Moving through bodies, reaching out but never able to touch - He lived like this for nine years: the world whirring by, the universe flashing past three times as fast as it should have. He could hear it all as a jumble, but none of it was really clear. He wandered the halls aimlessly - no he was not dead, he was forgotten in time - he had gone unnoticed for so long that the universe decided he no longer existed, and so he could see and hear and feel and smell everything just as he normally would, but the people all left him behind and passed right by him and through him the same way the universe had. For him it had only been three years, but three years of total isolation among the largest crowd is longer than any human can normally bear. He had not needed to eat or sleep or relieve himself in all those three years, but he could smell the food, he could feel the weight of being awake for so long, and he could feel the emptiness in his bladder and his bowels. The universe just seemed to pass him by, and he had grown used to the solitude and the speed at which everything moved around him, but then, as he sat against the windowsill, staring at the front doors with the new students pouring through, everything slowed down - or returned to normal, but he'd grown used to the speed of everything - and he saw her entering the doors. Her hair... Her dark, shining, black hair was in minor disarray, her shirt was slightly off-center, and her white stockings had smudges on the knees. Around her, though it was light, the room seemed to dim and all motion slowed even more: her green eyes pierced that dimness and met with his for an instant, and in her eyes he saw that she had seen him - she knew he was there - and just as quickly as they had made eye contact and everything slowed down, everything returned to the pace he was used to. She looked around, then looked down and moved on, walking the rest of the way through the doors and into the school. He sighed heavily, and went on his way.
She walked through the front doors of school - it was her first day in high school and she was terrified. She'd already had her lunch stolen from her, and she'd been pushed to the ground, which had left her stockings a bit smudged. She hadn't even gotten to her first classroom and she was already praying for the end of the day to come as soon as possible. As she walked into the front doors of the school, she looked around, patting down some of the mess her hair had become - to look a bit more presentable - and it was in that instant that everything seemed to speed up. She saw his slender figure first - he looked as if he had not eaten for a year or had at least not eaten well - and his dim blue eyes were next. Even though the room seemed to brighten up, the dimness and darkness behind his eyes washed over the brightness and flooded her with the urge to cry. It felt as if he was peering into her soul - or maybe she was peering into his, she did not know - and she felt such a sadness from it that she had to hold herself back from crying. She took in his stance - the way he leaned against the windowsill was not out of boredom or arrogance and it was not a facade to look cool. He leaned against the windowsill because he was tired and needed rest, this she could tell just by how he held himself. His hair was brown-and-red, somewhere between mud and burgundy satin, and it was pristine. And yes, just as quickly as the room had gotten brighter and the world had sped up, it all returned to normal, and he was no longer there. She looked around, confused; she thought she'd imagined him, and she went on her way.
He wandered throughout the school, making his rounds, listening to all of the classes, and seeing all of the different expressions. He wondered how long it had really been since he'd talked with anyone - that is how long it had been for the rest of the world. He counted the classes and the teachers as they flew by in his mind. At least he had seen some interesting things wandering the halls - a murder, a kidnapping, and a fire or two - and it dawned on him that "interesting" was not the word he would have used back before he'd been forgotten by time - these things were tragedies in their own right, and they were destructive and painful - but somehow he couldn't bring himself to care and he couldn't bring himself to remember why those things were bad. His mind shifted, seeing the faces of the new students, and he wondered how long it had been since he had last made expressions like those - how long had it been? Surely he'd made expressions like those back before he'd been forgotten. No, no, he... he couldn't remember - the last he could remember was the mirror. The mirror. He couldn't see himself in the mirror for about a week before this had happened. He remembered something else - why had he been born? Or at least that was the question he'd asked himself so often. No, he was not dead, he was forgotten in time, and the longer he stayed forgotten, the more he forgot about himself. How tall was he? What color was his hair? His eyes? When was he born? What was his name? Who was he? Who was he? ... Who was he?
She made it to her classes and everything seemed to breeze by - the same introductory nonsense she'd been through a hundred-thousand times already, and she made it through the day. There was nothing interesting going on and there was nothing for her there - at that school - because she knew that it didn't matter if she listened or not, it only mattered if she could fake the grades. She was knocked down once more at lunch, the dust was kicked in her face. She spent the next class crying numbly in the restroom - why did it have to be her? She was just another nameless face in the crowd - nothing special - so why should she be the object of such torment? Why her? She knew that she was average in aesthetic beauty, and she felt sub-par in internal beauty, and she wasn't in great shape nor poor condition. So why her? Was she too average? There was nothing she could do for that - it was who she was. Who was she? ... Who was she?
It continued like this day after day - he would lean against the windowsill and watch for her to come through the doors, and every time they would make eye contact, and he would notice something different about her - her nose, her jawline, her bosom, her skin, her eyelashes, her brow, her neck, her lips - and he would think to himself how sad it was that she would always come to school looking like she had been abused on the way there, and he would think to himself that someone should help her - but not him, no. He couldn't do it - he was too weak, he didn't know who he was, he couldn't touch anything, he couldn't help her. He wouldn't because he couldn't - that's what he told himself - not because he knew he was afraid to help someone. But no, he could not help her either way. And so it continued, each meeting lasting longer and longer, each time they made eye contact, he felt something stir inside him that he had not felt in such a long time. And the winter break came - and he did not see her for two weeks. During that time he cried - he did not know why - for hours upon hours. He had no idea why or what the feeling was that was causing it - he only knew that he cried.
And with each passing day she saw him again and again - noticing something different about him each time - his skin, his brow, his complexion, his height, his build, his jawline, his neck, his arms, his legs - and she would think of how she wished to talk to this strange, disappearing man, how she wished to hear his voice and know his tale. She told her friends about him and they laughed at her, they said she was never normal - they said it was in jest, but that did not stop it from hurting her. And each day that passed by she was conflicted between her lust for the winter break and her desire to speak to the man. Winter break came sooner than even she had expected, and in the first week, she found herself crying for no reason - or at least she thought it was no reason - she only knew that she cried.
It was the last day of the winter break and he was leaning against the windowsill, waiting, when he felt a rush of air as the doors in the abandoned building opened. The air was cold and it blew past his face in such a way that even he caught chills down his spine. Through the doors, a figure cloaked in dark winter clothing approached him, and though the mask of scarves and hoods - he could still see her eyes, and they made eye contact. He stepped forward from the windowsill and everything stopped. The snow outside stopped falling and the stars stopped twinkling and the moon simply glowed. He approached her one more step, and then another. She saw him and he stepped closer and closer, time stopped for them both. That is not to say they were forgotten by time - this was closer to being the only things that time cared about. As he stepped down the stairs to the landing where she stood, he reached out. She reached out and touched his hand with her own and everything went dark for him. The only thing he could focus on was the feeling of a smile cracking his face in two and tears streaming down his cheeks.
He said something - but that thing was forever lost in time.
She decided she'd had enough and on the last day before winter break ended, she bundled up and went out into the snow. The moon glistened and the stars sparkled - changing as often as the snow touched the ground. She trudged to school, only to find the front doors unlocked. She pushed them open and a rush of air swept past her into the building - and though she was warm, the rush of air chilled her to the bone. She looked up to where the man usually stood and there he was. They met eyes and time seemed to stop. He took a step closer to her, and then once more and once again. He proceeded down the stairs to the landing upon which she stood. He reached out and their hands touched - she had reached out as well - and as they did, the man began to sob while laughing - a crooked smile moving itself onto his face - he was happy and so sad and torn inside that it came out as great, heaving, laughing sobs, and she pulled him closer, embracing him. It was obvious this close that he was not three years older than herself and she had wondered how long he had been there. He sobbed and the tears ran down onto her shoulder, wetting her clothes, and she held him tight against her. As he cried he began to vanish from the feet upwards. He turned into a sort of dust that flowed into her as she held him - through her clothes and into her very soul.
He said something - but that thing she could not hear - and it resembled a "Thank you."
It was in that moment that the girl felt everything and learned everything about this man. He had not left the school because he could not - the universe would not let him. He had become like this because he had been forgotten by so many people that even he forgot himself - and without someone to remember him, time also forgot him, and he became trapped. He had been like that for what had been three years to him and nine years to the rest of the world.
She saw his family and his friends and one by one they forgot about him.
For the past year he'd been leaning against that windowsill hoping one of the new students would notice him - until she came along. She had noticed him - she had remembered him, but it had already been too long - she could not pull him back into time's memory - she could not pull him back into the universe's eyes. And so he stayed like that, while every morning she remembered him and time tried to recall him to memory. She felt his sorrow and his agony and his anger and his depression and sadness and she felt the hollowness that followed - until she came and brought it all back.
And just as she had come to the school building to meet him, so too did she leave the school building with him in mind. This time, however, when she left the building she vowed not to be forgotten or to forget herself. She walked all the way home with time stopped, and as she stood in front of her own home, time began to move again - the snow began to fall and the stars began to twinkle once more. The moon glistened in the sky with its gentle glow, and she knelt down in the snow and cried into her hands. She cried for everything she'd ever been through and she cried for everything the man had missed out on. She cried for the feelings lost by the man and she cried for the feeling felt by the man. But most of all she cried for the fact that even after learning everything about him she still did not know his name and she knew that if he had remembered it then she would have been able to save him from his prison of being forgotten by time.