She liked his vocabulary, even when his sentence structure was weak. He used "paroxysm" so naturally, was not afraid of contradictions and weak spots because he had so many. It helped, probably, that he was taller than most people and coul(more)d see their scalps. It seemed to her that it would be easier to be weak when everyone else assumed you were much stronger than they were.
He suffered no fools but was gracious and polite to servers and buskers. He smiled when people talked and asked thoughtful questions. She assumed he was interested, and he was, but not very.
Just before he saw her, he started smoking again. He had quit two years earlier, but he bought another pack on his way to meet her. She was wearing the scarf he had given her. He rubbed the cigarette against a brick wall when he saw the scarf around her neck. It was a concession to the moment. At least: she still owned it.
The subway is almost always quieter than it seems like it should be. Even packed sometimes no one makes sound, and you hear so much metal squealing and banging, and air hissing, and Excuse Me Excuse Me. And someone drops a phone, and a man leans over to pick it up and handing it to the owner says, Miss? Miss? And she nods in thanks and looks at the screen: no cracks.
She expected to be so focussed on this moment, and instead she sat down and saw all of the other people and wondered who they loved and what didn't work out and which gifts they will still pick up when they want to be reminded. It wasn't him so much, she thought. Just: Goddammit.(less)
"Looks like there's no avoiding it... what a shame. I really wanted to be by your side until the end of it all."
"I don't want you to go!" Her face is a complete and utter mess. There are tears everywhere and she has to snuffle constantly so(more) snot doesn't dribble everywhere, and she knows she looks completely ridiculous and undignified and probably sounds even worse but that doesn't matter, all she cares about is the insurmountable separation that's just about ready to destroy her life. "Please, there's got to be some other way! I could just go myself-"
"But you'd die."
"And you'd live!"
"Without you? I'd hardly call that living."
"And what about me? How can you expect me to go on without you? You're the only person who ever..." She tries to choke back a sob, but the latent reality of it weighs heavily on her, brings her to her knees as she clutches at her companion's coat. A lingering hand delicately teases her hair.
"I'm sorry, but you're too important. A lot of people rely on you, and you can't really do anything for them if you're dead."
"Didn't you want to heal the world? Weren't you so passionate about being the breath of life this dying planet needed?"
"...it doesn't matter if you aren't with me."
"Please don't say that. Promise me you'll keep trying, no matter what."
After a stretch of silence, she gives an almost imperceptible nod and hears a sigh of relief as her fingers trail to the edge of the coat. With a final, fleeting kiss, she lets go.(less)
Time is fleeting. We have all heard it before. It's true. Any one of us can attest to it, and we all acknowledge its truth, though we have varying experience with the slipperiness of time. For some, that fleeting moment may stretch on for a year but move like(more) in a dream, slow and stuck, before suddenly the world crashes down around you and everything is moving so fast that you have no idea of where you are or what you are doing with your life.
This was not that.
This was, in fact, quite the opposite.
He knew exactly where he was; he was inside of a clock tower, with his sleeve caught in a cog system, fairly high up. He knew what he was doing: frantically trying to get free. And he knew that those fleeting moments, when he cursed the resilience of the fabric, and his inability to extract himself from it. The seconds passed as very physical things-- he hear as they sped around him, feel as the ground shook while they slid from his grasp. And he could see the gears bearing down on him. A few more fleeting moments, and he would be done with this set of moments. His arm would be crushed, and then it would be time to worry about another fleeting set of moments, as he tried to get down several flights of stairs, and get help before he bled out. He knew chances weren't good. He steeled himself.
We all fight wars with the clock, we all know our lives are fleeting.
He was just a good deal more aware than most. (less)
Good things come in threes, and after that, no more.
The first good thing was Peter. Although he ended up under Arthur's care due to some rather unfortunate circumstances, it didn't change the fact that the boy was something of a small blessing. Arthur had never been the(more) best with children, but something about drinking tea in the evening, the TV turned on in front of them, was enough to earn him Peter's loyalty, though he couldn't imagine why.
The second good thing was Francis, who had come to him in the form of the worst pick-up line Arthur had ever heard. He couldn't fathom how he allowed that man into his life, but somehow Francis was always there, with a kind word or a gentle touch, and sometimes Arthur would find himself lost as he listened to the other's soft voice, with 'r's that clung to the back of the throat.
The third good(?) thing was Mihai, and Francis' pick-up lines were nothing after that. Arthur had known him before (or rather, known of him), but their paths hadn't exactly crossed until they ended up in an exploding building together. Funny, the way fate went about about these things, because their fleeting acquaintance(?), friendship(?), romance(?) ended in very much the same way.
After that, he thought that three was too good to hope for, and one or two of those good things would suffice. Three was the best the universe could do for anyone, and to hit that number meant the good times were drawing to a close. He wished he'd known before he allowed Mihai that kiss (slow and deliberate and honest), because after that all there was to do was to wait for the time to run out.(less)