may 14. 21:28 hours. they are lying on the bed in their bedroom watching a movie when the tv screen suddenly freezes. all attempts to reboot the decoder fail. the words “scanning,” screaming at them in blue from the frozen tv screen. he stands by the media center considering the option of kicking the decoder. she is watching him closely, guessing what could be going on in his head. she knows to leave him alone when things don’t work.

“what is the one thing you own that is truly yours.” he switches off the tv and tosses the remote on the bed. he picks up a novel on the bedside stand and sits down on the couch in the room.

“my kids.” he laughs and looks at her. she turns and smiles at him.

“your kids are not yours because you cannot determine what happens to them.” he opens the page with his bookmarker.

“that’s some crazy logic.”

“imagine this. we get a divorce and i sue for custody of the kids and win. you lose your kids.”

“well, i didn’t think of that.” she gets off the bed, picks up her house gown.

“so, what is it you own that you can truly call yours.” stopping her in her tracks on her way out of the bedroom. she turns to face him.

“my clothes.” he puts the novel on the couch, to search for a pencil in the drawer of bedside stand.

“really. what if someone breaks into this house right now and takes everything inside it, including your clothes, so –”

“so, you’re saying there’s nothing in this world i own?”

“words.”

“i beg your pardon?” she goes to sit on the bed, facing him. an explain-this-to-me-like-i-am-a-five-year-old look on her face.

“i said words. those are the only things you can truly own. the words you know are the only things you own. no one can take them from you.” he gets off the couch to pick up his house-coat.

“and if someone brainwashes you?”

“well, that person would’ve to reprogram you, and no programming is complete without words.” she catches a slight whiff of his perfume. standing there in his house-coat, he reminds her of one of the scientists from lagado.

“you see, without words you cannot even think. you have to know a word for something before you can think about it.” he sits on the the couch. “you see -” he goes quiet.

“what about the emotions of love, do you need to know the word to feel that?” he doesn’t respond. he is staring at her, but doesn’t say anything.

“i do agree you need to know something to think about it. sometimes when i read a word in a novel i don’t know, i can’t even imagine what it means. do you –” she stops to look at him. there’s something vacant in his eyes – like he can’t hear her.

“is something wrong, babe?” nothing. he continues to stare at her – vacantly.

silence.

“is it the dinner? are you feeling ok?” he continues to stare at her, saying nothing, acknowledging nothing, signaling nothing with his hands. she waves her hand in front of his face, his eyes follow her hands, but no words.

“babe, stop this. this isn’t funny.” 

silence.

“babe, talk to me.”

silence.

she kneels in front of him. she gestures to him, nothing. it’s as if he has lost all power of comprehension. she panics, what if what they were just talking about is happening? what if he has suddenly lost all the words in his head? is that why he cannot understand and respond to my hand gestures? she muses. she gestures “talk to me,” to him.

silence.

she remembers what he said some time ago as they watched the sign-language person during a news broadcast. “you have to know the word to know what is being signaled.” she signals “what’s wrong?” 

silence.

he is a prankster, but she also knows when he is being serious – this seems serious. she gets off her knees, half runs to her side of the bed and picks up her phone from the bedside stand. she dials.

“hey dad! it’s jacqueline, i think something serious has happened to jack …”