Tethered: Part 2

The sun dawned scorching hot, the chatter of people wafted inside the small flat, and Lucas woke up. He found himself seated, someone next to him breathed, the scent sweet and familiar. At the sight of Stacy Lucas missed a beat and stepped up from his bed.
‘’ Wait, don’t make any sudden moves. You have to relax.’’
Lucas squinted, his eyes still bleary. With surprising calmness he asked ‘’ What are you doing here? What happened to me?’’
‘’ You lost your consciousness and I brought you here. Don’t worry, everything is fine now.’’ Her warmth spread over to him, the gentleness of her voice a veil of protection but Lucas didn’t want it.
‘’ Did I say anything?’’
‘’ Well, not much but-
‘’ WHAT DID I SAY’’ he shouted, sending a drop of spittle on Stacy’s lily dress. His mouth felt dry and empty like it hadn’t relished water for eons.
Stacy only smiled, brushed the spittle with a handkerchief and bent closer to him. ‘’ You said no. You said that loudly but nothing more. You haven’t been unconscious for more than 10 minutes. Don’t worry, I can help you. I have seen other cases too.’’
Lucas tried to apologize for spitting at her but then glowered. A cool wind swept past the obsidian curtains of his room, letting more light inside. ‘’ What do you mean other cases? What do you think I am? I’m not crazy!’’
‘’ I never said that. I’m a psychologist, with particular emphasis on childhood and life traumas. You can talk to me if you like about-
‘’ I don’t care.’’ The words got out before he could think of them. His voice sounded harsh, barely recognizable to his own ears. Lucas didn’t want her to leave though; her soft eyes soothed him but she wouldn’t understand. He deserved to feel this way; after all it was his fault.
Stacy’s voice remained steady. ‘’ I don’t want to pressure you, I’m here to help if you want.’’
Lucas said nothing, shut his eyes and got up. He winced, as his feet shuffled to the floor. ‘’ You can go now.’’ It wouldn’t do to hurt her. The boy had hurt enough loved ones already.
Tears welled up in her eyes as Stacy stood up and made it to the door. All voices had stopped; only the cars sounded and a pack of birds that stopped at the window, took a glance at the murky room, then drifted away in hopes of another place. Lucas heard his heartbeat throb, and fought to keep his own tears from flowing.
Stacy then turned around, her hand firm on the door, and stared at him, her mint perfume intoxicating even from there. ‘’ What have I done wrong? Please tell me and I’ll make up for it. I tried these two days to approach you, to become your friend but what response did I get? You didn’t even ask me for my profession and now are so reluctant to tell me about you. I know I’m a stranger yet and you need time but I don’t think I deserve that. I only wanted to help you.’’
‘’ Stacy..’’ The name lingered in his lips, sweet like all the strawberries he would eat with his parents at their walks to the woods years ago, those times nothing could disturb him, the songs of mockingbirds and crickets, the pleasant flow of rivers and odors of the trees would slake him. How long had it been since a female name had tasted like that?
The girl kept her eyes locked on him, her pink slippers tipping on the floor.
‘’ I can’t tell you. That’s personal and I-
The door banged shut. The boy made to follow but tripped over his pair of slippers and fell on the floor. This time Lucas didn’t get up at once; but laid down, listening to the emptiness of his hollow heart and letting the beads ran down his cheeks, the tips of his fingers dug into his palms. He didn’t know what he cried for but didn’t brush the tears that stained his cheeks. Birds chirped from the open window; Lucas frowned in envy and closed his ears with his hands to make him forget their joy. His eyes followed suit, but then thrust open when the image returned; now more vivid than ever.
For the next two days Lucas didn’t see her; whenever he went to and back from work the door stood minatory like the claws of an eagle, no sounds or scents from within. The boy had vainly tried to shut useless thoughts from his mind, to convince himself that everything would be alright despite knowing all too well that the pain wouldn’t leave him so easily. Not before it destroyed him.
A cold breeze permeated through the unlit room. Lucas stood alone; nibbling on peanuts and cherries that stained his fingertips a dark purple. Another day at work had passed and the night was now approaching; the voices of people had died down from the block of flats and only smells and stenches could be felt from the upper apartments. Onion and chestnuts dominated and created an amalgam of disgust and wonder inside him.
Last night he hadn’t slept more than thirty minutes, and his head now throbbed in pain. The sanguine face, his scream, they wouldn’t leave his mind.
Lucas had yet to search for another house and the days stormed by. The silence engulfed him; the TV had nothing good on and vexed him more than anything. Anywhere he looked Lucas saw Stacy, her eyes and smile.
A flicker of moonlight covered the blood-red carpet, and the boy stared there, forlorn. It hadn’t hurt to be alone for sometime, or even if it had Lucas had failed to notice it. Water didn’t help but only set his nerves on edge. The drops that fell looked like they walloped his body. After his shower, Lucas strode to his room and hid under the blankets to shed more tears. The moon dawned bright outside, and the air that dared enter his lugubrious room smelt of tea from the flat next to his.
Lucas took a deep breath and glanced at the sky, this time of day it had no beauty in it, save for the moon, and a few stars that looked like dots in the vastness of the former conqueror. He made it to the corridor and then forced himself outside, steps from her door.
It opened before Lucas could swallow the lump in his throat. His eyes blinked.
‘’ Stacy, I-
‘’ Come inside’’ the girl smiled at him this time. Her voice sounded soft and serene.
Lucas walked into the small living room and sat at a yellow couch, a glass of red wine on the table next to him . A light breeze came from the balcony, with different odors from his room. Lucas knew he had to tell her everything, redeem himself and so did not dawdle but got straight to the point. ‘’ Many years ago I had a friend called Jack. We were very close together.’’
‘’ What happened with Jack?’’
Lucas didn’t know if he should continue; how could those words come out of his mouth? ‘’Jack died in a car crash. I was inside the same car but I didn’t get hurt, only he did and I watched him die there, tried to help him move to the hospital but it was all over when we arrived. I still see that image. Four years have passed but I’ve not got used to it. Used to the fact that my life will be wretched from now on.’’
Then the image returned. Jack sprawled in a pool of blood and the boy sitting beside him without a single scratch on his body. Jack had died on combat but Lucas wouldn’t admit that at first. He had still hope about his friend that starless night, had shaken his friend’s loose body and didn’t let either his cold eyes or the absence of heartbeat faze him, had smelt his friend’s hair and tousled it to feel the softness in hands but then Jack’s mother arrived. Only when she had wailed like a banshee and lunged at him did Lucas holler too. The woman soon realized that it wasn’t his fault but those ghost-like eyes, awry hair and the cry of a wolf stuck to his memory.
Lucas glanced up, the world looking different around him. Dora was staring at him. Her eyes had a strange warmth that seized him. ‘’ I knew it would be some kind of trauma. You haven’t forgiven yourself, Lucas and I can’t force you to but I’m here for you. I want to be your friend and hopefully something more than that.’’
The last words echoed in his mind, soft and pure. ‘’ I don’t know. I’m not sure about my feelings, Stacy.’’
‘’ At least we can try. You never loose anything from trying.’’
The boy nodded, then smiled and looked at the view from the window. An aroma of roses and grass found its way to him, and this time it felt magical as if he had been asleep for years and had only now woken up to see the world. He had never paid attention to the greenery of her window and how much green represented life . That night the image didn’t haunt him and gradually it never came back.

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