Ladybird blood smells the same as grass.
Today, another patient from far to the north… 300 km this time.
We haven’t gone out to eat in months, of course, so Ansel’s new goal is to ruin every restaurant we like by cooking better than them. “Why go there? We make better pad thai.” His definition of “better”, of course, is adding my berbere… Which I don’t mind.
I dreamt of Ansel, you know… He was black, and black flames were coming off his shoulders, tensed. He was looking at somebody… something, everything dangerous to me. He wasn’t facing me, he had his back turned to me, looking at them. Keeping them at bay… Yesterday before I went to Philop he was so corely ashamed of himself. “I’m violent. I’m destructive. I’m nothing like your father.”
“That isn’t true,” I told him. “You’ve never picked a fight. You’ve always stood your ground. Whenever you get angry—why do you get angry? It’s because you don’t want someone important to you to lose anything…”
He never loses his temper, and always loses it rightly. I don’t know why he thinks he has to be a paragon of equanimity, when he’s already quite mature… More mature than me. Maybe more than me… When Radi died, maybe even more than me he swore to himself to become just as strong. I was always cold, and dark… But Ansel went straight to the fire and started tempering himself. And of course, that’s how we got together. At the gym…
We lied down on the grass and I saw the leaves run across the grass… Chasing each other… I told Tolly to stop lying down on my full stomach, and he (eventually) complied. He kept falling asleep… Yesterday he went out and had a chat with Philop the tree, about grief, expectations. About the old man. That had been eating him lately, it always does, like that world-eater [note: World-Tree Eater] of Norse mythology. And that tree keeps on growing, but that damn worm keeps gnawing at him… When will he ever be free of the cursed thing? At the end of the world, of course…
Julia held him yesterday and begged him not to disappear. Was there something in us yesterday…? You know, I’m ashamed to admit it, but sometimes, when he gets too close to his father, he completely disappears and turns into someone else. Not anyone bad. But he just… turns into something like a ghost. Nothing fazes him when he’s like that. You could probably drive a sword through him at and he’d just turn and stare at you. …
The more he learns, the more he studies and reads, the more disgusted he becomes by the people around him. Not me and the rest of the crew, obviously. But for example the fleeting contacts he makes online. What passes for “conversation” in the office. Is it fair for him to be elitist? Well, it’s hard to argue with him. “I had to relearn all the languages I knew, including English, basic maths, like 2+2, and how to eat and breathe at the same time so I wouldn’t choke. What’s your excuse? [For being so tasteless and mediocre.]” Picking up fencing has made him a haughty queer and I thought I had an ego. He’s gained 1.8 kilos in the past month and that’s all been muscle, not fat, he’s burned even more from his waist. This is under conditions of no gym access. Looking at him, you’d never guess he was a brain-damaged little twerp who couldn’t even lift a spoon two years ago. Today on our lunch break he practiced cartwheels and handstands, and at the park he breathlessly sat down at the picnic table and exclaimed, “I think I made those dogs jealous!”
He’d been tricking in the grass and really did look like a dog playing around in circles… A woman was walking three labradors and they were all (the dogs, not the human) staring at him like they wanted to join him in razzle too. What woman needs three labradors? They were all (the dogs, and the human) fat. You know what a labrador is for? It’s for fetching game. What the hell are you doing with three labradors if you’re not going to play fetch with them? People have to be a special kind of stupid if they think they can just get a dog without letting it exercise in ways meaningful to the breed—and there are too many people like that.