Alone Is What I Have
By J.H. Watson
~ 725 Words
Sherlock closed the article he’d been reading and restored the newsfeed on his phone as he said, “Well, John, that’s another assassin down.”
“Were you talking to me? My name’s Mohammed.”
Sherlock looked up sharply. John wasn’t there. Sherlock scanned the only person there. Single. College student. Education visa from Pakistan. Left-handed engineering major who would be lucky to get a Second at City University London. Dating an economics major far smarter than him and two years older. Slow developing kidney disease.
Sherlock shook his head. The man tossed the t-shirt he’d been folding into the basket, picked the basket up and left Sherlock alone in the laundromat. In was after two in the morning. Sherlock had chosen the time deliberately. He’d been surprised to find even Mohammed sharing the facilities with him.
Sherlock thought of John’s reaction to finding him doing his own laundry, let alone at a public laundromat. He smiled. Of course, it had been awhile since he’d had to deal with his own laundry. He’d forgotten exactly how tedious the task was.
At the thought of John Watson, an almost overwhelming craving for a cigarette washed through Sherlock. He walked over to the vending machines, shoved some coins into one, selected something chocolate. It didn’t really matter what, it wouldn’t be satisfying. Very little was satisfying right now.
Sherlock ate the chocolate candy automatically, tasting little. He considered coffee, but he hadn’t slept in several days and he knew he needed to sleep soon. He’d been getting careless, talking out loud more often. Talking to John.
Who wasn’t there.
But Sherlock hated sleeping. When he slept he dreamed and when he dreamed he saw John. Falling. Crumbling to the ground, a neat hole in the front and the back of his head a ragged, gaping hole. The occipital lobe gone along with large parts of the parietal and temporal and the blood flowing, flushing more brains onto the ground. And Sherlock stood there, looking down, automatically classifying the damage, the smoking gun in his hand.
The dryer beeped recalling Sherlock to his purpose. He took the clothes from the dryer and dumped them on the folding table. He looked at the pile.
John Watson would have taken one look at the jeans, t-shirts and hoodies and said, “Decided to give Spencer Hart a night off?”
Once more a smiled played at the corners of Sherlock’s lips. He fought the sentiment stirring in his chest, trying to soar in a rush of dopamine to his brain. Sentiment was a chemical defect found in the losing side. Love was a dangerous disadvantage.
But even more dangerous was lying to oneself.
In the honest moments, like this one, Sherlock knew he loved. He’d let Moriarty destroy everything but his friends. And Sherlock had even lost them, for now.
He was no stranger to being alone. He’d felt alone most of his life. Alone had been peaceful, detached, like floating above the chaos, looking down on ordinary people’s lives. He had learned to embrace detachment like a Buddhist monk.
Now alone felt like a huge, sucking vortex, a black hole threatening to pull Sherlock in, extinguishing all light, crush him in the darkness. With a start of surprise, Sherlock realized he was…lonely.
As he folded the last of his clothes, he explored the experience. Like a tongue drawn inexorably to a sore tooth, Sherlock probed the pain, recalling John in that first taxi ride to a crime scene, the moment of realization that John Watson had saved him from swallowing the poisoned pill, the lurch in his chest as John wrapped himself strapped in a Semtex vest around Moriarty, and all the other moments until the last.
But the point of all this was to prevent it from being the last. John was not dead and neither was he. And as soon as it was safe, he would let John know he was alive. In one last moment of open honesty, he thought, “Alive but not living.”
Some other night owl entered the laundromat and gave Sherlock the once over and a brief nod. Homeless. Alcoholic. Looking for a relatively dry, warm, safe place to kip. Sherlock threw the last garment in his backpack, drew the hoodie further over his face, and stepped out into the night — alone.
### End ###