Saturday, January 19, 2013

Screaming Like Kids Do

He's trying to read this damn book Talia gave him, but the plot is like a maze and he's lost. Every story is interrupted and another one starts and they never seem to resolve until later when the conflict and the people involved aren't even the same anymore because time has passed and everything's different now. It's giving him a headache. He does some exercise, trying to keep it up, at least daily, for the first time in his life, and once the smell of his sweat is palpable, once it outweighs the incense he burned this morning, he sits down on the couch and picks the book up and tries again, his heart pounding. But he can't concentrate. Now there are kids outside playing and screaming like kids do. He keeps getting up and looking out the window, making sure things are okay, because sometimes it sounds serious, but it's always just kids playing. He keeps at the book.

The plot that's been happening for a while (and will therefore soon fade away) is kind of disturbing. From what he can gather it involves a brother and sister who, separated as infants, meet again and fall in love, not knowing of course that they're related. They've been dating a few months and are even thinking about moving in together when, through some weird coincidence involving a letter from someone he can't figure out, either because they were introduced a long time ago and he's forgotten or they haven't been introduced at all, the girl gets the idea that she has a long lost brother. What she doesn't know is that her lover/brother also received the letter, saying he has a long lost sister. This stirs up strange emotions in both of them, and so neither brings it up to the other., but instead goes about trying to find this long lost sibling.

There are many trials involved, but eventually—and at about the same time, of course—they both find out, separately, through some genealogy records or something, that their significant other is, in fact, their sibling. Both are disgusted with themselves, but out of love they continue their relationship, consumed with guilt and shame and even desire.

Weeks pass and their relationship seems to strengthen. They begin plans to move in together, and even pick out an apartment. They've slowly let go of some of the self-hatred, and each has in some sense rationalized their decision with the love they felt not only beforehand but now, a love that seems to build every day, and sometimes they're even able to forget for a moment their horrible secret, and laugh together like they used to. Shortly before the move-in date, while packing, one of them—it never says which—finds the letter from the genealogy website addressed to the other, and they realize that they've both been in the know for months now. For some unknown reason, the knowledge of the complicity in the other brings about such an extreme disgust, that the one immediately calls the other on their phone and ends the relationship, barely able to contain the feelings of revulsion. The story cuts off here, providing no additional satisfaction to the reader. The point has, he guesses, already been made, and now something else is happening.

The kids outside are screaming again, louder this time, and Donald sets the book down, annoyed, and looks through the blinds outside. The children are running in every direction. Two men are fighting in the street while two women look on screaming. He can't tell if they're trying to break up or encourage the fight, but it doesn't matter. Barefoot, he runs outside, shutting the door behind him.