I had a very good night last night. We stayed up late watching old Sesame Street shows with the kids, and I had three bowls of ice cream. Jonah didn’t want any ice cream. He actually moaned when Celia, the old lady who received us, offered him some, and went upstairs about five minutes after that. I guess he was quite tired. He’s still asleep. I’m writing this next to him in bed, I want to talk to him before I ask Celia if we can stay another night. I don’t know what he’s planning, if he’s planning anything at all.
A list of things I want to do on this trip to the Outside: Eat at a Chinese restaurant. Buy some new books to read. Buy new woolen gloves, I ruined mine trying to get back to the dormitories in the dark after a Big Fire night a couple of months ago. Go to a pre-Unification museum, I’ve always wanted to go to one. The Unification happened officially in 2015, but border policies had been getting more and more permissive since 2013 when the World Economic Union was formed, as an emergency measure. Things got bad so fast and seamless after Christmas 2012. No one could have foreseen it. I don’t even like to think about it. That was when we started travelling. I and everyone else. There was nothing left to do.
I suppose the Unification was a good thing, and things would definitely have been worse if it hadn’t happened. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like now, if I didn’t know that the end was so vertiginously near. The Outside is still a beloved place. The wind is so cold sometimes you feel like it’s cutting through your skin, and you have no choice but to smile to keep yourself warm. And sometimes it’s just a gentle breeze, and there’s this moment, at the funny hour when the sky starts turning black again, and the street lights come on, suddenly and so quietly. It makes me want to cry. I get so angry sometimes, knowing it can’t last.
Day Three - A Little Bit Later
The house was empty when I went downstairs this morning. There was a note in the fridge, from Celia, saying that no one would be back until late, and that they would probably have other family guests staying tonight, so it looks like Jonah and I are going to have to find a new place to sleep. She left the breakfast table all laid out for us, though, with banana bread, some three different types of jam, and good butter. She’s a perfect host. I really hope I’ll get to see her again, and the rest of her family. They were all so nice to us. I seem to only meet people who are kind-hearted, and sweet, and gentle, and honest, and brave. The Us are different. The nights with the Us are warm, but in a different way. Hours don’t feel as sharp when I’m in the Outside. They fly past me like butterflies, they get caught in my hair. The world feels bigger the further away I go. It was the same last time I left. There’s no longer that magnetic pull, no longer a North, I feel less and less lost the more I feel like I’m going nowhere in particular. I think that’s why so many of us have started travelling in the last few years. There aren’t as many places one can go to, everywhere feels the same. Beauty is really in the small things you see along the way, and those are the same everywhere. The general agreement is that they basically consist of: Certain birds, depending on the region you’re travelling through - seagulls are great when you are by the sea, and then there are eagles, of course, and stork nests on phone poles in the colder regions. Snow. The Northern Lights. Funny-looking people dancing in the forest. Starry nights. Rainbows. The way the sky turns pink again and then blue again and then black again. The way food grows on trees and bushes. The naked dance under the sprinklers in the big Sunflower Field. Babies. Giant stuff. Really tiny stuff. Smiles. Old people smiling. Sick people smiling. Certain animals that sometimes look like they’re smiling.
I think that’s about it.
The rest just sort of frames it, and all we can do is travel.
I wonder how Jacques’ been doing. I’m a bit worried about him. I hope Leo hasn’t been giving him a hard time. I don’t think he would, though. I don’t think Jacques even knows the things Leo has been telling me. It all feels so distant now. It’s so weird to look at Jonah these days, he always looks so out of place. It’s like we are Adam and Eve sometimes, thrown out of Paradise. But that’s the problem, we’re nowhere, we’re nowhere in particular, we’re simply Out of Paradise. Jonah just shrinks without that place around him. I can hear him poking around the kitchen now, opening jars and sniffing them. He really likes food. Good for him. Maybe he’ll cook us some lunch. I could eat something tasty right now. I’m in no hurry to leave, it is such a nice place here. We’ll be lucky if the next place we find is even half as nice.
Jonah just walked in. I asked him if he’s got any plans for today. He said he has everything sorted out and that if nothing goes wrong we can go back in no time at all. I asked him if he’d mind cooking us some lunch before we leave. He said he’d rather just have sandwiches, he wants to get this all over and done with as quick as possible so we can go back on the last train tonight. The last train tonight. I was not expecting that. I think I got a bit carried away by that feeling, that feeling of being gone.
Day Three – Late
It is the fields that always get me. It always takes so long to cross them. After that long, getting anywhere feels like getting home.
Finding all the things Jonah needed for The Bomb was a lot easier than I thought it would be. He knew exactly where to go. We only had to go to three shops, all within walking distance from each other. He didn’t let me go into any of the shops, of course, and didn’t let me see anything he bought. The first was a stationery stop, the second a hardware shop. I don’t know what the third one was, because it was part of a large department shop that sold all sorts of things. All in all, the whole undertaking took us less than two hours, and that’s counting the break we took for sandwiches and ice cream at a snack bar. I feel a bit disappointed, I don’t really know why. Jonah looked so beautiful today. I haven’t found him this beautiful since the first few times I saw him, walking in and out of the kitchen carrying vegetables and dirty dishes. It took me months to dare to even get close to him. He seemed so pure back then, he looked like he was in the best of all possible places doing the best of all possible things. I’d never seen anyone like him. And now he looks just as beautiful, asleep with his mouth open under the moonlight, he looks like he’s in the wrong place doing the wrong thing, and it makes me want to hold him.
Now it’s just the two of us, and I like it. I really do.
I want to try to describe the way he looks to me now. His hair is a bit greasy, it’s going to be all spiked up on one side when he gets up. He has dark brown hair that smells like wet grass. He’s tall, because of his long legs, but you don’t usually notice it because he walks with a hunch and has tiny dinosaur arms and hands. His eyebrows are dark and thick, and shaped in a way that makes him look like an angry elf. He has almost no chest hair, and very thin hair on his arms and legs. His pubic hair is the colour of chocolate. He has a long, very straight, oddly slender penis. He has nervous eyes that he never lets anyone look into for too long. He has crooked yellow teeth that he hides with his hand when he laughs. He’s very pale. He has a square jaw and a broad forehead. When he stands upright with his arms down and his legs straight his whole body looks kind of like a giant nougat bar. He’s so pale he reflects the moonlight. His skin is really smooth. If I smell his skin, it feels like solidified bits of light are going up my nostrils.