White noise of faceless chatter smothers him.
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The crowded hallway surges. Forms pass like liquid up stairs and out doorways.
Under coke-bottle lenses, searching eyes roll left/right/left/right. Body jerks; lungs convulse in nervous breaths. Panic floods brainwaves. Shudders. Ears jolt, prick themselves like radar ? pick up signals: voices, phantoms, shadows. People moving room-to-room and class-to-class.
She is somewhere just around the corner. He feels her. He waits by soda machine. Every day she passes ? three minutes passed eleven. He stands poised; one hand scratches prickly skin, the other thrust into pocket. Clammy fingers grip two sweat-slick coins. Ready to look natural.
A casual meeting.
At just the right moment ? when she turns the corner ? he will lift fingers from pocket and glance, sudden swift glance toward her. Say hello and look surprised and ?didn?t I see you here yesterday?? She will notice as he drops coins into soda machine. He will offer, ?Can I get you anything?? and point to soda machine. She will find him charming. Say yes and smile. They will talk. He will walk her to class and she will love him forever.
m ou th
?hand, arm, bone, hair?soul?she is complete/perfect/pure. She expands forever. Endless in space/time/reality. She is the axis around which all things turn. She is the center around which all things revolve. She is the brightest star in the universe exploding a thousand times over. And he?
?he is the astronomer staring from millions of light years away?
Unimportant in the cosmic perspective?
Unseen and unheard?
Cataloging, recording, disseminating information.
For the whole world to remember?
a TO a
r rso r
m l l m
Everything is equal, symmetrical. Simple. Life begins/ends. Forces pull/repel/flow/ thrust/exits/extinguish.
Fate ? fate is real. There is an explanation, though no one knows it. There is an equation, as of yet, unelucidatable. But it is undeniable. He knows this. He is the watcher, the knower, the unseen observer. She is his target. Cosmic perfection?
The forms stir. Motion. Nervous eyes twitch. Watch. Nothing. Only faces. Wave after vacuous wave of empty faces ? each one unfamiliar. Each one indistinguishable from the next. Strangers. Apparitions. Cosmic dust. Dark matter.
Reality is a dream. It is opinion/perspective.
He hesitates/shrugs/panics. Life is now.
Sweat drips thick.
The corridor heaves. Hustling and bustling. Chatter?nameless/faceless voices. Bodies push/shove/drive on and on and on?
Identities shift, one instant to the next.
And he is part of her. He can feel her pulling him toward her. Destiny, like an anomaly, a black hole, unseen yet inescapable. And he is there, orbiting just beyond the event horizon, waiting to disappear into eternity?
The crowd bulges, bursts then grates along. The solar winds bellow all cosmic dust and drivel. Time is almost up. Next class begins. Life moves summarily/swiftly. Things change. Two minutes past eleven.
Bodies push past him/around him/through him; individuals touch, connect, break apart and move on, in every direction. In every possible way things change. Grow, swell, shrink, fade, die, shift and so on and so on and so on?
He knows this. It is as the universe is?
And things will change for him.
Faces glide through the hallway. Chatter everywhere. He stands frozen. Aware. Giggling, bubbling voices shake against him, invade his thoughts, probe his senses. Fingers ache pinching the coins in his pocket.
?Control,? he tells himself, ?Control.?
Body splinters, hands-reach-out-from-skull? control. Deep breaths, in and out and in and out.
He is all hollow lungs and iron nerve?
He is wraith-like blue and vapor?
She is perfect symmetry. Force and pull equal ? cancel one another. Magnetism. Motion. Sway. Gravitation. He can feel her frequency ? her wavelength. Her celestial echo. Only his instruments are tuned to her. Her beauty. Her eternity. Her heaven (if you believe in such a place) and, oh, what wonders are possessed in nature!
And he is nothing, less than a photon. The moment before the big bang ? absence. Pure vacancy. Pure possibility. Tabula Rasa! Darkness or pure brightness.
And she is everything. And he?s pulled toward her. Momentum. Draw. And he is long passed the event horizon. No turning back. He will fade into eternity?
A smile quivers on his lips. Heart drums. Life?s rhythm. The music of the soul, of the cosmos, of time and life and love and everything beautiful and her?
He senses, the moment is coming. Sweat seeps like cosmic honey in the vacuum of the hallway. In the endless stream of atoms that equate to molecules that equate to faces on bodies with identities that pass and pass in the hallway, in the darkness, in every moment of his life.
It is now. She is now and it is every empty cup being filled a thousand times over?
It is every dream bursting out of sleeping?
It is the earth and the universe and all the ephemeral planes erupting in interminable cosmic poetry?
It is a dance that lasts a millisecond passed eternity?
And there it is/ the moment. The voice rises over the ghostly echoes of useless chatter, the space junk of hello how are you fades and the voice rises like a pulsar, a beacon to set your optics to. The flash-flash of perfect cosmic beauty.
She is there! Alive and smiling and sending shudders through the hallway, the space time continuum and on into forever. She is dancing and laughing and the moment comes?
She is there and in all the timelessness and vastness of the universe there is only one place and one time and it is here and it is now?
His fingers raise the coins slick fall away and scatter and bounce and roll along the ground in a symphony of ironic fate and glass breaking earth shattering celestial calamity.
She walks by unobserving. Unseeing. Unknowing.
A great scream builds in him. The scraping along of an ever expanding universe.
The tragic realization that everything is growing farther and farther apart.
He turns, forgets coins and himself and the mumbling faces in the hallway.
She goes up the stairs and on into infinitum. Into the immensity of the universe.
On into the rest of existence?
?he turns toward the door. And disappears into eternity.
Tom was here