Thad stood by the wall waiting for her. His dark hair hung around his pale face making his blue eyes blaze as though they were lighted stained glass. When she came he watched every detail of her, the jaunty walk that carried her, the long dirty blond hair swaying, the fingers that pushed it back, the smile that flashed across her face to greet him. He was so absorbed in all of these details, drawing them in like a plant drinking up sunshine, that he hardly moved. His smile was brief and only skin deep, his eyes blazed on like deep blue wounds, unaffected by the momentary twitch of his lips. She had the camera in her hands and was already raising it to take his photo. Now he moved, raising a hand.
“Wait a minute, your taking my picture?”
“Yeah.” She said looking at him above the camera, still smiling.
“Why?” he asked, and she shrugged in response,
“Because you look good.”
“I mean what are you going to do with it? It’s not for a project or something, is it? I don’t want to see myself on flicker.”
Now it was her turn to ask,
“Why?” she let the camera drop a little.
“Because I don’t want other people looking at me, I don’t like feeling like I’m on display. You’ve been taking all these pictures. What are you doing with them?”
“Well,” she said, lowering the camera entirely, “Nothing yet. What’s the matter? I thought we were having fun?”
“We have been, it’s just that I want the fun to be between us. These are our moments. I don’t want to share them.”
Her cheeks flushed with color. He watched the smile and the warmth flee from her eyes. When it went away he felt as though he was being stabbed in the heart. She was drawing it back into herself, refusing to share.
“Nothing is ours, Thad. We’re borrowing time from death.” She said coolly.
She was being philosophical, as she was prone to be. So beautiful, so warm and open and then so cold and incomprehensible. Why? Why couldn’t she just enjoy being together? Why did she have to constantly take pictures and say things that baffled him?
“What do you mean?” he asked her.
“I mean that we don’t own anything. We are temporary occupants of these bodies, and this world. These aren’t our moments, these are just moments that we are a part of.”
These words pushing him away, he struggled for a foothold.
“It’s like you don’t even want to be in the moment. You’re just hiding behind the camera. What are you hiding from?”
Now her eyes seemed to be screaming, icy gusts of wind howling around his bones. Her voice was rigid, measured.
“I’m not hiding.” She said, “I am here. I see the moment as precious too. And I know that it’s temporary, that it will vanish, so I seize it, I do something with it, instead of letting it wash passively over me. I engage it. Because I care. Because it isn’t just about me.”
The sun was sinking behind the buildings at her back, tucking its light safely away.
“You’re trying to capture it, but then it’s just dead.” He said.
Shadowy coolness kissed their skin.
“Don’t tell me what I’m trying to do.” She answered. She didn’t yell, but the words were severe, punishing. “I know what I’m doing. And I can do it somewhere else, with someone else if you don’t want to.”
She stared at him and their eyes locked in a silent battle, a tug of war between souls. Then she turned her back on him and walked away, a breeze catching her hair as she went.
He watched her details receding, drew them into himself greedily, stoking the green fires in his gut, wanting, and hating simultaneously. She disappeared out of the gate and around the corner, leaving him alone, standing by the wall in the diminishing light, a picture that would never be taken.