thrifty Thursdays. I'll miss this feeling I have when I'm with Mick - it's a feeling like a deep chasm is between us, but it's the good kind of chasm, the kind that's empty only because we haven't had enough time to fill it yet. Hell, I already miss leaving poetry for Kaspar.
In twenty years, I'm going to miss so much of my life right now. I smile a little to myself - I can almost feel the wet paint on the lump in my throat. Why am I sad? Twenty years will pass in a flash, but they haven't yet.
I wipe the paint off my throat. This is no time for tears. I know that the meaning of life is not to enjoy yourself. But when presented with an opportunity, why not?
Mick's sitting in my car before school. His Mars Volta CD is playing in my CD player, and we're just kind of sitting there, listening, trying not to feel awkward. It's not hard to feel comfortable, even when we're alone. Together.
"I miss writing random poetry," I say quietly against Cedric's screaming voice.
"You can still write random poetry," Mick says as though it's a fact. He's examining the ceiling of my car.
"Yeah, but it's not the same," I say. "Not that I'm sorry you revealed yourself."
He looks at me, smiles at me. "How about writing to the whole world," he says, "instead of just one person?"
I look evenly back at him. "Okay."
"Get it published or something. Or hang it on a freeway overpass."
I grin. "My love letter to the whole wide world."
"Dear World, please stop being unhappy," he begins.
I continue. "Gnashing your teeth may be justified, but that ruins a beautiful smile."
His eyes flash down to my teeth for a millisecond. He carries on with our honest love letter to the whole world. We alternate every line.
Love from a stranger is not so outdated
The wax of your flaws is nothing to me
Shelve your indifference and listen to this, to me
I tell you, I only regret my years inside myself
And I share this with you because we belong to the same planet
We belong to a generation that can sing Beatles songs with our eyes closed
And the exhilaration of this sacred and unique moment in time hums through every one of us
I'm breaking the cynic's creed, because now I believe in happy endings
I'm breaking the cynic's creed, because I know what it is to trust
And it is only by breaking the cynic's creed that I will see everything in full saturation.
His voice is down to a whisper now. "Sincerely."
I whisper, too. "Kaspar and Cordelia."
There is a moment of silence between us. The crazed and jagged guitar chords cut the air unevenly, foiling the motionlessness of Kaspar and Cordelia but also mirroring the fervent hurricane of my fingerpainted soul.
I blink slowly. "Kaspar," is all I say, and it's funny because even though billions of molecules of oxygen and nitrogen and carbon dioxide are between us, I can see him so clearly.
His head tilts a little sideways. His face relaxes, settles into a look I don't yet know. "Oh, Cordelia."
And that is when I lean across the chasm between us and kiss him on the mouth.