He walked back over to the other side of the counter, across from me and placed his hands flat on the surface. He leaned in, eyebrows up, eyes wide and he said to me,
I want to be a Good Human again, Bridget. I want it so much it hurts, and it isn't something I can acquire. It isn't something I can have built to my specifications, it's something I have to ask for from you.
It doesn't work that way.
He starts to talk and his voice just stops. He is frustrated and angry. He sits down wearily. I've tried everything and I'm tired, Bridget.
I wait. I'm thinking.
This is a trick to let me think I have all the power right now. Why should I say anything?
It's not a trick. It's honesty. You wanted me to be honest, that's what I'm doing. When you were little you told me about it and it's true. You're so bright. Even back then you just knew the difference. There has to be a way to switch sides again.
I am standing in front of him as he leans against the fence. Eventually I get tired and lean too. Against him instead of the fence. He's wearing jeans and his necklace. A black leather cord with a Pisces symbol on it. I am sliding the pendant back and forth, back and forth while he talks. I'm hardly paying attention, I'm too young to be involved in much of their conversation at ten-and-a-half. He is eighteen and has an odd amount of patience for me. He must have wanted a sister.
What were the words you used, Bridgie?
That was it. Good Humans. I think you're right by the way. People are inherently good or inherently bad.
Good Humans, I repeat and pat the pendant against his skin firmly.
Am I a Good Human, do you think, there, little one?
I look into his eyes and answer honestly. I don't know yet, Caleb. I watch his blue eyes as they stare back curiously. He finds me intriguing. I don't know why exactly. I think he's my friend though.
We order in pizza. He cracks a bottle of red wine and pours two glasses and we take it all outside on the back patio without turning on any of the lights. We're watching the water, chewing thoughtfully and not talking for so long I start to get sleepy.
Good Humans, he says wistfully.
I am startled out of my doze. I still can't believe that you remembered that.
He finished his glass of wine in one large swallow. I can't believe I had to make myself a Bad Human to fully understand your definition of a Good Human.
And now you're looking for absolution from a Grade-schooler.
She's the only one I will ever want acceptance from, he whispers.