The Usual

You're late. God, take off that jacket. You're covered in blood. How'd it go?

The usual.

That good, huh?

Let's quit.

What?

I said let's quit.

Oh, yeah sure. I'll type up the resignation papers and our wills. Actually, never mind the wills. They'll just execute us, not the paperwork.

Okay, fine. Let's not quit. Let's just leave.

Leave what? Go where? What are you talking about?

I'm tired. I'm sick and tired.

You're sick in the head. Lie down. I'll get you some aspirin.

I'm sick of killing, and I'm tired of cleaning up afterwards. I'm sick of lying, and tired of covering up later on. I'm sick of the smell of blood and the pressure of holding things in and the fear that at any moment, some insignificant word or look will come back and kill us both, and I'm too tired to care that I don't care anymore.

Are you all right? What happened today?

Don't you ever get sick of keeping your game face on 24 hours a day? Don't you ever get tired of constantly watching people and trying to read their minds and hoping that you're smarter or sneakier or luckier than they are so that at the end of the day, you'll still be alive? Sometimes I get so sick of it all that I just want to throw myself into a river or gorge...somewhere deep and secret and safe. Just somewhere...away.

...so where would we go?

Somewhere. Anywhere. There's got to be placed out there where the Company doesn't have eyes.

Oh, sure. I hear the deepest, darkest heart of the jungle is nice this time of year.

Hey, free bananas.

Free crocodile attacks.

I'll get you a little monkey baby for a pet.

Oh, sure. I could teach it sign language so I'd have someone intelligent to converse with instead of just you.

Be nice.

I get grumpy in the heat. Oh, how about up North instead? We could build an igloo and fight over seals with the polar bears. Yeah, that sounds like a lot of fun.

We could go ice fishing in the afternoons.

I could put snowballs in your pants to wake you up in the mornings.

I hear that one night lasts for months at a time in the winter. Think of all that quality time together.

Have you heard that expression about hell freezing over?

I can see you standing on the ice, the ground frozen over for miles every which way you look, and the Northern Lights overhead, dancing over your skin. I heard that when the ice is really thick, it's this inexplicable, intense, ever-shifting color at the core. I bet it's the exact color of your eyes.

...so what happened today?

We could move to Haven.

Where?

Haven.

I've never heard of it.

No one has. It's this tiny little town in the middle of absolutely nowhere. It's so small that it's not even on the map. Hell, the nearest city isn't even on the map...that's how insignificant it is. I stumbled across it purely by accident a while ago.

...what's it like?

So typical it's like a storybook. You're born there, live there, and die there. The most advanced technological marvel in the whole town is a hand pump for the town well instead of their old bucket and rope.

So it's beef and potatoes and your sister's your momma?

No, not that bad. Your sister-in-law's your cousin, that's all. Some people move away and don't come back, and some people wander in and no one asks. It's a friendly enough place, but people mind their own business, you know?

Yeah, I know.

They're mostly farmers, and the most important man there's the owner of the General Store. The most popular man's the blacksmith, though. He gets all the gossip. People come to him with leaking kettles and broken hoes and they just sit around, baking in the sun and the dust, and chuckling softly to themselves so they don't scare the chickens that are milling around everywhere, laying eggs in people's gardens. Kids everywhere too, underfoot and under clothed, hunting for berries and eggs and interesting looking bugs. Scraped knees, dirty faces, and I've never seen kids so fat and happy.

...

We could go there. Move to Haven. I could trade for some land.

Buy some chickens.

Nah, I think they're community property. We could have a kid of our own, though...

...chubby little nose-miner might come in handy. All that egg-hunting would be a little rough for me every time I wanted an omelet.

Yeah...we'd have to get new clothes, though. No more suits. Cotton shirts and pants, skirts for you...wide brimmed straw hats to keep the sun off your face, and a big red handkerchief for me. Hobnailed boots and wool socks in the winter, and barefoot in the summer because the boots are an expensive commodity.

Pretty simple wardrobe. I could go for simple. Be a nice change.

Everything's simple there. Blue sky, gold wheat, hot sun, cold water. Snows in the winter, rains in the spring, burns in the summer, and windy in the fall. Even the people are simple. Down-to-earth and honest. There's nothing to hide from there. No politics, no lies, no masks or dances or games.

Sounds nice.

It is. In fact it's so nice that we shouldn't move there. Shouldn't ruin it. They'd find us. They'd find us someday. Ruin everything...

Maybe not. We could leave. We could pick up and leave and never look back. Move to Haven and adopt chickens and have a baby.

...tomorrow?

Sure. Tomorrow.

...okay.

So what happened today?

Nothing. It was nothing. The usual.

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