“If you pretend something hard enough, could it become real?”
“They sleep like children, mouths open, cheeks flushed. Breathing as rhythmic as swells on a sea. No longer allowed in the rooms, their mothers and fathers watch them through double-paned glass. Isolation – that’s what the doctors call it: the separation of the sick from the well. But isn’t every sleep a kind of isolation? When else are we so alone?”
Jackson lifts his dark eyes to mine, and for a moment, we just stare at each other. There’s a sudden pressure in my chest, a breathlessness I’ve never experienced before. Jackson licks his lower lip again, and then slowly withdraws hi hand. He turns toward the sound of the girls running, rounding the building for likely the last time.
“I should probably get back,” I say, getting to my feet.
Jackson walks me toward the fence, and we pause as we reach the iron bars. I wish I could stay just a little longer, but I appreciate the time we’ve had.