I am crushed under a cruelty that is only a simulacrum of what must be going on inside his head. I know this from first hand experience – even if he has no filter, there are so many layers of his mind that strip down and soften this entire experience of – of what? It’s not cruelty in the purest sense, but I am starting to sniff out a lack of sympathy. Which I know has nothing to do with me – I’m just here, and it’s not my fault that I am standing downwind of someone in pain. I came here of my own volition, knowing full well that I would encounter more than a few moments of joylessness. Sure, it’s all balanced out by the good times. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t. But moments like this? The spines on the monster that live beneath his skin are starting to poke out. I won’t run away. It must be uncomfortable to be a dragon crammed into human skin. Of course it gets hot in there. So I run to the kitchen and bring him back a cup of water, hoping to ease all of this for just a few seconds. That’s the best I can do. I guess what bothers me is – what are you supposed to do in the face of someone else’s insurmountable pain? Of course I would like to fix it. But I don’t know how. I have asked him many times how can I fix his pain – it is his pain, and he is the only person who could know how to fix his pain, but he still hasn’t told me yet. So instead I am absorbing it in little ways, like tiny glass shards against bare skin. I have to sit in shit if I want to be here with him, and I want to be here with him, so I am sitting in shit and smiling. I don’t want to be anywhere else. I can feel his pain from across the room, across the city, across the state – so I hold myself here, and I do not run away, because running away would be the expected thing to do, and the expected thing to do is boring, and I am not boring. I hold him in the night, and I hope that it helps, and the next morning there are burn marks on my skin that hurt me, too, but I hold him tight anyways.