eventually, everything resurfaces
I am interested in longing,
in longing so deep it threatens to splinter a person apart
— Rachel Yoder
A few hours later.
It takes some time to convince him that I was more or less stable now and would not collapse before anyone else's welcoming feet again. Or any kind of motor engine, for that matter, If I ever decided to head outside for a whiff of some rather questionable fresh air. Safe to say, it takes me at least an hour and a lot of heavy, pressuring stares before he lets me out of his sight. Not that I could blame him. Even though that kind of hovering attitude; irritated me worse than a nasty, itchy rash. Heating my skin more than a steamy and passionate rendezvous session with a poison ivy bush would.
But still, I get it.
For some reason, he cared, and I was grateful for it. Even if I sucked at showing it. There were times when I thought of myself as an Italian matron, expressing my care and concern by bringing food. It was the best way I knew how - a small smile creeps to my lips but is quickly replaced by a deep, ulgly scowl. At that simple task of showing affection, I was more or less decent. But as the mental state goes, and communication skills when it comes to any type of feelings... Well, let's face it. In that area, I was a shipwreck. Though even I had my moments sometimes.
I think quietly, shifting between people, corridors, and eventually, the seemingly endless flights of stairs. I head to the roof, sneaking outside before anyone could notice or protest against it. Blocking the heavy door with a piece of a cardboard box, so I would not get shut out, leaving my sorry ass to potential hyperthermia and a not-so-pleasant ice statue effect. With some hesitation, I inhale deeper and then exhale very slowly. Releasing the tension in my chest a bit, letting the lungs take in as much oxygen as they wanted. Mmm, even though the air was freezing, it felt good as it expanded under the ribs, scratching almost painfully from the inside but making me feel just a little bit more human.
I close my eyes and hold back on any unwanted thoughts and feelings that could slip into the cracks, rocking the already unsteady foundation. The only thing that I do, let in, are my senses as I concentrate on all the seemingly insignificant things in between. On how the wind moves against my skin and fingers, as my hands open wide, my head lifted back, eyes closed. Or on how each sound vibrates in my eardrums and under the muscles. The street traffic blending into an unknown melody that somehow soothes my mind. With time I relax slightly, allowing myself to be in the here and now, but eventually, some time later, he finds me.
I'm not even that surprised. Somehow, he always found me, sensing when my mood would drop or when my thoughts were further away from him, from everything. Maybe he felt the notions that I had been ignoring so well. Never truly realizing how the things inside of me changed after taking out that ring a few weeks ago, that still meant so much to me. The simple silver one, forever painted in daisies and bruised time. Blurring out the longing for someone that once felt like home against the rubble and dust of the world that left her colder, quieter, somewhat defeated.
With growing tissue around the parts that she managed to stitch the best way, she knew how. Healing slowly, but with visible nylon, threads sticking out of her, reminding her how rushed she acted. Not caring about much more than to stop the open wounds from gushing deep crimson. Not taking all the time that she should have to peace herself back in the right way. Her tapestry, consisting of glue, cotton patches, and torn pieces of grey scotch tape.
Temporary solutions for the wounded ones.
Struggling, I move away slightly from the past and slowly retreat to reality, suddenly feeling very tired. I have been very moody because that little thing pressed deep into one of my drawers, hidden under the layers of the surface life. The returning memories, hitting at me, taunting my mind. And what happened today did not help my case either. Too many waves, pulling me down at once. At times I could resist my past, but my past could not do the same. And the only reason why I haven't noticed it until now was because there were so many things to handle first, ripping me constantly in all directions. And above all, ladies and gentlemen, I was a good runner, fleeing away from my problems smoothly, on instinct, not letting any more pain in.
But somehow, it regularly found its way back to me, just like he did.
I look down at the contents lightly nestled into my hand as he asks, surprised. Staring at me as if holding a pack of cigarettes was worse than what I did before. Like I should be feeling more sinful from this than actually from killing someone. From taking a life that was not mine. Yes, as if nicotine and yellow-stained fingers were my biggest problem now. Oh, how silly seemed the sins in his mind in comparison with mine. I think but then shake my head. But how could he know or even suspect my real atrocities? The filth that lingered under my fingernails, forever stained in gone powder. It wasn't his fault that I did not have enough of a backbone to let him in completely and tell him all that sit rotting inside of my darker, infected parts. I stare back and shrug my shoulders, feeling the crisp air slip past my wrists and under the sleeves of the leather jacket. It takes a lot of energy not to shrink from the chill, staying calm and poised. Yet despite it, my body remains motionless.
I watch his eyebrows furrow slowly.
Then why are you...
Holding it helps me calm down.
I don't think I follow.
You could say it's a souvenir.
Alright, you have to give me more than that.
I gaze at him for a moment, and then the words just flow out, spilling smoothly as if water over pebbles in a rushing stream.
It was my fiance's. He died, nothing more to say.
He's taken aback by my answer, his eyes growing wider as he takes an unconscious step back, probably not even realizing it. I inhale the cold air and then slowly let it out again. Letting another sharp, heavy stone fall out of my lungs. I almost hear it hitting the pavement beneath my feet with a low sound, and then I straighten my back, something both loosening and deflating in my core. Well, eventually, he would have found out anyway. So why prolong it? I gaze up at him, parts of me quietly surrendering. I was just too tired to keep up with all the secrets. I had too many of them as it was.
The way he says my name sounds more like a question than anything else. It makes me uneasy. I never liked any form of pity, and the worst kind of pity was hearing the sharpest words in the world covered in silk. I'm sorry for your loss. The only time I would let people do that to me was on the day of the funeral. And only then. And today was definitely not such a day. I cut him off abruptly before he can say anything else.
No, stop. It doesn't matter anymore. I moved on. So let's just drop it, alright? No need to dig into the past. Nothing good ever comes from it.
I step further away from him and go to the edge of the roof, knowing how bitter my voice sounded but not really caring. I look inside the paper box and stare at the three lonely cigarettes and a simple red plastic lighter. I pull it out and play with it for a moment, then sigh and hide it, putting the packet back inside my jacket. I cross my arms and lean against a low brick wall, separating me from the empty space in front of me and the twenty floors below my feet. The wind, blowing the hair around my face as I watch the stars gradually set into the deep blue ink, pink and maroon-colored sky. Wondering how much longer I would have to go through this mess. Was there even any way out? Or was it just a case of waiting for the grave end?
After a while, I turn around and see that he must have left some time ago, letting me with this moment and the memories. He left me in peace when I needed it the most. It was one of the things about him that I could easily fall in love with if there was anything in my to still love. I had doubts about that because all there seemed to be left was just a block of ice that grew bigger with every day. Thick, almost unbreakable, and wrapped around in silence. Coated over a heart that had been bruised one too many times and lost a will to feel certain empty notions. It was beating, of course, feeling, existing. Caring. Caring so much. But was that enough to feel, everything?
I walk down the staircase on stiff legs, feeling a chill in the bones. The cold banister only intensifying the sensation, causing my teeth to ring loudly against each other, the late-night and the lack of sleep taking a haul on me. Though what I was about to just do, made me feel even colder. But it was needed. I open the inside door and walk into the hallway of the building. I know Charlie's shift isn’t over yet, so I look for him without rush, eyes scanning the place, face crinkled from too many thoughts. I can feel stress and exhaustion tugging at me, the world around gently buzzing, lights a bit too bright, and noises unpleasantly heightened, my head starting to pound mercilessly. But it was nothing, just a sad, depressing part of my life now. Humans are a specific kind of creatures; they adept even to the worst things. Even though it made my skin crawl to think that I was now used to the pain. To this form of insanity. An overstretched material no longer serving its purpose.
I finally find him at the main desk, filling some patient's paperwork and setting the medication dosages. A faint smile stretches my lips; I guess I learned a stuff or two while coexisting in his complicated, medical world. And if I ever went back to stealing morphine, I would be much better at it than just a month ago. He looks up at me, distracted, and sees the barely visible smile on my face, but he’s not fooled by it.
Nora, what’s wrong?
He notices me shiver.
God, have you been up there all that time? I thought you would go to the library or to some argument session with Morgan. Not that you would actually stay on the roof. Are you insane?
Yes, in all ways. I feel like answering but then shrug, not being able to focus entirely on his words.
I need to talk to you.
Of course, yes. But only if you go to the cafeteria and get yourself something hot to drink and eat. I will meet you there, but I have some things still that need to be done.
My arms cross, and I take a demonstrative walk to the wending machine, pull out a few coins from my back pocket so he can see, and get a paper cup of tea, steam rising from it as I sit on a chair nearby.
I’m good. And can wait here for you.
Was the show necessary, Eleonore?
If it made you say my full name twice in one day, then yes.
I take small sips of the hot over-sugared liquid, never taking my stare off him. He looks like he has to deal with a spoiled five-year-old, and he’s not that far off, to be honest. But he doesn’t understand what’s going on with me and how fragile I have become. I don’t want to be far away from him, in case I might break again. I have been feeling weaker since we met. Better, more peaceful, energized at first but now more like on pain killers that worked too well. Addicting, blurring my senses, and with a hard crash, if I didn’t take the right dosage on time. Just like when I was taking drugs, better for a while, and then even worse than before. Constantly craving more. Just to stop the pain, the thoughts, the voices.
He made my life bearable, with an illusion of normality, but there was an enormous price that came with it. A falling apart car could only run so long, no matter what kind of miracles the mechanic could perform.
Don’t make me sit there alone, Charlie. Please? I would rather be here to know when you’re done.
He stares at me for a while, his expression slowly changing. It’s worried again. I tense, trying to swallow the big lump in my throat, tears starting to form unexpectedly. I take a bigger sip of tea and gaze at the cup with an empty stare, not wanting to feel anymore. He walks over until he reaches me and then crouches beside me, touching the wrists gently, the warmth filling my skin, circling in the veins, and reaching my tired mind. My eyes start to sting again, but I compose myself at the last moment.
What’s going on, Nora?
His sigh is heavy and tickles my skin.
Is it because of that seizure you had in front of doctor Sorentine?
No. Well, in a way.
He nods a few times.
I'm getting closer then. And is it also about what you told me on the roof? And the lighter that you hold on to so tightly?
Finally, I make myself look up at him and then nod, almost unnoticeably; not sure what would happen to my emotions if I tried to speak right now.
Alright. As soon as I finish up with my things, we will go to the cafeteria together and talk
about whatever you want to, deal?
I feel like a little kid again and groan, waving my hands dismissively in the air.
Yes. Now get up from your feet. You’re making a spectacle of yourself.
I watch as his face loosens the deep frown and spreads into an almost normal smile.
Why? Are you feeling embarrassed by it?
No, I wouldn’t want any of the nurses here to think you are proposing to me and then beat me up in some dark alley behind the dumpster. I hear such acts of violence are common in hospitals. Especially with attractive male nurses inhabiting the area.
He laughs out, shaking his head, and then with a bit lighter step, he heads back to his responsibilities. I watch as he disappears and then walk up to the reception, tapping on the counter until I get some proper attention. A middle-aged woman with glasses and a strong presence about her looks up and gives me an all-knowing look.
I need a cigarette, really bad.
You don't smoke.
She states with authority.
No, but you do, and I am more than aware of that secret stash that you keep away from your husband. Twenty cigarettes a week, like clockwork.
You’re too observant for someone that always looks out of place, my dear.
It helps me get by and stops the wolves from eating me alive. Come on, I know you have a coffee break soon, and I'm really desperate for some nicotine.
I send her a long look, grabbing her stare, knowing that she will understand.
I need to prepare for a battle.
She sizes me up for a moment and taps against a plastic pad three times.
Fine, but next time don’t be blabbering on, letting other people know about my place behind the dumpster. Especially, mister sweeter than sugar and more bothersome than all saints behind the holy gate discussing bloody politics.
I chuckle loudly, and it makes my insides unwind until the weight on my chest gets smaller. I truly loved that woman; she could always pick me up from the gutter of my existence. And that spoke volumes.
That’s a promise.
https://theprose.com/post/230936/with-all-my-senses ( the beginning )
Previous chapters :
Hey, everyone. I have questions about the new Prose app.
Is anyone experiencing problems when being tagged by someone and not actually getting any notifications about it?
Or from the other side: tagging someone and them not seeing it?
Because it has started since the new Prose app was activated.
I have been having issues with it and it hasn't stop since.
Also, from what I hear, other people have similar issues.
Let me know if you're experiencing similar stuff and share your thoughts in the comment section.
jars with tinted glass
and there we were
making flowers bloom,
between one sky and the other
in the middle of both worlds
creating something perfect, divine
and breathing out rose-color honey
it’s a constant process of falling in the deep,
and telling myself everything will be okay
- Fiona Robinson
The following day.
I lean my back against the front entrance of the hospital building in a slightly distracted state. Arms crossed tightly against the late Autumn chill as my mind repeatedly attempts to analyze the last 48 hours, coming with only one disturbing conclusion. The more I tried to put some distance between me, and him, the closer somehow I ended up falling into his bright, alluring sphere. Like trying to defy the damn gravity or the laws of physics. An equally useless action. I think bitterly, then sigh, rubbing my face over and over again until I feel the judging stares prick my skin, stirring my blood. I look up at the people that pass me on the way in and shift, annoyed. What, you never saw straight-on crazy before? I feel like shouting into the cold air but then exhale slowly and unfold my arms. What’s the point, anyway, Eleonore? We’re all some levels of crazy here, no exceptions.
The only difference here was that she didn’t have a problem admitting it. And instead of moving from it, she preferred to cover herself in it like in a thick winter coat that soon she would need not to freeze in this hell hole that flamed her skin not with fires but with frost. Tiny ice shreds that never left her, and had nothing to do with the weather, that liked to kiss her bones with sticky tenderness, whispering softly of the things that were coming her way.
A little dramatic today, aren’t we now, love?
The words ring out in my head, and I flex my shoulders, trying to calm it all down. No need to bring even more negativity into the world. There was too much of it as it is. Still a bit triggered, I turn around towards the entry. Hesitating for a moment as visions of last night color my mind with swelling, chaotic feelings that vibrate through my muscles like the wrong kind of medicine. I felt so exposed and bare yesterday, so not used to someone seeing under my layers, exposing the bruises under the haggard and scarred tissue. It wasn’t meant for anyone to see. For anyone to touch. It was just hers, and there were so few things that she could say that about these days.
I shake my head and march into the building, heading for the third floor without looking back or stopping to see anything or anyone. Choosing the stairs and running up as fast as possible, and not letting myself think until I reach my destination. After a short moment, I navigate to the right corridor. And despite the blazing irrational state that I’m currently in, something still manages to attract my attention. Slowly, my eyes follow a guy with a deep frown and a displeased expression coming out of Morgan’s room. I lift my eyebrows, surprised. He fixes his glasses slightly and writes something down in a thick, leather-bound notebook. I watch him get distracted in his notes and check something on the calendar while I silently head to her room. For a moment, he catches my stare, and I hold it, not in any way intimidated, more curious what the guy was all about.
My eyes gradually take him in, the short but thick brown hair with the beginning of grays streaks showing on the sides, then the rather tall frame and the slim silhouette. He seems to be in his early forties from the look of it. Wearing dark blue jeans, a swede jacket in the shade of coffee. All questioningly pared with a vest underneath that was so multi-patterned that it made it nearly impossible to declare what color it was. Not that it mattered. Maybe he was going both for the professional and laid-back option, trying to be more approachable. Who knew.
My stare drifts back to his, and I nod politely. He does the same and gets back to his little scribbles. Mmm, there was something about him that rubbed me the wrong way. My eyes narrow a bit for a while, but then I leave it at rest; life was too short to waste on such things. I walk into the room and, for some reason, notice a similar frown on Morgan’s face. She groans, annoyed, crumpling pieces of paper laying on her bed with frustration, and then throws it down to the floor, coughing slightly. I try for the sudden worry not to slip into my bloodstream the way it wants to.
Hey, hey, calm down there. Whatever it is, it’s definitely not worth that kind of energy loss.
I come over and pick up the paper from the ground, smooth it out a bit and glance at it, but don’t really focus on it much.
It’s called “dealing with trauma” according to my parents.
I gaze at her questioningly and then put the documents on her nightstand. She glares at me and huffs under her breath.
Therapy. An upgrade of a guidance counselor and a lesser evil from a shrink option. I mean, what would my dad’s friends and associates think if his daughter went to a shrink, right? Can you imagine the horror and shame?
She shakes her head and sighs, not really waiting for a reply.
My mom solves problems. I’m the problem. And there is the solution; a high-notch overpaid therapist wannabe.
She points to the man still standing in the hallway and making some phone calls now. I gaze at him for a moment and then back at her. She just shrugs.
Well, that’s her opinion anyway. As if a better mood and a fake smile on my face could help the diseases go away.
I open my mouth to say something, but she stops me.
No, don’t. At least you can spare me the “positive attitude can solve all issues” crap.
I lift my hands in the air and shrug, not really bothered.
Hey, I’m just an innocent passerby here. Don’t blame me for the way, in which the world is constructed.
She groans but then nods.
Yeah, sorry. I know it’s not your fault.
My eyebrows shoot up, probably giving me a very comical expression.
Excuse me? Could you please repeat that? Because I don’t think I will have a chance to hear it again. But slowly, and focus on the pronunciation, I want to enjoy each mouthwatering, honey dripping syllable coming out of your mouth.
The pillow flies my way at an impressive speed, but I manage it catch it in the last moment before it gets too familiar with my face, though, stagger a bit in the process.
Whoa, easy. Hospital property here, and I don’t plan on being charged by it. Mmm, well then. You ever considered playing professional football? Because we could definitely use you on the national playoffs.
She shakes her head but manages to produce a real smile for me.
Yet, you still tolerate me somehow.
I smile back at her but then touch my forehead, feeling my head spin a bit, legs going slightly weaker in the knees. I throw her a quick glance to see if she caught it, but thankfully she’s already occupied, making sure the stuff she got was torn into neat, smaller, and smaller pieces of white paper snow.
Feeling in a confetti mood?
I ask, amused but then try not to notice how my voice quivers a bit, putting hands in the pockets of my jeans as they start to tremble. This really was a sickness, no matter how much I went out of my way to pretend otherwise. And it was heading for the kill.
Yeah, something like that. Maybe I will make a snow globe and give it to my therapist as an early Christmas gift.
She says in a dark tone, and I smile again, despite feeling my fragile state increase with each moment.
That’s my girl. I’m proud of you. Uhm... hey, Morgan?
She looks at me from her entertaining activity and lifts an eyebrow.
I think I will go look for the nurse man, so he doesn’t send a search party after me consisting of the Baskerville hounds and his noble attitude. And then come back here. Okay?
Do as you please. Just remember you’re behind on the product line.
She points to a plastic box filled with colorful paper and the things I already made for her, and the ones we have made together. There are roses there, tulips, and flowers made from multiple layers, resembling big balls of perfectly shaped petals. I must say, there weren’t many times when I could actually use the word perfect in any sentence that related to me personally but here, it was cutting it close. I focus even more on the box and smile at the sight of a few origami birds. I didn’t possess many positive memories from childhood, so this one I held specifically tight to my chest, remembering the time spent with my mom. I look back at her and nod.
It shall be done.
I smile faintly and walk out into the hallway, feeling my throat tighten as I try to swallow, beads of sweat appearing on my forehead. Why was my health declining so fast lately? Was my body giving up and shutting down completely, running its final course? I try to swallow again. Perhaps, I didn’t really have answers to those questions but knew that the pain and different symptoms came in waves. At times drowning me mercilessly and at others letting me simply drift on the surface. Carried with the current and giving me the allowance of a few temporary sun rays and the kindest form of warmth. I shake my head, annoyed a bit. Don’t let yourself get melodramatic again, Eleonore. Nobody really likes the sad sappy types too much. Slowly, I head forward and try to push away any dark thoughts that were pressing themselves onto me, a familiar buzz under the skull waking up and welcoming the voices. I hear them and feel the venom start to spread into my bloodstream, but don’t allow them to turn into words. Instead, shut my eyes closed for a moment, humming to myself soft melodies and drowning out the world around me.
If there is a lot of noise in the room and you blur out the actual conversations, focusing only on the sound itself... then you are left in a space full of bees. And as much as it sounds crazy, it actually not only works but can even have a soothing effect as well.
I shift forward with difficulty but somehow am able to harness a bit of the chaos that kept on attacking my mind. Detach yourself, love. It’s the only way to quiet them down. I feel the sweat drip down the lower of my back, and my jaw clenches tighter. They say you can get used to the pain, but they are wrong, very wrong. Because when it grows, it becomes a whole new Hellgate to cross under your freshly bleeding feet. I think with barely any remains of a clear mind just before my knees buckle under me, hands hitting the floor in a weak attempt to break the fall. I curse and groan through my teeth, my body rolling into a tight ball constructed of wires and iron strings. Not here, not now. Please. Not here where everyone could see. The thoughts scream at me as I have less and less energy to think straight or even try to get up to save myself from public view. Though I still try. But the sweaty hands slip against the smooth linoleum, my forehead bumping against the floor. Shit, shit, shit. Come one, get up. You can do this. You have to. The hall was still empty.
Excuse me, miss? What’s wrong, are you feeling nauseous? Let me help you.
Or apparently not. I groan again and look up as an unfamiliar voice asks, my eyes watching someone get closer with every step. Their silhouette, seeming to move towards me in almost slow motion, my perception of reality altered and distorted somehow. Time and sounds, blending and changing their pace as they pleased. As if trying to breathe underwater and stumbling through an unrehearsed nightmare. I squint my eyes and moan in frustration, not being able to usher any coherent words. It’s the guy that I saw before. The therapist. This is not good.
I mumble, silently feeling like a winner for even finding scraps of my voice through all the mayhem that was controlling my neuron system and clawing its way deeper and deeper under and shredding me from the inside out. I make myself focus slightly more and somehow manage to move up to some kind of a sitting position, balancing myself on the hands and breathing with effort. But it’s clearing just a bit. I’m able to make out more of my surroundings, but I’m also all too aware that it’s not over, just a pre-show, and it will get worse before it can get better. It comes and goes in waves. It always does.
Something in him shifts as he’s talking to Raffael, his patient, the one with an arm in a cast and some broken ribs to match. Thankfully, he was feeling better with each day, though a full recovery would still take at least a few more months. He smiles at him, but his mind is distracted, a strange itch forming under the muscles, his body tensing. What was that sensation, that feeling? He couldn’t really explain it or the source of it, but he knew something was wrong. Helplessly, he looks to the sides and into the hallway but doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.
The 17-year-old looks up at him, stopping in the middle of a little story he wanted to share with him, as he was rather bored in his room. Not really having that many opportunities to talk to anyone as there weren’t that many people visiting him on a daily basis. He lifts his eyebrows.
You will have to tell me the rest later; I just remembered I forgot about something important that needs my immediate attention. So sorry.
The boy looks at him a bit surprised as he knows this isn’t usual behavior for Charlie but then just nods, understanding.
Sure, you’re the one at work here, man. I’m just on an inventorially vacation here. And I think this place is way overrated, I wouldn’t recommend it to friends. Two stars at most, and that’s if I get my jellos more regularly. Otherwise, this place is going down any day now.
He says in a light tone and grins. Charlie smiles as well but then swiftly turns around, trying not to break into a run as he gets out of the room, more tension building up in his muscles. It seems to penetrate the bones. What the hell? He wasn’t even sure what brought the state he was in right now or what direction to head. No logical explanation in sight. Yet he doesn’t ignore or disregard it, something inside pushing him forward with force. He passes the hallway and turns in the opposite direction that the reception was. Making a few turns on his way. Soon enough, he walks past the room of that girl that Nora likes to hang out with and catches his breath. His entire form, freezing for just one second, both his heart rate and the world around him, seeming to stop at exactly the same moment. He hears her pained groan and instantly breaks out of the stillness.
He moves up to her and blocks Dr. Sorenstine’s view. Bending and holding her wrist as if checking the pulse, good energy spreading through her veins gradually, like a warm compress on sore muscles. Her mind appears to relax a bit, and she gazes up at him. She looks pale, and there is sweat covering her skin. She seems to be drained, but a shy smile appears on her tired face as the body still trembles a little. Charlie smiles back as relief takes over, soothing his tensed frame. Gently, he helps her shift and stand up slowly, giving her a reassuring stare. Then he straightens his back and turns around to the doctor, his whole attitude changing and growing professional, reserved; something in him taking the shape of a stone.
She should be fine now.
From what I just experienced, she did not seem fine.
The man speaks coldly, his dark eyes inspecting his facial expression and body language. Damn psychologists, always watching you like a specimen in the worst possible moment. The doctors for the mind. Though he wasn’t that phased by it, his reactions were composed and calculated. They had to be; too much was at stake.
She’s handling a difficult illness, making her body more weak and unstable. Plus, on top of it, a post-traumatic syndrome that as you, doctor, of course, know can be very overwhelming.
And grief, that leaves a mark.
His head snaps back to her as she continues in a hushed tone, not looking directly at neither of them.
My doctor says it’s a long process. The physical issues are not helping either, it’s a constant struggle to stay afloat. But I’m trying. I think that counts for something.
He gazes at her, surprised. Not sure if she is speaking the truth or just making stuff up like he was. He stares closely at her face but can’t really read it. Nora’s eyes meet his, holding the stare and not looking away, her expression seeming calm and confident. She must be pretending; he would sense something otherwise. He breathes out just as the doctor decides to slip into the awkward silence.
I am sorry for your loss...
He gives her a quick nod.
Yes, Eleonore. Are you sure that you feel better? Maybe Mr. Evans should take you to the emergency room or at least examine you more thoroughly?
There is a slightly patronizing tone in the therapist’s words. But he decides to play dumb and ignore it.
That might be a good option, doctor. Come on, Nora. I will help you get there. You need to be checked; you know what happens when you don’t take your medication on time.
They walk away while James Sorenstine watches them, not in any way convinced by explanations that he just heard. What was this entire show about? He saw the symptoms and how her body reacted, all the vitals being out of order. And then just calming down almost as soon as that over helpful staff guy was near her. No one is that good. She should have not, get better so quickly. He looks as Evans walks her off, fingers still wrapped around the young woman’s wrists as he does anything in his power to block her out of view. Something was off here, and his mind would stay alert until he would find out some answers. But no rush. Shadows always catch up with us, one way or another. The doors to the elevator open, and they disappear in it. He definitely had to look more into this case. The whole situation felt rather surreal, something unexplainable still lingering in the air even after they leave. He couldn’t quite touch it yet, but it was just a matter of time before he would.
All he had to do was dig deep enough.
*The Hound of the Baskervilles, one of the best known of the Sherlock Holmes novels, written by Arthur Conan Doyle in 1901.
https://theprose.com/post/230936/with-all-my-senses ( the beginning )
Previous chapters :
deeply rooted structure
you are scratched into my arteries
as if a pattern scribbled down in cursive
and I am painted into you like a tattoo
masterfully imprinted into your soul,
in a never-ending blueberry ink
both sweet and pained
by years exhaled without you
and the ones inhaled
with your fresh lavender scent
always marking my lungs with white crusted moonlight,
madness, and forget-me-nots
lacuna / noun
an unfilled space, gap
She sits down and starts to talk. Letting everything out, all her joys and the sadness. It takes a lot of time before she’s done, but the words seem to bring her relief. So she continues. Telling him about things that have been stuck in her insides, rotting for years. Thoughts and problems that she has been struggling with for so long.
And as she says all that’s been needed to be said, he sits there beside her. Staring at her calmly and holding her hand. He knows how hard this is for her, so he doesn’t interrupt. Instead, sits there silently, almost not moving. Just nodding from time to time and trying to understand. There is no judgment in his eyes, no anger. Not anymore.
Regrets are set aside, bad memories put away somewhere in the cardboard boxes that will leave this home with him. Everything that stood between them is now tucked away. Replaced by the assurance that they are doing the right thing. Finally, on the right path, in a place where they were heading for some time now. A place where they should have been ages ago. But there was always something stopping them. The comfort of being together for such a long period of time, the safety of a steady relationship. A safe haven of sorts that made them stay. Because the alternative of being by themselves frightened both of them. Not for the same reason, but still, it was enough to stay.
Even if it didn’t work out between them like it used to. Even though it was all falling apart and they were heading for the rails, big time. They still held on to each other, in desperate need of balance and a strong base to stand on when everything else was crashing fast. They had issues beyond fixing, things they couldn’t beat, no matter what. Both damaged in different ways but damaged still.
She held a grudge against him for a painful loss that fitted in her hands, and yet the size of that loss was so enormous that it made her soul darker, heavier, polluted. It was hard to look at the man she loved and think about what she had to sacrifice because of him. It was something that constantly stood between them, what lay in their bed, colder than the sheets covering their bodies on a Winter’s day.
She often stared at him and felt nothing, literally nothing. She would look at him while he worked on his computer or when he read the newspaper and wonder. Tilling her head to the side and just staring. As if he wasn’t the person she had once fallen for, but a strange specimen of a man. An odd bug under the microscope. She just couldn’t understand what happened to them. What happened to her feelings and the love that seemed to outstretched its limits. But still, she stayed.
Because leaving him, would mean leaving some of the feelings she couldn’t let go of. Not yet. She didn’t want to forget about her loss, latching onto it. Afraid she might lose it in a completely different way, and that upset her. The possibility she might forget about her little treasure. As if it had never existed. As if it was never there. All of her hopes, all of the expectations. Dreams and future plans; plans that would no longer come true. And still. It was so hard to let go. So she would stay, not for him or for the forgiveness that she wanted to give him so many times, even when it felt like there was nothing left in her to give.
And now, as she looks at him, there is no more anger in her, just peaceful words that come out in a long stream. Never stopping, never-ending. She speaks, her voice already horse, and he listens. Knowing that every one of those words are needed. That this is good for her, it’s therapeutic. It lets her relax, let go of the pain. He squeezes her hand tighter, and she gives a small smile. Relief and tiredness in her taking equal space. He takes a deep breath, almost choking on relief of his own, and decides to say something before he changes his mind.
I have always loved that smile, Marley.
She stares at him almost surprised to hear his voice. There have been so many words from her and nearly none from him. But that’s okay. He understand what she had to do here. What was needed to be said. She squeezes his hand back, and the corners of her mouth lift slightly again. Something inside her that feels almost good, a strange spark that fills her up and tickles her skin. Proving that there still was some life in her left. A fire that she needed to start breathing again, always so oxygen-deprived.
It feels odd... as if I’m not doing it right.
He gives her a pained look. Sad that he was the reason for this. Sorry that they had to go through so much before understanding how wrong it was and what it had done to them. He takes a deep breath and lets her know with his eyes that it’s all going to be alright. They are going to be fine.
Just remember the sensation and repeat it every day.
She nods once and continues. Words flowing once again. So much has been said already, and yet it still wasn’t enough. He stares at her smooth face and listens calmly, thinking and counting her freckles. He always loved those; it was such a beautiful imperfection. His eyes shift slightly down to her hair as the light shines through the window. He looks at them and wonders what their little girl’s hair would have been. Would they be fair and straight like hers, or would they be brown and messy like his? He wonders at this and thinks again about the small things that made him stay in a relationship that was falling and crumbling apart in the same way that their hearts did.
Silly, meaningless things. A joint account, the furniture they had bought together, paying off a student loan, and the stack of CDs filled with music they both liked. And some of the bigger stuff, like mutual friends and memories made in the time, they were together. They were happy once and loved each other in a way that he never dreamed of might be even possible. And yet it was. Even if it seemed like some past life by now.
And then his mind turns to their families. How his mum stayed with them at the worst time. And how his dad built a swing in the backyard that was meant to be for... He is unable to finish the thought, so instead wraps his fingers tightly against hers, and she nods again. Understanding. His pain, that of her own.
Just a little longer, Sam.
He nods as well and lets go of her hand, a bit scared that he might eventually break it, all those emotions filling the room, too intense for either of them. He sits back against the couch and looks at his hands placed on his knees, listening while she talks about their past and smiles as she hopes for the future. Separate, but hopefully a happy one. Minutes pass, turning slowly into hours. The sun, setting quietly against the darkening sky, the room filling with deeper colors and the night itself. And slowly, it all comes to an end. And when she says all that there is to say, and explains all, that there was to explain, and there is nothing else to say, she finally can allow herself to breathe. They both can.
They smile at each other and get up, bodies tired, limbs stiff but minds at peace.
He pulls his arm around her, and she falls into him, naturally, no hesitation. Allowing herself to remember him for the man that he was. And remembering the girl that once couldn’t live without a boy, that one day stole her heart as she wasn’t looking. A different girl, in a different time. She smiles again, knowing now that she was still there, somewhere deep inside, underneath all the dust and rubble that came along the way.
A girl that could change the world
with a boy that made her smile.
A boy that somehow still made her smile.
Lewis Capaldi - Fade (Official Audio)
tattooed whispers under a midnight sun
my soul has a bruised structure
that's centered somewhere under the tissue
breathing and exhaling air with carbonated fumes
trying to extract all the lifetimes
that they let me stay with you
humming a melody that's settled into my bones
imprinted with a tattoo
that's branded so deeply into these ribs
if you let me paint you over my skin
then the black ink
would spill out the letters of your name
letter by letter marking my path
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9R2A3gNkpk (song video)
you’re mine Fall’s time girl
and you're engrained perfectly
into my bloodstream
between the corridors of fragile things
and healing only happens in the spaces
you are willing to reveal
- Dian Tinio, Thought Catalog
He knocks on the door impatiently, banging against its brown wooden surface. The golden number 9 nailed to it, seeming to almost muck his efforts and the anxious state he was in. The noise of it sounding very loud in the otherwise quiet building, the corridor that he is standing in, completely empty, a withering plant in the corner by the window, and a lonely, battered bike perched against one of the blue-greyish looking walls - the only witnesses to his actions. Finally, the lock in the door turns slowly, and someone opens it with slight hesitation. A slim, young woman with soft blond hair to her shoulders gazes at him with a tired gaze and then straightens her back, inhaling deeper.
She looks like she could be in her late 20′s and something in the way that she stares at him lets him know that there is more than meets the eye in this case. She’s wearing a deep green sleeveless t-shirt, parred with shiny black leggings. A long white and grey woolen sweater put loosely over her frame, falling down lazily to the side and exposing one of the light honey-colored shoulders. He notices her hold onto the door frame tighter, her knuckles becoming unnaturally pale. Yes, it was rather obvious that both of them were a bit strained and that this wasn’t exactly going to be a casual courtesy visit.
Hey, you must be Charlie.
All live and breathing, yes.
He hears the sharpness in his voice but is unable to take it back now. They stare at each other in awkward silence for a moment, then mercifully, the girl shifts slightly, opening the door wider and gesturing him to come in.
There, in the living room. She’s not doing too well, even if she tries to tell me otherwise. Don’t believe a thing that comes out of that mouth.
The last words sound much softer than the cold, almost razor-sharp tones she started with, a small smile appearing on her face. As if sunshine breaking through thick clouds. Instantly she seems at least a few years younger, subtle sparks twinkling in her eyes. It reminds Charlie of Nora, on her better days.
I never do when it comes to her health. I learned as much by now.
He smiles a bit and reaches out a hand; the girl lifts an eyebrow but takes it. The grip is firm and comforting somehow.
I don’t believe we did this right before. Cara, right?
All live and breathing.
She sends him an amused look after mirroring his own words, and he cannot stop and smile at that. This time it’s a bit more genuine.
Anyways, I will leave you two to it. You can find me in the kitchen if she starts throwing things. I won’t protect you, but I will take pictures of your demise and send a bill later.
She gives him a gentle look despite the not-so-subtle traces of sarcasm. Mmm, apparently, there were more creatures like Eleonore Walton roaming the world. He inhales deeper and then slowly walks past the little hall, walking into a cozy-looking living room that’s connected to a half-open kitchen. He notices a purple plastic table in the corner of the room filled with a bunch of crayons, pencils, and everything a little artistic individual could ever need or want. His stare drifts from it to an antique wooden and metal coffee table covered with glossy magazines with a few empty mugs and plates lying in the close neighborhood. Charlie’s stare moves up, and his eyes automatically smile as he looks at a sleeping child that appears to be somewhere between two or maybe three years old. Her golden curls so similar to the woman he had just met, the child’s small form nestled into the body next to it. And that’s when he sees her, feeling as though the whole world suddenly grew into focus while before it was only made from unnamed bland colors. It was a strange feeling, and he didn’t know where it came from, to begin with. He shakes his head slightly, brushing it off quickly, and looks down again. Her eyes are closed as well, like the girl next to her. Though it’s apparent that she’s awake, forehead scrunched into many lines as if the body was in some form of pain or discomfort. She’s sitting almost limply there, a burgundy, soft blanket covering the knees while her fists are on top of it, clenched tightly. She looks like she is silently repeating some incantations without using any words. Yet he can almost hear and taste them on his tongue just by looking at her twisted features.
Without saying anything, he crouches before her and then gently grabs both her wrists, rubbing his thumbs against the skin that should not be so cold. He frowns with worry, watching intently as the lines on her face very gradually smooth out. It feels that he’s waiting for an eternity before her eyes finally open, the stare a bit unfocused until their eyes meet, the awareness slowly coming back to her. Immediately she grumbles and shifts a bit. Seeming to be very stiff from being in one position for way too long. Automatically, the child next to her stirs and nestles more firmly into her left arm, quite clearly, claiming its possession. Nora gazes at the little girl and manages to give a weak smile. Then her stare returns to him, and the smile dies out, her voice raspy and scratchy when she speaks.
This was not the way I planned this.
He looks at her, confused.
What are you talking about?
It just played out differently in my head.
What did, Nora?
She sighs, and there is something bitter in the way she attempts to smile.
Your vacation time from the disaster that is me, Mrs. Evans.
He stands up abruptly and dusts away his knees automatically, his brain trying to understand the unexpected absurdity of the situation.
My... vacation time?
Oh yes. But apparently, I failed even at that. A shocker, right?
He nods several times before he can find his voice back, something inside poking him, ready to explode.
Nora. One more time. What the hell is going on? Explain, please. In slow, at least semi-rational sentences.
She deliberately sighs and then shakes her head. Then her stare turns to the child, eyes becoming softer as she slips the fingers through the girl’s delicate bright hair. He blinks fast, not sure what kind of emotions this awakes in him. Quickly he exhales, trying to brush stuff off once again. That causes her attention to drift back to him, her voice more gentle now.
I just wanted to give you a little time off from me, that’s all.
To his surprise, his voice becomes a whisper, a complicated set of emotions rising and falling under his ribs.
Because I use you, Charlie. I use you every day, and let’s be honest, you deserve better than that.
No, don’t. I know that sometimes I’m irrational, and things that I do, don’t make much sense to you but... I just don’t want to use you, and I feel like I am. Constantly.
He picks a pillow to make some room for himself at the other side of her and sits down on the sofa, gently, as to not wake up the child.
You never told me this before.
I don’t talk about a lot of stuff, Charlie. You should know that by now.
Her whole body seems to radiate a heaviness that pains him in ways he can’t even describe, not even to himself, left alone anyone else. He puts a hand on her right shoulder and rubs it a bit. She doesn’t look up; instead, stares numbly at her hands. Slowly, he inhales and speaks very gently as if to a wounded animal, that’s still bleeding red under his touch. Always be kind when the situation calls it, you never know what scars others carry underneath their brittle bones.
And what about the things that I gain?
She looks up surprised and furrows her eyebrows tightly together. It takes all of Charlie’s strength not to lift the other hand and smooth out those lines gently with his fingers.
You heard me. What about all the things I gain because of you?
She looks doubtful, and he smiles at that.
I mean it.
I always knew you were a strange one, Charlie. You just hide it well, that’s why. No one suspects the warm breeze to turn into a tornado.
He shifts a strand of hair behind her ear, and she looks up, a determination in her stare waking up to life, even though her voice is still very quiet as she speaks.
And what do you gain?
He stiffens a bit under that gaze as if she has some power over him that he’s unable to comprehend. Yet, he manages to snap out of it somehow, taking in her words.
Someone that irritates and confuses the hell out of me and hides in the bloody half-truths. Someone that drives me freaking insane every single day until I don’t know my own name and flips my whole life upside down, making me question my choices repeatedly.
Well, aren’t you sweet.
She whispers, annoyance and hurt blending in her voice into one. He smiles at that and puts a hand on her cheek.
You didn’t let me finish... I gain someone who makes my life brighter, who flips it backwards and brings back the color into it. Someone that I still don’t understand but am willing to learn as long as she will let me.
She blinks and clears her throat, shifting uncomfortably under his warm gaze. He puts down his hand and smiles at her even more.
How about that? Does that answer satisfy you?
Uhm, I don’t know. I mean... yes, I think it does.
She takes a deep breath and looks at him, eyes narrowing and prodding his chest with her finger.
But it also proves something that I have known for a while now.
It’s his turn to shift as he tries to keep the same facial expression on as before.
Oh, yes. It proves to me once again, that you are just as insane as I am. Probably even more. I bow in respect.
He exhales with a shade of relief that he cannot hide.
My master, I am nothing but a humble shadow of your reflection.
He says, mimicking her ways, and she smacks him over the arm.
Hey, don’t do that. That’s only meant for pros. And with a big sign stamped on it with the words: don’t try this at home.
He shrugs with a smile.
Charlie, I’m serious. Act nicely, or I will replace you with a newer model that soothes me pretty good too.
He furrows his eyebrows, not sure if he understood her correctly.
Her expression changes as if she just said something that she wasn’t planning to say, but somehow it slipped out anyway. Her lips part into a small “o” but then she quickly snaps out of it.
Well, uhm... You see, the thing is...
It’s apparent, that she’s trying to thread lightly for some reason.
Well, let’s just say that if you are my morphine, this little thing works like really good ibuprofen. It won’t stop the pain, but it will calm down the symptoms.
How does that even...
Work? I have no idea, Charlie. Lately, I’m learning that it all leads to the just-right kind of energy, whatever that means. We all have it, but it’s not all heaven to choose from. Honestly, a lot of people should simply have a sign on their foreheads that states “choose wisely”.
He shakes his head slowly, trying to move past her specific sense of humor and to whisk out some information that’s actually crucial at the moment.
She soothes your pain.
Her stare is tired, but then, unexpectedly, she smiles the softest smile he had ever seen on those lips, which causes a lot of reactions that he’s trying to block for his own sake and sanity.
Yes, she’s a little ADHD treasure to be around with.
The tone is gentle and loving, and it shocks him beyond compare as he has never heard her voice do such things. System overload; his mind screams, yet his body is hardly moving. System overload and the smell of wires burning. He’s no longer even sure what he should feel or think, any logical functions failing him miserably. He must be lost in his thought for a longer while because eventually, she waves a hand right in front of his face making him snap back into reality.
Charlie? You okay in there? I hear consternation and loud thoughts all the way here and all the way back to China.
No, I’m alright. Just processing. I’m... I’m really glad that she helps you, it’s just all still surprising, you know? Not all of us have such a strong personality to gulp in the supernatural like a bunch of tic-tacks as you do.
She tilts her head slightly and looks at him thoughtfully, with a defeated facial expression that somehow is very calm.
I do what I have to do, Charlie. There’s no other way around it.
Silence fills the air, so eventually, she adds as if to push it away.
I fit in with what I have, with what I have gotten myself into by all the bad choices I have made.
He doesn’t say anything to that, and she takes his hand, wrapping it around her wrist. He squeezes it automatically and gives her a tired smile. After a moment, she exhales, relieved, the lines on her face smoothing out once again.
Why didn’t you just call me? Why did I have to find about it from your best friend when there was no other option to go with it?
She looks up at him, but the eyes don’t reach his, guilt and pained notions marking her face.
Look... in my head, I felt I was doing the right thing. I thought that you needed rest from me. Because who wouldn’t, right? Eventually, I tire everyone out, Charlie. I didn’t want you to be one of those people. Not yet.
And you thought it so strongly that your friend had to steal your phone while you were sleeping? When you were so tired from exhaustion that you probably wouldn’t hear anyway?
There is sharpness in his voice again, mixing itself with hurt and the feeling of betrayal. And he knows that she can hear it as her whole body flinches from it, hands trembling as she sinks deeper into the sofa, becoming suddenly very small.
I meant well.
Her voice quivers, and then something happens, exploding like fireworks in the molasses-thick blackness. Blackness laced with ice and rusted blades, tearing her foundation piece by piece. Something he never expected from this strong, stubborn woman that wandered every day to hell and back. And yet it’s there. She breaks in front of him like a thin twig after winter, curling into a pulsating ball of everything. The quiet sobs coming straight from her chest as if her soul was howling into the air around them. As if she wanted to spit it out of her lungs, coughing out pain and loss. Without thinking he wraps his arms around her tightly, pulling the shaking body into him and never wanting to let go.
I’m s-sorry... please... you have to believe me.
She sobs into his blue woolen sweater, and he strokes her back soothingly, hoping to inhale all of her pain. Loosening the weight that she seems to carry around with her wherever she goes or does.
Hush, you know I believe you, silly creature. You know that.
He whispers the words into her hair, his lips brushing against it while he breathes in and exhales her as if oxygen that he never expected to need. Never expected to want. After a while she seems to calm down, her breathing more steady.
So, are we going to survive this?
He asks with a smile, sensing that she is more in control now. She nods against his chest, the voice muffled a bit.
Yes, we are.
He can feel her smile as she stirs and wriggles herself awkwardly from his arms, moving away a bit and wiping out her eyes in an embarrassed way.
Look at me, falling apart like some drama show heroin. All we need is now is nostalgic music in the background, and we are home. God, how do you even put up with me? Mmm, I must be a sight for sore eyes right now.
She groans and looks up to see and sighs, her eyes meeting Cara’s and battling some quiet fight with her that he wasn’t allowed to hear.
She says and huffs. Crossing her arms, then grabbing the remote control and turning the TV on. The child complains quietly, and she automatically turns the volume down without looking at anyone.
Oh, I will start whatever I want, you freeloader.
Cara crosses her arms as well and lifts an eyebrow challengingly, though her tone is light and doesn’t really match with the words.
Well, that freeloader does free babysitting, so don’t complain.
Oh? And who is exactly taking care of who in that scenario? Because it seems that my daughter is calling the shots here, wouldn’t you say, honeysuckle?
He lifts his eyebrows and watches Nora send her friend a dirty look and then shrug casually.
Hey, she can even be my keeper, for what all I care. But let’s face it, it’s giving you the free time for your art. And that’s what’s really important to me, not much else.
He watches the two women carefully, not sure if he should be amused or quietly elope at the first convenient moment. He decides to debate about it for now. Cara’s eyes soften and she nods.
As long as you are here, honeysuckle.
And do the dishes in the meantime?
Cara winks at her, making a gun gesture at her.
Bull’s eye, you get me so well, love.
Comes with years of mutual therapy, babygirl.
Yes, eloping would be the best option here. He thinks and smiles at them both until Cara’s eyes land on him, a finger pointed accusingly in his direction.
So, you’re him, the one that pulled her out of the gutter of misery. Mmm, you got some balls on you, boy. This one is a challenge. But in her favor, I will say she is pretty low maintenance, not something that you can say too often about a woman.
Charlie’s face covers heat, and he clears his throat, trying to control the sudden cough.
Aww, he’s shy. Not your usual type, huh?
If you weren’t the mother of the child I love without boundaries, you would not leave to see another day.
Well, then it’s probably a good thing that you fall in love with this particular gene pool so much.
She points to herself with a small smile.
Anyway, I’ll take it.
Her attention turns back to him.
Don’t worry, Charlie. As long as you will make sure she is well fed, she won’t chew your head off.
Yes, I have learned that by now.
Cara’s eyes smile at him.
Good, because she’s worth it.
She says, and then quickly clasps her hands with energy.
Now, I will make us some more tea, and we can get to know each other better without all the high gloom in the air and Elle’s natural gift for dramatic situations.
She disappears, and I am left without any clear thought in reach.
Ignore her. She tends to say whatever comes into her mind once she likes someone. No filter quality. Mmm, definitely not for everyone.
No, not for everyone. But durable for me. I have had plenty of experience with her kind before.
She stares at the TV and smirks, pleased.
Good, practice makes perfect.
She furrows her eyebrows and turns towards him, obviously sensing the change in the atmosphere.
Next time, before you assume again that I need time for myself. Ask me, okay? I don’t want to lose you and be too late, just because you thought you knew what I needed.
She swallows and then gazes back at the TV, nodding once.
Alright, from now, I will ask first.
He feels her walls closing in on him and takes her hand gently.
All I ask is that you communicate with me. So I can have a lot more days with you to come.
Her chest starts to rise and fall with speed, but she doesn’t say anything, just squeezes his hand very tightly, fighting her emotions but letting him know that she understands. That’s all he needs right now. All he needs.
https://theprose.com/post/230936/with-all-my-senses ( the beginning )
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