despite the weather still being cool, especially this late in the night, he enjoyed the breeze that swept through his surroundings, as it kept him awake and alert. he used this as an opportunity to clear his mind, having obsessed over the smallest details in this sketch for so long that he barely knew what day it was, and not at all what time it was. he looked at his phone, which hovered at roughly 23% battery power and sighed. it was late, and he was certain he told danny he'd be home at a certain time, but his roommate should have known him well enough by this point to know that kal often fell asleep working at the studio, and if he didn't make it home, it was where he was likely to be found.
after a smoke break, kal returned to his stool and sat back to admire his work. usually he was proud of the work he did, but looking down, he saw many flaws. the main one being, the woman in the picture looked nothing like the alex he used to know and love. the alex he knew didn't have disproportionate eyes, or a crooked chin. her hair waved in a certain fashion, and it rarely ever fell flat. the woman in the picture was a mockery of her and he began to erase all the fatal flaws he noticed immediately.
perhaps it was obsessive, but many of kal's pictures of her from when they were still young and happily in love, remained in this studio. she gave him the motivation and inspiration to go on every day, and as he spent the majority of his time here regardless of whether he was working or not, he liked having them around. he went to a drawer in the computer desk and pulled out an album of pictures. when he made it back to where he had been working, kal flipped through the pages until he found a good picture as reference.
but instead of finding a good picture as reference, what he found were several pictures that had her face blacked out, cut out, or had the eyes scratched out by a sharp object. he blanched, running a panicked hand through his hair as he continued to flip through the album. the more pictures he saw, the more he realized that without these, he couldn't remember what she looked like.
after six years, kal could no longer see alex in his mind. he had so often used those pictures as reference, that without them, he couldn't see her. when he looked back at his drawing, it was nothing but a black mass, more smudge and eraser marks than a drawing of the woman he so longed to be with.
a sound of utter discomfort escaped his lips and he tore away at the picture, throwing the shreds into the trash. none of the pictures he had of alex were whole anymore. some were blurry, others completely gone, and despite the strain he put on his memories, he could no longer see her. but it wasn't just her, for the more he tried to remember faces, the less he saw, until his was the only one that he recognized in his minds eye.
he tore through his studio, grasping at every picture and sketch. what wasn't a mass of graphite and smudges, was nothing but a stick figure. some abstract, but without any sense of art. he fought to find something, but he more he looked, the worse they became. eventually, he fell into his computer chair and closed his eyes, the dirty heels of his palms rubbing his tired eyes, hoping it was just late night delirium that was fueling these images, however when he sat forward and dared to look at the pictures surrounding him, he found that it was no late night delirium, but real life.
kal had forgotten every face he'd ever seen. in all their imperfect beauty, the artist could no longer see them. what he saw was lines, and blurs, shapes that made no sense, and shadows where memories used to be. he folded his arms on his desk and rested his head in it, heaving a great sigh as he succumbed to this terror, and eventually he had dozed off.
a knock at the door had awoken him abruptly, and when he awoke with a start, he found that it was nearly day break. he looked around hazily and found that everything was back to normal. he could see faces again, and in the album that had fallen shut on his computer desk, kal saw a picture of himself and alex in martha's vineyard during their last summer together.
another knock on the door brought his attention back to the present and he stood up and stretched, contemplating shutting his window to cap the early morning chill, though as he started towards it, another knock came to the door.
"alright, alright," he muttered, yawning and making his way to the door to open it. usually when there was a knock, it was the owner of the building checking to see if he was alright. kal had a habit of locking himself up for lengthy periods of time, which history had proven was no good for his health.
approaching the door, he opened it and at the sight ahead of him, nearly buckled at the knees.
feet from him stood alexandra dewitt, the now deceased ex-girlfriend of kale roderick. everything was just as he remembered. except her face. her face was nothing but an abstract version of what he remembered. her features looked as if they had been drawn by a third grader. disproportionate and crooked. mere line drawings against an otherwise perfect canvas.
"how could you forget me?" she asked. her mouth moved in ways unnatural to the human anatomy and he backed up into the studio as she began to approach him.
words escaped him and he struggled to put distance between them. when she reached an arm out, it was nothing but a twig, a mere black line with three chubby fingers at the end. he shuddered and continued to move away until he bumped into a table.
"you said you'd never forget me," she said, now standing flush against him as he arched his back and fought her. kal shook his head, refusing to look alex in the eye.
"you're n-n-not here. you're dead," he said, eyes clenched as he braced for something awful to happen.
a cold hand rested on his cheek and forced him to snap his eyes open. he had to see for himself if she were there. his alex. the one he could no longer see in his minds eye, though when his vision focused, he saw that it wasn't alex standing in front of him, but his land lady.
"hey," she cooed, pulling her hand away from him. "mr. roderick, are you okay?" she asked, concern stretched across her features.
kal looked around, confused. it was morning, alright, but nothing was the way he remembered it only seconds before. "what are you doing here, mrs. foer?"
the older woman smiled and set a coffee down on the table kal had backed into. "i saw your car parked outside and thought i'd come check on you. you were sleep walking." kal sat back on the table, hands clenched on the edge as he tried to register what he was hearing.
when he looked up at her, he laughed. it was a dream. a really fucking bad dream, but a dream nonetheless.