At first glance the hexagons look man-made. They aren’t. It’s eerie when one way of thinking oozes into the other, and the hexagons occupy that substrate of the in-between. Many people report dread as the main emotion felt while looking at them, post-1978. In 1978, a man disappeared after completing a complicated ritual. He probably just drowned, he probably wasn’t accepted into his own private sky haven, but the lost souls are convinced. This is the job: protect the hexagons from those who come here to die amongst them. There are three subdued tour groups and then no one else is supposed to get past the fence. The hexagons don’t need the blood of the weak and insecure and easily confused.
Coming along was the only option because we were in love. That’s what you do when a Lee comes up to you, flush-faced and excited, an opportunity to make some money and work on a few projects and have something potentially interesting to include in our dinner party patter. Every time I think back to that optimistic yes I returned after his volley of excited babble, I realize I had the option to be sane, but opted out, like deliberately letting go of a helium balloon outside.
It already looks like the end of the world from my window. Superflu or alien culling. Just me and Mirah left. She’s the only voice I hear all day other than my own, and after that it’s just waves crashing. If I try to hear anything else, it feels like I’m trying to activate a long dormant superpower, like there has never been anything other than hearing her jaw pop even when she’s in the other room.
He has that look on his face again. Looking out the window, searching, finding nothing. If I went over there and shook him until his neck broke I don’t think he would make a sound. That’s how quiet. He sighs like an imp suddenly sat on his chest, and I almost go to hug him but I don’t know what that might turn into. So instead I leave the room and lay down on our bed and tremble with the energy I want to give him. I wish I had brought something to do besides read and study. I don’t remember why I thought this would be like vacation.
When I play the film of moving in on my phone, I realize I didn’t focus on Mirah, I just focused on the rooms. She can’t believe this is all ours, and I’m repeatedly agreeing with her. It’s so huge, I know, there are three bedrooms, I know, someone stocked the fridge, I know. I can tell I’m smiling while I say I know because I deliberately played it down, this place. I wanted for her to be surprised. I keep playing it back seeing if there’s some moment I recorded that shows when the change occurred.
Lee has only said 9 words to me today so far. Hi. So. Okay. Yes. Maybe. I’ll think about it. It’s only 7pm. He hasn’t done anything else, either, I know he didn’t turn a page of that book and he was supposed to fix the iPod and he never did, he probably can’t and won’t admit it to me. That’s fine, I can have fun without him. I’m an Only Child. I’m practicing entering and exiting rooms. Sexy. Desultory. Lazy. Bemused. Like I have bad news. Like I have good news. Like Lee’s best friend died and he just got a facebook message from him since the account was hacked. I’m practicing with double doors when I find the Go Bag (For One) in the closet with the good throw-open handles.
If I tell Mirah to stop with the door closing, then I’ll have to use more than 10 words for today. I shouldn’t have told her I would think about getting a dog. She didn’t seem like she would like it if I just said no, like I wanted. I don’t know when the rationing started, but I’ve used 90 words this week, which is less than Green Eggs and Ham. Not in a box, not with a fox. The game is easier than working on anything real, like the books I brought about presidents, or coding for that website.
After I pour out the entire bag of pseudo-military detritus, I find a gun – a flare gun. There’s a little tag with directions, the document title in red letters: TO CALL FOR HELP. I put it back into its velcro strap. Lee didn’t tell me he was ready for the world to end. I repack and pull on the bag and start to leave the room like I have bad news but stop. Where would I be heading? The hexagons? I sit down, pull out a bag of uncooked pasta, inside of which there’s another bag labeled “dehydrated tomato sauce”. Out comes the tiny grill and sterno I saw earlier. I take the collapsible pan to the bathroom and fill it from the sink, the fidgeting socked-toes of Lee in the living room on my periphery.
The end of the game of Limits is when Mirah finally asks if I’m playing a game with words, and then I can surprise her with how little we have to talk to get by. I think she’ll be interested. Maybe she’ll laugh. She’s been so quiet that it’s a wonder we ever used to talk. We’ve gone from barrels to teacups.
The pasta doesn’t taste terrible. It’s actually nice and hot, and it’s good to eat near the open window, with the sea breeze hitting my face while the steam warmly licks the roof of my mouth. I finish, and the feeling doesn’t last. I just feel angry. I go back to pull out the flare gun.
The flare sizzles through the open door and then explodes into our living room, the room bright and violent like we are watching a very short action movie.