#152 Being Born

by Rafael Hernán Gamboa

The man was lost, that much was clear. Rory watched him curiously from across the room, propped against the two-way mirror and wreathed in the smoke of her cigarette. He was looking around, dazed, like he’d caught a whiff of laughing gas.

“I wasn’t here a moment ago.”

Rory frowned. “You’ve been here for two hours.”

“This happened a long time ago. Didn’t it? I don’t understand why it feels like . . . like I’m here.”

“That’s because you are here. Where do you think you should be?”

“Where I was.”

“Where was that?”

He traced a finger along the edge of the table in front of him, rapped a knuckle against its surface. He shook his head, slowly and with effort. “This isn’t right. It’s different.”

“When did things change?”

“I don’t know. It’s so confusing.” He clutched his head tightly, wincing. “My head hurts, God it hurts. What did they do to me?”

Rory straightened. “Who’s they?”

“The ones that took me up.” He pointed upwards, swirling his finger. “They did something to me. Changed me.”

“How did it feel?”

“Like being shrunk. Stretched out. Like they were unwrapping me.”

“What did you see?”

“Colors. Shapes.” He smiled. Drool dribbled down his chin. “I felt like a baby. Like being born.”

“And how do you feel now?”

“I feel . . . unglued.”

“From what?”

“Everything.” He looked at her then for the first time, grinning––and a crawling shiver stilled her breath. There was nothing in his eyes. Nothing at all.

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