I listened as his breathing slowly returned to its soft, normal pattern.
His aquamarine eyes opened to reflect the sky high above him. Clouds passed over his irises and through his pupils, harmlessly disappearing at the corners of his eyes.
He turned towards me, rejecting the sky for the sight of my translucent body. I flinched before his calm gaze. It seemed as though we were in for another staring contest…
He sat up, suddenly and unexpectedly, withdrawing his arm from beneath my knees.
He pulled his pack, which had nearly landed on my toes, towards him, unfastening the clasp and flipping it open in one swift motion.
He withdraws a glass kickstand and a large tablet made out of a thick white, glossy material. On the tablet was the alphabet and numbers 0-9.
I stared at it, questioning its presence. Without uttering a word, he pulled a black pen and a scratch pad from his pack, holding the uncapped pen in his left hand. It hovered over the paper, poised to write.
He opened his mouth for a moment, as if to speak, then stopped. His eyes were fixed on my tombstone. I watched a frown slowly set into his face, then he glanced at me, one eyebrow raised.
He opened his mouth again, then, hesitating for a brief moment, asked “Can you read?” I nodded, making the frown disappear. He sighed, or perhaps let out one final pant before saying, “Can you spell, then? That way we can communicate.” He looked down.
I sat for a moment. My mind was a blank. Not a single word or letter passed through the empty void in my head.
‘Communicate’? I couldn’t comprehend the meaning of the word.
A small feeling of hope– no, of excitement– grew in me. If I had a functioning heart, it would have been pounding a mile a minute.
‘Communicate’? Suddenly the word made sense. It meant everything I had been wishing for. That word spelled out the end of my silent, eternal loneliness.
I nodded so hard I would have given myself a headache if I had a tangible brain.
He smiled for the first time since his arrival the day before. His blue eyes lit up like the stars in the endless night sky. His entire face was glowing, like the moon when it smiled at me on those cold, solitary nights.
I think I smiled back, as though the act was contagious. Then I looked away, embarrassed. If I could have blushed, my face would have been a neon red tomato.
He cleared his throat a bit. “So,” he began, pausing for a few moments. “What’s your name?”
‘Jeremy’ was what I wanted to answer for the second time since meeting him.
At least, now, I finally could.
I pointed to the ‘J’, all but shoving my finger through the tablet.
“J,” he said aloud, checking with me before jotting it down on his scratch pad. I pointed t the ‘E’ next, which he also confirmed before writing it down next to the ‘J’.
The pattern continued. Point, check, nod, write; until the pen had spelled out my name.
“Jeremy…” he mumbled, reading it aloud then checking with me.
I couldn’t nod. It had been so long since anyone had said that… When he spoke my name… It surprised me? It scared me? I honestly can’t describe how I felt because I had forgotten what emotions were like.
For the past 3 centuries, the only emotion I had felt was loneliness; a deep, aching loneliness that perpetually haunted my every waking moment.
I realized that, at that very moment, when he said my name, the loneliness had dissipated. It had evaporated from my skin like sweat had from his.
Someone had acknowledged me. Someone was with me. Someone was talking to me.
I wasn’t alone anymore.
“Jeremy?” he asked again, snapping me out of my daze. His eyes were filled with concern, as though this mattered to him as much as it did to me. The uncertainty disappeared with my nod, replaced with relief once more. My nods hold quite some power. He smiled. “Jeremy, I’m Adam.” he said, grinning that wide, pleasant grin of his. “Nice to meet you.” he said.
I wanted to say it back, to return the sentiment. I opened my mouth, then closed it and pointed at the letter ‘N’, then the ‘I’. Before I could point to the ‘C’, he said, “Nice to meet you too, right?” He smiled when I nodded. There was a spark of excitement in his eyes.
He stayed until the sun set, asking simple questions then answering them for himself.
“How old are you?”
“Same here. Well, almost. In a month from now. Speaking of, when is your birthday?”
‘I don’t remember.’
“Oh… Well, mine’s September 30th. What hobbies do you have?”
“Things you like to do.”
‘I don’t remember… Reading?’
“Oh, well, mine are…”
And so on. We ‘talked’ back and forth until the sun disappeared and the caretaker was making his final rounds. Adam quickly packed up and began walking away before the man could scold him.
When he was still a few feet from the gate, he turned around and called out “I’ll be back tomorrow!” then waved at me with that lovely grin on his face. I waved back and watched him disappear around the corner. He began jogging at the end of the street, same way he had come.