Jason Foote

“Don’t try to anticipate their arrival,” Perry said. “All you’ll do is wear yourself out.”

Water was leaking through the roof, spreading throughout the stained orange carpet. Foote took a pan out of the kitchen, put it under the leak. The chiming noise of falling water filled the room briefly, until an inch or so of water had collected in the bottom of the pan, deadening the sound.

There was one chair in the room, and Perry was sitting in it. Foote was sitting on the floor, his knees drawn up to his chest, his arms wrapped around them. His back was to the wall. A large bruise covered one side of his face, the deep colour of wine in the center, yellowing at the edges. He had been crying. Perry had done nothing, said nothing, until Foote had stopped crying.

They were very tired. Perry was older — he had been in the room for almost a year — and he had resigned himself to the routine of violence, sleep deprivation, and isolation that regulated life in the room. Foote had come to the room two weeks — sixteen days — ago. He had pounded three holes in the walls, until four of his fingers broke. Perry had sat in the chair, eyes following him as Foote bandaged his hand, without really paying any attention to him.

It was the first time they’d spoken in over a week. Perry’s voice had the same moldy atmosphere as the room.

The light flickered and went out. Foote squeezed his eyes shut and listened to the water falling into the pan.