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You wonder who lives in the opposite clock tower. It’s a lingering thought until you hear two sharp knocks on the hatch under you, and any thoughts of any clock towers (except yours) fly out of your head.

“A loaf of bread, four apples, a block of cheese, and some stale pastries,” comes Vincent’s smooth and lilting voice as you unlock the hatch. “A veritable feast, if I do say so myself.” He hums under his breath, climbing up the ladder.

You don’t respond, you rarely do, so you look between the monotonous ticking of the  hour and minute hands and through the dusty translucent glass to the opposite clock tower. Who lives there? Were they like you and Vincent, or something bigger?

“Aurelia,” Vincent says once, quietly, and you are brought to the present again. “Aurelia, it’s been a year. He’s not coming back,” he tells you, moving to put his hand on your shoulder. “You have to let it go.”

“You love me,” you say to him shortly, and he sighs, running his hands through his cropped hair. It’s less of a statement than a question so Vincent answers.

“If I gave you false hope, then I wouldn’t be very worthy of loving you,” he replies and sits down on one of the many crates littering the room, pulling out a blood red apple out of his bag and wiping it on a cloth. “Francis is gone, Aurelia. He didn’t deserve it, but he’s gone.”

The ten o’clock train and the whooshing air sounds in the back of your mind from the sprawling city below.

“Cheese?” Vincent offers, but you shake your head and move closer to the window. A girl, who looks like an ant in her black dress, is standing in a group and laughing with people who look about your age, and you envy their innocence.

An empty tube of superglue tips off of the windowsill and you leave it on the floor.

“What’s the other clock tower like?” you ask Vincent, who shrugs and smiles in response.

“Identical,” he tells you and you frown.

“Then, why do you go there so often?” you ask but he just keeps smiling and stands up gracefully, dusting off his pants. The oil streaked buildings glow in the late morning light.

“I have to go do something. See you later, okay?” he says and then touches your shoulder lightly. “I love you.”

You watch him, down the ladder, down the street, his miniscule form making its way to the other clock tower.

The cuff around your ankle bites into your skin and you follow the chair to where it is bolted securely into the wall.

Vincent’s voice is still echoing around the room, but you pull the bobby pin out of your hair and bend it open, kneeling down to examine the lock of the cuff.

I love you, Vincent had said and you think, does he?

 

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