Rémi, I say, what of that poem inscribed on your ceiling?
This is a few days before I buy the keycard duplicate, about a week before I break in: Rémi and I, sitting at a bar, in his neighborhood, as per my request, in the hopes that I can coerce him into a voluntary visit to his apartment.
Rémi drinks half of the whiskey in his glass, and begins:
For many years (or to be more accurate, he corrects, for over a decade), I told myself I was fine. Every day, every night: I told myself that I was fine.
When you say something to yourself for that long, Rémi says, over and over, drilling it into your skull until it becomes all that you eat, all that you breathe, until it is all that you see when you sleep, until it is your blood, your vomit and your shit, until all is that, and only that, only those three words: "I am fine, I am fine, I am fine..."
Here, he pauses to drink.
When you say it for long enough, he breathes and continues, you reach a point where your body breaks; and it feels like that, too, he says, like all the bones in your body just snap in half, and you crumple to the floor, a bunch of broken halves in a pile of skin; and it's all because your mind finally says, out loud, firmly:
"You are not fine."