Unctuous – Shattered loved the way William said this word; one of the many words he used to describe Marin: sophisticated, shallow, complicated, hallucinatory, saponaceous, glossy, peaceful, polished… Shattered loved the way William spoke. Shattered loved everything about William. As the day turned to twilight, they sat on the couch in the tall building, in-between the lifting fog and he high, scarlet red sky. The disc of the sun, obscured but visible, began to fall into the Pacific. Facing west. The ocean. After two hours of conversing with William about Marin, life in Marin, his new life in Marin, Shattered laid his head in William’s lap. William’s dark, long fingers rubbed Shattered’s almost alabaster white forehead. “Where are we?” he uttered, eyes closed.
“At The Smithson Institute.”
Shattered opened his eyes. “This place is named after… Mar?”
“Yes, that’s correct. You really don’t know much about her? I keep forgetting that you wouldn’t because I forget what time-reference I am in. I mean, after several… After several temporal inversions, one begins to forget when when one is. I know… This makes no sense at all. These temporal paradoxes give me a headache; they are Marianne’s specialty though. So I’ll let her explain, or try to.”
“So I existed in the future? With you? Already? And now we are meeting before we became lovers? You probably already know this, but I am, or have been, primarily attracted to women; I was surprised when I found myself so… what’s the word? Visceral. Yes, so viscerally attracted to you. And Mar, damn, I knew she was smart; she taught me everything. I learnt mathematics, history, all she could teach me; the people in Park have no idea; I had no idea, even being… like a son to her.”
“Marianne left here and she did not want to take it with her. That’s all I know. And as for you…” William, smiling, lightly pressed his index finger against the tip of Shattered’s nose, “Yes, you exist in the future. And yes, we are… well, I am not sure how much you want to know. I mean, you obviously want to know everything, but what would you – the you I am merged with – want me to tell you, the you you are now?”
“Merged? Is that some form of bonding ritual in the future?”
“Something like that… Listen, let’s wait for Marianne to return. For now, could we just enjoy the moment?”
“Enjoy the moment, I have heard that phrase before from some of the older folks in Park. It’s strange, we don’t say things like that there; perhaps because everything is so slow that we view time differently. It still moves, but slowly, without the rush that’s here, or what I have read of pre-calamity industrial societies.”
“Yes, those societies, and even here, operated or operate on maximizing the efficiency of time. Time management as they used to call it. They even had whole classes dedicated to it back before the calamity. People managing their time to make money to manage their time to manage their money to make more time for making money! It was a madness. You see, what you have at Park is special. It’s precious. The ban on electronics, the proximity to Marin, have given a social organism the opportunity to organize itself collectively yet independent of… The inevitable consequences. Once one passes through the harnessing of electricity for daily use that’s it; once a group of people begin to alter their lives around artificial light, there is no way of going back…”
“Unless there is a solar mass ejection that wipes that all away? But then some people managed to keep their technology underground, or protected and they have a kind of strange hegemony over the rest of us.”
“Precisely. But you must not envy them. The people here are happy, yes; but many, a significant minority, are, or were, not. There are thousands living in virtually constructed fantasies, so real they feel like…” William rubbed his hand under Shattered’s shirt and felt his nipple. “This.” Shattered’s blood flowed to his penis. He felt it grow harder than he could ever remember.
“Well, that does feel fucking real. May I kiss you?”
William laughed, “Yes, or course!” He slid over and the sofa, with a glide of his hand, turned entirely horizontal. Face-to-face, they lay side-by-side. Shattered approached William’s lips slowly. William kept his head in the same spot. Shattered wanted to tell William he trusted him; Shattered wanted William to know this with his body. Their lips met; their mouths merged into one flesh. Their bodies grew closer. They kissed like this for several minutes. Then they took off their clothing. Their naked bodies, slightly sticky and sweaty, touched again and again. Their erect penises caressed each other. The night came. At the same moment that William came inside Shattered, Shattered came on William’s chest. Sleep came. The morning came.