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8. Rats and Mice A Letter Home

9. Night

He put his back to the door and stood against it with his hands pressed flat to the flaking paint and held his breath. A sigh slipped out and he pushed from the door and stood for a moment in the middle of the room, listening to sound of the others laughing and singing downstairs. The curtains were open and the moonlight made the room cool and serene. He walked over to the window and looked out at the garden, tracking the paths out across the grass and into the forest beyond. He lingered on the stump where he'd sat earlier that day. It had seemed so clumsily misplaced, tucked under a bush where surely no tree could have grown. The trains rumbled underground somewhere nearby. He shivered and closed the curtains. What next? His brain was dumb. Slugged from those long nights he barely registered carrying himself around the room, tripping over stray clothes as he picked them up and threw them together over a chair. Standing by the bed he closed his eyes, reached down and pulled his jumper up over his head. He sat on the edge and pulled off one sock, then the other, letting them drop to the carpet beside him. He stood again, loosed his belt, pulled it through the loops and dropped it. Slowly by slowly he lifted himself and freed his battered skin, bearing it out, pulling and tightening and loosing it to the empty room. He peeled and rubbed and roughed the edges away until he slipped out and stood by himself standing by the bed. The other he stood rigid for a second then slumped and crumbled and was dust to be swept away in the morning. He stood facing himself naked like a soldier in the mirror, head high, hands loose. Only his eyes moved, carefully taking in his bare chest, arms, hips, legs. He studied each part of himself quietly and thought about the man who sat on the street and beat himself. What would he have given for this body, he thought. Not a paragon, not much muscle or even definition where he knew others liked it. No, what would that man give for this body that could stand and breath and take itself in and draw itself up to its full height without, what, shame? He stepped closer to the mirror and met his own gaze, breathing heavy now, the room around him fading away. Another step and his breath hit the mirror and the fog made him blink and look down and notice again his nakedness and he almost laughed when he saw it. He looked back into his eyes and smiled. The room slid away and the two boys stood one before the other looking into each other's eyes and laughing and breathing into each other's mouths and when they touched hand against hand they felt the coolness of the other and the heat in themselves. Soon their arms were wrapped around each other and they kissed the way lovers do pressing hard against each other, one falling into the other who held him tight and could not let him go. For a moment they broke apart and, gasping, they sank down and into the deep pool below them, folding into and over each other, hands and arms and legs and chests against chests and the pool rose and covered them and they sank deeper and deeper and kissed again and again and again and loved each other and themselves until they reached the bottom of the pool and stood back to back with their arms held wide, each finger touching lightly against the the back of the other. Slowly they let their arms fall and turned to face each other and one smiled and the other did too. He blinked and the room was around him and he laughed at the fog on the mirror, but when he looked down he frowned and twisted his body and looked at how it moved and thought nobody would want this body. The boy in the mirror turned his back and walked away. In the kitchen the others were still up and talking about the night and the argument from before was still going on and at once voices were raised and then suddenly quieted and there were whispers, then muffled laughter, then quiet and the boy could hear footsteps in the hall, on the stairs and then doors opening, and closing, then nothing. The light of the city outside began to glow through the curtains and the room crawled back out of the darkness and surrounded the bed and seeped under the covers where the boy shivered slightly and rolled over. And rolled over. He pulled the covers tight to his back and tucked the edge under his feet which he curled up, pulling his head under and breathing heavy until he felt the warmth of his breath fill out the cocoon of his body. The air grew tight and with one last breath he thrust his head back out into the cool air and, closing his eyes, let his head fall back into the pillow. He woke and sank back into the arms of the girl who held him and woke with a start. He woke suddenly and two men stood by his bed and as he looked up their faces sank into their necks and crumpled and he tried to scream but he woke and shivered and fell again. He woke and the blaze of the stars lit up the room like daylight and when he closed his eyes he saw the two suns that rolled across the face of the earth and balled together and the ground opened and swallowed the fire which spat up and was gone and the room was dark again and the bed was wet with his sweat and he pulled the covers away and lay for hours sweating in the darkness. Several times he woke and fell and woke and looked around his for the girl whose arms had held him so close. The men stood and sank and the girls arms held him and the bed began to sag with his weight and his eyes were suddenly wide and he couldn't breath and above him the men sank into the floor and rose into great winged creatures that swooped down and landed beside him and the bed sank lower with their weight. He cried out and woke and felt the arms around him and a soft voice in his ear and his eyes drifted closed and when he woke again the bed was dry and his eyes dropped. The mirror shone as it stretched flatter and wider; he stood staring into the glass and saw the back of him in the mirrors that glared beside and behind him until he was surrounded by his image in which he stared pale and looked around and looked back and with a sudden breath the mirrors clouded and cracked and he fell back into the the bed which lifted him now, and from the foot it flew upwards and turned until he rose underneath the bed which pressed him up and down as the room rushed away from him, skimming the blackness and swimming into the fog. For the third time that warm October Night he studied himself and found the rise and falls of his naked body to be soft, warm mountains and steep, full hills. The Mirrors circled him now and became one full circle, one round sphere of light and flashing colour that pounded inwards, stretching streams of electricity from his four arms and four legs and the— March for Student Lionsgate Is He Marriage Material Man ask why women Work with us! Michael Myers has escaped Capital Jack Jack Make your own Rules No need Boring man Birthday birthday birthday March Yellow Raincoat March Make your own Lionsgate Michael March Students Jack Jack Captial has Escaped Work with Women No need Boring Myers has Marriage Material Jack March for Yellow Work with Birthday Michael Birthday Wake Up Michael Lions Lions and Tigers Capital One Escape Wake Up Michael is the Material is He no Need to Wake Up Michael Wake Up. 'Wake up.' The arms around him. The bed dropping down. The mirrors, the light shining around his head bowed back into the pillow that took his weight and lifted him gently into sleep. 'Wake up.' When he woke the room was cold and a dim light glowed under the curtains. He lay for a while looking across to the window and waiting for the men to appear, for the arms to take him in, but they didn't come. Outside he could hear birds and somewhere in the house another was awake and even as he listened he heard the radio chatter in the kitchen below. He heard the great black wings that had landed heavy beside him and shivered a little, closed his eyes, and slipped away.

8. Rats and Mice A Letter Home


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