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Paul was still burning with anger and shame. The conflicting emotions caused him to freeze in his doorway. “I think I might have killed him if I didn’t see those reflections.”
“I’d rather not contemplate what would have been, but I have a question: Why are you so angry?” Nobody asked.
Paul slammed the door to give his frustration something to do. The wood near where the latch met the frame cracked at the force. “She cheated on me!”
“Is she yours?” Nobody always had that sanctimoniously calm tone, and he had to know how angry it made Paul.
“She’s my girlfriend!” Even though he felt foolish, Paul couldn’t keep from shouting and gabbing his thumb into his chest. The rage wouldn’t allow him to control himself.
“And how did you treat her? Did you love her?”
“I never cheated on her! I never did anything to hurt her!”
“Is lack of abuse good treatment?”
Paul let out a frustrated sigh, clenching his fists. A tear rolled down his cheek.
Nobody didn’t give him time to answer. “What was your relationship about? What did you do with her when you were with her? Was she your helper and trusted friend, or was she the object of your lust?”
Paul walked over and slumped down on his bed. The rage seemed to deflate, leaving the shame no opponent to distract it. I used her.
“Most people these days treat sex like a going for a walk or like a hobby.” Nobody stopped and cocked his head. “I suppose that’s my opinion, but I can’t help but feel that way. They want to have all they sex they want to have without any of the cost. But when we think of sex that way, one can’t help but eventually see people as an object of their sexual fantasies rather than people. That’s why sex is reserved for a husband and his wife. The understanding should be that you are pieces of one another. If sex is a leisure or fitness activity, it’s selfish, but if it’s a demonstration of love, it’s about sacrifice, giving up a part of yourself for the sake of the other, for their pleasure.”
“She never said anything,” Paul whispered. “I’d come see her, and we’d be together. Then I’d head off back to the lab.” His voice trembled with remorse, and more tears came. “I hardly ever even called her.”
No wonder she left me. I never deserved her to begin with.
“I still hate you,” Paul muttered as he got himself together.
“You have no idea how ironic that statement is,” Nobody said. “Even though you hate me, you listen.”
“I still haven’t forgotten how you helped me,” Paul admitted. “But I still hate how much your advice hurt.”
It was a strange contradiction that Paul couldn’t wrap his head around. Nobody’s advice and encouragement helped him escape an abusive father, improve his relationship with his mother, and find a better father figure. Of course, that same encouragement led Paul to lose that father figure.
“I wish life only gave you good things.” Nobody stood. “More importantly, I wish the presence of pain in your life didn’t so easily blind you to the good things that are there. Human beings take so much for granted. Then, when we lose something or someone we cherish, we hate God for taking them, but we forget He gave them to us in the first place, and we get even more angry because we can’t help but notice all the missed opportunities we had.”
Again, Nobody’s voice seemed to shake, as if he too were fighting back tears. He cleared his throat. “You focused on your goal, and you had a great accomplishment today.”
He was talking about the experiment.
“I’m close.” Paul didn’t feel any of the satisfaction he did an hour ago.
Nobody shrugged. “Does that success matter in this moment?”
It didn’t. His shame and regret for ruining a good thing made his pride in the experiment seem stupid. Paul offered a similar shrug in return.
“Another thing that happens when we use people to satisfy our lusts is that we forget they’re people we can share our joys and sorrows with.” Nobody stood.
“What do I do?” Paul asked. He hated himself for asking the moment the question escaped his mouth.
“You already know where I look for answers, and I think you already know what to do in this case.” Nobody lifted up his arm and tapped a device on his wrist. Was that a PID? It was so thin.
The sensation that accompanied Nobody’s teleportation was the same. A part of Paul focused on the new information, even as he contemplated Nobody’s words.
As the temperature fluctuated, and the surging electrical sound rang in Paul’s ears, a strange web of electric blue light formed around Nobody. The pattern was spherical, perhaps a perfect sphere. The field seemed to grow from Nobody’s feet to the top of his head. As soon as the field surrounded Nobody light flashed, and he was gone.
Paul let out a chuckle. Of course Nobody didn’t bother to turn a corner or close a shower door. Paul already knew about the vacuum field. But how did he connect the fields without tearing a hole through the planet?
Paul laughed again. The jerk was teasing him, forcing him to ask questions. Paul decided not to let his mind wander down that path. He had a lot of more important things to do.
… to be continued …