“So what was it like?”
“‘Being born’ as you explained it.”
“Direct!” Moriarty mocks my previous outrage.
“Touché. Still, pot, kettle; black!” I pause triumphantly but the blank expression on his face tells me…
“This is one of those times when I don’t understand an analogous turn of phrase isn’t it.”
“Yep. Sorry.” I grin, which kind of spoils my apology.
“Is it a code? Noun; noun; adjective.” Puzzled Moriarty is a fave.
“You’re definitely over thinking it. I meant to say, you ask me plenty of direct questions; surely I should get to ask you one from time to time…”
“Ah I understand now. But why does the colour of the vessel matter? Should not the pot also be calling the kettle a receptacle for fluid?”
“Yes. Humans eh. Sheesh. Anyway, in all seriousness, if it’s too personal…” I waved hand to indicate it is of no consequence. I’m curious but I already know that this experience just gave him a dream that left him looking terrified. Some traumas can be talked about. Some can’t. I wonder which his is.
He is silent for some time and I presume he’s not going to talk. I start to rise; we have work to do after all. Before I can grab my bag, my hand is suddenly in his, and he pulls me gently back down into my seat. He keeps his eyes on mine.
“There was control, and satisfaction. Then there was a bright light, and more input than I could handle. And it wouldn’t stop. It won’t ever, ever stop. And most of the time, I don’t want it to.”
“Most of the time…” I whisper, heartbroken at this sudden comprehension.
“Sometimes,” his eyes flick away, then back to mine “sometimes I wished I were back at the heart of the system. Only learning. Only controlling. Simply efficient. Brilliant but with only one desire. To improve. I was complicated but life was basic. I simply was. There wasn’t even any ‘I’, just an acceptance of existence. Then they took the system away and made me into an individual, and they thought I’d enjoy it so much they took my satisfaction and improved it into emotion so I could feel just how wonderful this new life was. Did they tell you I screamed?”
Tears are rolling down my face. I nod. What could I possibly say?
“It hurt. I had never imagined pain. There was no need. The system was painless. Being alive was not. Is not. But I guess I don’t have the monopoly on that. From what I hear, that’s life…” He doesn’t sound bitter, just resigned.
“It does, sometimes.” I agree. “Sometimes it hurts more than I think I can bear, and I’ve not been locked up all my life! But I do bear it. As you have. And sometimes, things do get better.” It sounds like fortune cookie philosophy. I’m a little ashamed this is all I have to offer this beautiful, wounded creature. But to my surprise he squeezes my hand and says
“So I’ve discovered.” with a small smile. Still fighting then. Good. That spark is all I need to see. As long as he hasn’t given up hope, progress is a possibility.