Foto bij 591. - Lucien

Assess what's happening.
Gather information.
Determine the main problem.
Act on said problem.

It feels a little robotic, going by that list, but it helps with keeping an overview. I count one, two, three seconds before walking over, because I want to make sure she's done. When it seems like she is, I slowly reach up and cup her face in my hands.
Give her space to retreat. Be prepared for rejection. She flinches, but doesn't pull away. I angle her face so that she's looking at me with those eyes that seem to be constantly on the edge of spilling tears.
"I have never, for a single second, blamed you for this." I say slowly. "That thought hasn't even crossed my mind, nor will it ever. It isn't your fault. You grew her, love. You gave a piece of yourself every single day. You fought through that sickness for three months, when at any given moment you could have said you no longer wanted to. You didn't do anything wrong - you did every single thing right."
"Then why?" Emma pleads. "Why did this happen? Is my body just broken? Can I not give a child what they need?!" She pulls free from my grasp. I let my hands fall down. "This is my fault, Lucien. My fault and no one else's."
I set my jaw, shaking my head. "I disagree. But I believe that you believe that, and that's valid. I can't talk it out of your head, no matter how untrue it is, but I'll keep reminding you that this isn't your fault, love."
"Don't call me that." Her voice is suddenly just a whisper. "Not right now. Please."
I manage a small smile. "I won't. I'm sorry. Come on, dinner's ready. I know you're not hungry but you need to eat."
Neither of us eats much. Neither of us says anything at all. When we're done, Emma retreats to the living room because she's still on resting orders, and I clean the kitchen. I keep busy. The litter box gets done, I rearrange half the freezer, then finally bring Emma tea. She's watching one of those drama shows she loves but I don't, but I don't make a quib like I usually would.
"Where are you going?" Emma asks when I walk back and forth to gather some items, my coat already on.
"I'm going for a drive. There's… some calls I need to make. Didn't think you'd want to be there for that."
"Oh." That's it. I offer the warmest smile I can manage. I jerk my chin towards the yellow flowers. "I know it's hard and that you'd rather not think about it, but… She needs to know."
"I know." Emma says weakly. "I'll try." A pause. "Are you going to call Kenna as well?"
"Do you want me to?"
She takes a moment to think about it, staring blankly into my general direction. "I don't think I could."
"Don't worry about it, then. I've got it."

I call Matthew first. He expresses his sympathy, asks if there's anything he can do. I tell him no, and that we're able to manage it for now. I think he knows it's a lie, but he doesn't elaborate on it.
Next is Kenna. She cries, and I do my best to calm her down, because that's what I do these days. She asks if Emma would want to have company, and I truthfully tell her that I'm not sure and that she should probably send her a message.
Eschieve is silent at first, then tells me she's sorry and asks if she needs to come over. I say no. It does awaken an intense longing in me to go back to France, to just be in the mansion for a while where I'm not constantly reminded of the life I have back here - or whatever's left of it anyway. I push the thought away, chastising myself for even having such a selfish thought. I might not go to France for a while, not as long as Emma needs me here. Eschieve tells me that she's available to call whenever, to which I tell her thanks even though I know I won't make use of it.
To my surprise, my father's reaction is the one I'm most grateful for. He's his usual business-like self, with little emotion to his words. Like he barely even grasps how fucked up this is. It makes me feel normal for a second, like I can breath again, because I don't have to deal with pity. He asks me to give Emma his well wishes, which is yet another surprise.
Then, finally, I have to call Eailyn. Just like the others, her response is full of pity. Her voice becomes soft and gentle, like she's afraid that speaking too loud will break me. Like the others, she doesn't realise I'm already broken beyond repair. "What do you want me to do?" She asks.
"Clear my schedule. At least for another month, probably longer, but I'll keep you posted on that. I have some videos backed up, and I'll continue filming, too."
"Alright." She says without arguing, which is quite the chance from her usual attitude. I curl my hands tighter around the steering wheel. "What about your party?"
My heart drops. My party. I hadn't even thought about my birthday. I'm turning twenty-nine tomorrow, and a long list of people is expecting me to celebrate it. "Cancel it."
"I'll put out a statement tonight. I dunno, I'll figure something out. But it needs to be cancelled."
"Lucien, while I completely understand that you're in no mood to have a party, you do realise that this will raise a ton of questions? You've already been spotted going to the hospital."
"I'll figure something out." I say again. "I was almost a lawyer, Eailyn. I can put up a convincing lie."
"I'll send out an email. Tell me when you've made the statement, so I can clear your schedule with a subsequent excuse."
"I will. Thank you, Eailyn." I hang up before she can give me another pity-filled statement, about how she's here for me and how I can always give her a call. I don't need it. I don't need any of it.
I'm not sure where I am. I've been driving pretty much blindly since I took off, headed straight for the freeway. I'm well above the speedlimit, but the roads are mostly deserted anyway. There's a part of me that feels it's very tempting to yank my wheel sideways and launch myself off the road. But I don't.
Emma's still back home. She doesn't need her partner to be wallowing in self-pity and misery. I take the next exit so I can get back home, banning any thoughts of anger and sadness from my mind. I can't use them.

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