“This house is not the refuge,” it says, “I am the refuge.”
That much has been clear.
That is to say, he has had some clear intimation of this before.
It is looking at him.
The house is wet.
It is not difficult to tell as there is water running down the windows.
“Well,” it continues, “make of that what you will.”
It is not obvious if it is referring to the water going down the house or what it has just said.
It occurs to him that that it is trying to help.
Make of that what you will.
His heart feels like it is going to burst.
It is painful, even.
Outside it is not stormy for once.
Indeed things are perfectly still.
Against this context the house has taken on a new patter of feeling.
Looking out at the sun and the way the light moves over things, at the objects it touches, he feels a huge and sudden loneliness.
He has something important to say.
“In the end,” he says.
It is not clear if he is starting a sentence or ending one.
In fact he is not sure what he intended to say in the first place.
Nonetheless it appears to have caught something of his intent.
“In the last,” it says, looking out, at the water going away.
He thinks about this.
“I don’t know,” he says, because this is true. “I don’t understand.”
“You knew that people would go,” it says.
It says this without malice, without condescension, without any gesture of counsel, perhaps with concern.
He fumbles with the latch on the window and it opens, letting in air.
“I was thinking,” he says, and stops.
It has appeared to become a sudden habit, this stopping.
It is very good at that.
Unless he is misreading things, of course.
He used to worry about that possibility a lot but now it does not trouble him.
“I was thinking that this place can house more than two,” he decides, at last.
“Yes,” it says.
There might be something in how immediate the reply is.
In an absurd way, in an animal way, he feels sympathy for it.
That much cannot be denied.
It is grief-stricken.
What does one do in such a situation? What does one summon?
No rituals yet devised.
No rules that might speak clearly.
“I could open the door,” he says, “and see what comes in.”
It shakes its head.
Again he is at a loss.
Two crippled things.
“It is good,” he says finally, “to know that you are here. To know that you will abide.”
It is neither large or small.
It comes up to him and he puts a hand against its body, which is a fixed thing.
Its body is not warm or cold.
Instead it is like an extension of his own flesh, sharing an identical heat.
That is all that can be honestly said.
“I am with you,” it says, and it puts down its eyeless head.
He is silent.
“I am with you always,” it repeats. “Even unto the end of the world.”
It turns its head to him as if expecting some recognition.
“All worlds,” he says.
“Yes,” it says. “All worlds.”
He holds it.
This is not something he remembers doing.
Although maybe he has done this before.
That is only a passing thought.
He holds it and does not move.
Again a sudden sadness.
It is too much to demand that every lament have a cause and structure.
That thought occurs very clearly and brightly to him.
“You should know where my strength is,” it says.
The meaning of this is not entirely clear.
“You should know where my strength is,” it says. “I should tell you so that you will know.”
He says nothing.
“Small things,” it says, “breakable things.”
He is beginning to understand, in a dim way.
“It is when others look in and say, see how weak this thing is, see how easily it can be destroyed.”
A quiver, a line of rain moving the light.
“And it is there that things change,” he says. “Are made known to be different.”
It looks at him.
“Because there is no weakness there. You cannot be destroyed.”
He stops and speaks again: “Deception.”
“Hiding,” it says.
“It is true then, what I say about you.”
It looks at him and the thought occurs to him that maybe it is the one that is uncomprehending.
It gets up and goes to the window and looks out.
There is no storm today.
In fact outside a glinting spreads unheeded.
It looks back in, twisting around to do so.
“The truth of it does not matter,” it says.