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He says words, sometimes.

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He says words, sometimes.

In his sleep, murmured between sighs and the rustling of sheets. They echo off of the walls, reminding me of conversation that I had lost, though we never really communicated through language (a touch usually sufficed). If I get lucky, I can sometimes catch the hint of a smile tucked into the corner of his lips.

I wonder if the boy I know has drawn under the surface of his skin, dozing while he walks around in the sunlight, peeking out only during the cover of night. I sleep next to him, my head above his heart, trying to feel for the familiar rumble of his voice in his chest. It is a feeling I have trained myself to wake up to, but as soon as it comes, it disappears, my eyes fluttering open as his mouth falls shut. His copper-colored eyes sometimes quiver and my breath hitches in my throat, waiting for the familiar pressure of his arm pulling me closer to his side.

It never comes.

Instead, I receive whispers of the Harvey I love. It usually cuts through the air with a sharp C, sometimes even making it as far as Corp before falling back into weak puffs of air. His eyebrows furrow while his lips form a soft pout in defiance, his arms and fingers twitching as his body holds him back from crossing his arms. On the days I take him to the train tracks, walking along them until I have to turn Harvey around, his nighttime utterances become longer, indistinguishable sounds that has the same sharp C start. I can hear the arguing in his voice, a vein of accusation cutting through the subdued sleeping tone.

The closer you are to death, the easier it is to see ghosts.

I wonder if the Corporal and Harvey bicker while I tend the plants, his vacant eyes not truly vacant. His empty stares into space could simply be seeing ghosts I don’t have access to, his mind only awake enough to hear the Corporal asking Herbie to pass the coffee at the breakfast table, yelling at him for not saying please or thank you when I help him button his shirt, teasing him about his constant ability to trip on the furniture.

Silly, isn’t it. But it’s all I have left.

I lay on my side next to him, today not brave enough to listen for his voice. He tripped again, black tar leaking from his head like an oil spill, dirtying my hands as I sat him on a stool outside and cleaned the blood from his hair. I washed his copper locks with the outside hose, massaging his scalp until the water dripped clear off his bangs. His eyes never left the horizon, and after I left to get a towel I returned to see him not having moved a muscle. As my footsteps slowed near to him he gradually turned to me, his eyes meeting mine, his face drenched in shadows that turn his eyes a dull brown.

I couldn’t get the black stain off of my hands.

Harvey still only mutters in his sleep, his words not leaking into his conscious–

I feel a weight over my waist, heavy enough for me to jump and barely stifle a scream. I freeze as it pulls me, towards heat I never felt welcome to share in, until I feel the warmth of his torso pressing against my back. A soft puff of air whistles past my ear, carrying a single word, muttered into my hair yet just loud enough to be understood.