I am become the watcher.
I have been around the universe and back.
There is this limit, that there is just me, only one, and I am alone.
Each life as I encounter it becomes connected, I feel it, I feel them as if every life is a part of me, something visceral, something intimate. They touch me, I see them, see every fiber of their being, and I yearn to fulfill them even as I know I cannot.
I couldn’t, there are so many.
Take Zachary, Zack.
When I drop in on him the first time he is as a little boy. Cheeky grin and full of mischief. He has long tousled hair at this time and his mother dresses him in colourful dungarees and t-shirts. His eyes are as big as orbs and when he looks at her I can see her heart melt again for the little boy she loves so much. And it is this, that as anything that makes her a doting mother, as hard as she tries to be firm with him.
His brother, a careful observer of the world, is at the dining table, watching. A couple of years older, eight, I think, at this time, he is noodling around on his guitar, the strings sounding tinny. His amp is off out of consideration for the noise and bustle going on. He is called Timothy, and he has learned to watch his brother carefully.
Zack is being told off by his mother for drawing on the wallpaper again.
“I thought we agreed that you were too old for that now?” Zack looks her with puppy eyes.
“But it’s flowers,” he says disarmingly, “for you mummy.” I appear at the door and trick her into thinking she has known me for a long time. This is, however, my very first visit. The boys know this, and no power I have can disguise it. Zack is concentrating very hard on being endearing however, and dismisses his mother’s immediate familiarity with me as an anomaly. “Aren’t they pretty?”
“Yes, dear, but we agreed you’re too old to draw on the walls anymore, didn’t we?” Zack looks down, and when his face comes up, he has a big tear in the corner of his eye.
“Sorry, Mummy.” His lip trembles. But Mummy is firm.
“So if you’re really sorry, are you going to stick to our agreement and not draw on the walls again?” Zack twists his foot around on the ground and looks down again.
“Because Daddy’s going to decorate next week and we don’t draw on the walls anymore.” He mumbles.
“Come here,” she says, holding out her arms, “I love you. You have to stick to our agreements, but I love you.” He hugs her and wipes his eye. As soon as she releases him he runs over to Timothy and strums the guitar. Timothy’s young voice sounds firm but kind.
“No, Zack, I’m practicing, why don’t you get the drums so we can play together?” Zack looks at him, something undecipherable in the depths.
“Alright, in a minutes” He says. He turns back to his mother. “Can I have an ice cream pwease?”
“Of course you can darling.” An she opens the freezer and gives him an ice lolly.
“Mu-um!” Says Timothy.
“I haven’t forgotten you darling!” And she hands Timothy a lolly too. Timothy looks at it, and puts the guitar down. He opens the lolly and takes a careful bite out of it.
“Mum,” he begins again, talking around the coldness. “I was trying to say that you’re rewarding him for drawing on the walls again within a minute of telling him off.” Zack is off however, out in the garden munching industriously until the brain freeze comes. He lets out a wail like a siren and starts running around in a circle. Mum looks at this.
“Just desserts I’d say Tim.” Timothy shrugs.
“I got a lolly too.”
“Well there you go then.” She turns to me. “Sorry, tea?” I nod.
“I’m sorry to drop in unexpectedly,” I begin, but she waves this away.
“It’s fine, fine, we’re just here this weekend anyhow.” She has filled the kettle and put it on the stove, but the gas has not lit, so she sniffs and then stabs the spark button again, causing a huge flameout. The kettle begins it’s habitual and strange ‘tonk tonk tonk’ noise as the heat is applied.
“I need to take him for a while.” She nods.
“How long.” I can see some distress in her eyes, and I try to soothe it, but it’s too powerful even for me.
“A few minutes at most. It’ll be about a month.” She bites her lip and turns to the kettle and tea things. The cups come out of the cupboard smoothly, but I can see her hand shake when she reaches into the tin for teabags. Timothy walks into the kitchen.
“This isn’t for you Tim…” She begins, but there is a look in his eye that stops her. Tim always knows things. His empathetic field is powerful, but he is already closing his mind to the most egregious effects.
“Dad can hear you Mum. He knows you’re upset. He’s going to…” The phone rings.
“Yes, I know it’s you. Because it’s always you and you always say it’s you. What’s going on?” Clever, turning it back on him. Timothy watches and listens carefully. “No nothing’s happening. No, I’m fine. It’s time of the month, that’s all.” She clamps her hand over the mouthpiece for a second, “Shit.”
“No, I know it’s early but that’s just how it is. No don’t come home, you’re working. It’ll be fine. Yes, I’m sure. Yes, I’m sure I’m sure, now bugger off and let me get on, I’ve got the kids haranguing me here and you’re a distraction. Yes. Yes, I’m fine. Don’t fuss. Go, see you later. Yes, love you too.” She hangs up with a particularly firm press of the button.
“How does he even do that?” She looks at Tim. “How do YOU do that?”
“I know Dad very well.” I look at him pleadingly, my best “I’ll explain it later” look on my face and he goes back into the dining room and starts noodling around on his guitar again, his little fingers gripping the neck firmly as he strikes the strings. He is already experimenting with advanced techniques.
His mother looks at me, handing me the hot, sweet tea.
“I hate it when we do this.”
“I know,” I say, placing a hand on her shoulder, “but you it’s for the good of all right?” She nods. “I’m sorry, I am, but he’s special for this. Tim understands.”
“Does he?” I nod.
“His purpose is to know. One day his father will say the right words and his mind will open again, and he will know all things.”
“And what will he be then?”
“Your son, and you have raised him well, so he will be humble and great in equal measure. He does not desire power or wealth, only happiness.” Mum is crying freely now.
“I just want them to be happy.”
“I know, I know. But Zack, his restlessness comes from their father. He needs it. I need it. The Universe needs it.”
“I know, but it’s not safe, is it?” I sigh, knowing that I cannot lie about this, but I try to soften it.
“It’s as safe as I can make it.”
“But he might not come back?”
“That is true.” She turns away and reaches for some kitchen towel, and for a while there is only the sound of suppressed weeping. The Angel stands there in her tiny kitchen and cries into the tissues as if her heart is broken in two, and I stand knowing that she will give him to me because all of creation needs him. Zack is jumping around in the garden pretending to be a Jedi. We haven’t noticed the guitar has stopped again.
“Lady.” Timothy tugs on my skirt. “That’s my brother. You cannot take him without me.” I kneel down to look at him.
“That’s not up to you, son.” He is looking at me with his deep brown eyes.
“I think it is.” His hand moves to cup my chin.
“Timothy…” his mother begins, but he throws up an imperious little hand.
“Mum, you said I had to speak up when it was going wrong.” I go to stand, but he places a gentle hand on my shoulder, which somehow, I cannot resist. He turns to me again. “I’m going with him.” I shake my head slightly, but my will is gone as he looks at me. I realize my mistake too late.
He has not merely turned his eyes to mine, but the full power of his mind, and without knowing what he is doing fully, he is probing for my vulnerabilities, my weaknesses. I am helpless before him, if I’d time…
But you have all the time
…if I’d been ready…
But you could have made yourself ready
…if I’d known…
You couldn’t have known. I am the hidden one. My powers are manifest now, because I was chosen, this version of me, this one, I know absolutely who I am and that I belong here. I have no need for plaudits or glory because I am sufficient unto myself, because they raised me to be so. Their passion for me will never die, as it will not for him, but I am his brother, his sibling, his confidant. He has something I did not.
He has me.
I recoil internally in horror at his power, this child with his simple determination cuts through my defenses and into my mind with thoughts focused like a laser and in my mind, I must get up and run. It is futile, for wherever I run he is there, and his power comes pouring into me like an ocean.
Suddenly the little hand is lifted, and The Angel is holding it.
“Gently Timothy, be gentle.”
“Alright Mum. But I’m going too.”
“But I might lose both of you…” he holds his little hand up again.
“You won’t Mum. It’ll all be good.” And, like any good child, he puts his guitar away before arriving dressed for action, boots, strong trousers, t shirt, zip up hoodie.
There is Zack playing in the garden, and he is oblivious to anything else except his own internal world.
Timothy waits patiently for him to return. When Zack finally notices, he asks,
Timothy points up, straight up. “We have a job to do for this lady. It won’t take long.”
“Alright,” the little chap says, instantly placing his trust in his brother.
“It’s dangerous.” I nod at this. He looks back and forth between us. The Angel is standing in the kitchen doorway and Zack toddles over to her and gives her a hug.
“I love you Mum.” He says, simply.
“I love you too Son, be safe.” And she squeezes him tight, as it she might never see him again. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be ok.
I smile at The Angel. She manages a smile back, and Timothy holds up one hand as I grip the other firmly and form the Displacement Shell around us, and we vanish to the far reaches of the universe…
I have been using them thus, to calm the waters of the strangest of meetings, since they were born, about every six months, carefully taking them when their father is gone, because I cannot conceal it from him and her, so she suffers while I take them, and then I carefully redact her when I take them back. It does no harm, and their father’s doting view, that they are the true minds of power each in their own way, is somewhat justified. I think he does not know, but I can’t go near him to find out, lest he discover me. It’ll be easier when he’s a girl.
Heinlein was right, it’s hard to live with pantheistic multiple-ego solipsism, they might find out, and if they do, they’ll probably want to cross over.