He was cold. That was the first thing he was noticing, that it was definitely cold here and that she didn't seem to be bothered by it. She just sat there across from him in her polyester skirt thing that he thought she probably thought made her look trendy and modern and hip and cool, her legs crossed primly at the knees, top leg rocking back and forth with her soft white foot hanging out of a black slipper, talking and talking and talking and talking and talking about something that he guessed could maybe be important if he wanted it to be. That was the bottom line here, ultimately: that everything going on in front of him, as far as she was concerned, really just boiled down to plain old ethics. Did he care? Could he care? That was the question he was struggling to answer while the noise kept pouring from between her dry, caked pink lips that were once very soft. Very soft indeed. Soft on his cheek, his lips, smiling at him in the sandy afternoon sunlight. They'd danced together. Swung in each others arms. Jesus, how often does he dance? They'd trusted each other enough to hold on against the pull of gravity as the music spun them faster and faster into each other until finally, sick with movement, they were alone together somewhere and fumbling through something that seemed wrong and exciting.
"...Don't you think so?..."
And then she's off again and he's trying to remember what it is that won't be so bad after a while, what it is that they'll both get used to. What it is that's supposed to make him care. Why he should try to care. Why this might be good for him. For both of them. He's trying not to shiver. Every muscle in his body is tense like a piano string. He might be humming even, softly to himself, vibrating from all the tension. She wouldn't hear, not over the sound of herself. She just keeps her leg popping up and down and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and like an idiot he nods and smirks and puts the questions where she needs them to be to feed the litany of justifications she's constructed for this particular oration.
"...Right? I mean..."
Mental fog is rolling in across the sound, building. He's reeling in the mist; blind, lightheaded. Sweat breaks on his brow in pinpricks of adrenaline. He's alive, that much is true. There is blood coursing through his veins. This is real. The sounds are bouncing back and forth between his ears, fighting to make it to the drain first; his own mind and her crawling mumble fighting each other for recognition before the high court of his combined senses. His eyelids feel caked with concrete, his stomach filled with cold dirt. He has to say something to her that takes a moment—something that takes a while to formulate—a though he has to construct that will seem both engaged and concerned, two things he has long since stopped being. Why? Why?...He asks himself this one a few more times instead of trying to think of something to say to her. But then a few words roll out of his lips and he nods a little in some sort of pathetic attempt to imitate world-weary empathy.
"Do any of us really have a choice?"
Really more of a repetition of words she just said, only instead saying them in such a way as to imply a question, thus making her think he's not only listening but he's donating considerable mental effort to assisting her in this...whatever the hell is going on here.
"You have no idea how worried I was. I thought you wouldn't understand...It's just...so far away."