He holds the card in his hand, while she hadn’t dared. She left it where it landed, as if tampering with it might illicit some complex chain of events, or leave fingerprints.
His are now all over it.
Behind them she spies the piece of bread, peppered with Hara’s blood.
He hadn’t thrown the bread across the room, or screamed at her so close spit flecks hit her face. He hadn’t grasped her wrist and twisted her to a kneeling position on the floor.
Instead he had swatted it to the ground.
She dislikes the waste of it, and something in her boils at the sight of bread on the floor, it’s more than wasteful, it’s a superstition, she’s sure.
She can see how he can be easily wound, like clockwork. She still held the knife.
He flips the card over, there’s no further information on the back.
“Who do you think it’s from?”
“I didn’t think anyone knew I was here.”
He smirks, “You’re kidding?”
She’s not kidding. The two of them stew in their own little worlds for a moment.
Hara confused by the woman he thought he knew, who he thought he shared common knowledge with, who he thought knew him.
He pulls the card up and put it in her eyeline, she glances at it carelessly.
He stands transfixed, and repeats the action as if he’s swiping something across a self-service checkout, and the barcode won’t ring up. He stares deep into his eyes, like a doctor might, to indicate the seriousness of their revelation, and to see if there’s anything there to stare back at them with understanding.
She blinks and draws herself back, her eyes dry. The knife is still in her hands, which are almost wooden; deaden. Hara’s no longer in her sightline. The card is back beside the mat on the floor, she takes a great shudder of breath, and realises she hadn’t been breathing.
She’d been paused.
“It’s some sort of cloaking device.” Hara calls from behind her.
He’s munching a sandwich, the silent observer, where she once had been.
“You stood there for a minute, maybe longer. Without moving, your breathing slowed, your heart-rate slowed, and you didn’t blink.”
He rubs his temple as if he’s scrolling through a series of images, which she realises he is. There’s a swirl of memory that takes over.
She’s in another place, a dilapidated building in another country, her mind is soaked in detail, a floorplan of the room pings direct to her eye, spreading out green in front of her. Voices whisper and distil within her cortex, filtering into key information, a target. She’s to go left, then right, then meet the man who she can hear in her mind, but first she needs to remember the code word.
She taps her temple, and rewinds through the bloody memories, to the man yelping in front of her.