The woman walked down the street, a man at her side, completely stoic, solid, silent. It was raining, the entirely average grey clouds built up in the sky not at all reflecting the typical, yet somehow extraordinary, scene below.
She continued walking, steadily and briskly, the man at her side easily matching her pace, but showing no intention of breaking from her stride. One might at first glance call them a couple and be done with it, but upon closer inspection one would quickly discount that theory as too clean, too easy, too neat. The reality of the situation was so much more complicated, terribly, infinitely so.
But isn't it always?
Her shoulders were thrown back, her proud eyes looking straight forward, never straying from some unknown point on the horizon, not once glancing over at the mysterious man matching her every step. She carried a grey umbrella, keeping the majority of the drops of water falling from the heavens off of her face, as well as that of her steady companion.
He, bedecked in an old sort of hat, like the fedoras men wore in the old black-and-white movies, and a long coat, was equally confident in whatever it was they were doing, looking intensely into the distance, paying no mind to anything else but the mysterious whatever-it-was in front of them. His eyes never once flicked to the woman beside him, as would the eyes of most men walking beside a beautiful woman.
For she was beautiful, in a crooked sort of way. Her hair lay about her like a 1940s film star, just barely brushing her shoulders, asymmetrical to the point of a strange sort of symmetry, a large hat sitting awry atop her head, powder covering every inch of her face. She wore a khaki trench coat, presumably over an outfit equally as glamorous as the bright red lipstick she had on, her free hand alternating between freedom and being shoved in her pocket. In fact, the frequent indecision of where exactly her hand best fit was the only indication that she had ever been even remotely hesitant or unsure of anything in her life, the air of confidence about her being so otherwise complete that one might think it an elaborate mask of some sort like that of a-
The man beside her stopped abruptly, still staring at the one point, the rain seeming to somehow create a pocket around his person, keeping off the onslaught of rain better than any manmade umbrella ever could. And from him seemed to exude a sort of glow, as though he had suddenly been bathed in a halo of light from a sun hidden far above.
The woman halted as well, turning away from the horizon line for the first time to look at the man, only a brief flicker of annoyance flitting across her face before resuming its seemingly natural, inexpressive form. In response, though he had yet to gaze upon her face, he slowly raised his index finger to his lips and remained where he stood, looking far off into the distance. Her brow twitched, doubtless once more in irritation at the blasted man who refused to do as he was told and continue his journey.
After a few moments of silence, in which even the rain seemed to still where it fell in a strange sort of respect for the surreal, almost-dreamlike world below, she let out a huff, the first noise either of the pair had made thus far, aside from the clip-clip of the woman's low heels. He deigned to spare a passing glance for her, such as that which an old man gives, after years and years of traversing through life, to some young pink thing, squalling about some trivial nonsense which he knows he has long since grown above, yet he must attend to, lest the young pink thing go squalling to its slightly less-pink parents about the grumpy old man who had upset it so, before returning to his previous position, looking directly ahead.
She let the silence continue for three more minutes, than seven, then twelve, before she let out another great huff and began to tap her clippity heel against the pavement. Two-and-a-half more minutes went by before she reached into her pocket with the manicured hand that still had yet to find a comfortable position and pulled out what appeared to be a mobile phone, dialing in a mysterious number, twelve digits long and pressed in a sort of rhythm, before putting the device to her ear.
She spoke not a single word to whomever was on the other end of the line, but after only a few seconds, hardly enough time for the call to even have connected, she winced and pulled away from the receiver slightly, her previously near-perfect visage, that was at the same time both flawless and askew, coloring to the degree of a deep red. And though she did not see him, being much too preoccupied with her ever-increasing shame at her mysterious misdemeanor, the man in the old hat, like that which men used to wear in the films, with the long coat, took his eyes off the horizon and glued them directly upon the woman, who at this point was somehow not like a woman, but like a little girl playing dress-up in a grown woman's body.
And he continued to watch her, even as she put the phone away, turned, and walked back the way in which they had come, her shoulders hunched over, her step heavy and inconsistent, the shame at that which she had done weighing her down more and more with each step, until finally she collapsed at the foot of some great, national monument over four hundred miles away from the man, the doctors attributing her death to sheer exhaust.
Then, and only then, days and days later, did the man resume his journey, his eyes ever glued to some unknown point on the horizon, not once glancing over at the new and equally beautiful, though still somehow not quite right, young woman at his side, until the one day when she, too, pulled out what appeared to be a mobile phone in a huff of impatience, punched in a twelve-digit number, and disappeared from sight.
And so the cycle continued, day after day, month after month, the man forever looking at his point in the sky, death following in his wake.