“What happens now?”
I know the guy standing next to me better than he thinks. We’ve never met. Not face-to-face. We’ve bumped into each other a few times. Or rather, I’ve bumped into him. I can be subtle when I want to be. Until now, we haven’t spoken. Strictly speaking, he still hasn’t.
No, I’m not a stalker. This guy might disagree, but since he doesn’t know how long I’ve been watching him, he probably won’t.
So here we are. At the edge of a cliff at midnight. Wind screaming at our backs. Black skies above us. Infinite sea beneath our feet. “Any ideas?”
The guy shakes his head.
“Are you crying?”
The man wipes his face but the tears have already dried leaving salt stains on his cheeks.
“We can’t stand here forever.” It’s a stupid thing to say, but he’s not moving. I’m just stating a fact. He must know we can’t stand here forever.
His hands clench into tight, hard fists like he’s holding onto the only thing he’s ever loved.
“Why are you here, anyway?” I ask. Another stupid thing to say. I’m full of it today. Of course I know why he’s here.
The guy shakes his head again. He’s normally so talkative. Just a few moments ago, shouting and ranting all the way, he blew up a school and killed 22 kids.
I rest my hand on his shoulder. “I actually do know what’s going to happen next.”
For the first time, he turns to me.
The terror etched on his face makes him look more like a child than the young, battle-hardened man he thinks he is. I see it a lot. Fear strips people of the stories they tell themselves. When someone has been seen for what they really are, they understand there’s no reason to lie or hide. They become honest. It’s a beautiful moment.
The man stares at me. I don’t blame him. The hooves and the tail and the horns are a bit much. But I like the theatre.
“Anyway,” I tap his shoulder. The man flinches. “Like I said, I actually do know what happens next. I’m just curious to know if you do.”
(NOTE TO WRITERS: I’m really enjoying Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Writing approach. Her instructions are to set a time limit, start writing and don’t stop. I committed to writing for 60 minutes after breakfast this morning. Crazy words came out and an odd story about one of my dogs. Then this little idea surfaced and developed into The Stalker. I like the notion of the devil stalking souls. Goldberg suggests that when you write whatever comes out of your head without hesitating, you eventually get out of your way and write what you really want to write. It’s a daily practice.)