In my dream I make a scene in front of a party of four, and, once I realize what I’ve done, apologize to the man I shouted at, who seems older than he should be—tall and thin, with greying brown hair and glasses. I deliver this to the entire table, but only he—the one I insulted—bothers to listen.

I don’t know how to explain that what came out was more involuntary than anything I’ve ever felt or acted upon. When I say goodbye, the woman at the centre of this drama, who I have barely talked to, is facing away from me, wearing a jean jacket and looking at the water. Pretending like it never happened.

I wake up several times that night—in a bed I will later discover is two foam mattress tops placed on top of each other. This is by the river. On the radio a story about a man who discovers mathematics in prison; he is in ecstasy describing its beauty. How did he arrive there? He was given a sheet of problems to solve while he was stuck in solitary confinement.

In the interview the man telling his story can’t seem to feel the barbarity of what they’ve done to him, too focussed on what is beyond. A teenage mathematician he has been in contact with says, for several minutes, without purpose, “He’s not like a prisoner in the movies. He’s not hard. He’s like you or me.”

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