X turns to Y, asking noncommittantly “What do you think is at the end of this path?” Y responds with ‘thpppppt’. By no means is that an acceptable, and it’s kind of rude when said unprompted like that (uttered? Spit? What is the operative verb even?). Y has trouble with conversations, but tries again: “Does it matter?” That’s a more philosophical retort than predicted, but coming from Y it’s more likely to be blunt and touching on nihilism, which, to be fair, is a school of philosophy, but Y is neither teacher not student in it. So X thinks, tilting head and shoulders. Thinking about something can be shown through an askew posture, X thinks, leaning a bit further still, because it helps Y understand: ‘because an answer isn’t ‘straight’forward!’ X returns to an upright position. “I think it does,” a firm retort. “Well, I hate that.”
During the course of this exchange, a rabbit had hopped in front of them. He wears a bangle on either arm and has got most of its body covered with a little vest, bright white, unlike his fur, a fiery orange but on the comfy side of fiery. Imagine and visualise the one known as ‘X’ walking into a victorian-style study: tyrian purple rugs, three walls alligned with bookcases way taller than the portable ladder next to them, maybe some taxidermy but maybe not depending on your disposition towards trophy animals, and a beautiful, expensive fireplace that glows a friendly sunset orange. That kind of orange.
He poses the journeying two a riddle. It’s a really corny one. Yeah, it’s that one, the one every game designer and their mother uses. Game design mom: “Four, two, then three legs. What? What?”. All the mysterious places such as ‘Temple’ and ‘Magic Palace’ and ‘Dad Basement’ use it as a tiny tastemaker, to invoke a tolerable atmosphere of delicate enigma. ‘Wow, that’s original,’ the one known as Y would say, but not right now.
“I’m sorry?” “What if the path doesn’t end. Then what?” “I guess we’ll never see what’s at the end.” “What is the point, then?” “I guess nothing. But it’s nice to be busy.” “Precisely!”
The rabbit has grown impatient, deeply wrought by the duo’s lack of manners. ‘Never have I, puzzlemaster Royland, been mistreated with such temerity!’, is what it would say, could rabbits talk in a way that makes sense to you and me. It only knew two things, however: how to look snazzy and how to prompt puzzles. It hops off, upset and offended. He’s going to microblog about this. Oh well!
X and Y continue their conversation as they move further down the path, unaffected by their own attention spans and a certain rabbit’s silent judgment. “Is being busy what you want?” Y unleashes a steady stream of questions that seem passive-aggressive and almost insulted but really aren’t. “Yes, actually. I want to know what I’m doing it for. Purpose, results, that kind of thing. What if my effort has been for nothing? That’d be a shame.” “No, you want preoccupation.” “Is there a difference?” “Yes, one asks ‘when will I be done?’ and the other ‘when will it stop?'” ‘What is this drilling’, X thinks, basically posing at this point. “I just want to know where I’m going.” Y has been leading the way, holding X’s hand so softly, so they are headed towards something.
A tortoise blocks the way. She is not very important but let’s take a closer look anyway. She looks great! She’s got a very wise air about her; having lived a hundred years, this cherished shell-pal must certainly know a lot. Ask her anything and she’ll search her memory banks for anything resembling an answer. Like a shoreline where she spends her days off, sand beach or maybe rocks, a salt-scented breeze ventilates and rejuvenates the nostrils and pores.
But neither X nor Y ask her a question, too busy chattering amongst themselves. The tortoise offers the dingy duo some wisdom instead, some useful facts in cups-to-go. “The answer to most riddles is ‘Man’,” says one cup, it tastes like herbal tea with a bit of sugar, and the other, “the sphynx committed suicide after Oedipus solved her riddle. I wish she could have been okay.” She performs a curtsy in a way only an old and wise reptile can and is slowly removed from the path.
“Where are we going, is what I want to know.” Y flutters indolently at this, and says “it still doesn’t matter” before landing on an important-looking statue. It sinks a bit, having apparently activated a switch, and the floor begins to rumble. X stands up and thanks the tortoise as she is taken down a statue-activated elevator. Her wisdoms are absolutely of no use but X will remember them for the out-of-placeness of it all, which is funny to lean into because a riddle-spewing rabbit isn’t unique enough to warrant a memory or two? Y takes the lead again and leads on, thankfully they are holding hands again.
“I hate that. Do you need constant confirmation you are not a ghost?”
“Y, I’m not sure what you mean, and I usually do.” Y humphs and hrms, opting for thought-grumbling instead of body language. “You don’t think about the seconds you spend.” “I just want to know what to expect, what’s what.” “Every second something is happening, but you don’t remember them. You are looking only at where you will go, not at how you are going.” “Which is where, again?” “A path can only be a path if it can end.” “Sure.” “You are preoccupied, aren’t you.” “Yeah, with a journey without a purpose.” “But isn’t that enough.”
Meanwhile, a mouse skitters past the two. He doesn’t believe he can make mistakes as long as he goes. His path is very linear, and in that regard alligns perfectly with Y, in the sense that he, too, believes it’s about the journey moreso than the destination. But he also believes in the importance of a path towards an end of something, which makes him more compatible with X’s way of life, but not a perfect replica, because he lacks direction. He is both X and Y and neither of them, should we decide to reduce the duo to their outlooks on life. Imagine the conversations they’d have could they engage in an interspecial chat. ‘My name is Amir. I am a talking mouse.’ ‘A talking mouse.’ ‘Wow, that’s kooky.’
X’s throat clears. “Why do you worry so much?” “I don’t want you to worry.” “Don’t worry about me, I just want to know.” “Knowing is great.” “I agree, that’s why I want to.” X feels Y slowly letting their hands return to their respective owner, the dangling of arms feels heavy and sad. “But does it have to be practical?” “Excuse me?” “Do you need to be justified?” “For what?” “For being. At all. Can’t you just do things because you want to?” That’s unexpectedly hedonistic of Y, X thinks, almost falling over, wondering if that was just a very teleological mouse that skittered past them. Before X can respond or nervously grab Y’s hand, Y says something: “We’re here.”
Y’s bedroom is gorgeous, very ornate and has all the right furniture. The rest of the house is unique and appropriate but not without its design quirks, such as puzzles, floor switches, and riddling animals. Y turns to X, smiling widely and brightly “Surprise!” X looks around to search the room for actual and tangible surprises, though his boyfriend takes up most of his vision (to absolutely no dismay). “Uh. What is? The surprise, I mean.” “There was a point to this after all!” “I mean, you’re the one who invited me over,” X grin is wry and snarky.
Y puffs his cheeks, “But what did you think about the journey? The mystery, the riddles.” “I’ve been to your house before. Listen, I love your weird riddle pets and how you have spread your wings and fly in order to perch on the statue to send your tortoise down to her terranium. I also know what we do here most of the time.” Y leans into a thought, one wing in his side and the other tickling his chin.”I guess I didn’t think about that.” X laughs, the kind of laugh that is a smiling body. “I can think of another journey we could go on,” he leans forwards, “some seconds to spend.”
X folds his hands into Y’s and pulls the boy in for a deep kiss, there might be tongue involved.