The Conversation

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“How did you think it was going to end?”

“I–I don’t know, I thought maybe–”

“Well, it ended badly.”

A silence hangs between the two for a moment. The first speaker is dressed in black with few other details that stick in your mind. Even your eyes tend to wander off him and look elsewhere. The second speaker is a late-to-middle-aged man with unremarkable features and a clueless expression on his face.

“It ended badly?” the Second Speaker asks tentatively.

“Yes,” the Speaker in Black nods, “After all, it started with you naked, covered in blood, and kicking and screaming, so why would you think it ended any different?”

The Second Speaker nods. He is still trying to process all of this.

“Well, let me remind you,” the Speaker in Black sighs. Lots of his clients were slow to understand the contract’s terms.

***

Light. Cold. Pain. Noise…

The baby bursts out into the world screaming. It’s first sound piercing the veil between unborn and born, as its eyes open and the world’s harsh light blinds it.

The baby falls quiet and blinks, taking all of this in. A silence hangs in the air for a moment before it starts screaming again.

“It is naked, covered in blood, and kicking and screaming,” the Speaker in Black points out the obvious, “and it is you.”

The Second Speaker nods, absorbing this. It is strange to watch your own birth.

***

“Mummy,” the little boy asks, just before his mother turns the lights off, “please don’t turn the light off. I don’t like the dark.”

His mother smiles. The boy does not see it, but she has a strange expression on her face.

“My love, don’t be scared,” she reassures her child, “The darkness can be your friend too, if you let it.”

A silence hangs between the two for a moment.

“Besides, I’m in the other room and I’ll never let anything happen to you,” she quickly adds, strengthening her argument.

The door closes. The darkness surrounds them and the boy rolls over.

“That was the night before your parents divorced,” the Speaker in Black notes as a fact, “And it was the last time you were afraid of the darkness.”

The Second Speaker turns and is about to say something, but then the scene changes.

***

The young couple are half dressed as they join in the back seat of a drive-through. The windows are half-steamed up as the cosmos twinkles far above the carnal scene.

“I remember this,” the Second Speaker says, “This was when I lost my virginity.”

An awkward moment hangs between them where they try not to make eye contact. The young man’s naked bottom is partly visible through the steamy car window as the car gently rocks up and down.

“I regret bringing us here,” the Speaker in Black mumbles, looking away sheepishly, “But you never married her and that is kinda of the–you know, whatever.”

***

A young man is dancing wildly while laughing. And then he is screaming. Before this, the snow is gently falling as they walk under the night sky towards the hidden cave. He is naked dancing wildly there.

The scene blurs and the Second Speaker turns around, still perplexed, and asks, “Why did you show me that? It makes no sense. I lived those moments, and I did not need reminding.”

The Speaker in Black shakes his head slowly. Some of his clients needed more reminding than others.

“Watch it closely again,” he says, and the scenes start up again.

***

Light. Cold. Pain. Noise…

The baby bursts out into the world screaming. It’s first sound piercing the veil between unborn and born, as its eyes open and the world’s harsh light blinds it.

The baby falls quiet and blinks, taking all of this in. A black-robed man holds the baby above him as the wicked congregation mutters incantations around them. The candles flicker and the darkness creeps a little closer.

And then mother returns from tucking in her young boy in the next door room. She drops her loose clothing as she walks to the middle of the circle where the High Priest is waiting for her. The other witches all creep forward full of lust, just as the front door opens and her husband walks in early from work.

The car rocks gently back and forth as the young man takes advantage of the drugged girl. Her head rolls limply back and forth as he unleashes his carnal desire on her innocent form.

The Second Speaker gasps. He knows that the girl gets dropped off in a field outside a bar, but he wonders why he could not remember that before. He knows what comes next, or–more terrifying–he is now starting to remember how this ended.

“It ended badly,” he whispers.

“Yes,” the Speaker in Black agrees, “It ended badly.”

In the hidden cave, he is naked and dancing wildly before a flickering fire. The drugs all flowing through his body. He is smeared with the blood of the crumpled body in the corner–some hitchhiker they picked up–and is laughing at the power he feels in his mind. His naked, wicked girlfriend stalks up lithely behind him, silver glinting in her hands.

He does not see the knife slip into his back, but he sees his blood as it pumps his life into the ground at his feet.

She is stabbing him again and again, as he falls down, screaming, naked and covered in blood.

***

“It ended badly,” the Second Speaker repeats, a look of comprehension setting across his face, “because how else could that end? How else could my life have ended? It was terrible.”

“Exactly,” says the Speaker in Black, “But it isn’t your fault. It isn’t anyone’s fault. It just is. Life and then death. That is the contract.”

The Second Speaker looks up and narrows his eyes, “And that’s it? That’s all? You live and then you die?”

“Yes,” says the Speaker in Black, nodding, “By its very nature, life is finite. You did not choose to be born, nor to die. All you got was the time between those events.”

There is a silence between the two of them. Eventually, the Second Speaker sighs and nods.

And they both disappear.

***

“How did you think it was going to end?”

“I–I just thought that–”

“Well, it ended beautifully.”

The first speaker is dressed in black with few other details that stick in your mind. Even your eyes tend to wander off him and look elsewhere. The second speaker is an elderly woman with greying hair and caring eyes.

“It ended beautifully?” the Elderly Woman asks tentatively.

“Yes,” the Speaker in Black nods, “After all, it started surrounded by those that love and care for you, how else did you think it would end?”

The Elderly Woman nods. She is still trying to process all of this.

“Let me remind you,” the Speaker in Black sighs. Lots of his clients were slow to understand the contract’s terms.

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