[This is part 6 of my short story Belly. Click here to start at the beginning.]
To see life in its totality is a very special gift.
He won't appreciate it.
He'll learn to. He has no choice.
Yes, that's because we won't give him any.
These things don’t always go as planned, he might surprise us.
Jonas, what if there were no past, present or future?
The human face, it never held Jonas’ attention with the same intensity as a clock’s. That softness, the malleability, its odd colorings, and utter variability, it all unsettled him. And the eyes, there were the eyes. They had such depth, and held such secrets. What might hide behind those eyes? He couldn’t look anyone in the eyes for more than a few seconds. He only managed to deal with his customers by keeping his eyes fixed on the merchandise he showed them.
That’s how Jonas normally feels, but today, right now, after hearing the voices again, he can’t help but stare at the passengers clogging the aisles. Their faces, each one of them, seem to be strangely blurring. Rubbing his eyes doesn’t stop the sensation, in fact, it gets worse as he continues to look. Their features seem to be moving. No, not moving, shifting. It’s as if there were many faces inhabiting a single head.
Everything else about them is unchanged, from their scarves and buttoned up collars, down to the tips of their leather gloves and wool mittens, but their faces have been put into continual motion, a motion that is speeding up. It’s as if someone was flipping through the pages of a picture book, and that picture book was filled with portraits of a single man, or woman, taken every moment from their first gasp of air until their last. Ah, but these pictures follow no particular order, and they're in 3-D.
Jonas tries to focus his eyes, to force them like a thumb into those fanning pages and make them stop on just one, any one, but it doesn’t work.
If he keeps his eyes closed for long intervals, the faces slow their movement enough that he can make out individual features. A cleft chin sprouts a lawn of stubble. Two piercing green eyes cool and darken, while cracks radiate out over patches of skin drained of their color.
Eyes back to the watch. Keep looking at the watch, even if its numbers are stuck. Stuck doesn’t feel so bad now.