Tristan rose, unhurriedly, from his kneeling position. He turned, and made his way back to the bathroom. He moved in a confidently, curiously relaxed manner.
When he returned to his prior position, facing the mirror, he brought his hand up and regarded the object pinched between his fingers.
It was several inches long, made of shiny brass, and resembled a large needle. At one end, was a fiercely sharp point, capable of drawing blood with little pressure upon the skin. At the opposite end, was a collection of thin, rigid, silver-toned wires. The object looked similar to a brass arrow, with silver feathering making up its fletching.
Tristan reached for the orb that lay on the countertop. Hindered by their contact with the solid surface, the outer rings were motionless, while the innermost, spun with considerable rapidity. He picked up the orb at its poles, and the outer rings, free from their abutment against the countertop, began to rotate.
A pale, blue, glow, shone through the curious rotations upon the surface of the core, at the center of the orb.
Tristan took the tip of the small brass object, and moved it towards the core of the orb. As it crossed the outer orbit of rings, each circle stopped its rotation at the sharpened point.
Clink, clink, clink, the rings clanged to a halt.
Tristan’s middle finger and thumb held the orb at its poles, so, he moved the fingertip of his index finger and placed it next to the point of the brass implement. With his fingertip holding the rings in place, Tristan withdrew the miniature arrow and flipped it around with the deftness of one flipping a coin along the top of their knuckles.
He twisted his wrist, and rotated his arm to carefully scrutinize the orb. He located several droplets of dark, shimmering, ooze, creeping along the outer rings. He brought the silvery, wire, strands, close to the first droplet, and made a motion to dislodge the black dot.
The white-gray strands made contact with the black fluid, preparing to sweep the black drop from the shiny brass ring.
As he made the motion, Tristan’s thoughts backstroked trough waves of memories. He chose to tread water, at the crest of one intense wave.
This was only the second time that they were together.
They were seated at a rustic, dark-brown colored, wooden table. It was well-worn, though by weather, or patron-wear, one couldn’t be entirely sure. There were chips in the seinna wood, atop the rectangular, horizontal surface of the table, and down the legs at random intervals, revealing pale, off-white coloration beneath the dark amber paint. The table had a slightly wobbly constitution that they couldn’t directly blame on a shortness of one of the legs, or on the unevenness of the cobblestones, upon which the table rested.
The canopy above their heads was almost translucent, and barely obscured the rays of the sun as it defeatedly accepted its shows of wear. Intermittent gashes in the cloth, allowed beams of yellow radiance to highlight the charcoal, amaranth, marigold, and aubergine tones of the cobblestones. A particularly insistent ray, highlighted an otherwise innocuous area of painted tabletop, directly at the center of their table.
The post-dawn, morning air, though heated by the rising sun, was still cool enough to warrant the ordering of warmer beverages.
She selected a fine black tea, he, a robust coffee.
The proprietor emerged from the doorway of the shop with a wooden tray held confidently in outstretched hands. Two cups, delicate in appearance, rested atop the tray, curiously incongruous to the somewhat shabby backdrop of the cafe.
A middle-aged man, dressed in loose-fitting, cinched with a string at the waist, khaki pants, bore the tray. He was wearing a loose white shirt, accented with lace stitching at the cuffs, which bore a straight opening from the neckbone down to his sternum. He was moderate in stature, with a slightly forward-bowed posture, and sad, doe eyes, high cheek bones, and an inappropriately silly grin on his face. He toted the beverage orders toward the pair with a familiar balance, though they sensed that he hadn’t had regular practice in quite some time.
His smile never faltered, as he eased the tray atop the brown tabletop. With rote motion, he delivered their respective cups to their places before them.
Her black tea smelled earthy, of dark raisins, and of rose petals. His smelled slightly acidic, with notes of roasty chocolate, and of, rich, nose-tingling notes of slightly charred coffee beans.
She leaned forward, placed her left hand flat on the table, and reached for her cup with her right hand. She looped her delicate, index finger through the opening in the handle, and guided the porcelain to her lips.
Tristan followed her lead, but placed his right hand on the table, in line with hers. His left hand found his cup, and he lifted his drink directly upwards, nodding towards her as he did so, in salutatory fashion.
He saw her lips curve upwards, behind the rim of the teacup. She blew gently on the hot tea close to her mouth. The warm glow of sunlight behind her provided a perfect, portrait-like contrast for Tristan to appreciate her beautiful, flowing, raven hair. She was stunning.
He brought the invigorating liquid to his lips, and took a sip. He smiled at her, and inched his hand forward towards hers.
She didn’t balk at his approach. She took another sip of her tea, keeping his gaze as she inclined her cup. He felt that he could drown in the dark pools of her eyes, but he knew he should tread water.
He reached forward, and placed the pads of his fingers atop the nails on hers. He slowly moved his fingers up and along hers, feeling warm, currents, along the pads, and underside of his fingers, and into his palm as he cupped the top of her hand.
He let his hand stay there for several minutes, soaking in the heat from her skin, before twisting his wrist, placing his fingers at the inside of her hand near her thumb. He lifted her palm from the table, and wrapped his fingers over the space between thumb and forefinger, and into her palm.
Suddenly, he no longer held her hand. One second he could feel her heat, the next, she was pulled away from him into nothingness. In succession, all the objects around him began to vanish. The canopy was launched into the distance, and then, was, simply, gone. The table rocketed away from him, but didn’t collide with anything, it just ceased to exist. Everything around him suffered the same fate, until, Tristan found himself surrounded by total darkness.
As soon as the black droplet left the ring, Tristan felt a curious sensation from within the hollow in his chest. It felt like a powerful suction had occurred, wrenching something from inside of him.
Though shaken by the sensation, he proceeded with the process, locating the clinging, black, fluid on the outer rings, and deftly removing the isolated droplets from the orb.
When he completed his sweep of the outside orbitals, he rotated his tool, and navigated it towards the core. With the tip of the implement, he halted the rotation of the middle section of brass rings, then fell forward, and crashed into the counter.
Tristan felt incredibly weak, and knew that this was a direct result of the procedure that he was performing. He propped himself on the counter with his elbow, aware that he had to finish this quickly.
He pressed his index finger downwards, so that it would stop the rotation of the middle set of rings. He flipped his instrument around again, and began to remove the flecks of dark ooze.
The feelings of hollowness, and having things wrenched rapidly from his existence continued. The pulls felt stronger, and the anguish of absence intensified, as he whisked away the midnight mire.
Tristan continued to weaken, and soon found that his legs were faltering.
As he halted the spin of the innermost set of rings, his elbow failed to support him at the counter, and his shoulder crashed into the hard surface. He managed to glimpse his face reflected in the mirror, and the weak, sickly, pallor therein, before he fell to the floor.
He knew that his time was limited, and he worked as quickly as possible, given his weakened state.
Droplets were removed from the innermost rings, with accompanying, gut wrenching feelings of pain, and loss. Deep, passionate, memories, never to return, were wrenched out of him with each sweeping stroke. With each scraping motion, Tristan launched once integral pieces into nothingness.
Tristan felt the life draining from him as he found the last remaining obsidian droplets at the core. With excruciatingly slow motions, he placed the silvery bristles near the each , lingering droplet. As he struck them from their grip upon the core, he felt the effects throughout the entirety of his ravaged body. The sensations of pulling, and removal, were so intense, that it seemed an invisible entity was attempting to pull Tristan’s skeleton directly through his musclature and skin.
From some deep, internal well, Tristan drew the strength to utter an anguished yell into the empty room.
He willed the hand, holding the cleansing utensil, to use the last bits of energy beating through his body, to forcibly locate the last raven droplet on the core of the orb.
His hand found them, and with the aid of the silver, wire strands, banished them from the core.
Then, she was gone.