"How much time on you do you have?" she whispered, sitting behind him on the bed, her arms wrapping around his slim waist as he dropped his head into his hands, sniffing loudly and pushing his black hair from his face as he sat in the darkness, his breathing calming as he allowed her to rest her head on his back in between his shoulder blades.
"A day," he whispered to her. "I get paid tomorrow. I should be fine."
"Are you sure?" she whispered to him, checking her own wrist as he looked down onto the green numbers which stood out against her pale skin and he nodded. He wasn't taking any of her time. She often had less than he did. Much of it was down to her own stubbornness. She informed him that she would pay the bills when they needed paying and it drained her. He told her that he would make up extra shifts at the factory to pay for them, but, she always beat him to it. Life in the ghetto was hard. They both knew that.
"I don't need your time, Georgina," he promised, turning his neck to the side as she rested her chin on his shoulder and she kissed his bare skin. "I'll get a better job soon, I promise."
"I don't doubt it," she believe him, yawning as he untangled her arms from his waist and he laid back down on the bed, closing his eyes for a second as she remained propped up with her head on her hand. "You're not going to tell me what the nightmare was about, are you?" she checked with him and he raised a brow at her, his icy blue eyes finding her brown ones. She didn't need an answer with words. She knew what he was thinking.
"Go back to sleep," he instructed her. "We have a big event tomorrow evening."
"We do," she agreed, snuggling closer to his side as she felt him stiffen slightly. "Although, the groom isn't technically supposed to see the bride before the wedding," she informed him, draping her arm across his stomach as he wrapped his around her shoulders and chuckled deeply.
"Well, nothing about this wedding is traditional, is it?" he replied, stroking her dirty blonde hair behind her back as she shrugged awkwardly.
"I invited my sister," she informed him. "You don't mind, do you?"
"You know what I think about Leila," he responded simply and Georgina sighed to herself. Her sister was an acquired taste, she knew that much. She also knew what she did to gain time on the side of her job as a machinist in a sewing factory. She just pretended not to know about. Ignorance in the ghetto was always bliss.
"Do you think we'll ever get out of here?" she suddenly whispered as he turned the bedside light out. He remained quiet for a second, looking up the dark ceiling in their bedroom as she remained quiet by his side.
"I'll make sure we do," he promised her. "I'll give you the world one day, Georgina...I promise you."
"I don't doubt it," she grinned, closing her eyes as she allowed herself to fall asleep again.
"So, it is your wedding day and you've had to go to work?" Leila checked with her sister as she met her outside of the small corner shop where she worked. The pay was terrible. The time which she had barely kept her going. She could hardly manage on it. "You don't get paid enough in there."
"It's enough for now," Georgina whispered, tucking her curly hair behind her ear. "Besides, we can't afford to take time off for a lavish wedding. You know that."
"You could take a day off," Leila responded. "Although, your fiancé is much too tight with his time to do that, isn't he?"
"Ray savours what time he has," Georgina snapped as she and Leila walked down the streets, keeping their head down until they reached the small little church which had agreed to hold the marriage service. "We all have to around here."
"Tell me about it," Leila snorted. "It's a dog eat dog world. But, it is your wedding day, aren't you nervous?"
"Terrified," Georgina managed to smile for her sister who grinned back to her. "I didn't think I'd be nervous, but, it is a big thing, isn't it?"
"To a guy as dull as Leon?" she checked and nodded. "It most certainly is."
"Leila, can you lay off him?"
"Can he stop judging me?"
"Will you stop with the prostitution?" she snapped back and Leila looked away, hurt in her eyes as she did so.
"That's not what I do," she hissed.
"It is, Leila. We both know it...there are jobs out there..."
"Like yours?" she snapped back. "I know how little you make! I know how you live each day as if it is your last. I need some stability...I've got three days on the clock. How long do you have?"
"One," she whispered and Leila gave her a smug look as she stood in front of her outside the church, taking in the small, white dress which she wore and she shook her head.
"I love you, Georg," she promised. "I just hope that you're making the right decision in marrying Leon."
"Good, because divorce is ridiculous time these days," Leila joked and Georgina rolled her eyes, taking a deep breath as Leila handed her a small bouquet of flowers and kissed her on the cheek. "You look amazing."
"I really don't," she replied as Leila winked once.
"It isn't about the dress, that's what you told me, remember?"
"It's about the man you're going to marry," Georgina confirmed.
Raymond Leon wasn't an emotional man. He wasn't the type of man who even shed a tear when bad news had been broken to him. He allowed his emotions to get the better of him sometimes. Anger and fear were inside of him. All because of where he lived. But, as soon as he saw his fiancée walking down the aisle, he felt serenity. He watched the way she continued to smile over at him, the flowers held in her hands by her laced white dress. He'd managed to borrow a simple suit. It had cost him four hours overtime, but, he wanted to make some kind of an effort.
Leila took her seat behind Georgina as Leon pecked her on the cheek, taking hold of her hand as the ceremony began.
"How does it feel to be Mrs Leon?" he enquired from her as soon as they returned home that evening and sat on the sofa, curled against each other.
"As good as I had hoped for," she promised and he kissed her swiftly on the top of her head. "I'm also thankful that you didn't rip my sister apart tonight."
"The meal was nice and she did pay for it," Leon grumbled. He hated that too. He detested not being able to pay for things. She didn't deserve to pay for it. The way she got her money wasn't worthy of being used.
"It was her gift," Georgina excused her sister.
"Hm," Leon simply groaned. "What time is it?"
"Half past eleven," Georgina said as Leon stood up, wrapping his arm around her waist and dragging her up with him, pulling her into his arms as she squealed once and he looked down to her, a grin playing on his features as he did so.
"I think it is time to make you the proper Mrs Leon," he suggested before Georgina stretched to kiss him.
"I think that I would like that."
Leon was working late. He had phoned to tell Georgina that his shift had been extended to eleven at the factory and she sighed once, agreeing that it wasn't an issue as she checked the green digits on her arm. Two hours. She knew that she needed to pay the loan back on the electric bill they had to borrow money for. As soon as she finished her shift in the corner shop, she bid the workers goodnight, shrugging into her simple black coat and buttoning it to her neck, walking quickly through the streets to the loan shop as her heels clicked against the concrete.
Leon would have had a fit if he knew she was wandering the streets at night. He preferred for her to go straight back to the apartment which was around the corner from the shop where she worked. He had assured her that he could take care of himself whenever she worried for him. She just bit her lip and shook her head.
Georgina checked her time again, seeing the two hours had disappeared to an hour and forty five as she upped her pace. She had been in this situation before, but, she still worried. She didn't want to die there. She wanted to get out of the ghetto. She wanted to go to New Greenwich. She wanted to be with Leon amongst the ranks of the rich who had nothing to fear.
Her thoughts consumed her as she heard the smashing noise from down an alleyway and she jumped back, looking around and continuing her movements until she felt a sudden tug on the back of her coat.
"How much time?" someone snapped at her and she screamed loudly, only to have his hand clamp over her mouth. He backed her up against the wall, rolling her sleeve up as she looked at the green digits on his arm. Three minutes.
"No!" she snapped at him through his hand as he took hold of her wrist, the smell of something strong coming from him as Georgina thought against him, seeing her time disappear as she felt panic rise up in her body.
"Thanks," he spoke quickly, slamming her body back against the brick wall as she gasped for breath and he ran off into the night. She checked the time on her wrist and felt her heat beat quicken.
Georgina began to run through the streets, looking anywhere she could for anyone who could help her. She noted a shop begin to shut as she rushed to it, slamming against the metal shutters.
"Please!" She cried out. "Please! Help me!"
But, that was the issue in the ghetto. No one helped you when you were almost out of time. Georgina pushed her hand through her hair, seeing the small telephone box which sat on the corner of the street as she ran to it. She needed Raymond. He had three days on his clock after his day at work. She needed him.
"Deposit one minute," the voice instructed her as she held her arm into the small silver opening and began to dial for the number of his work. As soon as she reached the factory, she begged them to put Leon on. It took another minute before they did.
"Raymond!" she snapped out. "I need help! I've...someone robbed my time...I've got fifteen minutes..."
"Where are you?" he asked her, his voice tight and worried.
"I'm on fifth block street...ten minutes from your factory."
"Hang on and meet me on sixth, do you understand me?" he checked quickly with her and she nodded, tears filling in her eyes.
"Yes," she hung up on him and began to run down the streets. She knew she wasn't getting far in her dammed heels and she quickly kicked them off her feet, not caring about the holes which began to form in her tights as she ran as fast as he legs permitted her. He'd get to her. She knew he would get to her.
She finally approached sixth, looking around in the darkened street for a sign of him as she looked at the green digits. Two minutes left.
"Raymond!" Georgina screeched his name as she continued to run, hoping to meet him as she took another street and he still wasn't there. "Raymond! Ray!"
She knew it was going to be too late as the clock ticked down to thirty seconds and the sobs began to fill her voice, breaking her down as she looked around, crying hysterically for him.
"Georgina!" his voice suddenly snapped and she whirled around, seeing him running down the street as she launched herself to him. "Georgina...hold on...I'm here...I'm here!"
And then she stopped running. Raymond continued to go, his feet hitting the concrete as hard as he could as he saw her crumble to the ground, her body turning limp and he dropped to his knees beside her, his hands clutching onto her wrist as he saw the dull, grey numbers and he pulled her body upwards, resting her in his lap as he did so.
"Georgie," he whispered, stroking her blonde hair from her face as he looked at his own clock. "Georg...I'm so sorry...I'm so sorry..."
He didn't know how long he stayed there with her, simply sobbing to himself and holding her body close to his, wishing he had been quicker, wishing he had gotten her out of there like he had promised.
"Street cameras," Leon snapped to himself, shaking his own head and chewing on the piece of gum which sat in his mouth as he looked around the storm water channel and ignored the other men beside him. He often wondered why he bothered with working in a team. They never noticed anything.
He didn't particularly like being in the storm water channel. There were too many memories in the ghetto for him. Even after his fifty years on the job he knew if he went back he'd never be the same again. He'd gotten out. He'd left and devoted his life to his job, knowing it was the only thing to do to numb the pain which he felt.
As he walked away, he heard her shrill voice call out to him and he winced.
"Hey, Ray!" she yelled. "I'll give you ten minutes for an hour!"
He looked across the gap of water, seeing the woman stood there in her scantily clad dress and he shook his head, forcing a sarcastic smile onto his face as he did so.
"Go home, Leila," he instructed her. "You must be pushing on sixty now!"
"Not even for Georgina?" she called across and Leon's smile dropped from his face as he looked at the men who were staring at him, wondering what she was on about. Leon's hand dropped down the golden band on his finger as he found shallow water to move himself across to her side as she looked at him in his leather gear, rolling her eyes and raising a brow.
"Leather is so last year," she informed him.
"So is selling your body," he retorted. "What would Georgina say?"
"She's been gone for seventy years, Leon," she reminded him. "You need to loosen up a bit."
"And you need to stop offering yourself to the next man who comes along," he informed her.
"Maybe if Georgina had tried it then she'd still be alive today."
"Don't you dare talk about her like that!" Leon snapped at her and she shrugged nonchalantly.
"Why not? She's gone and I'm not. I don't see why you're bothered. You got what you always wanted. You got yourself out of this place," she informed him and he shook his head quickly.
"I'd have stayed in that place if it meant keeping her alive," he assured her. "Make no mistake about that."
Leila remained silent, watching as Leon walked away from her and slammed the door shut to his car and she turned around, continuing looking for business.
Time was all that mattered. Without it, people were torn apart.