The smoke formed a natural mist around the room. The clink of mugs and glasses could be heard. In the seat behind the bar, near the window, two were sitting, inhaling smoke, and drinking on large mugs. He was eating a slice of roasted boar meat with his other hand while drinking the mug as well. His eyes stared blankly at space.
“You stare too much, mate.”
“I know, I know, well, well, this is a good pub, I got to give it to you.”
“Who knew that a small amount of time can turn someone like this? Really, are you really Alva?”
“I ask that myself,” he sipped on his ale. “I’d spent years inside that battery that I couldn’t even remember. I became fragmented and somehow I am starting to lose myself. Catherine, how many names do you have?”
“About two or three now,” she said, dragging the mug on the table. “Been walking this earth, lost friends, lost a loved one, and never looked back. So I assume that you have many names as well?”
“I have. They say that the name your parents gave you, is the most precious thing they gave. I still have my true name, though at the moment? How can I say my name when I don’t remember my mother’s hair? Hey, do you remember your mother?”
“A bit,” Alva leaned his cheek on his right hand. “Mum was chubby, she had a soothing smile, her eyebrows were thin, I think. I remember her mostly because of thick hair that she usually ties into a ponytail. She was emotional, would cry, and was always concerned for her son.”
“And you don’t remember her?”
“I can’t remember her face. Like pieces were missing in the puzzle, can’t remember much other than that. What about you, man?”
“Ma had the sweet scent of bread around her. Back, she was helping out in this bakery along with Pa. I don’t remember Ma’s features, only her hand and the way she just lovingly caresses my head.” She breathes in mildly. “Oh man, thinking about Ma stirs me, you know?”
“Well, your parents are precious after all. I...did you ever thought of seeing them again?”
“They are not alive,” she said straightly. “I saw them go down, you know? Had to leave and somehow able to settle down here. Quite a long time, and now I like to think of them as a precious box of memories.”
“I see. I missed Mum, she was the pat on the back that I needed. If it weren’t for her teaching me things that I wouldn’t be here.”
She dragged a mug towards him, the ale inside stirring, staining the table.
“No matter how good you look now,” she raised her chin. “You still look like a brokenhearted girl. You know, I see you brooding, trying hard not to think about someone? We are old here, and I know you lived long enough to care about normalcy. We do the opposite of excitement, and we make ourselves act like this. Do you know that long-lived ones usually lost their composure or become dead inside that death seems better than letting them act like that.”
“Not really, I am not that brokenhearted.”
“Ah, you are, I mean, if you aren’t then you wouldn’t be drinking inside a pub with a demonic woman.”
“So what that makes you?”
“Sure, so, why do you think that I am brokenhearted?”
“Women can sense these things, Mr. Skeleton.”
“Is that so? So what gave it away?”
“The fact that you don’t even bother having a fling with anyone or someone. Half of the men that I know are trying to get inside the pants of anyone. Ah, do you swing the other way?”
“Not really, though is it really obvious?”
“It is! You seem like the type to do things in order to escape reality. So, want to talk about that aching heart of yours, mate?”
“Oh come on,” she put both hands on the table. “Not like I would give a shit about it later.”
“Cruel, but fair.” He said, taking another sip of his ale. “I’ve been chasing after this woman for years, and in the end, after all the trouble that I went for her, all the suffering, pain, and all of that I decided to let go.”
“Is she alive? I believe you’ve been sleeping for five hundred years. Ah, did you find out she’s with others? Forgot about you? Ah, I can understand the feeling.”
“No, she loves me more than ever.”
“Do you want a punch? You are heartbroken because of that?”
“Yup, I’m a bastard that spent years chasing after the same woman, and yet the moment I saw how she loved me so hard, I felt incredulous, like how you wanted it for so long and when you finally attained it. It didn’t give me any euphoric feeling. I felt bland and ambivalent.”
“You’re bragging. So, you are saying that you got heartbroken because of this? Really?”
“Yes. Shallow as it may be, and how stupid do you think it is. Seeing her have a huge family, be happy about it, and still think she wants me despite what she had made, made me incredulous. She’s a great woman, but really, she can never truly leave the one thing she loves more than anything.”
“What is it?”
“Duty, she hails duty more than anything, she preferred duty over me so many times, and seeing her act dutiful, despite not seeing me for years broke me. I’ve enough of it, and I understand that no matter what I do. She won’t run away with me.”
Duty above else.
The stay in that town was supposed to be memorable. Still, she worked on documents and treated him naturally as someone she will have by her side. When push comes to shove she would abandon him over duty. He had seen enough to state of it as a fact. She had done so in many timelines and even in this timeline, she still did it unknowingly.
“She never saw me as important as her duties. I’ve been lying to myself that maybe one day, she’d see me as her first priority. I know now that is just a dream. I’ve enough of trying.”
“Yes, let’s run away!”
That’s what all he wanted to hear.
He had seen enough repeats to know that she won’t ever say that.