Scene Title Simile
Synopsis Something like falling out of love. (Follows High-wire Art.)
Date May 4, 2019

NYC Safezone, Sheepshead Bay: Epstein-Laudani Apartment

Night-time. Elisabeth told him to write it down. So, for awhile, Teodoro tries. Generally, he is not bad with words. His papers performed well in college, and he loves talking. He has always had a gift for learning languages. There were times in his life that he studied poetry and constructed arguments of fact.

But between the two of them, Francois is the writer. And it shows on the scrap of notebook paper, marked by an unfinished thought, his pen hanging motionless above it. Teo can't remember the last time he was at such a loss of words.

It's like this, he tries to tell himself. To make himself start. It's like

It's like walking down the stairs in the dark and realizing you don't know which is the last step; that you never thought about it before. You reach your foot into space, and somehow it makes no difference, whether it's another step or the floor. Both rock through you with a queasy sort of surprise, trying to balance without anything to catch you, not because you're sure there isn't, but for the first time you aren't sure what is.

Frankly, it's kind of like killing. You can't take it back, not really; not even with multiple timelines, psychic surgical self-reinvention, a pathological excess of optimism, and a capacity for forgiveness that is bloated parasitically from an inexhaustible artery of guilt. You can feel bad forever, but feeling bad does not bring people back.

It's a little like grief. Fuck K├╝bler-Ross. To move on is to betray.

It is like poetry. The secret of life, he said, is love. You become what you lose.

It's like farming. You wait for rain. You wait for sun. Back in the city, people seem to believe you ought to be able to grow plants without it, with fertilizer, a garden hose, a "green thumb" and being willing. It's like farming, because some will believe it's easy, some acknowledge it must be hard. But it's none of that, really; it's neither character nor magic. It's the chemistry of necessary materials, and luck merely for the timing of forces of nature that are inevitable on their own but useless in the wrong order. And if you have to wait too long, it becomes too late.

(Would you mind fucking apologizing? I'm sorry to inform you it might take more than fucking once. He doesn't write it down.)

It's also like the formation of a pearl, which is relief from pain that others seem incapable of admiring for beauty, for how long it took, when that was never your point. It's like fucking claymation, a full year of effort suddenly gone, over, in just a minute on-screen. It's like getting old; it's like growing cold; it's like living in New York City. There are men here who can change their fate, and you aren't one of them.

It's like

It's like coming back to an old photograph that had slowly bleached in the sun. The photo is yours. No color anymore. You are staring hard at the traces, shrunken impressions where only the blackest shadows survived. You remind yourself: those were the arches of his brows, the shape of his jaw, the beautiful articulation of his hands and the repeating spaces of his fingers. That was the city. The edges of the picture are worn soft to touch, but the size of it is intimately familiar. You loved him. You love him. You had chosen this one because it seemed to represent what you loved best about him. You remember how straight his shoulders had stood and how bold his stare, illustrations of the courage and fortitude you fell in love with. And now that image has faded. The courage and fortitude belong to then, and not now; there, but not here; to them, and not to you. See, the problem is not that you can't remember what the picture used to look like. It's that you do. You remember too well; that's why you can see that it's gone. Your heart is supposed to be the vault where you keep the negatives, the moment in time, the truth behind the symbol with all of your other treasures, to have as your own forever, but is the other problem. Isn't it?

Now the vault is breaking.

Outside the apartment, sirens start and stop. It threatens to rain. Teo rereads his note five times, unable to complete the words.

There's only one line on the paper, which trails off into blank paper. It reads:

What would you do if

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