Everything about Dwayne was long. His legs were long and very thin, his torso similarly long and wiry thin. His neck and even his face were long and thin. His ears looked as if the lobes had been stretched downwards, his nose was ungracefully long and very thin, the tip pointed and sharpened as a result. Only his eyes remained round enough for him to be considered reasonably human. He was a research modification in the genetics of dwarfism. By tweaking the gene responsible for shortness, The Dwayne Modification elongated out of all natural proportions to something just slightly less than a human spaghetti noodle. To watch Dwayne walk was like watching an over-long reed move through space.
When sitting on the bed beside Ari, Dwayne looked twice as long as she in his body - and thinner, if that were possible. When he stood beside her, he was a skyscraper in comparison. The pain in Dwayne's joints and muscles from the sheer force of will in keeping his length upright in space was obvious in the dark blue circles under his eyes. He lived in constant physical pain and only Ariadne could hear his silent weeping at night, in his room, in the other wing. She never mentioned it.
The pain behind her eyes throbbed a little harder. She tried to thwart the onslaught of emotional and physical mental torment this young man was permanently carrying. She could only go inside of it and immerse herself in it and simply feel it. She imagined herself one of her spirals, going down inside the cave of pain she felt emanating from Dwayne. Somehow, this process helped, especially in proximity. She was able to relieve it somewhat if they kept the current emotional levels at this keel - if they changed...she would have to spiral again and it took a lot of energy to do that.
"What's up?" she asked making small talk. Her voice was low and soft.
"Nothing much" lied Dwayne equally quietly. "Margot was a bitch to you at lunch time, again, I hear" He was somewhat overprotective of Ari and she smiled a wan smile. She knew he would have liked to make her his woman but the thought of that kind of emotional pull made Ari sick and she had always refused his more obvious advances.
"Margot is doing what Margot always does," she philosophically replied.
"Yeah. Well, she needs to keep her big blue mouth shut n’ go outside and fry some eggs in the sun on her blue-tinged arse." Dwayne mumbled ungraciously, growling these words in deep throbbing tones. He paused and then he changed the subject quickly on feeling Ariadne tense beside him. "Nice picture by the way."
She wasn't tensing so much for herself as tensing from the assault of his emotional responses toward Margot. It worried Dwayne that everything he felt, this girl could feel too on top of her own emotional state. He tried very hard to keep his emotions and status as neutral as possible even though he found incredibly draining and hard to do. He cared so much for this girl, some nights he would lay in his cot and feel the ache in his heart was stronger than the pain in his joints. He pulled these thoughts in and down to try and protect her from them.
"Stop trying to disguise what you're feeling Dwayne" Ari said softly. He relaxed and she winced "It's okay...I got it," as if his emotions were something he'd dropped and she had picked up.
She held the completed image up for both of them to see. Dwayne looked at it and then took it from her hands and got up off the cot and moved towards the door. "I don't like it D. No sense in showing it to me from a distance," said Ari, knowing his reasoning. He turned and held the top corners of the image and looked at her.
"You realise you are a genius? Don't you Ari?
She sighed and bent down, her head diving between her legs to peer under her cot. She pulled out a large portfolio of previous artworks and leaving it lay on the floor, she opened the mouth of the portfolio, dozens of art pieces encased inside, their edges appearing like the pages of a mottled book, and looked up at Dwayne.
"Just put it away Dwayne. It's over." Her words were ludicrously filled with despondency. It would require a fresh canvas to alleviate the foreboding doom she seemed to be implying under those words.
…To be continued. (I hope)