His conscience becomes inflamed and the only remedy at hand is a thorough sanding it and splashing it with cologne. Anything with alcohol in it so as to cause an acutely painful sensation. Still, he wonders if perhaps he hasn't ventured too close to some boundary that wasn't advertised, some place left off the map for very particular reasons.
The gravel pit in the center is apt to contain secrets of its own, treasures and skeletal remains clumped together on the floor like cousins collapsed from exhaustion at the reunion. But she knows he is just throwing blankets over the scenery, just trying to pretend that he has the same mechanism in his chest as the rest of us, even though it is in all actuality a blank slate in there. And whenever you try to draw something on it, the image won't take, the lines will not appear.
And there is a sound sometimes like steel on steel, the sort of thing you would expect to throw sparks or make those in the vicinity cringe. If it hadn't been for the aspirin she might have been tempted to give up entirely. To move with her best friend to the high plains of the Dakotas and start there an alpaca ranch. Maybe marry a man who hasn't come to grips yet with his name. Who thinks it something valuable, of course, but can't pinpoint its origins, its true nature the way we can't always tell what is on the horizon even when the horizon keeps inching closer to us like an assassin.
I imagine there are days when they will not forgive each other simply for existing, and on those days, if you were to take a photograph of the two of them sitting in the kitchen, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. It would look just like any other taken during the year when their minds were occupied with the simple tasks lying before them. The dredging of the pond. The sticking of aluminum poles into beehives to see if the occupants still wish to protect themselves.
Sometimes, when you reach a certain critical mass, every individual begins to see himself as an individual again, and refuses to follow the others, even if the direction they are taking is the most obvious and logical one. Can this be bottled? Can we take the inclination and turn it into a philosophy of the sort that sells a million books (and not of the sort, like Bergson's, which sells maybe two or three a week, worldwide, if you're lucky)?
His alarm starts ringing and they are both looking around for the source of that noise, as if they can't imagine sharing in any auditory stimulus unless it is absolutely necessary and absolutely real. In this way they each reject the primacy of the other and a sort of balance is established, even if it is negative and predicated on a desire for mutual elimination. It's the same principle that keeps the planets from running into one another, at least for the time being. And there's the rub: who's to say what will happen in a month's time, if the sky might not ignite with the fury of heavenly bodies turned in on themselves like children who watch too much TV?