Light inches onto the pale green cover. Sickly wrinkles become illuminated on its face; scrawls threaten to reveal themselves.

Not yet.

Morn stretches forth, to shatter this.

Not yet.

I handle the notebook nimbly in my slick fingers, the micrometers of light exposure bringing barely perceptible heat into Rémi's apartment. Placebo, sure; but still the tips of my fingers char when dawn daintily (deviously) pricks them, futilely warning them of the Underneath, lying beneath the cover.

At the bottom of the spine,

"#8"

is felt-tip-penned onto a white label, then laminated over. One of a series, but into where does it fit? Eight of ten? Of thirty? Of fifty notebooks? Or simply eight? There is no way to know when the transcriptions will cease, when I will have finished interacting with his stories (until, of course, death denies further discourse).

I turn to the first page. Blank.

On the second:
Sometimes I believe myself to be the least interesting man in the room. I ebb toward buoys of status, urge them to drench me in their exoticism, so I might catch a whit or two of what exactly it is they have. I? I have nothing. I am armed with naught but a pocket mirror, convex and distorting, to hold up at their faces and say: "I am the one you are." But they cringe at the sight, splash and thrash at themselves (at what they think is an Other), and seal themselves within, airtight; and I, left overboard to drown. Oxygen flees, and as vision tunnels toward darkness, I wonder if I am just an elephant who thinks himself a chameleon, if I am merely dying weight circling the drain whilst those at a safe distance tut-tut at the poor, nameless boy surrendering to the sea. "Too bad," they say; "What a shame," they say; and they turn back toward their homes with their children by the hands, reminding them, with perfunctory verve, never to swim against the current.
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