The beginnings of a dozen thoughts peeked out from under his fingers, each one modified, reverted and ultimately discarded when the idea went nowhere or delved too deep into his soul. As time passed, he slumped farther and farther down the pillar. He stared, unseeing, into the lingering late-summer dusk and wondered why he'd bothered listening to Surge.

Giving into his anger, he ripped the page from his book, crumpled, and tossed it aside.

"Hey!"

The indignation caught his attention, and he turned his head to see a dark-skinned girl with tight, short-cropped curls. Dressed in over-sized pants, cinched at her hips, and a frayed tee shirt, she reached down to pick up the paper.

"That's heat when it gets cold."

He let his head fall against the concrete at his back, and dropped his pen. "I was going to pick it up."

"Uh-huh." She pulled the sheet open and read a line. "Ah."

He looked up to see a smirk on her lips.

"Writer's block. I hate that." She handed the paper back to him. "I think you should look at this one again." She pointed to his third chunk of writing. "It feels like a naked soul. No flesh, no clothes, nothing. Just pure spirit."

Boon shook his head. He'd given up on that piece almost immediately for exactly that reason. "I can't write that one."

"Sure you can." She sat down. "If you couldn't, you wouldn't have started it like that."

"Maybe." He stayed non-committal, looked down at the smudged words, and felt them lance his heart. "Not today."

"Fair enough." She shrugged and started to get back up.

He reached out and stopped her. Sitting next to Surge, making music from old literature, he could enjoy that, but he felt so completely disconnected. He longed to talk with someone who understood his reasons for reading. "I'm Boon."

She lowered herself back to the ground and shook his hand. "Em," she said simply.

He nodded and tapped his sheet of paper. "Do you do much writing?"

She smiled and shook her head. "I just like telling other people what I think of theirs."

Boon laughed, and started flipping his pen through his fingers, again. Twilight fell and left them behind, lost with Dostoyevsky and Toni Morrison. Behind the veil of other peoples' fiction, Boon stripped his soul bare, and wondered how much of it Em saw.