eric truly believed himself to be a patient person. the clock hanging on the restaurant wall had failed to move any of its hands for a single second, leaving him to guess it had probably been about 15 minutes that he’d been waiting. if his phone hadn’t been stolen he would know for sure, but it had been stolen, and so he had been guessing. he really wished he had a watch.

the clusters of people stocking up the booths and tables around him conversed in a steady hum, their pitch collectively rising and falling like a metronome. you could keep time like that, he figured, if you were a fucking nerd. it was way easier to go off the number of songs that had played over the speakers, four so far. songs are usually about three and a half minutes long, right?

eric noticed that his hands had been steepled together in the same position for basically as long as he had been waiting - fingers interlocked, palms inward, thumbs arched skyward. he glanced up at the clock, still dead, and started counting the ticks out loud, as if the second hand was really moving. he drummed his fingers on the tabletop to the beat of the music, which was coincidentally also the beat of his ticks. his phone, in someone else’s pocket, read 23:37 p.m.