A Travelling Heart
Word count: 500
Notes: For a prompt: "the contrast of white on white".
Some days, the mirror lies to him and he nearly forgets himself. His mouth sets a little too strongly, maybe, and suddenly he's drawn back and away from himself, thinking of another face that made this same expression. Sometimes it's difficult to place; sometimes not. His eyes may catch the light a certain way, and the first name on his lips is Anna—
But these times are becoming more and more infrequent. Now, when he looks in the mirror he sees himself more often than not: Johan. Pale, unsmiling, eyes alert but the skin beneath purpled, bruised with tiredness. It's not easy to sleep, most of the time—and then he'll leave it too long and exhaust himself, and lose a day or more without expecting it. It isn't sensible, he knows. His head is still healing. But then, so is the rest of him.
The windows of the house don't seem to do much against the constant chill. When it snows, cold air creaks in and he has to dig out more blankets—and it snows frequently. There isn't much he can do about it except consider moving somewhere new, but he isn't ready to move on just yet; and the cold has never bothered him too much.
What does bother him is time. Until now, he never had quite so much of it at once. It builds up, like snowfall on the windowsills, threatening to press in and suffocate him. Without the need for carefully-planned action, there's little for him to occupy himself with; he takes walks as often as he can, but being out in the cold air, alone with his thoughts, takes his mind to faraway places. Back to Germany. Back to Ruhenheim, back to his hospital bed, back to Heidelberg.
Once, he tries to write a letter. Slowly, he begins: my dear Doctor Tenma
—but no other words seem to follow.
Fortunately, no other people pass by this small, quiet corner of the world. He sees rabbits, but nothing much larger unless he's lucky or deliberately keeping an eye out. His boots crunch through snow and dead leaves, leaving footprints that disappear within hours. It feels like he's all alone in the world.
It's been three months of solitude when Johan finally gathers his things and leaves. He looks around the near-empty rooms of the house with a small smile; there's no sign that he's been here at all, so he picks up a pen from the kitchen and leaves a note on the table. It takes at least five minutes to decide what to write, but by the time he does he's ready to leave for good.
Where next? The question doesn't bother him. The world is full of wide empty spaces, places waiting to be touched by the life passing through them. He doesn't need to plan.
Johan pulls on his shoes and looks at himself in the mirror once more before leaving. He's starting to recognise the face he sees there.