Cynicism and Hope were entwined. They’d just made love. Cynicism lay a hand upon Hope’s breastplate, feeling the delicate web of nerve and bone that cage a heart. Each placid thump sent a wave of terrifying euphoria up Cynicism’s arm, pumping not blood but life through strange osmotic channels. I don’t want to hurt you, Cynicism said. Hope lay a hand to Cynicism’s cheek, grounding a circuit that fed warmth and light to each of them. ‘You could never hurt me,’ Hope said, ‘even with pain.’ They saw each other as though seeing themselves and said, ‘I need you.’
Arris looks right into my eyes and I shiver so hard I think I might die. ‘Are you ok,’ she says. I tell her I think she hit a nerve. I can feel her pressed against my being, strumming across my sinews like some cosmic harpist. The sound of a solitary droplet striking the surface of a subterranean spring. I quiver, don’t die, and listen to it resonate. ‘I can hear you thinking,’ she says, a tuning fork tapped against bone. Inside my skull, I say, I don’t doubt it, and she smiles wide enough to swallow me whole.