The Song of David
Author:Amy Harmon

“Do you see everything? Their whole lives?”

 

“Sometimes it feels like that. It can be a flood of color and thought, and I can only pick up random things because it’s coming at me so fast. And I can only really see what I understand. I’m sure they would like me to see more. But it isn’t that easy. It’s subjective. I usually see pieces and parts. Never the whole picture. But I’ve gotten better at filtering, and as I’ve gotten better, it feels more like remembering and less like being possessed.” I smiled in spite of myself, and Tag shook his head in wonder.

 

“Moses?” Tag pulled me from my thoughts.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Don’t take this the wrong way . . . but, if, you know, there’s more, and it’s not bad, it’s not scary, and it’s not the zombie apocalypse. If it’s not fire and brimstone . . . at least, not as far as you can tell, then why do you stay?” His voice was so quiet and filled with emotion, I wasn’t sure if anything I said would help him. I wasn’t sure I knew the answer. It took me a minute of thinking, but I finally had a response that felt true.

 

“Because I’ll still be me,” I answered. “And you’ll still be you.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“We can’t escape ourselves, Tag. Here, there, half-way across the world, or in a psych ward in Salt Lake City. I’m Moses and you’re Tag. And that part never changes. So either we figure it out here, or we figure it out there. But we still gotta deal. And death won’t change that.”

 

He’d nodded very slowly, staring at my hands as they created images neither of us really understood.

 

“That part never changes,” he whispered, as if it resonated. “You’re Moses and I’m Tag.”

 

I nodded. “Yeah. As much as that can suck sometimes, there’s comfort in it too. At least we know who we are.”

 

He never asked about his own mortality again, and in the weeks that followed, he’d donned a confidence that I suspected he’d once had in spades. He seemed to be making plans for what came next. I still didn’t have a clue.

 

“When you get out, where you gonna go?” Tag asked one night at dinner, his eyes on his food, his arms on the table. He could eat almost as much as I could, and I was pretty sure Montlake’s kitchen staff would enjoy a little reprieve when we left.

 

I didn’t want to talk about this with Tag. I really didn’t want to talk about it with anyone. So I fixed my gaze to the left of Tag’s head, out the window, letting him know I was ready for the conversation to end. But Tag persisted.

 

“You’re almost nineteen. You are officially out of the system. So where you gonna go, Mo?” I don’t know why he thought he could call me Mo. I hadn’t given him permission. But he was like that. Worming his way into my space.

 

My eyes flickered back to Tag briefly, and then I shrugged as if it wasn’t important.

 

I’d been here for months. Through Christmas, through New Year’s, and into February. Three months in a mental institution. And I wished I could stay.

 

“Come with me,” Tag said, tossing down his napkin and pushing his tray away.

 

I reared back, stunned. I remembered the sound of Tag crying, the wails that echoed down the hall as he was brought into the psych ward the night he was admitted. He’d arrived almost a month after I had. I had lain in bed and listened to the attempts to subdue him. At the time, I hadn’t realized it was him. I only put two and two together later when he told me about what brought him to Montlake. I thought about the way he’d come at me with his fists flying, rage in his eyes, almost out of his head with pain in the session where we’d met. Tag interrupted my train of thought when he continued speaking.

 

“My family has money. We don’t have much else, but we have tons of money. And you don’t have shit.”

 

I held myself stiffly, waiting. It was true. I didn’t have shit. Tag was my friend, the first real friend, other than Georgia, that I’d ever had. But I didn’t want Tag’s shit. The good or the bad, and Tag had plenty of both.

 

“I need someone to make sure I don’t kill myself. I need someone who’s big enough to restrain me if I decide I need to get smashed. I’ll hire you to spend every waking minute with me until I figure out how to stay clean without wanting to slit my wrists.”

 

I tipped my head to the side, confused. “You want me to restrain you?”

 

Tag laughed. “Yeah. Hit me in the face, throw me to the ground. Kick the crap out of me. Just make sure I stay clean and alive.”