“She was beautiful,” Alliane said then returned the node to Billy. He gave it to her to show a picture of a white-haired woman in an orange dress sitting atop a t-rex. “But she looks so sad in that photograph.”
“Yeah. But I absolutely love her,” Billy paused. He took dropped the node into the breast pocket of his navy blue suit. Alliane’s attention darted around the park. She looked every jogger and Sunday-stroller up and down hoping to recognize someone she’d never met. When Billy went quiet she immediately turned to look at him and nodded her head.
‘I’m listening, sorry. You love her…,” she made a rolling ‘continue’ gesture with her hand.”
“When she smiles,” Billy said with a wistful look.
“Why isn’t she there?” Alliane nodded at Billy’s pocket; then, she used the action to start scanning the park again.
“That was the day she died.” Her attention focused on Billy instantly.
“I’m sorry,” she reached across the concrete picnic table to give his hand a short, comforting squeeze. “But why was she sad? She knew something was going to happen that day?”
“Yes,” Billy said. “I don’t feel like talking about that right now if that’s okay…” he said. Alliane nodded. “But can I talk to you about her?” he asked. Alliane was only his second friend; he still questioned everything.
“Of course,” she turned her body to face him as a sign that she was done only half-paying attention. “Tell me your favorite memory.” Billy smiled. “Take all the time you need,” she added. Billy nodded and stopped time around them
“Slumbering Estrellas…,” Billy nodded at Alliane. “… accidentally traverse all the time, right?” She nodded. “It’s the same for Slumbering Muertes. We accidentally stop time. It happened to Vanilla when she was eight. Stopping time is more granular than you might think. Every thing has its own time, and a lot depends on the Muerte’s notions of what time is.” Billy knocked on the metal table; Alliane heard the low echoing vibrations run through the metal. “If we think stopped time should mean no sound waves…” Billy knocked on the metal table again. Alliane did not hear a sound. “Then it means no sound waves. Generally speaking, we only stop as much as we think about.” Billy took in a deep breath, then released a heavy sigh.
“Vanilla stopped every thing. At eight years old. While still slumbering.”
“Everything?” Alliane asked. “So?” She had trouble seeing the trouble if nothing was moving.
“Everything around her. She was terribly frightened and started crying.” Billy shook his head. “She time-stopped gravity too. Her tears just stayed in the air whenever she moved. She tried wiping her tears away with tissue but they wouldn’t absorb. Time passed and they wouldn’t evaporate either. Every morning she woke up with hope, but she only found tears. She traveled the world leaving giant floating pools of tears everywhere she went. She doesn’t know how long it took, in the neighborhood of a thousand years or so,” Billy shrugged. “She drowned the world. Once she had no other place on that Earth to go her body let her traverse to a different one.”
“Whooaa..” a girl neither of them noticed said. They looked up and found three girls. A tall, pale, white-haired girl, a shorter girl with raven curls, and the shortest girl with black spiky hair. The girl with black curls in a black and orange dress was the one that sounded awed. “Your friend sounds amazing!”
“Alliane?” the shortest girl asked. “I’m Jenny. You had some boots you wanted to import?” Alliane nodded, then looked at Billy.
“I thought you stopped time,” she said. The curly-haired girl smiled.
“I’m Dirge. #14, La Muerte.”
“Alliane. #35, La Estrella.” Alliane was compelled to reply, though the introduction answered Alliane’s question. It seemed Dirge was as powerful as Billy.