pt.1

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354 days, 12 hours, 24 minutes, 4 seconds.

Sometimes, when Lauren is bored, she watches the time flick away. Second after second, minute after minute... silently counting down in her head.

She wonders, briefly, if someone else is as well.

It feels like a ticking time bomb, this clock that's temporarily etched into the skin of her wrist. Though it feels more permanent than temporary, as if she'll never be free of this restricting limit.

There was a time, when she was a kid, that she would've done anything to get it off of her. She didn't care so much about what it meant for her future, or her relationships. But as she got older, her opinion changed, and she would've done anything to bring the clock down to zero. And now? Well...

Now she's not sure if she cares.

-

310 days, 14 hours, 36 minutes, 42 seconds.

Lauren pushes the back door to the studio open, stepping into the alley and reaching for the emergency pack of cigs in her pocket. Her fingers tremble as she goes to light one, mumbling profanities to herself.

Work was always stressful, but recently it had thrown a curveball. With the new additions to the label came piles of extra work that Lauren wasn't prepared for. Even more so was the upcoming deadline her boss had ordered.

"Stupid thing," Lauren mutters with the cigarette dangling between her lips. She presses her back against the wall, clicking her heel against the ground. It's then that something on the studio's alley wall catches her attention, her hand with the lighter lowering slowly.

She pinches the cigarette between her teeth, sticking her hands into her pockets as she steps closer. Lauren feels an unexpected draw to the freshly painted mural, allowing her eyes to scan over its beautiful span of green. She reaches a hand forward, pressing her fingers to the stonewall garden.

She can't explain the rush of calm that settles over her as her fingers smooth their way over the painted brick. Her curiosity as to who might have painted the masterpiece only grows the longer she looks at it, though she finds herself unable to peel her eyes away from the work of art.

That is, until she senses someone else's eyes on her. Lauren's attention falls past the entrance of the alleyway, where she spots a girl. She sits at a table on the outside patio of the cafe across the street, eyeing Lauren curiously. Lauren almost begins to question her strange outfit (nurses scrubs, she assumes) when the girl looks away quickly.

And when Lauren blinks, the girl is gone.

Part of her wants to question it. Is the lack of sleep finally getting to her? Is she going crazy?

She thinks the second option must be true as she turns back to the building, the mural nowhere to be seen.

-

234 days, 4 hours, 26 minutes, 50 seconds.

Lauren nearly knocks a stack of unfinished papers off her desk, the sound of her phone buzzing beside her head stirring her awake. She squints down at the device, spotting her friend, Dinah's, name. She glances at the clock on her computer, cursing to herself as she answers the call.

"Hey," Lauren tries to say casually, her voice coming out raspier than normal.

"Where the hell are you? It's nearly eight, you abandoner," Dinah says angrily, Lauren wincing at her tone.

"I'm still at work," Lauren looks around at her desk, the pile of finished work appearing a lot smaller than she remembered. Or maybe the pile of unfinished work simply grew while she wasn't paying attention.

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