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Nobody turned off the freeway at the exit to the university.
“Your friends love you, but their lives are changing, just like your mom’s life changed when she met Bill, and your life changed when you and Jordan went to college,” Nobody said. “You’re not losing Jordan and Lidia anymore than your mother has lost you.”
For some reason, the comment made Paul feel a touch guilty. Sure, he’d called her at least once a week just to say hello. They even played an online game or two just to spend time together. His guilt grew as he tried to remember the last time he’d gone to visit.
Before that day, he’d just been thinking about how busy he was and how much fun it was to hang out with Jordan and Lidia. Now that he’d felt ignored for a while, he’d wondered if his mother felt the same way, cast off for the new and exciting life as if she’d never mattered. He stared at his PID, but he decided not to call her right there. He’d visit her tomorrow or the next day.
“It’s confusing when you visit,” he said quietly as he let his arm drop to his side. “On one hand each visit gives me a chance to see how your teleportation works. But then you get to talking, and I just want to rip off my own ears.”
“Has nothing I said ever helped you?” Nobody asked.
Paul gave a wry chuckle. “In a way I suppose a lot of it helps.”
He found the strength to call the police when his father was at his worst. He made a friend out of Jordan. And then there was Bill. Losing him hurt, but would he really rather never have met Bill? Wasn’t the life they had together worth holding on to?
But I miss him so much! I’d wouldn’t feel this pain if I didn’t know him.
“You wouldn’t feel loss so strongly if you didn’t have such a great relationship to begin with,” Nobody said. “One day, the pain fades, but that love, it lasts forever.”
“Stop!” Paul said. “Stop reading my mind.”
“I’m not,” Nobody said. “It only feels that way from your point of view.”
“What does my point of view have to do with anything?”
“Honestly, everything,” Nobody answered. “And the way you choose to look at the relationships in your life will have a tremendous impact on the anger you still struggle to control. Your anger comes from two placed, pain and possessiveness. If you can let go of just one of those, you’ll see a remarkable change.”
The car pulled up to Paul’s dormitory. “I have to return this car.” He didn’t say anything else until Paul reached over to open his door. “Are you in control of your life?”
The question froze Paul in his place. He wanted to argue he certainly wasn’t any god’s pawn or play thing. The problem was, he knew he didn’t have any real control. His scholarship was controlled by the board. His friends were pulling away. He’d pulled away from his own mother. He didn’t know if he’d ever have the thing he really wanted.
“Life is life,” Paul said. “And if I can’t have the thing I want, the least I can do is try to be happy when people I love find it.”
“And what is it you want?” Nobody asked.
“Why do you ask questions when you know what I’m thinking and what I’m going to say?” Paul sank back in his seat and ran his hands down his face. “It’s pointless talking to you.”
“No it isn’t,” Nobody said. “Sometimes a conversation is more about helping a person understand what they’re thinking. I’m asking you to just say it out loud.”
“I want someone in my life I can keep!” He didn’t shout. In fact, it almost came out in a sort of whine. Admitting it felt strangely good and painful. “My mom, Bill, and now Jordan and Lidia, I love them, but I know they’re not mine. I feel like some sort of cool game I played as a kid. Sure, it’s fun to play for a while, but eventually you beat the game or get bored and move on. When will I meet someone who wants to be with me and not go or die?”
Of course, as soon as he said it, he realized how impossible that was. No one has control over when they die.
“I suppose it’d be nice if there was a being who was eternal and willing to always be with you and never let you go,” Nobody said. “Of course, that means you’d have to believe in Him.”
Paul rolled his eyes and got out of the car. He didn’t even feel guilty about slamming the door. If God had been there Paul’s whole life, why let him get beat as a child? Why take Bill? Why give him such great friends if they were just going to go off on their own one day? And how did a person have a personal relationship with a god anyway?
Paul didn’t even bother looking at Nobody. He just stormed into the dorm and tried very hard not to think about how rejected and alone he felt.
The End of Chapter Seventeen.
… to be continued …