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Watch, draft 2.
For week one at brigits_flame. Flash fiction. 751 words. Quickie edit before the deadline tonight.

Red layered on black in waves, diaphanous, papery. Light and shadow whisper together, the whole of our surroundings vibrating with exhaustion. It is always night here, but when there is light left over it falls in huge shafts that feel like oily feathers. The light falls and falls, it hits the bottom after it has vanished from your sight, the bottom that you never hit.

Aria stands on an edge that I can hardly perceive, white with the concentration. The Watch rages around us in spasms. I think it might be dying, if it can die. I lean on Aria's solidity, concentrating on her to avoid motion sickness, trying to tell myself that we will be alright. I love her so much.

The Watch convulses again, the light drags itself over my skin and leaves little trails that evaporate into the red dusk. That sensation of falling crawls up my spine and into my mouth, all my nerves coil. A disembodied mouth wells out of the sky and closes on nothing, a rhythm that could almost be construed as infernal speech but I don't hear anything other than red, the shrieking metal of derailed trains, scratching underneath the door. I reach for Aria. She catches my hands and pulls me close.

Aria is the lover that waits for me, the soulmate, the other half. Before I came to the Watch, I had just seen her again-for-the-first-time. In that other world, I was closing in on middle age, single mother, pragmatist. She wasn't thirty yet, totaling items I selected at a tiny organic grocery store in creamy cafe au lait skin and auburn tresses. We locked eyes over the counter, she smiled, I gasped, and we both remembered everything, every time, every wrenching separation.

In that world, the living perceived it as a mercy to die in one's sleep: a peaceful passing without the agony of death. But the paths of the subconscious do not die, and when the soul is unaware of its change in state it only has those paths to follow. Those paths lead to places like the Watch. In that world, people prayed for such a death over ailing loved ones. I hope I will never wish such ill on another spirit.

That night, I slept, I died, and awoke into the Watch. It took me a long time to find her here. The only thing that saved me from madness was the fact that no part of my consciousness slept, and thus I clung to the knowledge that I would come to her.

Here we are. The Watch flinches; my mouth fills with iron.

“There is no other way,” she says gently, answering everything that I'm begging for.

“I can't lose you.”

“We can't stay here.”

“I don't know. I think it's worse to be away from you.” I have spent aeons in this place alone. All I remember is being adrift; every kiss, every sweet ache of longing in some other place is flattened into the memory of a photograph I once saw and have now forgotten. Aria doesn't reply.

I breathe in, the Watch flexes around us, its burning edges flying interminably out of reach and collapsing like a deflated lung.
“It's going to see us very soon.”
She doesn't need to tell me. Its slowly focusing awareness already pulls on my cells. Every molecule in my perceived body is connected to a razor-thin thread. The Watch is beginning to pull.

“I can't.”

“That moment is our only chance. We have to go out through its eyes, out into the world.”

The Watch flinches again. I feel nothing for a moment outside of burning, loss, high-pitched sounds, the taste and color of blood.

“I'll follow you.”

“Now.” Her whisper breaks my heart. I want another moment to decide, to calculate, to prepare.

Together, we tremble off the edge. The deep Watch rushes up to gulp us down. I clutched Aria, knowing that no matter how close I held her she will begin to slip away from me at any moment.

“Don't go.” Fear attenuates her voice, drifting to me over leagues and centuries. The urgency of her terror quells the plunging vertigo, the scream that bubbles in my throat unable to break the surface. I stretch every ounce of myself toward her for a final touch, a brush with heaven before the inevitable snap of severance.

“I will find you. I always find you.”

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You have a beautiful way with words!

This was so sad! You could really feel the connection between these two characters - great emotion there. I really like your interpretation of going through the afterlife/reincarnation/life with the same person, a soul mate of sorts. Very nice!

Sorry I'm so late getting to this - hectic week last week.

Your descriptive writing is beautiful to read, and so perfectly conveys what is going on that the reader is inevitably drawn into the character's situation. I like how you get the concept of the between lives existence across without actually stating where the characters are. As the piece unfolds, awareness dawns. You capture the characters feelings so well with lines such as "Together, we tremble off the edge." That line is so simple, yet so expressive of their fear. The only "critique" I have is the hyphenation of "again-for-the-first-time." I think the concept would have been clear without it. The hyphens made me stop and reread. You have written a wonderful scenario here - controlled, yet lush and evocative.

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