Darkness settles over the city. The sun has an ego tonight, for the moon tries to come out of hiding, but scarcely more than a sliver is visible. The traffic lights appear frozen as red lights illuminate the sky. Wind howls through the streets, producing a high-pitched whistle. People try walking against the current, but it’s too strong for many try taking shelter in cars. There are a few buildings on the left-hand side of the street; broken down with cloth for windows. On the right side are new-builds, nearly completed. In one such apartment complex awaiting completion, a man sways in the moonlight to the hum of a song not yet written. Words unable to form on his lips. His face remains expressionless. The rigour and routine by which he once lived his life is long lost. He remains silent, waiting for his thief.
She will show up today, I am sure… She has to.
He struggles to remember if it’s the right day; it’s been far too long; picturing her warm, soft face, all worries melt away from his mind like ice cream.
Looking around for something to ponder over; a temporary distraction from his ever-present doom, he notices a piece of white chalk lying on the raw concrete flooring. Bending to pick it up, he remembers his foolish self, drawing tallies on the cold wooden beams to signify each new day trapped. Chalk crumbling away with applied pressure. Once the construction workers began installing the drywall, he realized it was to no avail, for they would wash the mark away before every shift; fighting with one another, arguing over who was creating such a futile annoyance. The man soon stopped, he doesn’t wanted to orchestrate disorder, that’s never been his aim. He only wants her; her sweet angelic face and plump cherry lips. Not knowing the date is fine, it doesn’t affect him much. He doesn’t need to go to work or pay the milkman; everything is behind him, except for her. The woman’s schedule is unpredictable and there is no telling when she will come again. So he waits. Every day more unpleasant than the last. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Clank. Boom. Clank.
Oh, they’re leaving already?
The man walks over to stare outside the spruce window-frame. The final ruckus of the crew as they pack up for the day reigns cacophony through the streets. Fast food wrappers float away in the wind.
Mm mmm. I miss fizzy pop; burning my throat when I’m too excited to wait for the bubbles to die down, my eyes watering as the air tries to leave any way it can; and the cold salty french fries I would put down all my money for. I haven’t had McDonalds since… when?
The aroma of the Quarter Pounder’s remains stagnant; every person passing by breathing in the scented air as their stomachs rumble for dinner. The workers pile into their cars, blue jeans and tight shirts littered with ashes from the work.
It’s crazy how long that stuff stays here.
Busy youthful pedestrians line the murky puddle filled streets. He looks down at his own withered build and his surroundings, missing the comfort of purpose. The reason he woke up in the morning, got dressed, showered, and looked after himself.
He once had a purpose, the joy of his life, her.
“Do you promise?” She whispered, their eyes to the stars, backs to the smooth rock by the ocean.
“That you’ll never love another.”
At that moment, he turned to face her, speaking with more passion than Romeo himself could conjure;
“Words cannot express what I feel for you,
no other love could be as true,
your eyes are deeper than a thousand oceans,
every time you come within my vision, my heart overflows with emotion.”
“And I, you, my sweet.”
They loved each other so, but their fate shouldn’t have come a surprise for true love is seldom rewarded in real life.
I need her again. I need anyone again. I just can’t be alone any longer.
The chatter of city night-life brings him back to the present. A lady’s bag is being stolen by a hooded figure, stray cats roaming the streets meowing. Wondering if his burglar should chance to appear this moon, he wanders the halls.
Wowza- they’ve certainly run with it, haven’t they? They lifted the ceilings so no more claustrophobia, the lighting’s fixed so no more walking through catacombs. Oh, this would have been lovely to live in.
The grey walls have a slight blue hue to them. The same blue as the ocean that appeared on their wedding day.
It was beautiful. Many people believe yellow is the colour of happiness, and I used to be one of those fools. But that day I knew it was blue. The gritty sand got caught in my toes. It was an annoyance really, but one worth having because then you could walk barefoot into the water. Oh, I miss textured sand; I miss cold water; I miss sunny beaches.
On their way to the little chapel, she begged to stop for a picture. It used to hang in their modest bathroom, complimenting the beach theme. He remembers watching the flames lick at the picture, edges curling up, colour turning to black, death. It’s buried now.
Gone. Just like me. Except it’s not keeping me company.
He peels his eyes away from the walls to focus on the doors. They haven’t put the room numbers up yet, but he can still remember who lived in each apartment. He can’t wait till they come back, well, those of them that can.
The man looks at the doorknobs, shiny and reflective metal. He remembers when they first moved in; everything was new, and he stared in awe at all the attention to detail the cleaning crew had given. He remembers checking his hair in the doorknob before he proposed. But now, he can’t see his reflection.
“Oh god! Ow, my foot! Oh shoot, I can’t believe they get the chance to make this place again and they can’t lower that first step just an inch!”
The man snaps out of his flashbacks. He could recognize that voice anywhere. Her.
He floats back to the room he last lay and waits for her stomping footsteps to make their way to him. If he had a heart, it would beat viscously. He had been waiting for this for… how long?
Light footsteps echo through the hall as she enters the room. Hair flowing over her shoulders like silk spun in a spider’s web. Skin smooth as porcelain and lips soft like cotton candy.
“Peter. Peter, are you there?
I know it’s crazy to be here, to even think you can hear me, see me, but I just need to talk to you. I… I need closure. It all ended so suddenly. Everything. The life we had built together. Gone.”
It’s not gone. What is she saying?
“You were everything. You are everything. No, no, you were. You were. I still love you so, I always will. You were my first love. But, it’s been a year.”
“And I need to move on.”
What? What are you saying?
He aches to scream, but he doesn’t; he knows she will never hear.
“I’m engaged.” She laughs.
“I never thought I could ever love again after you went in the fire but-”
Everything fades out as his vision focuses on the gold ring, a diamond the size of Jupiter is dead center.
“He’s… believe it or not… an old friend from highschool, Dave. After your death, he added me on Facebook and we started talking. He works as an investment banker. They’re actually not boring, or at least he isn’t.
She laughs again, a light tinkering sound, like wind chimes on a hot summer’s day.
How could she do such a thing? She loved again? Another man stole her from me? No! No! This cannot be happening! It was to be me and you! Never another! Never another! You promised! Don’t leave me alone, please!
“I just wanted to come here to let you know that, I’m happy. It took me a long time to realize but, I now know it’s what you would have wanted all along.”
No. When did I say that? Such words never left my mouth. You didn’t come here to “let me know”, you came to gloat. You survived, and I didn’t. You lived, and I didn’t. You’re happy and I’m… well… I will be.
The man uses all the energy left in him to shake the building.
“Woah, what’s happening?” She trembles.
Maybe life is fair after all.
The ceiling cracks, pieces fall down. It caves.
The sky is black as death itself. Sirens blare. People shout. She screams and screams, but it’s too late. By the time emergency responders reach her body, the life has been drained out. Her body is a fragment of who she was; red, scratched lips poking out of the white dust cloud and grey rubble.
And with that, the man fades away. A consortium of hate, fear, and anguish. A lonely mess of soul. He transforms and drops out the side of the rubble along with all the other raindrops; endlessly falling to the ground, meeting their demise once they’re no longer needed. And he is no longer needed.