“I want to talk to you.” I go to the chair next to the table he stands at watching me. “I just want to talk actually. I need something other than the void to talk to.”
“Don’t you have God for that?” He scoffs.
“Yeah,” I mutter, glancing at the ceiling. “Don’t you hate these plain rooms sometimes? I just want to breathe in the soil and brush against the dewy leaves and drown in the stars.”
“You’re in one of your moods again, huh.” Mickey returns to going through whatever medical papers he’s writing or reading. Whatever they are. “Life moods,” he mumbles.
“Why do you do that? Why do you study?” I laugh at his expression. “Because you want to, don’t you? But why? Why do we do anything? Why do we study music or learn to draw or want to fall in love? Why do we work for money that will never satisfy us?”
“Tell me, Maya.” He uses that tone, and I smile.
“Mickey, when I die, if you’re around, I want you to hold my hand.” I can tell his mood shifts. Just like I knew it would after a comment like that. I close my eyes. “I want to be a thousand years away and everywhere just so I can experience everything. All of the good and all of the bad.”
“Doesn’t Solomon say something against that.”
Not my bad doings, Mickey. But the world’s. I want to laugh and mourn and rejoice with everyone everywhere.”
Mickey sighs. He sits down and props his head up on his hands. I glance at him, and he manages a smile.
“Mickey, if no one believes in God, why do they do what they do?”
“Because they do believe. Everyone believes in some type of higher order out there. God, Fate, whatever.”
“And what if they believe nothing comes afterwards, that they are drops in the universe. We all are, of course, but everyone wants to have meaning.”
Mickey covers his eyes and moans. My heart bounds to my throat, but I hadn’t even realized it was pounding. My eyes are about to water because of this emotion inside of me that I can’t place though it races through every one of my veins and nerves until even my hands are shaking. Love?
“Talk about the universe with me,” I whisper.
I blink, coming to myself after realizing how wet my eyes are. Mickey stares at me from between his fingers. He’s wearing that look that he gives when he’s categorizing everything in his mind, and he’s come upon something that he can’t categorize. So he stares at it.
“If you had everything you ever wanted in your life, what would you do?” I ask.
“I don’t know what I want.”
“Isn’t that a part of being human? We don’t know what we want, so we want more and more and are never satisfied, always thinking there is something better. Are you content when you realize nothing is better?”
“Something could always be better. Take me, for example. Or better yet, take your self-defense skills. Or your running technique.”
“Mickey, we both know what I’m talking about. When you realize that you will always want more, but there is no more. There is nothing more than what you have.”
He smiles. “We drown in stars?”
“Maybe,” I mutter, then look away to stare at my feet. My shoes, once a stark white are faded and yellowish in places. “What is the difference between Newton’s theory and Poe’s ‘Ligeia?'”
“Ohhhh…” He laughs. “I know where this is going. There is no difference. Now tell me why.”
I turn and grin at him, and his head is propped on his hands, face wearing a smile, ready to listen.
“Why should I tell you if you already know?”
“Because all knowledge or art is useless and also priceless. It is subjective, the meaning found only within the individual. Are you just too excited to come right out and say it?”
“That’s not my point. Or why I’m in love –”
“In love?” He raises an eyebrow, and I laugh.
“So why do we value this knowledge and the pursuit of more if it’s useless. Why is it priceless!” I jump and grab his shoulders and lean close to him. “Why do we want to make a difference in the world?” I whisper.
A smile plays on his lips, and he glances back and forth between my eyes. “Why?” He whispers back.
“Why do you think?”
“I only care what you think.”
“What?” I laugh and let him go. “Okay, it’s because we have to find self-worth. None of it matters, and that’s the whole point of art and science and discovery and power. Especially if people believe there is nothing after life, and it will all go to waste one day, because the world is heading towards chaos, and everything is destined to die –”
“Because of self. It is self-knowledge. Self-meaning. We mean something if we think that we do, which is why we are compelled to do something that makes us feel meaningful. What is life without a reason?”
“Well, scientifically, you can still live without having a reason.” He laughs, and I hit his shoulder.
“Not my point.”
I cross my arms. “Tell me what you think of all that, Mickey. Tell me your arguments. Why does my epiphany matter?”
“Well, I think it’s true… I don’t know.”
“And what happens when the art is mastered, the theory is proven, and the meaning runs out?”
“We find a new meaning?”
“And what if, at the end of the line, there are no new questions in life and every meaning has already been crafted and exploited? Every art and trace of beauty and knowledge has been wrung from our species?”
Mickey is standing now. I must’ve gotten too excited because he’s standing, staring down at me, gripping my arms.
“Wow, this is… you are way too happy. This is so dark…” He clears his throat, and I purse my lips. I’m bouncing on my toes because he won’t hurry up and get to the point! “Now we drown in stars?”
“You’re close. I think…” I glance behind him because the thoughts are coming at me a mile a minute, bouncing against the side of my head, yodeling opinions and facts and memories of theories and poets and music notes and sermons and Solomon’s Proverbs. I clench my jaw to tighten them in place and gain some order in my head. I take his hands while the thoughts settle like underwater sand after a hurricane. “I think we should dance.”
“Hm. That is a perfect thought.”
“I wanted to say that it’s the great beauty and tragedy of life. But I believe my ardor has cooled.” I grin, and he holds his arms out, having led me away from the table and his study of systemic veins, smiling, waiting for me to meet him.
“Love of life. That’s what you meant. How typical.”
“Can’t help but love such a beautiful tragedy. What can we do when all the mysteries have been solved and the world is still going towards chaos? We can mourn or dance. I choose to dance…”
“I know you do, Maya.”
“What else did you think I meant?”
And we waltz. Without any music.
(Photo: Anneliese Phillips)
This is a work in progress and needs editing. I just needed to get this idea down while it was fresh. Figured I would share it here because I think the subject is important.