Hello. My name is Cory, I’m twenty-two years old, and I’m the advisor of the system.
What’s a year?
Oh. A year? Do…you know what a day is?
Day is when the pain starts.
Okay. What about night?
Night is when the pain ends.
So, a year is lots of nights together. It’s how people measure time.
Why would you want to measure time? I try not counting. That makes it hurt bad when I think about days strung together.
Well, do you have a name? My name is Cory. I’m the advisor of the system.
I like flowers. They’re colorful. I like colorful things.
I like flowers too. They’re pretty, aren’t they?
Do you think my name is a flower?
I don’t know. My name is Cory, because I’m the part of this brain that needed to feel like things were normal. And Cory is a normal name for a normal guy.
You’re a part of a brain? *giggle* Brain is a funny word.
It does sound kind of funny, doesn’t it? A brain is how a person thinks. Right now, we share a brain. We share it with other people, like Mina, and Ribbon.
Is that why I’m here some days, and there some days?
Yes. That is our body. One of us is in control of it at a time. Most of the time it’s Ripple, and she doesn’t know about us. Yet. I hope she learns about us. Mina says Ripple learning about us is a bad thing. So we’re waiting.
I don’t want her to know about me.
That’s okay. She doesn’t have to. She doesn’t know about any of us.
Why are you twenty-two?
Because it feels right. I think I will be twenty-three soon, but not yet.
I’m littler than that. I’ll always be littler. I won’t add days older.
Do you know any flowers? I like flowers.
I do. I have some flowers, in my room in the ski lodge. There are white flowers, with small petals, and pale pink flowers with long petals, and bright yellow flowers with lots of curly petals.
Do the flowers have names?
There’s Periwinkle, and there’s Lily, and Carnation.
I like flowers.
Cory knelt by the window, scissors in hand, eying the fuzzy cactus that had sprouted an entire new stem overnight.
“What are you doing, you?” he muttered at it. “You don’t have a big enough pot to grow another stem.”
He leaned backward for the storage trunk at the foot of his bed. A thick gray mitten sat there, its companion fallen to the wood floor.
Cory wiggled his fingers into the mitten, then carefully gripped the fuzzy cactus stem poking from the main plant. It was a very round cactus. Covered in needles so fine they might be mistaken for soft fur. Cory liked this cactus. Except that it often shot out new stems, ruining the plant’s perfect symmetry. The scissors wobbled in his hand as he cut. The stem snicked free, dropping fuzzy needles to the soil. Cory carefully lowered the cut stem to a new pot, as large as his fist, brimming with black soil. Gently setting the stem sideways, he used the mitten to pat soil around its edges. “There,” he told it. “Welcome to your new home.”