It Began The Way It Always Did
He was tall like a redwood but decidedly less sturdy. He shrugged his way out of relationships like you would a sweater, and one could barely finish wrapping their arms all the way around him before he left them in a pile on the floor. The last thing he wanted was to be dependable. He was like a magnet, though; the halo of energy around him hummed and buzzed and was easy to latch on to. It was easy to be caught in his current, to be sucked in to his ebb and flow, swept under. It was easy to drown in him.
She noticed it before she noticed him. She could see the orange-yellow of his magnetic, ruthless energy from the second story window. It was too bright, she decided, and she wanted nothing to do with it. But then she saw the grayish-blue tint on the very inner rings of him, and realized there was something calmer and deeper in there somewhere, and she became immensely interested in extracting it.
They met on the day the bombs tumbled viciously and unannounced from the sky.
She noticed how he always adjusted his tie before entering the building, and she wondered about the way people pulled themselves together to keep their heads from rolling to the ground. She liked to imagine his head was on a little more crooked than everyone else’s, and that he had to straighten it out every morning after brushing his teeth.
There was an afternoon during which they both found themselves at the same elevator, and his aura was so strong she squinted at him. He asked her why she was looking at him so strangely.
“Oh, I’m sorry, it’s just — Well, I think I’ve seen you before.”
“Your tie — It’s crooked.”
He looked down at his impeccably straight tie, and smiled.
“Say, are you going to lunch?”
“A girl has to eat.”
The odd pair were new to each other but they weren’t strangers, not at all. She knew him, she knew him from the moment she saw his halo from her office window.
Twenty minutes into their lunch, the pair had exchanged names, work titles, and their salad preferences — And then a crash. Louder than anything she had ever heard. And another, bang, and she knew it was the bombs. She had been expecting them, as had he, but no one had expected them so soon. Some began frantically asking for their checks; others simply ran out, ran toward home, ran somewhere safe. But she knew she had nowhere to go. She just thought she had more time. From the look he gave her, he faced the same grim reality.
A sharp heat crept its way up the base of her skull, and she shut her eyes against it. She instinctively flung out her hand to grab on to something, and found herself faced with the realization that she had placed her hand directly on top of his. Flustered, she removed it and clutched it to her chest in a tight fist, but he only smiled at her.
“It’s okay,” he said.
She intended to shake her head no, but another loud crack sent her hand flying out once more. This time she left it there, her palm barely resting on his knuckles. She opened her mouth to say something, but when the next white-hot crash rang out she felt his hand flex slightly under hers, and she realized he was afraid as well. She looked for signs of it on him, but his face had settled into neutral, his lips a flat, even line. He glowed a deep blue the color of his eyes. She shrugged the tenseness out of her shoulders as she tried to reconcile with herself the fact that she was holding his hand, and that he was letting her, and that all around them the sky was falling.