She's sitting across from me, and all I can feel are her eyes. Questioning, puzzled as she examines mine.

time has slowed, as I blink...sight slowly disappears and returns again

'You look so serious. You know, I've tried to figure out what you're staring at...but there's nothing there...'

I raise my eyes, turn my head towards her. There are furrows across her brow, like someone's just asked a difficult question, and she's grasping for the answer. It's there…just on the tip of her tongue, but as good as on the other side of the earth.

'You're looking pretty serious yourself right now. I wish I could tell you what I saw...but I don't know either. I'm not sure it was ever there.'

she blinks

'You know, you're a mystery to me. Sometimes, I feel like I've come into a movie late, and I'm not sure if I've missed the vital clue from the first scene. Or maybe the ending's already been made clear, and I'm supposed to be watching the story leading up to a conclusion I should already know about. I keep waiting for the plot to twist. Other times, I wonder whether there's a story there at all, like the film maker has written a story expecting the audience to understand the history leading up to this moment in time, like it's all supposed to make sense, and I'm the only one who hasn't been filled in. I look around to see the reaction from the people sitting in the dark around me...and I'm the only one there.'

'I don't understand.'

I reach down into my bag, and pull out a book, worn and dog eared. Place it on the table in front of her.

'Read'

She picks it up, and carefully folds back the cover. With gentle fingers, flips over pages slowly. Questioning eyes flick upwards towards mine. Finding no answer, she begins to read.

'They're my dreams. Written, so I'll never forget.'


the sound of my own words startles the protesting voices in my mind into sullen silence, a moment after their last desperate pleas. 'she will hurt you...'


She turns back to the pages, her eyes straining, holding the book in a brighter patch of light.

'This page...it's so faded. The tear...it's almost complete.'

'Sometimes, it feels like my dreams are dying. Every time I read some of these pages, they seem further away. Sometimes, I think it would be easier to tear them out, crumple and throw them away.'

she will hurt you!

'Somehow though, I've managed to hold my hand this far. These faded and torn pages they are the ones I read the most. I must. I keep forgetting what they contain.'


I pull out another book, place it before her. Quietly, carefully, the torn pages are placed to one side, replaced by something new. Confusion crosses her face, as she struggles to make out the words.

she will not understand this! she will run

'Every time I focus on a word, it seems to shift. Every time I think I'm close to deciphering a line, it morphs into something new. I keep getting so close, but then everything changes.'

She turns to the last page, and finds a simple image, a single star. Not wavering, not moving. Not changing.

'This is my hope. I can't read it either. So many times, I've reached for the words, and they slips out of my reach - like I'm not allowed to read them. So many times, they've found me, before I knew how much I needed them. I did not create these pages. Sometimes new ones appear, sometimes pages seem to vanish in the blink of an eye.'

'Sometimes, I wonder whether they're truly mine...'

She's still staring at the last page. 'And this?'

'All I know, is that one day, that star will move. It will fall, but it will never hit the ground...somehow, I'm sure of this. And I know, when that happens, I won't need to try and figure out the rest any more. It's all I'll ever need.'

'What will it take for that to happen?'

'I don't know. I just know that I've pushed it, so hard. I've pulled, and strained,and it hasn't budged. I can't force it to make that descent.'

run

And I place another book before her, caught in a headlong rush, no longer caring about the voices pleading for thought, for calm. She catches herself as she realises it's heavier than its size would make it seem to be. Gasps, and stops when she opens it, and sees the blood on the page.

The blood on every page.

'...why?'

'Because sometimes, hope isn't there. Because sometimes, all I can find is despair. I try not to add to these pages - please believe in this. Just sometimes, I do bleed. And if you look closely, you'll see where the tears have softened the red, like a wash over a watercolour. I don't want to hide this. This book belongs in my life. This is a part of me.

she blinks, and I watch the transition of her eyes. hoping i recognise them when they open once again. hoping they still recognise me

And as the pages turn, she finds the thorns hidden amongst the pages. Skillfully placing her fingers, so that not a drop of her blood is shed, the pages fold over.

'They're my hate. I try to avoid these pages, to close the book and hide it away. Still...sometimes it refuses to be locked away. There is no need for such caution...these thorns cannot harm you. Only my own blood stains the paper.'

you fucking fool! walk away, now, before more damage is done.

'Please, show me something more. Please tell me that there's more than fear, and blood and hate. I've seen hope, but I couldn't read the words. I've seen dreams, but the pages were so torn. Show me something that hasn't been broken, confused, soiled..'

...don't you dare

The book swirls, seemingly changing colours in the light. Until, like a disc of colours spun fast enough, all that you can discern is white.

'Please, be careful…'

She opens it, slowly turning page after page. Studying some carefully, flicking past others. Before she has a chance to speak a word, I talk.

'I can't explain what you see. I've never read the same words you do right now. Sometimes, someone will look at a page with wonder, and such a beautiful smile. I look…and there's nothing there. This book…it's not for my eyes. This is my love.'

no...

'When you handed this to me, you told me to be careful. Then you tell me what this is. Why should I fear?'

'Others have read. Turned page after page…then found the thorns hidden within. I don't know where they lie…but these one will cut you if you brush over them.'

She turns back, and continues to fold the pages over.

For one last time, I draw a book from its hiding place, and sit it before her. I can't help shivering, as she reaches towards it.

'You're shaking…'

'…I know. I'm terrified.'

Her hands reach out and turn back the cover. She begins turning pages. Soon, her pace quickens, until she's flicking over page after page, her confusion growing.

'It's empty. There's nothing written…nothing at all.'

'This story…it's not over. These pages, they're waiting to be filled. I don't know what the words will say. I don't know their colour, or shape. They may be filled in years, or days. They're waiting.'

And across the table, I slide her a pen. Reach my hand back, leaving it in front of her.

'Tell me a story.'

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