Three [The Emissary]

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Day 3,622

Sharp, short exhales originate in Harry's lungs and are held in purgatory by his chest, forced upwards by his diaphragm and pushing past his clenched teeth and puckered lips. His breaths sound a lot like a person shushing a loud and obnoxious moviegoer over and over again, but he can't hear it over the music pumping through his headphones. He doesn't need to - he's practiced enough to know what his breathing should feel like inside of his ribcage and leaving his mouth.

The muscles in his biceps, shoulders and forearms burn with each jab that lands, sweat trickles down his temples and cheeks, his back scorching with humid heat underneath his faded and well-worn t-shirt that adorns a scattering of holes along the seams. A folded bandana holds his hair from his face, the longest pieces just extensive enough to make an ample bun at the crown of his head.

The moment he had stepped foot onto the street from the restaurant, his hood found its home atop his head with the strings tied tightly, his long legs taking him in a stride twice as fast as everyone else walking down the sidewalk. Harry prefers the thinner volume of people out and about at that time of night - so late that some would consider it early morning, but to Harry it is just the next phase of his evening. There are less than half as many people than during the day, people filtering out from bars and stumbling down the street to catch the last train home, their arms slung around their loved ones or first dates as they giggle and kiss each other sloppily.

He worked his way to the corner where he nodded at the usual person working the newsstand at that hour, ordering himself a large black coffee to stay awake and drinking half of it before he had made his way to the train station. The cars are nearly empty this late at night and although Harry faced the risk of conversation with a person who has had one too many martinis, he chose to sit down on an empty bench with his bag in his lap, his body rotated towards the window to appear extra closed off.

This area of the city appears much darker and seedier than the district where he works, the amount of neon signs shrinking by two thirds and most businesses choosing to pull iron gates down over their windows to discourage robbers. Harry crumpled the empty paper coffee cup in his hands before tossing it into the bin on his way off of the train, his hands ruffling through his bag to pull out part of a sandwich wrapped in aluminum foil that he didn't finish on his work break.

He replayed the conversation with his coworker over and over again as he scanned his thumb on the illuminated pad on the wall to grant access to the gym, dropping his bag onto the ground and tapping on a single light to brighten the corner where he planned to work out. The slinky dress that hung from her bony frame and her comment about cherry vodka unfolded in his memory as he wrapped the bandage around his thumb first and then his wrist, across his palm and through each one of his fingertips. Her flirtatious facial expressions and superfluous touches, her teeth bitten into her bottom lip, the way she shuffled on her feet and rubbed the toe of her high heel against the back of her calf.

He could've easily had her if he wanted - he could have gone home with her tonight and probably ended up sleeping together while he kept his eyes pinched closed and tried to forget every vile viewpoint she stands for. Just the reminder of the nonsense he overhead her spouting at work makes his nostrils flare and causes a hiccup in his breathing; his arms flying out at twice the speed to hit his target with amassed force, punching and punching until his blood starts to vibrate in his ears and drown out all other sounds.

He can't remember exactly the last time he's had sex and he knows that signifies that it's been too long. He can illicit a retrospection of who the last person was; her name and how they met inside of a dimly lit bar when he had gotten finished with work that evening. He recalls her smell and her laugh, the way she leaned her head back when he kissed her neck and the fact that neither of them were wearing sweaters which means it must have been in the summer over a year ago.

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