some days it takes him hours just to remember your name. did it start with an J? or was that an M? maybe it was a Q or a Z or something equally strange like that. he'll spread his fingers out on the table and repeat the alphabet trying to recall just that first letter. what he doesn't realize is that his body twitches when he finds the right one; he's just not paying close enough attention. it slips through the cracks in his brain and he has to start over again.
some days he knows your name without even trying. that's usually when he doesn't want to know it. he'll be doing something completely unrelated - something that makes him happy - and all of a sudden your name will flash across the back of his sight and his friends can't even coax the answer to a simple "What's the matter?" out of him.
"He's not like other boys," people whisper when he passes, in another one of his dazes because he's been thinking of you.
he'll come to me and sit down. his fingers will tap a rhythm on his knee and his stomach will growl. he's one of those boys who forgets to eat. one of those boys who forgets to sleep. one of those boys who forgets to breathe more often than he realizes.
we'll talk of the strange disappearance of the bees and quantum mechanics "what ifs". we'll speak of stardust and the creation of the universe and the misconceptions that abound.
i'll hear the slight intake of breath that indicates your name, flashing across the back of his sight, and he'll go silent. i'll go silent. sometimes words just interfere, and i think he's glad of the quiet.
"I'm not like other boys," he says, hours later.
i think about that for a second, and shrug. "That's fine," i tell him. "There are billions of other boys. They don't all need to be alike."
"Yes," he says, "but I'm different from them. I didn't used to be. But I am now."
i just shrug again. "Good," i say.
"I'm not like I used to be," he says. "I'm different now. I lose myself. I lose other people. I lose hours. I'm different."
"And I rescue worms from sidewalks on hot days," i say, and i smile at him and muss his hair, making his eyebrow twitch. i talk about bees and what ifs, stardust and creation, misconceptions and how different isn't necessarily a bad thing. he starts to tell me about you then, but he stops. he shakes his head. he lays back on the couch and settles in and we talk about ice ages and moons with hidden oceans and rings around Earth a long, long time ago. there is no slight intake of breath. you have no name to speak of. there is no need for silence. there are just words and science and good conversation between two people who aren't like the other boys and girls.