#FlashFictionFriday: “Zero”

Set in the world of DF.


“People go missing all the time – this city’s especially good at it. Changes every time. The city of disguises, the city for wanderers. Lost myself just the other day, found myself in an abandoned market – I think it’s just past the fountain, by the bakery? Though I can’t be sure – wilting flowers were scattered across the floor like gingerbread crumbs leading to who knows where,” Ittara shrugs casually as if it’s nothing, “Sometimes it’s kinder, isn’t it? Nothing worse than waking up next to a missing thing when no one will believe you that it’s lost.”

“That doesn’t mean we stop looking for them,” Mikhata says softly. A lone flower sways in a small pot on their table. Mikhata smiles. She raises a finger to gently nudge one of its petals.

“Perhaps not – but not all lost things want to be found again,” Ittara takes a sip from her coffee, eyeing Mikhata above the rim curiously, “How can you be sure yours does?”

Mikhata looks up, a soft smile on her lips. “I don’t know. I’ve never known,” she replies. Mikhata leans her cheek against one hand and stirs her coffee with the other. There’s a chip on the edge of this mug, next to the handle and Ittara watches as the crack that runs down the side of the porcelain paints a black vein that diverges into two crows-feet branches. Her eyes are unfocused, “-but I’ll never know if I never find her.”

Ittara was a lone traveller. She had stopped by at this coffeeshop to find refuge from the incoming heat. Mikhata was a regular. She enjoyed observing the people walking around. Ittara had sat across from her uninvited. Mikhata looked up then, first in confusion, then in shock on seeing the familiar, friendly face. 

Mikhata didn’t see her enter.

Mikhata didn’t think she’d meet Ittara this time around.

“What if you find her, and she didn’t want to be found?” Ittara asks with a frown. She looks down at her coffee cup, nearly empty now, the last dregs swirling in a swirling abyss, “What if?”

Mikhata had nearly forgotten, what the purpose of all of this was, this never-ending chase. Now it’s all about survival, to escape this – this loop unscathed. It’s all faded around the edges now. Mikhata had died and lived again and again and again, always remembering, sometimes forgetting, never quite returning to where it all began – and for what? 

She had forgotten. 

It’s all fading fragments now – her reason for continuing this chase.

Mikhata knows it’s because of her though. 

It is always because of her.

Mikhata studied Ittara. 

She still looked the same. 

Unaging. 

Untamed.

Free.

“Then at least I’ve achieved my goal,” Mikhata murmurs. Mikhata looks away when Ittara meets her eyes, afraid of what the other might see there. Mikhata doesn’t like this feeling of uncertainty, this scratchiness in her throat, the doubt, the dust in her eyes, “At least, maybe then, I can stop chasing.”

For some reason, Mikhata isn’t convinced.

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