We've never spoken, but I could swear She knows what I'm planning, exactly why I'm trying to stay just far away enough so She can't reach for me, but keeping Her close enough to watch, make sure She can't sneak up on me on one dark night, around a blind corner. So far She's mostly amused, not insulted... and why wouldn't She be? She's seen this before. So many billions of times before. The ways and means have varied, but in the end it's all come down to that moment, when the light fades on all the pleading, the tears, the fights, the pain.
The moment when the light fades away into the silence.
A baby and a middle-aged man, one a stranger, one the remotest acquaintance, yet...
One is dead, the other is dying, and behind each unknown face I see a familiar one looking out, through that tangle of hair, and is that a wink?
We've all been there, she whispers, done that. Give it your best shot. You're interesting. Maybe I'll give you a little chance. Just to see how far you get. I got the razor to your throat, the bead on your head, but... let's run, anyway. It's fun.
And who knows?
She's looking directly at me now, like the few times before, and wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, I can feel that glance, sliding in like an abstract icicle shard, a diamond-edged scalpel slicing through hopes, dreams, fears, desires, wants, plans, every resource I've saved and every defense I've built. Straight to the heart it goes, and stops, with the faintest single crystalline-cold tingle of a touch that reverberates through my life, then goes back, a little reminder of how close she can get, and how ephemeral the world and all I held close in it was, to begin with.
A little reminder of how it can all end. Anytime.
Anytime She wants.
That's fine, I whisper back, I know you're there, but let's run anyway. It'll be fun.
And her razor grin widens as her whipcord body relaxes, and - yet again - that tiniest nod.
And we run.
We run through traffic, through blaring horns, skidding rubber, and hurtling metal; we run through the billion, trillion little killer lives hanging in the air waiting to take root; we hurdle open manholes, dodge fizzing, spitting power lines, skate under crumbling, creaking edifices, and past dark alleys glinting with watching eyes and waiting steel. We run past claws, teeth, stings, and talons, we run through deserts, skate over thin ice, jump dark chasms, through freezing cold, open flame, and a witches' brew of poison, we run through night and dark as thunder growls in the building clouds...
We parkour through that dazzling, dizzying obstacle course called Life and and I can still see Her, still here in the corner of my eye, effortlessly pacing me in the distance, and She's laughing in delight.
And She's laughing because, no matter how tired, how damaged, how heartsick, I'm laughing too, and I will keep laughing till all the laughter runs out, into the silence at the end.
But for now, this is the most awesome thing ever.
And we run.