Floating through the water in his tank, Abe moved from one novel to the next, carefully reading line after line. He was currently re-working his way through Leroux’s ‘Phantom of the Opera’, Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and Shakespeare’s ‘Henry V’. His newest read, the book on the end, was Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis and Other Stories’, though he had the déjà vu sense of having read it before.
This was most likely because Broom had read it before. The elderly gentleman, who was kind enough to turn the pages for him, left his own mind as open as these books. But then for Abe, everyone was like that. Their minds screaming at him more vociferous than any song, more enticing than any book.
He tried not to pry too deeply – not that it really could be helped – but he had to admit that sometimes people’s thoughts, their memories – were far more intriguing than any written word.
For example, Agent Clay’s constant woes about his looks – why someone so serious to the business of the BRPD worried about hair loss was beyond Abe – but then, not remembering ever even having hair of his own, he knew it would always be beyond his understanding.
Then there was Agent Lime, who often thought over his own particular brand of loneliness He had not had a date in two years and felt this would continue. He worried day in and out about not having any future family to look forward to.
Funny, to think a man would be so eager to settle down and have children as Agent Lime was, but then Abe had learned long ago not to believe stereotypes of gender.
A man could want a family and home life just as much as a woman could. A man could want commit. H.B. was a perfect example of that. Abe swam over to Austen’s book and read another line, chuckling to himself and shaking his head, “Ah Mr. Darcy…will you never learn?”
Out of the books before him, he had a fondness for Austen’s characters; they reminded him of many people he knew, but then Leroux’s work…
He floated over to the bookstand holding ‘Phantom of the Opera’. Now this was more befitting to H.B., and more importantly, his situation with the lovely Liz. Abe had a fond place in his heart for Liz as well, but no where near as fond as H.B.. Abe sighed and tiny bubbles floated through the water, filtering about him.
Sometimes it grew quite frustrating. Being who he was and having the powers he had and yet to be in this tank, behind glass…locked away…
He read these books and knew these things and yet he never wanted to pry and stick his non-existent nose into other people’s business. But when he read H.B.’s mind, even filtered through Liz’s…
He’d never come across two people more star-crossed, more meant for each other and how little they knew of it astounded him. H.B., of course in his pining, had an idea, but Liz, sweet Liz, was still the same lost little girl she’d been years ago when she’d leveled over a city block with her powers…
But Abe knew he had no right to tell her, to tell H.B., to give criticism or advice or anything…he could, but he chose not to. Some things needed to be learned on their own, given time to come out naturally and fulfill their course. Such was the situation with H.B. and Liz, such as it was with the Phantom and Christine, though Abe certainly hoped H.B. and Liz’s problems ended much more happily ever after.
And in truth, Abe knew some of his reluctance to help stemmed from his own jealousy. Though he was loathed to admit that, even to himself, but then every now and then the mind reader had to turn his own ability inward, did he not? Had to pull out his own dark subconscious…
He was jealous. Jealous of what H.B. and Liz shared, what more they could share if they were honest, the possibilities that lay before them…
Yes, H.B. was not human like Liz, he could not offer her normalcy but he could offer her love and happiness and…they had a chance.
Abe saw no chance for himself. Though not as heartsick with this as Agent Lime, Abe could admit to himself from time to time that deep inside he worried over his own lonely future.
He did not have a Liz.
And most likely, he never would.
Instead he would continue his life day in and out in his tank reading book after book, four at a time, words he’d seen before and others he had not…
And he’d continued to be locked out from people emotionally and yet be drawn in deeply by their open, screaming thoughts.
Abe sighed and shook himself, executing a quick somersault in the water to stir his mind, chase away these depressing thoughts. There was no reason to envelop himself into the darkness of self-introspection.
Yes, his future may not offer a love life but he should not look down on his books. He should not even look down on other’s thoughts. Because, through books and others, he could live many different lives, be many different people. And he supposed in that way he was blessed.
After all, what was more thrilling than not just living one unique lifetime but thousands? This perked him up slightly and he chose to settle in front of Kafka’s book for a while, deciding to focus on something new and different.