Chapter 18:

Interlude 1

The Sequence of Kai

Click. Click. ClickBookmark here

The record has run its course, the music has stopped playing. All that’s left is the surface noise, the hollow sound of a record player trying to produce something that isn’t there. The only thing it can muster is those clicks.Bookmark here

Click. Another click.Bookmark here

Paul stands up from his desk. He always notices the music is gone after the fifth click, never a moment sooner. That’s because he’s barely listening to the music, it’s just background noise for him to write to, he can only be aware of its absence. Bookmark here

The needle clicks three more times before he reaches it.Bookmark here

He takes the needle off by the eighth click, a click faster than usual. He flips the record, drops the needle and returns himself to his desk. His routine is so set that he didn’t even think to ask me to flip it for him, even though I’m closer to the player. Bookmark here

The record in question today is Queen’s It’s a Kind of Magic. My Dad was a fan of their’s when he was alive. I was a fan when he was alive too. Not so much now.Bookmark here

~There’s no time for us~Bookmark here

The B side is starting with a fairly epic tone, a stark contrast to how the A side ended, a cheesy number about friends.Bookmark here

~There’s no place for us~Bookmark here

It isn’t my first time hearing this album but I’m more familiar with it as filtered through concrete walls by now. The lyrics being audible is a surreal, nostalgic experience.Bookmark here

~What is this thing that builds our dreams, yet slips away from us~Bookmark here

I take a look over at Paul. He’s as engrossed in writing in his little book as he ever is but right now, he’s relieved his left hand from his body, allowing it to tap lightly on his heavy desk to the beat of the song.Bookmark here

~Who wants to live forever~Bookmark here

~Who wants t- Bookmark here

“Stupid song.”Bookmark here

I flick the needle up off the record to stop it. I considered yanking out the cord but that wouldn’t have been quick enough, it would’ve left it with enough residual power to squeak out the end of that line.Bookmark here

“Kai, would you mind putting that back on please.”Bookmark here

Neither his pen nor his eyes lift from the page but his left hand has frozen mid tap, index finger glued to the oak, the middle suspended by a string.Bookmark here

“I would.”Bookmark here

“Something about it bother you?”Bookmark here

“It’s a stupid question don’t you think? Who wants to live forever, it’s a pointless query.”Bookmark here

His pen stops for a split second, I wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t looking for it. He can probably tell that I’m itching for an argument.Bookmark here

“The only pointless query is one that doesn’t have any worthwhile answers.”Bookmark here

“You think this one does?”Bookmark here

“I know what my answer would be. I’m pretty sure I know yours too.”Bookmark here

“Then what are they?”Bookmark here

“I don’t think either of us is too enthralled by the idea.”Bookmark here

“You think that’s an answer worth giving?”Bookmark here

The pen in his right hand comes to a halt, for the first time in months, I’ve said something that interests him enough to look at me.Bookmark here

“I’ll humour you, Kai, why do you think it’s not?”Bookmark here

“There are no worthwhile answers when it comes to impossible desires.”Bookmark here

“It’s not impossible anymore, you’re exhibit A.”Bookmark here

“Living forever may be possible but it’s still an impossible desire. It’s not something to aspire to.”Bookmark here

Paul doesn’t say anything, merely raising an eyebrow that says I should continue. I take the record from the record player and throw it up in the air.Bookmark here

“Imagine you had a record that had the potential to be infinite, if you could find a way to play it forever, it would never run out of new music to play for you.”Bookmark here

I catch the record just before it hits the ground. That makes Paul flinch a bit. I balance it on my index finger and give it a light spin before continuing.Bookmark here

“That’s just potential, isn’t it? You still need it to actually play forever for that to mean anything.”Bookmark here

I hover one of my nails just above the spinning record to imitate the needle of a player.Bookmark here

“You need to put it on something that will spin indefinitely, make sure it can’t be removed. Always have a needle on it so that it does in fact play. Both the player and the record need to be unbreakable also. Both the world and the individual.”Bookmark here

The record slowly comes to a stop, falling off my finger and cracking on the floor. I step on it to illustrate my point.Bookmark here

“You’re paying for that.”Bookmark here

“If you don’t have all of those things, it’s inevitable that the record will stop playing one day and from that point forward, it will become something that only had the potential once to be infinite. Nothing really is until after the fact.”Bookmark here

I pick up the shards of record from the floor and crush them further in my hand, being careful to not cut myself and hurt Paul as I do.Bookmark here

“This potentially infinite record, its relationship to a truly infinite record is much like the one my admirers have with me, much as they might want to think otherwise. They are records that have the potential to play forever, but eternity never ends, they’ll keep spinning in fear of their equal potential to die. I cannot die. I have no potential; I’ll spin whether I want to or not.”Bookmark here

I drop the minuscule pieces of record back to the ground.Bookmark here

“That’s the problem with these types of questions Paul. We can’t hope to ask questions of God, only the records he decides to spin. When one must eventually stop spinning, why bother asking if it wants to keep spinning forever? And if there was someone forced to live forever, why bother asking them if they want to die?”Bookmark here

Paul brings his hands together in front of his mouth to obscure it. For a couple of moments, he considers what he’s going to say with a furrowed brow.Bookmark here

“Are you still unhappy Kai?”Bookmark here

“What does that have to do with what I just said?”Bookmark here

“Let me turn the question back on you, do you want to live forever, Kai?”Bookmark here

“I have to.”Bookmark here

“But do you want to?”Bookmark here

“…. What’s your point? If I told you no, is there anything you could do about it? Anything anyone could do about it?”Bookmark here

“Neither of us are happy people Kai but we both know other people who were…. There are two answers to this question, what are they?”Bookmark here

“That you want to live forever or don’t.”Bookmark here

“Exactly, but for a second consider this. You are unhappy. Is it that you don’t want to live or is it that you want to die right now?”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

I can’t give him an answer because the truth is I don’t know. I don’t have a choice so it’s not something I’ve thought about before.Bookmark here

“There’s a lot of nuance to be found if you don’t dismiss these things out of hand Kai. There are hopeful and dire outlooks no matter the answer. Do you want to live forever? Yes, perhaps, if you’ve yet to find something to live for, you just need the time to find it. No, perhaps, if you’ve yet to find something to live for, you’re never going to find it because that something doesn’t exist.”Bookmark here

Paul returns his attention to his book, picking up the pen and continuing his writing from where he left off.Bookmark here

“So, I ask you again Kai, are you unhappy?”Bookmark here

“I probably am.”Bookmark here

“So do you want to live forever?”Bookmark here

“I don’t want to live forever; I’d rather die right now.”Bookmark here

“And why is that?”Bookmark here

“Because I don’t want to be the girl a millennium from now who has forgotten who she was, trying to remember why she wanted to die in the first place.”Bookmark here

Probably, she says.”Bookmark here

He chuckles to himself lightly.Bookmark here

“So why isn’t that pointless? I know I’m unhappy now, is that the point? I knew that before; I just didn’t want to say it.”Bookmark here

“Why didn’t you want to say it?”Bookmark here

“Well… because…”Bookmark here

“It’s because you haven’t given up on being happy yet, you can’t, can you? I don’t envy that. I gave up on it long ago but at least I have the solace of knowing when my pen runs out of ink, I can stop writing.”Bookmark here

He stops writing for a moment and looks up at me.Bookmark here

“You should focus on that Kai, if there’s still an avenue for you to be happy, you have forever to find it.”Bookmark here

His hand returns to the page. I have nothing to say to him. I don’t want to be happy. I don’t deserve it. I stand there for an age in silence.Bookmark here

….Bookmark here

……Bookmark here

But…..Bookmark here

…….Bookmark here

………..Bookmark here

The thought does occur to me….. Wouldn’t it be nice to be someone who wants to be happy? Wouldn’t it be easier? Bookmark here

It’s such a weak wish, to want to want something, even so, it’s not a wish I deserve.Bookmark here

“Why?”Bookmark here

“Hmmmmm?”Bookmark here

“Why would you say all that to me? What was the point? You could’ve just said it was pointless, couldn’t you? You’re unhappy too, you don’t see a way past that either, but you still mustered some bullshit defence of a meaningless question…. For what?”Bookmark here

“Because it’s only natural to want to see others be happy right? The ones we love? We know how hard it is to be unhappy, we wouldn’t want to wish that on those close to us.”Bookmark here

“And you want me to be happy?”Bookmark here

“Not for your own sake, I’m not too fond of you as a person Kai, you know that. But for some reason, my daughter is. If you’re going to be around her for any amount of time, I’d prefer if you were happy. She’s loved too many unhappy people up until now.”Bookmark here

“You want me to be happy… for Trish’s sake?”Bookmark here

“Of course. Have you ever tried making someone else happy when you yourself are not? It’s very hard, case in point, the conversation you and I are having right now. I’m not convinced either of us will walk away from it more fulfilled than we were beforehand.”Bookmark here

He dips his drying quill into his ink once more,Bookmark here

“But maybe the next person to ask you a stupid question will be happy.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.