ficus no. 2

He looked around the room with a sigh, as if to assess the situation. She was sitting on her bed wrapped in a tartan blanket and side-eyeing him like a dog who chewed up a carpet when their human hasn't been watching. It was a sunny day, and the pastel colours of her place could suggest serenity if it hadn't been for the shadows around her eyes and a puffiness he was already familiar with from previous encounters. There were children's books scattered on her bed, her laptop rested right next to them displaying several tabs of football match moments on YouTube and "Mrs. Robinson" was blaring out of small speakers in a corner. Apparently, the player was put on loop because the song ended and began again right away. Dust particles were dancing in the air to the music.

He drew a deep breath and she watched him with the same guilty expression. "So?" he finally said with a huff, crossing his arms and leaning against a shelf. She shuffled in her tartan. "I'm fine," she replied and it sounded very much like a threatened porcupine raising its quills. His mouth twitched a little to almost show a half-smile, almost. "Yeah, sure you are. Determined, working on your life, focused on all the great things to come, aren't you." He knew he sounded harsh, but he also knew that it was exactly what she needed - anything more pitiful and compassionate would have her throw a fit, probably, or worse - burst into several minutes of crying she'd be utterly embarrassed by at the end of the day.

"I am." she said, almost offended. "Well, I'm getting there." He did not bother to keep a straight face anymore, raising his eyebrows and grinning widely. "Interesting, I'm just at a loss a little here - what could anyone possibly be up to with a bunch of kid's books, football and late 60s folk rock..? Is that film script inspo, or performance art..." She rolled her eyes, and he mentally ticked the situation as a point past any imminent moments of hysteria. He was a master of his art. Any art actually, and he knew that she knew. "It's therapeutic," she said. "I'm having a bit of a... I'm... You know. Life, and shit." He picked up one of the books, and turned it to read the summary. "You're blanking everything out again, aren't you." She looked out the window.

And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know.

"Yeah. I need it. It's getting too much again. I need a break. I've felt out of place again, and so alone. I need it." He nodded absently. She watched him. The otherworldliness would never leave him, whatever exactly it was. He put the book back where it was.

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

"What's up with the football videos?" He sat down on the bed, too, and cautiously picked up her slim, small laptop, clicking through the tabs. "I had no idea you were into that?" She shrugged. "I'm not. Not really, at least. I like some aspects of it. These people dedicate their entire lives to it. It's a physical thing, and this physical thing extends to a mental thing. They're so upset when they lose. They're literally children. It's like watching children react to something, and they're so happy when they win. Just look at that." On the screen, the national team just scored the first goal three minutes before the final match would be over. The boys were beaming already - exhausted, sweating, barely able to run, but so, so happy. "It's so untainted. Primal, almost, because they're too drained to pretend, too weary, and too emotionally invested. So I'm borrowing some of that happiness." Their eyes met briefly and she felt a dizziness return, as always when that happened. She gave up on trying to understand why. "And the books are a time travel, aren't they." A sad nod from her. He looked at her for a minute or two, like someone conducting an experiment, waiting for two chemicals to react. They didn't.

Hide it in the hiding place where no one ever goes.

"And the song?" he asked finally, playing around with the hem of the tartan blanket. Her reaction was a barely noticable shrug. "Though there's a funny story to it," she said, "years ago my sister bought a CD from some buskers in Italy, and they had covered that song. I was only 12 or so, and I absolutely loved it. I had no idea it wasn't theirs, and the most hilarious thing is that it said 'amplification prohibited' on the disc, and I didn't know English well enough back then to understand what it means, so I had absolutely no doubts that it was the band's name. I literally only realised why they wrote it on there years later, when I stumbled across that CD again." He beamed at the thought, and she at the memory. "You can file that under time travel, too, I guess." Her features hardened.

Look around you all you see are sympathetic eyes, stroll around the grounds until you feel at home.

He didn't say anything, still looking ahead pensively and now she looked him up and down. Quite the sight, frankly. "You know," she nudged him in the shoulder, "I wish I could paint. You'd make a superb subject." He looked her right in the eyes, and there it was again, the vertigo. "A friend of mine is a painter, I think I will pay him to track you down and follow you around for a week, and make a series of portraits without you noticing." He smiled. "So much effort." "So worth it," she replied. The song went into the chorus for a billionth time that day. He got up, took her hand and almost dragged her off the bed, so unexpectedly that she lost her blanket and almost fell over her slippers on the ground. "Come on," he said, swirling her around, dancing a few steps. In her vision, the room started swirling too, again.

Koo-koo-ka-choo, Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know.
God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson. Heaven holds a place for those who pray.
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

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