104 Violence in the air

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IX   Sunday: the angel on the carcass-building

104   Violence in the air

Waking late, I know that today the storm will burst. There is violence in the air. But where is it brewing? I sense it's connected with Pippa, unless—surely it couldn't be in Alaia? I weaken, then before I can stop myself, I'm tuning in to her, for the first time since we were both in the van being driven here by Evelyn. I'm tuning in, just as I promised not to ... and I find you in your room, Alaia, dressed and lying on your bed, which I'm startled to observe is just on the other side of this wall here—you're lying right beside me. This picture of you is only travelling about a metre to reach me, then! These old walls must be thick, for me never to have heard you shifting in bed during this last week: the only sounds I've heard from your room have been too vague to tell me the nature or distance of the movements causing them. Odd to realise, too, that I've never been in your room at all, though you've been in this room several times.

You're writing in your journal, as I once saw you do before. "It's so strange to be with Jaymi here, stranded by the ocean," you think and write. "It's shed a new light on him. To someone who first met him now, having already seen one of the broadcasts, I think he would seem surprisingly without passion in person, quieter and more passive than they'd expect. All that sound and fury around him, in the media, have been manufactured with smoke and mirrors by a publicity machine that hardly knows him or is interested in him. Since the onset of his abilities, things that would have elicited an emotional response from him in the past seem now to be just taken on board by him instead, as data to be fed into his mind, which then mediates his response. It's as if he now expects any and all eventualities, good or bad, ahead of time. Nothing seems to get him down any more, and not much seems to whirl him up high either, as if he inhabits a still centre within himself, like an ascetic. He's more or less said that he's aware of this in himself. I think he knows it feels slightly disconcerting to some people, while no doubt remaining invisible to others. He offers no explanations for this quality—because he has none, I think. Would he like an explanation? Is he looking for one? Is he equally simple and calm, when he's alone? I wish I knew. He has the serenity of one who knows that most ups and downs, including his own, are not as important as people say or think they are. That's it: serenity! That's what's arisen... That's why his emotions now seem muted—but not his fun and sparkle, I'm glad to say, nor ... oh, I'm sad." She lays the journal down.

"Why, Alaia, you write the sweetest things!" I say aloud on my bed, knocking myself clumsily out of my own tune-in. Really, I didn't know she thought about me so much. But why is she sad?... I can't go and ask her, because that would reveal I've been tuning in. Yet I really must stop spying into her, right now—I did promise her that I wouldn't. Also, let's not forget I am meant to be on a dedicated storm-seeking mission right now, and not just frolicking and nosing about at random.

So instead I gather up my sight and throw it out like a lasso towards Shigem's house, where he's waking beside a still-sleeping Kim ... and you wake to the sound of the birds in the trees, Shigem, remembering: today's the day you go to Newark Airport, then fly with Kim to London, to start a whole new life! Despite being well aware that your face now looks as much like a car-crash as it ever did aged fourteen or twenty-two, you are nonetheless joyful, verging on giddy—first because you were not murdered in your bed, and secondly because you're becoming tentatively hopeful of remaining unscathed by Lucan until departure tonight. Kim's sleeping blond head is on the pillow facing you, a tingle of pleasure runs through you, and I smile. "Kim and I are flying together into the sunrise!" you think. But dare you believe this? Isn't there some problem, some catch, hitch or late disaster here, that you've failed to notice? There must be. After all, there usually is. Yet sometimes, here and there, genuinely golden luck and happiness do roll up and park themselves on top of a person and just stay there like a pool of light ... and perhaps this has happened to you, with regard to Kim? "It's happened to me," you say to yourself. "It's happened to me!" To the sleeping boy beside you, you whisper some lyrics that you know: "Goodbye through the evening, goodbye through the night, goodbye to the dreamers who sleep. Goodbye to our yesterdays, hallo tomorrow—it seems we were destined to meet."

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