Approximate reading time: 20 minutes.
'Aren't you hot in that coat?' he asked.
'U-huh. So what? There are more important things than being hot, aren't there Joseph?'
Joseph said nothing. Louise smiled for several seconds, and then said
'And the idea of owning a person is a million miles from who you are, right?'
'Those two things are precisely what Lisa wouldn't understand. She’d see your vulnerability as nothing more than a man’s attempt to own and control her, and that’s one characteristic she could never live with. She wouldn't understand that it's your demon you need to control, not her. And so she would feed the demon, and when she’d brought you to your knees and you’d lost all your strength, will, self-belief, ability to function, and even your sense of identity – which is what emasculation does to a man – you’d do the only thing you know how. You’re at your meanest when you’re down, aren’t you Joseph? You would strike back by stating your own truths more extensively. You would tell her things about herself – things you truly believed, rightly or wrongly, but had kept reined in – that would hurt her badly. I understand Lisa, too. I know how sensitive she is, and I know you’d both suffer more than you could take. Understand this, my friend. There’s no road you and Lisa could walk together and find any sort of happiness, not now you’ve gotten this close to her. It would be a path of mutual destruction. You should never have gotten this close, you know. You should have maintained some distance, detachment, a measure of indifference.’
The woman in the seat behind him slept, too. She had folded her long black raincoat to use as a pillow.