Loki wakes up. While stretching his back, he raises his arms up and yawns. Sluggishly, Loki takes a few glances around the room before getting up. As he is about to open his closet, he hears a woman’s voice yelling to him from the front door.
Loki yells back to the woman, "Give me a second!" and turns from his closet to the drawers by the window.
Rushing, Loki runs to get dressed, grabbing whatever is on top. When he looks down at himself to see the shirt he put on, he notices a few large, day-old stains on it. He frowns and tugs at the shirt with one hand while trying to while wipe the stain off with his other. Grabbing a thin jacket off a hanger, Loki slides it on to cover his shirt. There’s no stains on it when he checks. However, both his pants and jacket are dark. He sulks over it. Great. Looks like I’m doing laundry when I get home.
Loki hears the woman yell at him again. Loki shouts back, louder. “I hear you, Alice!”
Running into the bathroom on the other side of the room, Loki flattens his bedhead and checks to see if his teeth need to be brushed. He skims his tongue over his teeth and attempts to grab his toothbrush, but as he glances up at the clock hanging up near the door of the bathroom, he realizes that he doesn’t have time. Then Loki scans the room, with an edge, forgetful feeling in his gut.
He observes over into the other room, trying to cure the weird feeling. He finds nothing, but Loki remembers when he checks himself. Ah, my belt, that’s it. Where did I put it?
He hunts through the room, searching in his drawers, under his bed, in his closet, everywhere. Finally, he finds his only belt in the bathroom, and Loki rapidly buckles it through and goes over to the door. Taking a deep breath and gulping down the fearful knot in his throat, he readies himself for Alice’s reaction, and opens the door. As soon as he sees her, Loki masks a smile.
Alice, who is about twenty, same as Loki, crosses her arms. Her somewhat light brunette hair hangs not much farther than her shoulder. It has signs of being played with. She slips her black sunglasses from her eyes to the top of her head and unzips her long, black winter coat on. Alice moves her hands to her hips, inside the coat, while giving him a perturbed glare. She voices her frustration, “What took you so long? Wait, let me guess, you just woke up and hadn’t gotten dressed at all… as usual.”
Loki laughs uncertainly. “No, I was already…” He averts his gaze from Alice’s heartless stare, but his worry gets the best of him and forces the truth from his lips. “Yes Alice, I forgot. I’m so sorry. I’m trying to wake up earlier, but I had to work late again.” Loki anticipates a disagreement.
However, Alice doesn’t push back. Instead, she sighs and her face softens. Loki feels her mercy rising and his heart beat slows to a steady beat. Then he hears Alice mumbling to herself and his anticipation rises again.
After her mumble, she changes her glare straight to Loki’s eyes. “You really need to stop taking on these extra projects; you have your own work to do,” Alice points a finger at Loki. “And all it is doing is keeping you up late and making you exhausted.”
It’s not an attack. He breaths easy again. The relief nearly makes his knees collapse. The head rush of it all throbs at him. As Loki rubs his head, he says, “I know, and I’m not doing that much anymore, but Alice, this time it was the boss. He wanted me to finish up the project I was working on that day, so I had work overtime to finish it.”
"You say that, but do you really mean it?"
"Don't you trust me, Alice? I always mean it." Loki says.
Alice flies her hair out from inside her hood as she turns her head away. "I trust you just fine, but you're the one who's easy to give in and believe. You believe anyone of anything they say. You're gullible! Not only that, but you leave me to clean the mess up."
He sags into the wall. "Nobody's perfect.” Loki sighs. “I can have some flaws and live well. It's not like I can die from being gullible, I'm not stupid."
"You can sure die from it! Who knows what's out to get you? For all I know, some underground organization might be after your pocket watch for the godly powers it has! It could happen." She yells.
Loki raises his head, wondering about the possibility. "That's awfully specific Alice. It’s like you know something. It can't be the truth though, can it? I mean, my pocket watch have godly powers? Like that would happen, it can't even tell time!"
"Yeah, that's right. It's only a speculation. There's no way it could be the truth." Alice laughs suspiciously.
Loki catches on to her laughter. "Is something wrong? You sound kind of funny. Are you trying to tell me that you were telling the truth the first time?"
"No! Your pocket watch could never have such worth, it's useless."
Loki backs away and his eyes flinch. Alice catches on. "Ah, sorry Edwin, I didn't mean that. It still has some worth.” Her head droops. She waits a while before saying, “Um, can I still come in?"
He gestures her in and Alice slowly slides past. Loki timidly closes the door behind her.
When Alice enters Loki’s room, she hears a soft melody playing slowly and gently. Only her amazing hearing could detect such a faint sound, and she knew where it was coming from. The closet. Instantly, she recognizes the melody’s pleasant tune. The song pleases her ears, but since she knew what the tune really meant, especially to Loki, her heart and mind feels a familiar sorrow.
The sweet melody is strange. At first it’s a beautiful and joyful tune. However, the closer someone is to what’s being played, the melody sounds miserable. As if the person who wrote it was engulfed in grief, despair without hope, inconsolable over someone who would never come back to them, and yet were trying with all their might to smile. It’s almost hollow tune. There are no lyrics, but sometimes there are cases when it really did seem like someone was whispering words.
As Alice leans near the closet door, listening to it, she couldn’t shake off a feeling that something must have happened the night before. That’s the only reason why Loki would play the song. The melody appears to fill the whole room, but even the small sound of her watch is louder.
Gradually, Alice’s expression starts to change. She turns her head toward Loki, who notices her and slips to the closet. She doesn’t move her feet an inch, she fears she can’t. “You’re playing Alice again. Edwin, it’s been two years since then. You know it wasn’t your fault, so don’t do this to yourself. Please.”
“Yes,” Loki opens the closet and sits down next to the music player. “I know, I’ve been told the same things many times, but I could have—I should have done something. Still, I wasn’t thinking about that, so it’s fine Alice. You don’t need to worry. In fact, I didn’t even realize that I left it on.” Through the smile Loki further masks on, Alice can tell that he still uses the wall around his heart whenever the subject is brought up.
Alice rests on the chair next to the door, but not before she brushes the seat clear of any dust that might have settled since the previous day. The melody continues on and when it finishes the song starts from the beginning again. Alice is about to tell Loki to turn off the music player, but Loki presses to speak first. “Alice, do you remember when we first heard the song three years ago? No, I suppose you wouldn’t,” He raises his head. Loki’s eyes stare aimlessly at the ceiling and his words slow. “But you said it sounded absolutely profound because of how much emotion it made you feel, the pain it could make you endure. Then you told me that the meaning to the song seemed to be, “Whenever trouble follows you, I will find you.” Even now, I still wonder how you brought such a hopeful phrase from the sad song. You never told me the reason behind it, no matter how much I asked.”
Loki feels for the switch and turns the small track-player off. He crosses back to the door, waits, and lets out a small sigh that Alice isn’t able to hear. Turning around, with his right hand holding the handle to the outside knob of the door, he holds his other hand out to Alice.
She stands up and grabs onto Loki’s hand tightly, as if she’s afraid that she would lose him if her grip loosened any. While Alice walks through the doorway, Loki closes the door behind her with a light push.
A faint remnant of the song that once played in the room makes a silent echo. As the two walk down the hallway, the melody slides across the inside windowpane and leaves the room through the small crack of the window’s opening. The mild wind carries the song out.
Forseti, who is waiting for Alice and Loki to come, hears the soft sounds of the song. He glances over at the window to Loki’s apartment and shakes his head at the thought as he turns away. However, the song reminds him of an event.
Two years ago there was a rage of sadness by Loki. He pauses the thought, remembering what grievance had been done to Loki. It seemed there was a sort of unearthly force coming from him. Seeming as though it was caused by him; but it was not the rain that was unusual, even though there might have been a connection. Then as soon as that feeling appeared into being, it disappeared by a blinding light which touched Loki’s head. That light vanished in a split second and Loki fell to the ground, unaware later on from whatever happened in those few seconds.
At the thought of his unanswered question, Forseti slams his fist at the wall. However, with a few slow breath and another thought, he calms down. I want to know—no, I NEED to know what that light was and who Loki really is. As long as he is himself, and does not change, I can find the answer and how it relates to Alice. However, what role does Alice have in this game of cards? Just how important is it? Is she the joker in the game: the wild card that will make the most impact to a player’s win? Or is she just a pile of aces and eights? Well, looks like I’ll have to find that out, too. Now the game won’t be so boring anymore. Good.
Forseti stretches his head around and up to the sky, feeling himself grown stiff. Standing up, he stretches his legs as well. Then he spots Alice and Loki and his smile returns. While he approaches them, he hums Alice. The tune catches their attention. As Forseti passes, Alice grabs her head, a pain shooting through her mind.
“Are you okay, Alice? Should we sit down?” Loki brushes his hand against her hair, sliding it farther from her eyes.
“No,” She tries to continue, but her throbs grow and Alice grimaces. Loki sits her down in the bench Forseti sat in not long ago. Alice slips Loki’s hand from her. “I’m fine. I guess I never noticed how chilly it is until now. That’s probably the case.”
“Probably?” Loki fusses. “We should stop going on these walks if they’re going to harm your health. I don’t want to get you sick.”
“And risk you falling into depression again? I find it hardly worth the risk.”
“I was never depressed!” Loki backs away to the edge of the bench. “I’m completely fine.”
She rolls her eyes. “Right,” Alice grabs onto the collar of his jacket. “Then explain to me what last year was? Hmm? It was nowhere near joyous.”
Loki grunts and yanks Alice’s hand off his jacket. “Stop it Alice!” His head droops. “I get it already. So I may have been a little depressed, but it’s been two years now. I can handle it.” His eyes line with very thin tears that merely wet his drying eyes. “I know she’s gone. She might not ever come back, but,” He pauses and turns away. “I’ll be fine Alice. Stop making me repeat myself.”
She sighs. I did it again. I went too far. I got to stop hitting his nerves. Why must I be the one that is the source of all his troubles? I didn’t do anything wrong. I wasn’t the one who hurt him, yet he blames me. It makes no sense. What’s stranger, he cares for me the most despite that. Will he ever get better? If two years can’t cure his grief, then how long will it take?
“Alice?” Loki peeks behind him. “Are you coming or not?”
She blinks back to reality and joins him. “Hmm? Oh yes, I am.”
They walk aimlessly for a while, and the silence between them is overbearing. Alice tries to bring up a conversation, but Loki stares off elsewhere. His eyes paint a blank reflection compared to hers. They’ve looked dead since a long time ago.
So, Alice tries for a conversation via another way. She tugs on his jacket. “Hey Edwin,” She swings her head in front of his. Loki stops quickly in his tracks, his ears blushing. Alice giggles at his bashful expression. “Do want to walk through the park? The flowers aren’t there, since it is winter, but it still is lovely.”
Loki twitches. His hands reserve themselves behind him. Alice catches onto his feeling. I guess two years really have done him little help. He still doesn’t have the courage to walk through the park. I still wonder what happened there.
Alice swings her head back and gradually releases her hands from Loki’s arm. “Well, how about we walk through the outskirts of town? The part that’s still intact, of course.”
Loki relaxes. “That sounds nice.” He chimes happily.
Pulling his arm far forward, Alice skids quickly to their destination. When they arrive, Loki’s face lights up. The buildings glisten dimly, cramped next to each other, and made of colorful bricks to tell apart each building. They give a sense of the English towns that he always wanted to see. He fascinates himself with the simplistic, yet unique style of architecture in the area that most towns do not have in America.
Every time Loki passes through these isles of buildings, he embraces himself to an earlier age. He imagines all the women in their frilly, long, and stuffy dresses, with their lathered umbrellas, by a gentleman’s arms. Next to them, the proud gentlemen stroll in their expensive and furnished clothes, wooing all the women with their money and status. The antique lamps line the streets far apart from each other, giving a dark and ominous feeling at night in the thick fog, where criminals lurk.
On the other hand, the smell of imaginative fresh pastries in the bakeries tempt his taste buds, always located near the store the common folk visit most. In front of the bakery, the baker advertises in his jolly husky voice: all his warm breads, small tarts, and extravagant sweets filled with the most savoring jams and custards. Loki’s entrance casts away all his worries and guilt.
Alice giggles again. “Are you having fun?”
“Yes,” For a moment his eyes appear to reflect something other than darkness, but it fades quickly. “I love this area so much. I wish I could share this with her, Alice. You know, L-” He shudders at the name that was about to roll off his tongue.
“Listen Edwin, can you hear it?” He refocuses and lets his ears eavesdrop on the noises of the town. Then he hears what Alice is mentioning. The clock tower’s bells are thumping loudly. “It’s time to go to work. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Loki watches Alice leave his sights. “Wait!” Alice turns around. She waits for another call from him, but none comes. Instead, he takes a surprised step back. So Alice leaves while Loki’s thoughts race through his head, testing the limits of his skull. I’ve got to stop doing this to myself, he contemplates.