One Hundred, Ninety Nine, Ninety Eight

Enervation was setting in. Colors became opaque, and sounds became feeble.

“You should stop visiting. It takes too much out of you.”

“I can’t help it. I miss you.”

The fog was enveloping me, and a layer of frost was forming on my lips. I was so cold I could no longer feel his touch; ironic, since all I ever came for was his touch. I closed my eyes and directed all of my energy to that one essential sense. Time was unperceivable, except for the dulling of sight, sound, and touch. Scents never dissipated, but that didn’t mean anything to me. I couldn’t smell his warmth, I couldn’t catch a whiff of his fingertips digging into my waist or caressing my shoulders. But, if I could just hold on to his touch a little longer, the arduous journey would be worthwhile.

“I know,” he whispered solemnly, pulling back his hand. He knew there was nothing left for me.

“How long has it been?” I asked. The concept of time passing still meant something to me, even if I could not sense it  myself. Numbers seemed instinctively (or, habitually) important to me. I had to find ways to keep track – superfluous as I knew it was.

“Six months.” He sighed and shrank back. His shape was blending into the fog now.

Six months was good. It was half of a year. It was more than one season. It was enough time to build memories, if I could figure out how to do that. Up to this point, I had only mastered the ability to retain knowledge. I knew him, and was comforted by his familiarity. I missed it when it went away. But I couldn’t remember anything. As it was, the six months had already faded; buried in the crevice of my mind that was once reserved for memory and time. Now it seemed the only parts of me that still worked were the parts that yearned for his presence.

“You should go. It’s time.”

“I know,” I whispered, not willing to admit that I was already gone.

The fog grew heavier; darker even. He was only a shadow now and his voice was surreal. I was no longer hearing it with my ears, but rather recognizing it somewhere in my mind. I knew he was saying words, and I let that be enough as I drifted away.

“What is time?” I mumbled in half awareness.

I knew the answer: just a number of minutes until I could feel him again.

I just needed my strength back; I needed to become whole again, and then I’d be back. And we would be happy, again. And the monsters would sit at bay, so far from us that they would be virtually inconsequential. And no one would control my fate, or take me away, or take him away.

Just a number…” I groaned.

The air wrapped itself around me and dragged me through the blurry darkness. I would be back, in time; whatever that was.

My brain swelled, my fingers shrivelled, my eyes fluttered shut. I exhaled without will. Slow and steady, the release came. I gave in wholly, eased by the calm it brought. But soon, that quiet non-existence would be awoken to awareness again. Awareness of his absence would ignite all of my senses, and send me back to him – until we ran out of minutes, again.

Somewhere, deep inside, I knew I was counting down those precious numbers.

Shyla Fairfax-Owen ©

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