I sit with a boy on a rotting bench with too-long grass tangling itself around our worn shoes and the occasional leaf floating down to position itself artistically on our exposed skin. He tells me of his library and my face contorts with disgust.
He has his whole entire life scheduled down to the second and I scream of how his plan defeats the purpose of having a life in the first place, and I scream about people who hide in the light of the future to avoid the shadows of the present. He ignores me and counts his future off with his bony fingers. Five, the number of work days in his organised week. Four, for his nuclear family. Three times overseas, his two children, his one gravestone. When he looks at me expecting me to agree I laugh in his face, specks of spit flying from my mouth and onto his nose. Eventually I stop and curl my littlest finger around his littlest finger and explain to him that the one certainty of my time on this earth is one gigantic uncertainty.
I like to imagine that everyone is born surrounded by shelves that reach shelf reach further than is humanly comprehensible, and that, stacked haphazardly on these shelves is an equally infinite amount of blank paper. The moment a baby’s first breath is taken, a string of circumstance starts to bind some of the sheets of paper together, into something that will eventually resemble a book. My own shelves are a familiar chaos. Experiences lovingly bound but in no way organised, with romance mixed with the science fiction and loose paper for future days. His library is catalogued, with everything in its appropriate place, taking up the exact amount of space, and when I imagine his library, I yearn to simply set it on fire so he can rebuild it into something he would rejoice in. Initially, he looks at me with concern and it makes me suffocate in heavy fury. His eyes are surrounded by dark shadows, his eyelids droop during conversation and I know with every cell of my being that he is miserable. Yet he smiles and says he is at peace, but he is naive and thinks that when he gets to the future it will all be worth it. I want to yell and surround him with reason and have him realise that there is no such thing as the future. That by the time we finally arrive at it, it will have simply slipped away to the now and the past, and so there is no other time to live than in the present, in the moment, in the given. But I don’t, because I have said so before and I know it’s no use, he is not listening.Instead we talk of other things; things that are to be agreed upon by the young; things that we know aren’t as simple as our words make them out to be, and from this manner of talking that spawns our amity. And I ignore that his feet are so sturdily on the ground it is as if he was never born at all but simply grew upwards from the dirt, his feet still half buried with the worms. And he ignores that my skin is too tight for my bones and how it makes me wish to be a hurricane, irrational and uncontrolled.
Over the next few years, we become familiar. He walks straight and I soar spirals, but we both move and we both arrive. So, when the time to move into adulthood, we wrap our hands together and step forward. It takes adjusting at first, but we fall into a chaotic rhythm and soon it comes to be that we depend on each other for our happiness. We reach a balance, and the idea thatthis planned balance may be better than anarchy slowly trickles its way into my mind.
Years after being on that overgrown bench he celebrates the future that he is moments from arriving at, and I celebrate the now, and then he agrees to soar instead of walk and my face cannot contain my smile. Our eyes don’t leave each other’s as I place the pill on his tongue and I listen to the familiar fizz of a dissolving tablet and he hears it for the first time. Our worlds collide as he discovers my future at last. That night is neon and humid and we are limitless and there with glazed eyes and his head higher than any star he is truly alive. We see universes in spilt soda and smell every single flower we can find. We are children again, and life thrums through our blood and ourlibraries are a maze of likelihood.
Now, I wake alone with routine. My days are constant and my nights are uneventful because my library is cataloguedand his is buried with him underneath a rounded inscribed stone. And I shake my head at the irony, because now he is the hurricane, and I can count my future off with the bony fingers of one hand