Kevin looked back over his shoulder, just once, as he ran down the empty street. The drone was still back there, following him. He cursed his luck; why did this have to be the one day that not a single person wanted to be out enjoying the sunshine on Fourth Street? Any other day this place would be thronged with people.
He felt like a fool for choosing the path he had, and nearly wasted running energy to facepalm himself as he remembered that the boat races were this afternoon. Of course no one was on Fourth! You couldn’t get any farther from the river and still be downtown.
Kevin huffed and puffed and tried to urge a tiny bit more speed from his worn tennies. He couldn’t check for it any more without slowing down or risking a dangerous fall, but he imagined the drone inching closer and closer, nipping at his heels, as it were. A silent tear ran down his face. If he got caught, the scandal would annihilate his reputation.
The daylight was creeping from the cracks and crevices of the still neighborhood, and Kevin let the loaf of bread slip from his fingers and into the clutches of the grocery manager’s drone. Entropy slithered upward another notch, and Kevin’s family would go hungry tonight.
Rochester’s gamble looked like it was going to pay off; the girl was walking toward the alley where she would, with any luck, meet her doom. He peered at the screen intently, waiting on the edge of his seat, without the slightest tinge of remorse to mar his heartless soul.
The girl stopped, and so did Rochester’s heart. She cocked her head to the side, as though listening to someone who wasn’t there. He ground his teeth in frustration as he watched her kneel to pluck a daisy from a crack in the sidewalk. That’s just so like her, he thought. Never keeping on task when there’s a bit of fuzz to distract her.
Rochester breath whistled in and out between the heavy hairs lining his nostrils as he played the waiting game. Will she or won’t she? Come on already!
He lashed out, kicking a filing cabinet into the wall as she stood back up and turned around. Rochester’s sweaty hamfists pummeled the desk, and the slip of a girl went on about her day, thoughts of butterflies and flowers babbling through her brain, never knowing how close she had come to dismemberment.
He bent farther and farther over the keyboard, his eyelids growing heavier and heavier as the hour grew later. The question of a life/work/study balance was moot in this case; his thirst for knowledge was near parasitic with the physical toll it took on him.
Through the echoing absurdities of internet rabbit-holes he searched, the long night growing longer and longer with every hot breath he took. The pounding rhythm of his heart beat in his ears like a drum until he felt that the inescapable sound would drive him mad.
A cool hand crept across his shoulder and down his chest; he jumped nearly from his chair.
“Come to bed, darling. Google will still be here tomorrow,” she said, softly closing his laptop and taking his hand to draw him up from his seat.
He nodded, the splinter of sense that she’d driven into him digging deeper until he felt more like himself again, and realized that it was well past time to join her in their bed.
She leaned down to kiss him, and the softness of her lips was enough to make up his mind.
windows to see through
doors to walk through
a bed to sleep in
Celia rocked back and forth in the recliner, her toe tapping the floor with each heave forward, a deep amorphous feeling of absentness within her chest.
She stared blankly into space, her mind flitting and floating from topic to topic, the grasshopper that jumped on her when she was seven years old, the family trip to the mountains to stay at a ski lodge, her brother’s negligence when it came to calling and keeping her from worrying. She hadn’t heard from him in well over two months, and it was nearing the longest stretch of time in their lives to go without contact.
Her cell phone let out a long, jarring warning tone: a tornado touched down in her area and she needed to seek safety as soon as possible. She switched her volume off, and continued rocking, tapping the floor and tapping the floor.
The roar of the storm passed her by, and she still didn’t hear from her brother.
She looked at me as if to say
forgive me, I’m sorry.
I promised her she’d done no harm.
She begged me aloud, over and over,
forgive me, I’m sorry.
I tried and tried
to reassure her
but it wasn’t enough.
I understand that you’re hurting,
that you think you’ve done me wrong,
but I promise, I swear,
you’ve done nothing.
Nothing to be sorry for.
Nothing to forgive.
He came home.
I saw the look on her face.
And I understood.