He can’t hear Frank’s heart. And he can’t hear anyone but himself. Not the overly made-up teenagers or the suit-wearing multi-tasker. (Frerard-ish)
Somewhere there’s a dog barking, a woman singing, or child laughing.
Somewhere there’s a bird chirping, a baby crying, or a single pin whizzing toward the floor.
For ten excruciating seconds Gerard can hear every single one of those sounds.
Time slows and he can see a butterfly centimeters away from a car bumper, or a stop light milliseconds away from green.
He can see a man’s face, unemotional and undeterred in the few seconds before his brain registers the coin falling to the sidewalk.
Gerard can hear the eerie buzz from the children playing in the park across the street from a preschool.
Then there’s the undeniable noise of rubber and cement, friction burning and black smudging on the street.
There’s an SUV, black and reflective, and Gerard can see the frustrated face of the businessman inside, silver metal held to his ear, voice mid-sentence as he runs a red.
The clink of the sharp sliver hitting tiles, the tiny crunch as life is shoved from the winged insect as it’s smashed into the protective plastic, the click of red turning to green under smog-clogged stoplight covers, and suddenly that man is frowning, spine bent and ready to gather what little he lost while paying for a stack of papers he could have found in the garbage. But that’s messed up.
It all echoes in Gerard’s ears and he turns his head.
Hazel eyes wide and mouth open, his hands are splayed in front of him; trying to shield himself, warn Gerard, and an acceptably hopeless attempt to discourage the distracted driver speeding toward them.
All at the same time.
It wasn’t his light.
Shoulders tilt and a voice is cut off as the thump of compacted speakers, wires, and plastic hitting the carpet at his feet sounds out.
Two brakes are slammed at once and the SUV is screeching across the intersection, a clichéd, red, convertible full of girls caught in its wake.
And he’s snapped out of it.
Everything comes at him and he can’t react. His own foot jerks down, but of course it’s too late and the cars collide, flipping and twisting around each other.
There’s the few crucial inches crossed forcefully between the two cars, and Frank yells.
Metal bends and glass breaks. One car is wrapping around two and the three are smashed like play-dough.
A crash and there’s a piece of metal shattering through the window. The shards cut into Gerard’s skin and everything stops.
There’s a dull hissing thud and the silence of shock.
He can’t feel his legs, but he can hear the pieces falling to the floor, he can hear the blood trickling from the girls’ heads in the convertible, and he can hear the yelling, indeterminable voice on the other side of the device that started it all; the phone, still operating while crushed deep inside layers of smoking metal and plastic.
He can hear the abandonment of the nickel at the newsstand and the terrified confusion of the interrupted toddlers.
Gerard can hear his heart beating faster when he realizes that the body strewn over the hood of his car is that of a child. The child that had gone unnoticed in the back seat of the SUV.
And he can hear Frank. Every morning greeting or lighthearted giggle, every mindless comment or hurtful insult, every girlish scream or slip of words. He can hear.
It was all being sucked away from him, breath by breath. All out of the spilling wound caused by the laceration through his side from a shard of metal sticking through the door into his torso.
His neck is unnaturally bent, and Gerard knows it’s broken.
His breathing is labored, and Gerard knows he’s gonna have to stop soon.
Gerard counts the breaths emitted from the both of them, and he can hear sirens. He can hear the faint, but hopeful signs of life from his own lungs, and he can hear the organ in his chest pulsing through.
And Gerard’s convinced you’re not supposed to be able to hear things like that unless you’re about to die. He’s convinced Frank didn’t hear it, that time was all a seconds-long blur for him, and that this was all wrong.
He can’t hear Frank’s heart. And he can’t hear anyone but himself. Not the overly made-up teenagers or the suit-wearing multi-tasker.
Because it wasn’t their light.
So there’s only one to count.