Four [The Coffee]

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After the nauseating twist of fate to Harry's morning, he decides to walk the hour to his studio in lieu of taking the train. He couldn't finish his coffee after expelling it from his stomach, instead he stood in the alley until the scene around him cleared, his stance weakened at the knees when he peeled the lid from the cup and dumped out its entire contents on top of the pile of garbage bags. He tossed the cup into the dumpster and replaced his headphones on his ears, choosing the most solemn music in his library to accompany his thoughts on the long walk.

He often wonders what happens to them after they're arrested; where they're brought and what the questioning process is like, are there bright lights and truth serum involved, are they kept prisoner or are their lives ended when they're no longer needed? He's curious as to what that person had done that warranted a Tocsin machine to be activated; did they accidentally reveal their affliction through a blunder or rather, were they just a common person that had made the mistake of acting irregularly and now have to deal with the consequences of a changed fate?

Either way Harry will never know and that outcome in itself is the majority of the reason why he won't allow another person close to his heart. If he is ever seized, he couldn't live with the knowledge of a loved one out there searching for him and waking up each morning with a broken heart knowing that they will never have straight answers. It's almost like being declared lost at sea - they would know that Harry is likely dead but there is always a sliver of chance that he made it to a small island, out of touch and isolated forever, living with the torture of his secret existence until he eventually perishes.

He can't fathom the pain he would feel to be ripped away from a beloved ever again. Having his life destroyed once was enough to keep him cozy in the boundaries of solitude forever, happy to manage his human interaction at a complete minimum in order to maintain whatever shred of sanity he has left. A flattened black-and-white blip of a memory scrolls past his eyelids, his name being screamed into the frigid air followed by the command to run, the rain drowning his shoes and socks as he disappeared into the darkness and never returned.

His eyes fall closed as he allows himself to feel the sensation of his chest expanding like a balloon at the devastating recollection, slipping his phone from his pocket and activating the screen to check the time. He takes off in a jog down the street when he realizes he only has about twenty minutes of darkness left, weaving through a small scattering of pedestrians until he reaches his destination.

The studio is in an old renovated warehouse, he was told by his friend that rents him the space that it used to be a book binding factory until the demand for physical books plummeted with tablet readers and the widespread protest to go paperless for environmental issues. Regardless of popular opinion, Harry prefers reading physical books and spends a lot of his free time inside of the city's rare book library near his apartment, often spending hours in a corner with his nose tucked deep into the binding, breathing in the smell of musty, old published novels.

There is nothing quite like the smell of a library - decomposing wood and pleasant parchment; woody, smoky and earthy and maybe even a hint of milk chocolate if one breathes in deeply enough. His heart expands when the sun shines in through the windows and speckles of dust are visible in the thick rays, the volume on his headphones low enough to allow him to concentrate on the story in his hands and to hear the lone cough of someone else reading in the massive room to remind him that he may be detached but not alone.

On his way to the roof, he peers into the room where he applies hours to his craft, his talent having skyrocketed after receiving his first job upon arriving to this city at a young age. He began with sweeping and mopping the floors of the pottery shop to eventually learning how to use the wheel, his large hands and skilled fingers easily guiding the meditative slab of clay in his palms. What began as a hobby soon became a ritual and humble money-making endeavor, his friend that owns the pottery shop still selling his pieces for him in her storefront window and dropping a satisfactory envelope of cash in his mailbox once a month.

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