Somewhere in the distance, a clock tower chimes once. Twice. Three times. It is three in the morning. Virgil stands by the opened window, listening to the clock declare the hour to anyone willing to lend their ears. Virgil is willing. He has the time to kill until he could see her again.
The pointed hands on the time teller’s face may suggest three o’clock, but the pocket watch ticking it’s life away in Virgil’s palm whispers something else.
Through the window, a winter’s draft gently filters into the building. It chills his skin and rustles the fabric of his trench coat. Against the darkness, he blends into the sky, which stands still on this night, starless and moonless.
The city that shelters the clock tower exists outside the window. It is alive and awake, shining and glimmering with life. To Virgil, it is a spot of orange interrupting the perpetual shadows. While the city ceased to slumber, the room he haunts is sound asleep. The lady dressed in white who carried a silver platter of colored pellets left hours ago, leaving a frail old man resting in his bed. Sickening fluorescent light trickles through from the other side of the door. A soft white glow illuminates part of the room. A mechanical, wired guard rises beside the man, tall and stoic, emitting unbroken beeps as if warning danger off. Yet, Virgil is not afraid.
Patiently, Virgil waits, feeling the ticks of his pocket watch against his skin like heartbeats against a chest. It was only a matter of time before the steady beats
The guardian watching over the old man in the bed cries out, screaming a single, lengthy note. A red flatline appears across its face. The old man doesn’t move an inch.
Virgil tunes the bothersome noise out and awaits for the old man to stir. Eventually, he does. Mr. Horaz rises in bed, leaving behind the cold vessel that carried him up until now. The blankets don’t shift. He sits up, glances around in wonder. When his eyes meets Virgil’s, he becomes startled, but his face returned to a state of serenity almost immediately. He knew.
That was expected. They knew Virgil the second they lay eyes on him. Some were more accepting than others.
Virgil and Mr. Horaz share some private exchange as Virgil gives a small nod. He floats towards the door, prompting Mr. Horaz to follow. And he does. Virgil escorts his company out of his sterilized room and out into the bright, bleached halls of the institution. It is a silent journey, many unspoken words between them, yet they both already know. Behind them, an army of scrub-clad troopers flood the room where Mr. Horaz once belonged and wheel the old man away on the bed. Rubber squeaked against linoleum.
As Virgil guides Mr. Horaz back home, he passes a spotless pane of glass. It offered a view into what lay in the next room. It beckons him, and Virgil obliges, dipping into a realm not much different than his own. There Virgil wavered, counting down the minutes until he could be faced with her.
The window overlooks a room that cradles fifteen squirming lives within its pastel painted walls. The door on the opposite wall swings open softly. A woman tiptoes in, pushing a sixteenth bundle wrapped in blue into the nursery. A swift figure in the shape of Eve follows close behind. She donned an ivory silk that swept the floors as she hovered around, waiting on the child with cautious, nurturing eyes.
Virgil observes from behind the glass. He can only admire from afar, never touch. Never again, though his desire yearned. He blinks when Eve looks up from the slumbering infant and catches his gaze. He nods. She smiles. Breathtaking. Rejuvenating. Her eyes were grateful. She thanked him.
Eve’s eyes slide away from Virgil’s as her attention diverted away once more. Her smile now belonged to the child. From his side, Mr. Horaz disappeared. Virgil trusts that he will be well under the watchful eye of Eve. She always did take care of his gifts.
And they always returned to him.