I look into Julie’s face. Not just at it, but into it. Every pore, every freckle, every faint gossamer hair. And then the layers beneath them. The flesh and bones, the blood and brain, all the way down to the unknowable energy that swirls in her core, the life force, the soul, the fiery will that makes her more than meat, coursing through every cell and binding them together in millions to form her. Who is she, this girl? What is she?
She is everything. Her body contains the history of life, remembered in chemicals. Her mind contains the history of the universe, remembered in pain, in joy and sadness, hate and hope and bad habits, every thought of God, past-present-future, remembered, felt, and hoped for all at once.
‘I like writing,’ I say like a confession. ‘So… I guess I want to be a writer.’
Nora tilts her head. ‘Really? Do people still do that? I mean, is there still like… a book industry?’
‘No… not really. You’re right, it’s dumb even for a fantasy. Colonel Rosso says only about thirty percent of the world’s cities are still functioning, so unless the zombies are learning how to read… not a great time to get into the literacy arts.’
‘Shut the fuck up, Perry. People still read. Who cares if there’s an industry behind it? If everyone’s too busy building things and shooting things to bother feeding their souls, screw them. Just write it on a notepad and give it to me. I’ll read it.’
‘One book for just one person,’ Nora says, looking at me. ‘Could that ever be worth it?’
Julie answers for me. ‘At least his thoughts would get out of his head, right? At least someone would get to see them. I think it’d be beautiful. It’d be like owning a little piece of his brain.’