May and Harold

.ned vision brings you May and Harold, the portrait
.ned vision brings you May and Harold, the portrait

Great guffaws of choking laughter ripped through Harold’s throat, in dark contrast to the torrent of tears pouring down his cheeks, salty liquid slipping down his throat as he opened his mouth and tipped his head back to spout deep gut laughter, only to choke on his own tears and double up with a coughing fit, finally folding up on the floor as the hiccups, coughs, laughter, and tears overwhelmed his massive body and forced him to collapse in a seething heap on the cold stone.

“What is it Harold?” May was used to this sort of outburst, having been best friends with Harold since they were mites under their mothers’ shared watch, “what’s so funny?”

Harold found himself sitting up slowly, raising a hand to his cheek to calm the hiccups, holding his breath to keep the laughter down, and squinting his eyes to see through the tears. His eyes were burning, and so was his throat, ripped apart as it was from the joint abrasiveness of the tears and coughing fit.

“You have to see it for yourself. It’s just too much!” May’s outstretched hand recoiled nervously, but not quickly enough to stop Harold from grabbing her wrist tightly in his massive calloused paw, and pulling her down to her knees to stare straight into his eyes.

She found herself lost again, falling forward in perpetual spin until his eyes were the world. She landed on soft ground, thankful that he had remembered to put gravity on this time. She did not mind sharing his visions, but she did not enjoy the floating feeling that usually accompanied them, as it made her quite ill for sometime after.

“Watch,” his voice came from all around her, inside her own head, even. She shook her skull, knowing that she was not really shaking anything but her imagination of her own head, but it felt real. The voice still resonated from inside her mind nonetheless. “Watch the two birds fighting.”

Suddenly the dark around her lit up, and she was the size of an ant, floating somewhere above the ground, in line with the tops of the tall grass blades. Two massive redbreasts were hopping at each other from the corners of her vision, and she cried out as their massive beaks clashed only inches from her chest. “Get me out of here, you idiot!”

She nearly threw up as the entire picture moved around her, shifting her a few feet back from the arguing birds. May could feel he was sorry, without his apology, could feel the shift in the air, the taste of sweet honeysuckle in her mouth, the sensation of a caress across her forehead and back through her hair. The hackles that had been raised only a moment earlier dropped against her neck, and her whole body relaxed once more.

“Watch now.” The birds were fighting each other for ownership of a worm, a sad, defenceless worm that was getting battered and bruised, torn up as they grabbed an edge, lost it, and hopped back and forth to grab another piece of meat, pulling until the other bird lost its beak-full, and the hopping dance began again.

Even this close, the birds looked ridiculous, hopping at each other with such determination, reminding May of a bank manager chasing an errant customer down the street, or a teacher with a frustratingly intelligent child trying desperately to win their classmates back from the brink of anarchy. She even allowed herself to smile, but she did not see the reason for such gaiety in Harold.

“They’re hopping mad,” he said, chuckling so loudly in her head she automatically covered her ears to stop the sound, realised the futility of it, stuck her fingers in her mouth and whistled loudly instead.

Suddenly she was let go, and fell backwards on her haunches as Harold let go of her hand. She had been thrown out of his world so quickly that she had not had a chance to readjust, and the illness that usually overtook her when in a moving vehicle made her vomit on the spot.

“Look what you made me do!” May glared at Harold and pointed angrily at the vomit sprayed on her trousers. She was furious, and he knew it, but he was already off giggling again. “Stop it! I’m serious, dammit!”

His face, closely controlled, became unglued, and he started to giggle, first behind closed lips, then through clenched teeth, then a snort, more snorts, and finally complete hysteria. She felt her chest clench in annoyance, until she heard him mumbling something to himself as he rolled clutching his belly and giggling.

“I’m serious, dammit!” His voice was almost a perfect copy of hers, but when he said it, it sounded petulant and childish. She smiled after the third or fourth utterance of that phrase, just as he managed to regain his composure, roll to his side, and look her in the eyes. They stayed like that for a few moments, staring at each other, serious and controlled, when she felt a snort in her own throat. What was this? Dammit! She started giggling, and he started giggling.

They were rolling around on the grass giggling at each other, some serious part of her mind wondering when he would ever grow up, when she would ever grow up, when he would come to terms with the fact that he was completely insane, that she was too, and that no matter how gifted he was, neither of them was going to be set free from these blue institutional walls.

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