“So that’s what happened,” said Ed. “That’s why I wasn’t at school today.”
“And why you got stabbed,” said Marisol.
“Yeah,” said Ed. “And that.”
“You know,” Marisol said, taking a sip of soda to wash down her eighth taco, “I think that is the most you ever said to me. And I don’t mean in one sitting. I think you have just doubled the total number of words said in my presence.”
“Yeah,” said Ed. “Maybe.”
Marisol rolled her eyes.
“And you believe it?” said Ed. “All of it?”
“Of course I do,” said Marisol. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“I dunno. A lot of it is pretty unbelievable, when you think about it. Like Kristen’s face. With the crystal fire or whatever. I mean, I could be making it up.”
Marisol smirked. “Ed, you are the worst liar I have ever met. The worst liar I’ve ever heard of. You lie worse than my little brother, and he’s still thinks I disappear when I cover my face with a napkin.”
“And you’re still not freaked out?” said Ed.
Marisol shook her head. “I know I should be. But it’s like none of this is really happening, you know? I mean, none of this. Like everything that happened since Kristen showed up is, like…”
She shook her head again. “Like someone else’s dream. I’m borrowing it, like a book from the library. And someday, pretty soon, probably, I’m going to have to give it back. Does that make sense?”
“Not really,” said Ed.
“It’s kind of neat, actually,” said Marisol. “Like being in a movie. All this crazy shit is happening and none of it is real. No, that’s not it. It’s super real. Probably a hell of a lot more so than the usual crap that goes on. But it’s not real for us. We can just deal with it and then get back to normal. As soon as we leave the theater. Why? Are you freaked out.”
“No,” said Ed.
“Have you ever been freaked out?”
Ed thought about it for a second. “No.” It felt strange to say it out loud. To think it all.“I mean, I realize I must be different from other people. Because I got stabbed. And didn’t die. That must mean I’m different.”
Marisol laughed. “You’ve always been different.”
“That’s what I mean,” said Ed. “Like, I don’t feel pain. And my fingers can get cut off and stuck back on. But it never seemed weird, you know?”
Marisol nodded. “I know. You’re just Ed. It’s just how you are.”
“Yeah. So what’s up with that? Shouldn’t the men in black be coming for me, or something?”
“Do you want them to?”
Ed shrugged. Marisol laughed again.
“Fine,” she said. “I see what you’re saying. It’s not just that you’re weird. Really weird.”
“Thanks a lot,” said Ed.
Marisol smiled. “No problem! So it’s not just that you’re weird. It’s also weird that nobody really cares.”
“I feel like I’ve been avoiding this kind of thinking all my life,” said Ed. “Without even knowing why.”
They fell into silence. Marisol dipped a chip into the spicy salsa and ate it.
“Fine,” said Marisol. “So, what’s next? Aare you going to hit the library and look in the ‘crazy occult mystery’ section? Or go on a journey of self discovery into the mountains.”
“Maybe,” said Ed. “But not yet. I have something to do first.”
Marisol took another sip through her straw and raised her eyebrows.
Ed’s eyes hardened. It was the most dramatic expression she’d ever seen on his normally stoic face.
“I’m going to find Kristen,” he said. “And I am going to kill her.”
“I thought you were going to say that,” said Marisol. “And I’m going to help you.”
Ed’s eyes widened. “Marisol, this is dangerous. She’s some kind of hell demon, or something. She could kill you. Or worse.”
Marisol reached over and took Ed’s hand in hers. “Ed, I’m supposed to come with you. I know it. And besides, I’m living in someone else’s dream, remember? Nothing can happen to me. Not until they wake up.”
Ed nodded. Both of them stood up. Marisol left a small pile of money on the table. Then, together, they walked out of the taco shop, and into the snow-covered night.