Secrets: Chapter 31

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Chapter 31

It was nearly midnight when James got home. He sank into the couch, turned on a random anime and set the volume low. He wanted sleep, but his mind circled itself like a roller derby.

August had been ready to put the whole thing behind her. It was written in the slump of her shoulders when she said, Should we give up, then? But James had gotten idiotically swept up in helping, failing to focus on what he was helping with. He had two purposes: clear Donald's name and help August get her life back. Furthering a dead-end investigation was not compatible with either goal.

Worse, there must be thousands of people who would give their firstborn for a glimpse of Donald's hard drive, and August might be one of them. A little corporate espionage between friends. That would explain the mysterious "financial backer." A few grand was a pittance for leaping twenty years forward in technology.

Why did James keep sticking his nose into August's business?

It came down to understanding; a possibly self-deceptive belief that he could see what made August who she was, and that she was too much like himself to give up on. August was the polar opposite to Kanade. Kanade was a foreign song made human: mysterious and surpassingly beautiful, but conveying only feeling, never meaning.

His Holmesian over-analyzation was a hindrance in relationships. The only way to counter it was to quash thought and just be in the moment, every moment. Wherever that took him would be the path of fewest regrets.

James slept, and dreamed that he was in a sky with no earth below.

Terrified. Exalted.

Flying.

***

Morning dawned clear and cold. James awoke with the first rays of sun, looking forward to the day just because it held no specific promise. His last completely unstructured day with nothing on the to-do was buried so deep in memory that a crew of archeologists couldn't find it.

He stood outside his apartment in a sweater and jeans, freezing but wanting some air and sun. This early on a Sunday, the streets were deserted. Nothing stirred save stray snowflakes—not falling from the cloudless sky, merely relocating in leisure.

Staring into the deep blue of winter, inspiration struck. James went inside, sat down at the computer and began to type.

In four hours, he wrote more than in the previous six months combined. He had begun with no direction and wound up with, in his own opinion, some of the best pieces he had ever written, precisely because they weren't laden with intent. They were just stories. Just fun.

What a concept. James had first begun writing outside of what was required for school because it was fun. When had it become obligation instead?

He stood and stretched. Just past noon. He was hungry, but there was no food. Unlike so many other things, the last serious grocery spree was clear in his memory; in the back of the fridge was the container of sour cream for the tacos he had never made, now truly sour, dated months previous.

Time to shop.

***

Fridge stocked, appetite sated. What next?

James was energized enough for a bike ride, something he hadn't done roughly since Abe Lincoln was in power, but winter didn't lend itself to a return to office.

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