“I love you” he said
“Why do you say that?” James asked
Smiling down at the child he states “I say it because you fill my heart with joy”
“How do you know your heart is filled, is there a meter somewhere?” the boy asks, looking at the man with curiosity and half expecting a gauge to pop out of an arm
“You just know” said the man “it’s a feeling I get when I see you, when I spend time with you”
“If you didn’t spend time with me this love would go away?” James asked
“No, no” chuckled the man “I’ll always love you”
Love, James decided, was a complicated thing
Another thing he struggled with understanding – love, fear, sadness, hate. People would often say they “missed him” but their explanations and definitions of missing weren’t logical at all – how can just the absence of his presence affect anything at all – that’s not how the universe works. For things to be affected something has to be there and he was nowhere near those people who “missed him”.
Humans, James decided, were a complicated thing.
James had decided long ago that he wasn’t human. Sure he looked like them – bipedal, covered in skin and hair with blue eyes and pink fingernails – but there was something different about all those he met – they didn’t think or react the way he did and sometimes it made them uncomfortable when he didn’t conform to their norm. There were many changes, and he was watching them as they continued to observe him. These observations have led him to believe he was abnormal – sometimes a facial tic or a intake of breath when he did something that seemed logical or questioned “love” for instance – a chuckle at his childlike naiveté or eyes widening to serious questions regarding things he probably shouldn’t know. Sometimes they talked about outside – where they didn’t think he could hear. They talked about others, also not like him, children, loved ones, friends. He asked once – a woman named Stephanie had a son who reminded her of James – so he asked about him and if he could meet. He never saw Stephanie again after that. He wondered if he had “parents” and would he meet them – were all of these people who poked and prodded him parents? Just some of them?
He could imagine this outside, as something other than the stark white walls, glass screens and medical instruments. But he doubted he could capture it well with his imagination- they didn’t describe things in details and for the most part he just pictured being able to… well go, do… explore, see what was there. There had to be more than this.
He was drawn to their tablets and computers. This technology he would reach for when they brought it close – he could hear a slight hum inside these devices and wanted to see inside them. He wanted to see what they were doing with their taps and slides across the screens. These, he thought, are familiar. But they’d never let him touch or see, he had asked several times and then they quit bringing them in for a while – and they’d ask questions and make statement louder as if someone else were doing the tapping on the glass.
Soon they would leave and he’d have peace and quiet again – until the music – they said it was “classical” when he asked, it was a relatively new element they added – previously he would just be left in the silence with just the hum of the florescent lights and air conditioning units. He could sit and just lose himself in the recess of his mind – it was comforting. The music interrupted that, changed it – introduced rhythms and cadences to his thoughts and kept his brain from functioning as he liked – it seemed to restrict him. He didn’t share that with them, he was beginning to think they catalogued and kept every piece of information he gave them. Any question he asked they seemed to react to, any statement he made caused reactions of some kind – not just the absence of people who he saw regularly, like Stephanie, but changes in lights when he held his hand in front of his eyes or the temperature increase after he pulled the blanket to his chin.
What this was going to do for him, he wasn’t sure, but something had to change – the measuring of time in this place was difficult. They regulated the lights, the air, the comings and going happened all the time – regularly they’d draw blood or measure his skin temperature – awake or sleeping it didn’t seem to matter, they just kept collecting.
He would pretend to sleep sometimes – he wondered if they knew, if they could detect differences in his breathing patterns or heartbeat. He wanted to know if there was something happening while he slept, but there seemed to be no difference in routine.
A trick with his mind would sometimes allow him to shut out this world, to escape back into his mind. The blackness led to radiating waves of purple light that seemed to pulse differently than his heart – he could seek solace in those and they would give him peace. They sometimes made him feel more alive, an energy that wanted to burst out of him and into this prison. Each time that energy seemed to grow and grown until it seemed he would erupt into a cascade of energy and consume everything around him.
He was rather bored. Nothing to do here but be poked and prodded and “loved” – there had to be more than this. He was determined to find out what else there might be.