Cherishing each instant and refusing to let it go, Royal became cramped, loud, tense, unfun at parties. Friends approached him. "Stretch out. Embrace periodicity, transience. Widen your focus, man," they'd say. "No, no. That's okay. I'm okay. I'd like to fit it all in. All of it, you know. A detailed whole."
Days passed. For us. But not for Royal. He kept them all, not letting any slip by him. His hands full, he pinned seconds between his elbows and ribs, his apron pulled into a bag like a hausfrau coming in from the garden, fifteen minutes from 1997 even tucked under his chin. He knew it wasn't good for him. He knew he'd have to pay sooner or later.
Maybe if he'd been on point in 1968, surrounded by the NVA's invisible Kalashnikovs. Or standing in a trench, 1917, scrambling to stuff himself into a gas mask. Hell, Fallujah, 2004. Ugly enough to let go. Instead, even his worst days had seemed worth saving, hoarding even. Who knows, maybe he'd need them later.
Or maybe after he was gone, someone would find his notes, slog through them, see a pattern other than the trite one he'd found years ago and kept running his finger around the grooves of, over and over again.