Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Heard Everything

By Jack Rousseau

I saw Joan at the intersection of King and Union. She passed without noticing me, or pretending not to notice me, and she was in the company of a girl with brightly coloured hair.

There has been many times in the past when I thought I saw her in the street or a public place: this is a testament to her generic appearance. As such, it would be easy to lose her.

But her company, the girl with brightly coloured hair, would insure the success of my pursuit.

She didn’t see me follow her, and I had nothing to gain from seeing her. I was more interested in what I could hear. She didn’t see me follow her because she couldn’t see me. I hid in the bodies of strangers that happened to pass her on the street.

As a middle aged man with greying hair, carrying the local newspaper, I overheard:

“...but I left the house long before I left the house, if you know...”

As a young woman at a pay phone, searching her purse for another quarter, I overheard:

“...what I mean. I was tired of them and couldn’t stay for...”

As a mother and child paying their respects to a friendly dog that had wandered away from its owner, I overheard:

“...fear of running into any of the other tenants, not because I was afraid...”

As a construction worker on break, looking for a quick bite, I overheard:

“...of them, not I, but because I couldn’t stand to pass them in the halls, I couldn’t stand to occupy...”

I tried to find another body to inhabit, but could not. They walked out of reach, into a secluded area, where no other body could be found. It occurred to me to possess the body of the girl with brightly coloured hair, but I feared that she would be suspicious of the change in her company’s temperament. Joan, after all, is the one who introduced me to theories of mysticism; she is no stranger to astral projection.

Defeated, I returned to my material body, and deliberately walked in the direction where I saw them last. It came as no surprise when I saw her; but I was so accustomed to being invisible that it came as a surprise when she saw me.

“Matt? What are you doing here?” she said.

I paused. How could I explain my knowledge of their being in this secret corner of the city? I couldn’t. Not without compromising myself. Not without admitting to my pursuit.

“Hello,” I said, and I felt foolish immediately after saying it.

“Hello? Is that all you have to say to me?”

She looked cross, though she had no reason to be. I had every reason to be angry, but exercised the same control that enabled me to hide in the bodies of strangers.

It’s funny to think that sometimes it can be more difficult to control one’s emotions than to astral project.

“Funny,” she said, and for a minute I thought she had read my thoughts, “we were just talking about you.”

I wanted to say: I know! I heard you! I heard everything! But I didn’t hear everything. I wanted to hear more. But I could not admit to hearing anything.

“Funny,” I laughed, though it wasn’t funny.

I left with my tail between my legs, scolding myself silently inside my head where, I hoped, Joan wouldn’t hear me.


BIO: Jack Rousseau is. Kcaj Uaessuor isn't.

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