Foto bij 339. - Lucien

From inside, I hear Brie happily chatting away to someone on the phone. A while later, Eschieve joins too, but I can't make out who the person on the phone is. I don't need to know, anyway. Brie is a social butterfly, he has tons of friends he regularly talks to.
Tomorrow, him and Matthew are going back to Scotland, though we won't be apart for long; we've all been invited to an extravagant Halloween party in the woods Germany. It sounds like a sure way to get murdered, but we're all pretty excited to go. Until then, until they leave, we're chilling by the pool on a surprisingly summer-y October day. After confronting me yesterday, Matthew hasn't brought anything up again. It's quite obvious he's brought Brie and Eschieve up to speed, but neither of them addressed it either. I'm not sure how I feel about it. It's not like things are back to normal. Instead, they are treating me like I'm made of glass about to break, or paper about to catch fire. I want to tell them they don't have to worry about that, because I burnt up a long time ago, but I doubt saying that will do any good.
They did convince me to just stay home tonight, which will be the first time since coming to France. I've travelled, attended parties and events, done more in the past few weeks than I did in the months before. I feel jittery with the thought of doing nothing, and I'm almost tempted to say we'll throw our own party, but I don't think anyone in this house is going to accept that.
So instead we stay in and watch movies, just the four of us, and I try really hard to focus, but all I can do is wish Emma was here with us. It feels like I'm not even really there, and afterwards I couldn't tell you what the movies were about. A little before eleven, hours earlier than usual, I say I'm going to bed. At least in bed I don't have to pretend to be paying attention.
They don't expect that of you anyway, you idiot. A voice tells me. They just want to spend time with you and help you feel better.
I consider going back, but when I hear them laugh together, I don't. Instead, I pop two sleeping pills and hit the hay.
I wake up with a cry at 4 am, hard beating so fast I fear it may burst out of my chest. I curl up in the sheets, trying to forget the image of Emma marrying Callum Pritchard and the blood spattering on her wedding dress after stabbing me. I think I cry, I'm not sure. My thoughts are not coherent enough to register anything I'm doing. It feels like I can't breathe, my chest tight and my head spinning. A sudden stream of light bolts me out of it, if briefly.
"Luce," I hear Eschieve's voice. She closes the door behind her and crosses the room in a hurry. I barely even respond to her being here, even though I don't want her to see me like this. She climbs onto the bed after flicking on my nightlight, and I can see the worry in my eyes.
"Go away," I manage, and immediately her eyes turn hard and determined.
"Let me help you," It's almost a beg, a plea, and I'm in no state to protest. I swear I can smell the blood. Eschieve sits with her legs crossed at my head, and starts to brush her fingers through my hair. "You're having a panic attack." She tries to sound calm, but I can hear the hidden tremble there. Guilt eats at me. She should not be seeing this. I should be helping her. "Just like I used to get when I was little, remember? You always helped me through them. Do you remember what you told me during those times?"
I try to think, I really do, but no words seem to come. Though the tight feeling of my chest seems to lesten a little, I'm still feeling light-headed. "Okay, okay." Eschieve breathes, and I wonder if she's reassuring me or herself. "I'll start. Five things you can see, remember? I can see your blue sheets. I can see your shoes at the chair. Your socks are still in them."
Her hand never stops brushing my hair, and I focus on her voice. Soon, it morphs into Emma's. I don't mean it to, and I try to get back my sister's voice, but the image of Emma is locked in. The smell of blood is gone, and instead I now smell Emma's perfume. And it's like nothing ever went wrong. It's just Emma, calming me down from a panic attack. And then Emma, telling me about her new job and her new friends, and how she's so excited to learn.
I fall asleep at some point. There's no more nightmares, and I feel more rested than I have in a long time. Eschieve is still there, next to me. Shortly after our mother died, she slept with me often. I don't remember the last time. I pull her into me, as carefully as possible, but she wakes anyway.
"Luce?"
"Ssh," I whisper. "It's still early. You can go back to sleep."
"Are you okay? Do you need me to get-"
"I'm okay." I assure her, and I think for the first time it might actually be sort of true. She lays her arm over my one on her waist and I can feel her breathing. Emma is no longer here. I no longer smell her perfume, and it doesn't feel like she's watching me from the corner. For the first time, I feel like I might recover from this. Emma has moved on, and now the ghost of her that lingered around me has too. I have to move on, too. She's never getting back to me. I have lost her forever. I fall back asleep with that thought in my mind, because it's strangely calming.
But the next day, when I've dropped Eschieve off at university and Matthew and Gabriel at the airport, I am convinced I see her at the kiss-and-ride. It's not her, and on second glance the woman looks nothing like Emma. But the ghost is back, and I don't get rid of it until I'm well on my way of getting wasted that night at Arty's place.

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