He’d had four years. Four years of…happiness. Four years of treading through life knowing there was another person on his path, a someone who could share his unique view of the world, understand his fears. A someone to break his fall, and listen when his spirit called.
Four years in time, all the more cherished for its abbreviated span.
He hadn’t really fully appreciated how precious those years would be to him later, how he would bind them upon his heart, relive every moment and sorrow for those that weren’t and never would be. At the time, he could now see, he had been cavalier, perhaps even a bit smug in the knowledge that he had created yet one more partition insulating him from the rest of humanity.
After all, secrets are his currency, and collecting them is an accumulation of wealth…more valued by him than all the money he possesses. And now, all the more important to hoard.
Of course the alternative concept of baring all never occurred to him, his actions typically, instinctively following a life-long pattern of withholding his persona and all that makes him what he is. Only the paranoid survive. That is his creed after all.
So not even for his best friend had he removed the partitions in his life. Nathan never guessed Grace existed, not even after having been slipped an obvious clue.
“Maybe it’s time for you to invest in a little time on your own…”
“How do you know I don’t?”
“I know you like your secrets, Harold…but if you'd found someone, I'd never hear the end of it!"
Nathan could also be smug. And condescending…
His relationship with Grace continues to be a secret, his big secret. Not the biggest, since that would be the existence of the Machine, but still a secret he treasures, having spent so much of his reality interacting only with functional devices. Being with Grace was like entering a secret garden…only the flowers she cultivated grew in his heart. It was exhilarating just to be around her, flourishing, thriving, breathing in her…aliveness.
They had shared an interest in old books, literature; could and did spend countless hours debating the merits of a piece of art. And nonsense fluff, like the best way to stuff an olive, or whether pigeons died in mid-flight when they got old. He craved this sharing of his soul with her like the garden flowers craves misty rains. But in the end he had closed the garden gate and walked away to protect her. To ensure she would remain safe to bloom and grow on her own. It was the most difficult thing he had ever done.
He’d had four years with Grace. Not enough, never enough. But still…four years of memories to harvest, treasure, savor.
Four years of…happiness.
John had only had four days…