I was Inspector Gadget's son and had forgotten I had ever been anyone else. By which I mean there was zero Jessicaness to my mind and I had the whole range of thought and memories such a person might have. They are gone to me now.
Something had happened and I had done it. Destruction. I was going to be in trouble. It was my own fault. Inspector Gadget walked up and I showed him part of what I had ruined. The blue door. Even as I showed him, I made it worse - the instrument in my hand jumped to life and tore another ragged path through the paint.
He looked at me with disappointment. How did this happen? Not disappointment in what I had done. In what I had not done.
I don't know. I looked at what I held and it was nothing more than a screwdriver.
Inspector Gadget whipped out a giant buffing wheel and turned it against the door. It whirred briefly and a circle of paint was cleanly gone. Underneath was the boy leaning back floating, eyes shut against the sun.
I looked at Inspector Gadget and for a moment I had a flicker of knowledge outside the dream.
I might be someone other than this man's son. He might be someone else. In another story, we might have been different characters to each other. He might be telling me something.
Inspector Gadget said nothing but he did give me the smallest smile as he walked away, taking the buffer to work on the other door. Do you have a tool?
I only had my screwdriver. Then use that. I did. I started stripping away the paint I had gouged, revealing more and more of the picture I was supposed to have been looking at in the first place.
Later, when I was in the woods, Douglas Coupland said to me,
I camped for a week to write this book. That's all I did. I sat with myself until I was talked out. It was difficult, but it only took a week of difficult, as opposed to your way.