Sunday, November 07, 2004

Chapter 11

Seamus shut the book at that point, and tied the leather fastener in a double knot. Then he shoved the book deep in the back of one of his dresser drawers and lay back down on his bed, trying to collect his thoughts.

He didn't know what precisely had happened just then. Clearly, he had been inside The Life of Pi in some sense, but it wasn't clear how. Had it been a hallucination? Had it been real? What would "real" even mean, if the story was fictional to begin with? Was it real in the sense that he could have been physically injured by the hyena or the sharks, or could he have simply woken up from it, as from a dream, safe and sound? On a different level of reality, would someone reading that scene in The Life of Pi at that exact moment have seen an extra sentence or two, where Pi has a brief vision of a strange new person on the lifeboat with him?

And then, regardless of the reality of it all, where did this even come from? The book had asked "Do you know what you can do?" Did that mean that this power was somehow inherent in him? Or was it something the book contained, to be accessed by anyone? Was it triggered by writing, reading, or merely thinking? Could it happen with books he hadn't read? There were just so many questions.

Seamus was too shaken and, let's face it he thought, outright scared, at the time to try to figure it all out. He looked around his room. The journal was safely hidden away, but the rest of his books were everywhere, as usual. For once in his life, he didn't want to be anywhere near them. Who knew what could happen?

He left his room and headed outside, hoping a walk would clear his head. He went downtown but avoided the bookstores he usually frequented. Instead, he spent a while at the Apple Computer store, drooling slightly over the new iPods and wishing he could afford to upgrade. The new models even had a feature that would speed up spoken word audio slightly, so you could get through audio books faster. Seamus felt an initial excited interest when he saw that feature listed, but it quickly soured as the mention of audio books reminded him of what he was trying not to think about. He left the store and went down the street to the Sprint PCS store to look at camera phones instead, not that he could afford a new cell phone, either, of course.

He got a Subway sandwich for lunch and then spent the afternoon on the Stanford campus. He liked it there – it was a beautiful place to walk around, even in winter. He visited the Rodin and Papua New Guinea sculpture gardens, took a turn around Lake Lagunita, and meandered along the paths of the arboretum on his way back downtown. Still avoiding going home, he went to the Stanford Theatre to watch Arsenic and Old Lace, figuring there's nothing like a good laugh to distract the mind.

When he finally got home, his room appeared the same as ever. He checked his dresser drawer, pushed aside a few t-shirts and saw that the book was still safely tucked away. He left it there.


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