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,


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.