Monday June 22
Naveed watched his feet
Clumsy now, uncoordinated,
Stumbling over the slightest obstacles.
The library sidewalk beneath them,
Flecked with shining minerals,
Sparkled like an inverted night sky:
He walked across a field of stars
Disoriented, he looked up
But kept his head angled low,
Shading his eyes under the hood of his sweatshirt
The library's steel angles flashed in the sun
Isaiah stood atop the hill, in the eaves
They crisscrossed around him
Like metal twigs in a giant nest
Blackbeard and Isaiah were speaking as Naveed approached,
But he couldn’t listen.
First had to catch his breath again
Which now was impossible.
He sat on the sidewalk, holding his head,
Throbbing everywhere, heart fluttering,
Breathing breathing breathing.
One of his bandages had fallen off.
His wrist was swollen and seeping.
He pulled the sleeve of his sweatshirt down to cover it.
Isaiah crouched next to Naveed.
Blackbeard had left.
Naveed realized No-Teeth hadn't followed,
People streamed in and out the library doors,
But no one even looked at them.
They were homeless.
They were invisible.
You all right, son? Isaiah asked.
What happened to you?
Naveed spoke as quickly as he could before he blinked out and forgot everything.
Isaiah tell me what you saw that day
You must have seen
We parked right across from you
I didn't see nothing, Isaiah said.
I was just selling papers.
What happens to other people's cars ain't none of my business.
Naveed persisted. No, you had to!
I know it was her
A lady with blond hair blue eyes—
Isaiah shook his head. No, it wasn't—
He stopped. Like I said. I didn't see nothing.
Naveed pressed his forehead into his knees.
He was losing the thread again.
He kept seeing stars.
He talked faster, more desperately:
I have to prove it’s a lie
Because if I don’t Cyrus is in trouble and Roya—
Roya will have to grow up alone
Without our parents
She's still so little, and she’s special,
She sees how it’s all connected,
My parents get that but not everyone does
It would kill her to lose them
and our home
the walnut tree
I won’t let them take it all away—
Isaiah held up his hand, lowering his voice.
Okay, so I saw your car pull up that morning.
I saw you get out.
Saw your sister, too.
Most people act like they don't see me,
But she noticed.
Gave me the sweetest smile.
Highlight of my day.
All right, you should know.
I saw him do it.
Guy in a brown uniform,
Looked like he worked there or something,
Jimmied open the trunk,
Put a duffel bag inside,
Went back into the building.
When the SWAT team showed up, I got the hell out of there.
Naveed struggled to keep up. Why didn't you tell the police?
I got my reasons, Isaiah said.
Besides, they'd never believe me.
The man, what did he look like? Naveed asked.
Isaiah started talking again,
But Naveed was slipping.
All he heard was tattoo and neck
He could picture the face,
But he couldn't remember the name.
He doubled over as a cough shook through him again
and then there was nothing
nothing but the blinding
breath he couldn’t find
The city dissolved
Noise dampened as if snow had fallen
But this silence was not peaceful
It was the sound
Naveed walked now across a wide grassy meadow
Where Brooke waited in a white dress
It made perfect sense:
This was a performance, all a performance
Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing
No, no, wrong play
People watched, faceless in the shadows,
Waiting for him to speak his lines
Finally he remembered, turned to Brooke and recited:
If thou lovest me then,
Steal forth thy father’s house to-morrow night;
And in the wood… there I will stay for thee.
The scene shifted:
Now a black lake
Loomed behind them
Next to Naveed, balanced on a stump:
A glass platter of coconut cake
Before him: Brooke, inside the dark cave of a hollowed-out tree
In her palm a single fig, ripped in half
She offered it to him
Held it to his lips
Beautiful or terrible
He didn't know which
She smiled and he couldn't say
If it was more like a sunrise
Or a sunset
To-morrow truly will I meet with thee
Wind rushed in
Her dress blew all around his face
He couldn't see
Through the thick white fabric
He clawed at it
(a gulp of breath)
Tore it away
It became a scrap of paper in his hand
And one word was written there
He was back in the dark
The only light came through a square window
(not her don't think of her)
(you have to remember his name)
Someone had tied him up
The guard with the turkey tattoo
His name was...
Naveed opened his eyes
Isaiah above him now,
Saying in his loud voice something about a phone,
Could he use someone's phone,
But no one even turned to look
At the yelling homeless man
Naveed grabbed Isaiah's arm.
His Zane is name
No, his name
Zane it was Zane
But the lady who took us, her name's Dr. Snyder—
You have to tell—
He was out of breath, couldn't finish
Isaiah looked confused
Naveed wasn't sure he was making sense
But he was done.
Eyes closing again.
Isaiah had vanished.
Two new faces glared
Four hands frisked him
Jerked him upright
All he could see was the logo on their black uniforms:
enclosing a stalk
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