22 June 2009 @ 03:11 am
The truth coiled on the floor between them in an errant patch of moonlight.
He wasn't certain what had woken him; some muffled mutter of Todd's, the faint echo out of a poet's dream, perhaps. Or had he dreamed himself, some vision forgotten in the moment of coming awake? Perhaps it had been nothing-- mere chance stirring him from his rest to stare at the bars of shadow across the ceiling, to stand and peer through the rimed panes at the slumbering campus.
His roommate shifted in the other bed, turning his face so the silver light fell across it, dead to the world. Neil smiled at nothing and knelt to retrieve the blanket, throwing it over Todd's sleeping form. Careful to cover his feet. The act was a joke, a conceit; but as soon as the thought formed in his mind he felt a shiver-- deep, seated at the base of his spine. The same chill he'd felt in the classroom; not cold but somehow somber, sacred. Visceral. He tried to remember Todd's poem, mouthing the lines voicelessly and coming up somehow short on his own-- what was it-- and his hands reach out and choke me, and all the while he's mumbling... the cadence caught in his throat at last, and he stood as still as granite, eyes shut, trying to commit it more perfectly to memory. The low, stumbling phrases; the boy's hesitance giving way to the rush of words, quicker and bolder with bitten edges and breaths between. He'd sat enraptured; it had been an unexpected outburst of beauty, something indescribably perfect and spontaneous. He'd suspected that Todd would do something amazing, eventually-- once his shell of shyness cracked, once he managed to eke out a space beyond the shadow of his brother's grand and smothering reputation-- but he'd been unprepared for the poem. Neil had been aware of the potency of the moment, the fact that something significant had happened. Truth. Truth.
The same urgent sense hung in the air now, conjured by the words he whispered to himself. They weren't his; belonged to the sleeping boy; but he made them his own in his own heart. It was what he was; an actor, a speaker; intoning others' phrases, imbuing them with enough of himself to evoke in the listener what he himself felt. He was a bit giddy; felt inhuman, insubstantial. A creature of mercurial light and smoke standing in the space between their lives, looking down upon them with ancient eyes. Something had happened; those words Keating had unleashed had changed their lives in a subtle and thrilling way.
A muddle of emotions welled up inside him, and he felt he might shout-- could not contain the pounding of his heart, needed to give voice-- if ineloquently-- to his certainties. He took a deep breath. He was quicksilver and wild; he was as he had always been and never dared to be.
Todd mumbled something in his sleep, nearly inaudible, and kicked his feet free of the blanket. His creased brow smoothed, and he settled back into stillness.

Neil laughed softly, and the moment faded; he was only a boy with cold bare feet on cold bare wood, clad in worn flannel pajamas. Yet somehow the fire did not go out of him; he took a slow, steady breath, eying the bars of light and shadow on the wall. Something important had happened; they had all been changed in an instant, irrevocably. Neil shook his head and slipped back into his own bed.
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