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From the angle he standing, it looked almost exactly like the picture he had drawn in his high school art class during the lesson on perception. Closer things appear larger to the eyes than those that are far away. He was the larger object, while the diner was only a spot in the distance.
He shoved his hands into his pockets and pushed a foot down onto a line in the crosswalk, but quickly removed it.
No. She wouldn’t be there. Or maybe he hoped she wouldn’t. Because he had destroyed her. She was nothing more than a child before he invaded her bed with his nightmares, his self-medicating. And he pulled her down like he had done to so many people so many times before. But this girl was different; she was pure and gentle and trusting. Wide-eyed and all that. God, she didn’t even know what was going on at first. All she could do was take the abuse, emotional and otherwise. He sucked it out of her, that innocence, like a leech, like a vampire, but she would hold him close when he was without. Lord knows why it took her so long to finally pack up.
But without her, he was numb. No substance could calm him from those terrors that hit him in the dark, not like her. His skin would reach out to nothing all night.
The red lights above the diner blinked, making him nervous.
Compulsively, he scratched his knuckles.
And tugged at his shirt.
And coughed–although the cough was involuntary, as it always was.
She would be drinking hot chocolate with a cinnamon stick set aside for the sole purpose of the pleasant aroma. Her hair was curly and brown and he imagined her sitting there in her thin sweater, shivering, despite the warmth of the drink. And that sweater, worn paper-thin, was covering her bruised arms, which almost perfectly complimented the dots on his. He winced at the thought.
The lights in the box read Walk.
So he walked–awkward, unsure steps, one after the other. He stopped at one point in the middle of the street, and a car, waiting to make a left turn, honked at him. He swatted his hand at them, only making the man in the car more agitated.
The diner was no longer in the distance. It was large, therefore, in the foreground. And the light at the top shined down red on him. The same lighting that had surrounded them when his lips first met hers. His hand reached out for the door, but stayed there for a moment, frozen.
He decided then that she was enough.
And as he walked through the door, he felt safe. Away from the world and all its threats.
Shuffling his feet, he made his way to the third booth, the one with the ripped cushion. The girl in curls and a sweater lifted her head and smiled at him almost sorrowfully. But her eyes had a merciful beam to them.
She said, “Hey.”