She was a drop of sunshine, sent from above.
He was rain, or a teardrop.
She was light and airy, she had wings.
He was dark and closed, he lifted his weighted chains every day to get out of bed.
She was free and he was not.
But he was unattached, where she was held down and fighting.
She was his past and his future, yet they had never met. Until finally, today, he was supposed to meet her. She didn’t know it, but in the midst of all the chaos and ruin, the flaming sun and acid rain, he had found her. She was the future of the Earth, supposedly. While he was a broken escapee of a group of extremists. As soon as he had remembered he had family, he ran. Far. He ended up right where he had started, beaten down and in the slums, watching from the outside in. His mother decided he was forgotten, so he had forgot her. But now, her, a chance to get out, get help, change things. But she would never know.
He looked up, into the mirror. He was not the innocent boy begging for bread anymore. He ran his hands through raggedy hair, stopping at the ends. He held it taut and lifted the scissors, clipping at the base of his neck. He went throught the process the men had taught him, snipping and razing until it was no longer than a couple inches. It would have to do. He shaved, the first time in a month or two. The first time he’d had enough money for the habit. His face was washed of the dirt and grime collected from the streets and polluted air.
The trees were almost all gone, he thought wistfully as he peered out the window to his left. Looking back into the mirror, he carefully traced the lines around his eyes with a finger, and down to the ones around his mouth. They weren’t there a couple of years ago. Letting out a soft grunt for the past, he turned on his heel, walking back into the one and only room he had. It was small and cramped, a bed that doubled as a sofa pushed up against the wall, a tiny refrigerator, stove, and one solitary cabinet against the other. At least he had a fairly nice microwave oven. He got it from a restaurant down the street. Closed now. Rats they said. Dirty, dirty rats. He hurriedly dressed, pulling on a suit and tie. It was Armani, gold cufflinks, camel colored to set off his eyes. As somebody once told him. It was the only nice thing left of the past few years. He would never give it up unless he was at deaths door. And even then, it would probably go home with him. He shoved his feet almost haphazardly into a pair of loafers. Stolen from a thrift. But they were in good condition, nice brand, and comfortable. He never stole unless it was absolutely necessary. And a man can’t go to a gala in Armani and flip-flops.
He looked good. He knew that without looking in the mirror. But he still did, because it was a special occasion. And he wanted to look… deceivingly good. He put a bit of gel in his hair, just what he had been saving for months. He adjusted his sleeves and tie until they set just right. Perfect. She would never know.
Having nothing important but a paper to bring, he shoved the latter into his pocket, along with a breathmint and a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. He didn’t smoke, but perhaps she did. Squaring his shoulders, he pushed open his door. And walked out, onto the sidewalk he normally walked with hunched back and slight limp. And for once, he felt powerful. He felt like a year ago. Except now he had a bullet wound in his leg and shoulder blade, scars crossing his stomach, and the wrinkles in his otherwise young face. He drew attention. He looked like a somebody. Yet nobody recognized him.
The wealth of luxe he was walking into was thankfully only a few blocks away. It was where the buildings started to get taller, the streets were cleaned up, the electronic billboards still had light. He knew exactly where the festivities were. He knew the exact street, building, apartment, and door. He had played and begged there. He gritted his teeth. And walked inside. Without even glancing at the signs, he stepped onto the lift, pressing eight and door 441. It hauled him off quickly, the slight pressure helping him lean against the wall without too much pain in his knee. Soon, the doors opened onto an woman standing outside a red painted door. She was elderly, but still up with the trends and tech as he could see from her glittering gold dress and ear com. He wondered how she could still hear, let alone be alive.
She probably had work done, his mind meandered as he looked her over. Mrs. Whitley, poor Mrs. Whitley. Although now that her husband had died she probably wasn’t as poor. Surely she’d acquired that mansion in England. He smiled down at her.
“My condolences about the late Mr. Whitley.” he said, taking her hand and giving it a light squeeze. “Thank you for the invitation as well.”
Mrs. Whitley smiled, a confused cocking of the mouth. “Thank you young man. I’m sorry, I don’t quite remember your name.”
He smiled back at her, patting her hand. Of course she didn’t remember. “Zach. Zachery Silver. I met you a little while ago. Hmm, now where was that? Ah! The peace conference. In Seattle. That poor city…”
“Oh, yes, I remember you! I remember remarking to my husband when I planned this shindig how funny it would be to have a Gold and a Silver.” she replied. “And yes, yes, we all were shocked when the Needle fell.”
“Yes, well, let’s not ruin the mood. I should go and greet our guest of honor. Where might I find the legendary Ms. Gold?” he questioned, trying to relax his smile.
“Oh, well I wouldn’t have a clue. She’s always all over the place. Quite the social butterfly. She’ll be somewhere inside though. I last saw her near the fireplace with some lady friends. Perhaps she’s still there.” her hand squeezed his one last time before she let go and turned, humming softly.
He nodded, chuckling to himself before opening the red door and heading inside. He knew exactly what she looked like. He knew the sound of her voice and how she walked. He hadn’t stalked her. They were just so similar. And he had watched her as she ordered coffee. Every Saturday at 12:47. An iced coffee with light carmel and whole milk and a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. The coffee shop was right down the road from him, an odd spot for a lady like her.
He had only spoken with her once. An acid storm had just started and she was stuck inside, late for a meeting. He asked her if she wanted his jacket. She had said yes and thanked him profusely, given him money to use at the shop and walked away. He bought a coffee afterwards, exactly what she had gotten. And it tasted just like he had expected. Too much like hope and wishes. He threw it out on the ground outside after the storm. But now he had a chance again. He thought of all of it as he walked across the room, eyes skimming people he uses to know or could have known. Who knew him before. Each and every one had their secrets. Secrets they would kill to keep under wraps. He was certain some had. The younger ladies threw glances at him, to which he responded with an insolent, condescending scowl. What mothers they had. The older ones were pleasantly curious who the mannerly young man was, especially after he saved a mans cane from rolling under a chair.
But he had only one person in mind. Her. And he found her quickly, as he was walking to get some punch. He saw her like a lightning bolt had just struck; he was flabbergasted and awed. She wore a gown of gold and silk that highlighted her chestnut hair and bright green eyes. Like his suit did for him. And he could tell she knew it in the way she held her head high and walked with a slight sashay. She was confident and proud, with all the reason in the world to be so. After all, she was just made Chief Commander in Scientific Intelligence, the biggest part of the National Weather and Biological Protection Program. The NWBPP had labeled her as the best and brightest, in complete control of all her decisions and the most well rounded student they’d had the privilege of working with. Or so the newspapers said. He didn’t doubt it. After all, they were almost one in the same. Just wait until they saw him with a computer though, he trailed off.
He poured himself a drink, swirling the ice cubes around as he looked at her out of the corner of his eye. She was conversing with a couple of girl friends and another man, all about her age. They were smiling and laughing as they talked, but he noticed her eyes looked distracted; they kept darting about, as if they were searching for something or somebody. It was as good a time as any. He walked up.
“Well, if it isn’t the renowned Ms. Gold.” he started with a swift smile. “You look lovely tonight. And congratulations.”
She smiled back, allowing her eyes to finally settle on him. “Thank you. It’s an honor. And who might you be?”
“Zachary Silver. You can call me Zach, most do. I work at the Biotechnical College just down the road.”
“Oh, really? It’s a beautiful campus. Are you a teacher?” she asked, turning completely toward him.
He could smell the perfume she wore, a familiar scent. “Well, in a sense. I experiment and I’m coming up with some new ideas for the NWBPP and teach on the side. Majoring in computers and sequencing, not to toot my own horn. But hence why I wanted to meet you, seeing as I’ll be working closely with you sometime.”
She chuckled, raising a sculpted eyebrow. “Aren’t I the one who will decide that?”
He grinned. She was exactly as he had remembered. “Touché.”
She laughed again, this time louder, a more genuine sound. “Do you have your I.D.? I’ll put you in the database. I feel like we’ve met before, or you remind me of someone.”
He smiled, turning so his back was to the crowd. Her friends had walked off, leaving them by the fire. “Yeah, my I.D.’s right here.” He rubbed the rim of his glass, almost absentmindedly as he dug in his pocket. “In fact, I think we have met.”
Her mouth turned down in concentration. “But where at?”
He handed her the piece of paper he had made sure to take. “It’s just a photocopy.” he paused, looking her in the eyes. “Huggy.”
Her eyes snapped up, he saw her shoulders tense and mouth open. “Excuse me? D-did you just…”
“It’s been a while.” he responded flatly.
“Who are you? Oh my God. Zach.” she reached behind her, clutching the mantelpiece. “Zachy… you were dead.”
“No. I was forgotten Huggy. There’s a difference. I was a beat up pair of party store flip flops Sarah. Flip flops, that’s as good as I got!” he stepped closer, whispering and disturbingly calm. “I knew I couldn’t die. Not until I saw you. Armani. That’s what you always were. First class. And I never resented it. Never. I looked up to you.”
“Zachy, I’m sorry but I thought you were dead. Dead or wanted. Who ever knew with you.” she grabbed his arm, tears starting to show in glassy eyes, rain on emeralds. “Let me take you to the house, please!”
“No! It’s too late Huggy. I just wanted you to remember.” her face was already foggy. “Remember I loved you and forget the rest.”
His knees went weak and he shuddered, felt her nails in his bicep, saw her eyes dilate. “No, what are you talking about?! You can’t Zachy! Don’t you dare pull some dramatic act on me right after this!”
“You never did believe me…” he crumbled, like a fence in a hurricane.
It happened in slow motion, she watched as he folded, she screamed, grabbing and clutching him. She went down right after, her dress pooling like a lake, firelight reflecting off the sparkles. Her head hit the floor next to him. People rushed around her, grabbed at her shoulders. She clawed and fumbled, arms swinging and tears pouring, but she couldn’t fight the Medics who came, sirens blaring. They dragged her off of him. Placed her on a stretcher. She rode right next to him, her hand grasping his. It went cold. A hospital came and went. Papers passed trembling hands. Plans happened. A month flew by.
The gravestone read: Zacharias Gold Beloved Sister of Sarah (Huggy) Gold. May your love be remembered.