Marisol turned to look at Jack then David. She smiled big and clapped her hands back at the woman.
“You don’t know all of our names! I was gonna say we haven’t even introduced ourselves.” She pointed to Lilian first, then went around the circle. “Lil. Davey. Jack and me, Marisol,” she ended with her thumb pointing back at her chest and bright.
Marisol had sparkling white teeth and smiled often. She also had big almond eyes outlined in black so she had an Egyptian oligarchy air about her. When she walked, it was on tiptoes, sort of bouncing. When she spoke, she gestured to the air a lot. The two women sat directly across from each other. When she bent over, the stranger could see Marisol’s cleavage. The stranger made no attempt to engage with her flirtations nor did she try to understand them.   Holding her goblet protectively, the stranger did not bear her teeth even once. When she smiled, it was close-lipped. She didn’t lean forward or blink or take a sip or show any change in expression. She had the room’s full attention including Lilian’s who, for the most part, remained detached from the group. Not slightly, but overtly. Without anyone noticing, she had even slid her armchair back a couple feet, closer to the island, away from them. She sat tall and willowy, about 5” 10’ shoes off. She was thin with long, fine dirty blonde hair and nothing remarkable about her save her eyes. They were bright emerald green and glinted with each sidelong glance. Almost like she was staring at a ring light, they had a little circular glow around her irises. Or at least that’s what the woman saw when she looked at her. She wore no makeup, had a bit of a pallor and was wearing a plain gray fleece, jeans and white socks. She was average looking by objective standards and in outfit, though, the stranger felt her presence stronger than Marisol’s who was objectively stunning, commanding and used to being the center of attention.
Lilian’s green eyes bored like little shooting spikes. She had stopped knitting and was waiting like the rest of them but held eye contact. The stranger paused to take her in all the way.  David was staring at Lilian staring at the woman. Jack stared at Marisol whose mouth was ajar, also staring at the woman. We don’t know her name. Holding her chalice in front of her like a shield, the stranger began darting her eyes back and forth between the four.
“You get one question between stories.”
They all nodded in unison except Lilian who resumed, almost automatronically, with her work.  Picking up her forest green quarter scarf, the needles returned to their metronomic dance, tapping together in rhythm like a clock setting the soundtrack to the room.
I heard them say that the following morning as I waited for my special consult. I was excited for the consult and this new shiny name. Sadia Smith,” she repeated, jumping back into the story immediately and looking back at Marisol.
Marisol’s eyes were wide but she said nothing. The couple on the couch leaned forward. Lilian’s needles tapped and she didn’t look up again. David felt his shin wet and looked at the blood on his finger, suddenly enthralled with the tiny red dot as the walls began to make way for trees.
“They had tucked me in a room with an older white woman who screamed randomly in the night. She didn’t scream all night, just whenever the urge came over her at unpredictable intervals.  I felt I deserved that. I liked that I couldn’t sleep.”
David liked that he couldn’t sleep. That he wouldn’t sleep.
“The next morning a very warm and fuzzy glow masked my eyes as I walked the unit avoiding drinking water, avoiding breakfast, avoiding camraderie. Me, with my freshly shaved head,’” she gestured to her hood, “and blue gown and the word “courage” written in permanent marker on my skull.” The stranger leaned forward eyeing David. “I wanted to see if it would make a good tattoo, and avoiding everyone. I felt giant honestly. I felt like laughing in their faces. Sure, I’m thirsty. Who isn’t?” She shrugged.
Who isn’t thirsty, David thought, not grasping a single thing that was happening as the walls began to turn into the lake. He took a sip of water and watched a pine tree grow from the lamp in her table. Who isn’t brave and giant? He took a large gulp and felt the word Clark had written on his hand that night in the warehouse: seamless.
“Everything becomes seamless.”
“The previous evening was mostly blur. I had arrived unrested, unkempt and dehydrated, not to mention completely apathetic to the presence of everyone around me. The fluorescent lighting didn’t help. It felt like day but how long had I been in the ER? They gave me an IV of water, took my vitals, made me answer questions.
“When was the last time you ate?”
And the pause between the question and the answer alarmed them.
“I didn’t eat today actually.”
David was sitting back in the tree peeling an orange watching everyone watch her. Except Lilian. My girlfriend is knitting the murderer a scarf, he thought and laughed in the tree, looking at the lake. The howl still far away but getting closer.  Licking the citrus from his fingers and taking a deep breath, he cocked his head back and began to scream back.

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