Double Negative
By Koyuki Aode

The sky was the color of her eyes, just as he remembered them.

He stared out through the rain-spattered glass, chasing spots of light with his mind, piecing the image here and there until the reflection in the window was hers. Like a poem bound by the immortality of words, he strained to hear her voice.

"Dan, please answer me."

There!-- Something amiss. The tone of her voice was worry. But this was not her voice. A single drop climbed over his

knuckles, which he held to his lips.

He could almost see her. Like a photograph.

Caprice gave a shaky sigh, and decided to leave her cardigan half-buttoned. " ... This isn't a bad place we're in, Dan." She reached for her purse. "Come on now, at least cover up," she tried again for a response, "It's like a meat locker in here…" Half a chuckle escaped her lips as she flung the flimsy strap over her arm and tossed a shirt over his shoulders.

The teardrop was now a stain on the floor.

"I know," he replied simply.

"It's natural," Caprice whispered. She nodded with relief, realizing the exchange did not concern the weather. "And…I want us to get through it."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't... Don't be sorry. You have nothing to have remorse over in this relationship. It's no one's fault."

He shook his head. "She's dead," he sobbed. His pain surged enough to choke the wail in his throat. "Oh God!..."

Caprice fought her own tears back, cursing her empathy. "It's not your fault. It was her time."

More spots appeared on the floor before he buried his face into his palms.

"Dan!" she tried again, groping for their weak bond. "Do you feel anything for our relationship right now?-" she swallowed her inhibition and touched his shoulder. "-Even if only the sudden urge to end it?..." His lack of response urged her on, out of fear.

"I'll help you through this. That's all you need," her voice tightened, "Just a little help. We can do this."

Please, she begged inside. Please cry over me someday.

He spoke as she reached for a tissue, his distant words forming the rhythm with which she dabbed her cheeks.

"Reece, this isn't something you can help," he murmured, with all of the darkness of the previous storm. He lifted his head from his hands and gazed at their reflection in the window. "I don't remember how to feel."

"That's not it. I know it isn't. How you can say you're detached when it's obvious you're still torn up over her is a mystery to me. You loved her, and it was no secret. It isn't now. All that's left is for you to move on—"

"—This isn't love," he interrupted. His tone, despite his argument, maintained the same gentle exposition: "Love doesn't leave you this empty, doesn't make life so meaningless and flat. I can't even tell when I'm breathing, I'm so numb. And frankly, I don't care anymore. You couldn't understand this. Love… Love isn't like this."

Caprice closed her eyes as she turned to leave, refusing passage to anymore tears.

"Yes it is," she would have liked to have said. The words tumbled forth, only to wither on her tongue. But when she stopped to turn back to him, to see him once again as he would always remain without any will stooped before the window, she could not have hoped to relieve his plight.

"Dante," she whispered loudly enough before the door closed, "I love you."

He watched her through the window, tracing her path with his fingers against the flat surface. Her exit would be another photograph in his mind. Something he would see, but not remember.

Another moment he could touch, but never feel.

It was then that the underbelly of the sky reached out to him, stealing into Dante to fill and wrap around his soul, as it had done since the first day he had woken up alone.

"Bea. I miss you."