I hate hourglasses.
They're so vague and difficult to understand. I can't count the number of grains dripping down the way I can count the seconds ticking by on my wristwatch. Even so, I knew that Henry was running out of time. The ornate timepiece beside the Iron Maiden had much more sand in its bottom than its top. The hungry contraption creaked while Henry struggled, as if it were eager to snap its jaws shut around him.
He wasn't getting out of this one. Somehow I knew it, and I think he did, too. While Maggie examined the gears on the side of the death trap, he whispered for me to come closer. "I'm not gonna make it," he admitted, shaking his shackles in vain.
"No, Henry…" I argued, but I could tell from his resigned expression that what he said was, without a doubt, the truth. Henry Griffin never gave up unless there was nothing else he could do.
"I'm not," he said urgently, "so listen. After… after it happens, I need you to tell Maggie something." He strained against the manacles again. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that the hourglass barely had any sand left in the top of it. "I need you to tell her that I love her." I stared at him, but really I wasn't so surprised. He'd always acted so differently around her- more protective, more aware. "Now run!"
"We're not leaving you," I protested. He shook his head, and it was so weird to see him so weak and… broken.
"I don't want you guys to see this," he said. "And Fitzgerald is coming back. You need to get out of here." I stared back at him for what felt like a long time before stepping back and taking Maggie's hand.
"Come on," I told her, backing away.
"He'll be okay," I lied. I looked back one last time to see him mouth, "Bye Jasper." I bit my lip and continued to lead Maggie away.
We weren't quite out of earshot when the Maiden clanged shut. There was an awful wet sound, and then silence. The manacles stopped jangling. He hadn't screamed. I guess he hadn't had time.
Maggie started crying. I wrapped my arm around her and kept walking. As we walked, I thought about what Henry had asked me to do, and I realized with a jolt that I might not be able to carry out his final wishes. He wanted me to tell Maggie that he loved her, but how could I do that when I felt the same way about her?