715. - Lucien
When I was seven years old, my best friend lost both his grandmothers in a very short amount of time. The first one, he was very sad about - he stayed home from school, cried a lot and wouldn't eat or play with us. But when, two weeks later, the other grandma died, he seemed indifferent. He didn't cry, didn't stay home, and if I hadn't known better, I would have said he wasn't very close with her. The opposite was true, and when I told my mother that night as she put me to bed, I clearly remember her smiling at me. She had been ready to leave the room, but now she said on the edge of the bed and took my hand.
"Little Lucy," she had said. "Les humains ne peuvent endurer qu'un seul traumatisme à la fois. Votre ami est toujours aux prises avec la perte d'un être cher. Il n'y a plus de place pour plus de chagrin. Il doit attendre son tour, plus tard." And with that, she had kissed my forehead and left me to sleep.
Humans can only endure one trauma at a time.
The same seems to happen between me and Emma. There are many things unspoken, regarding the fight that had us part ways, the things that were said and offered. They hang between us, veiled in pretenses that they're not actually there. They have to wait their turn - right now, my brain is trying to cope with the loss of a person I had come to love very dearly in a short amount of time. All based on lies.
There's better days, and worse days. On my better days I manage to rewatch a lecture or two, because I haven't found the strength yet to go back to campus, and Emma can convince me to go out for a walk or I'll join her for groceries. On these days, I almost function like a normal human being.
They are often followed by the worse days - though they pop up randomly as well. On those days, I struggle to get myself out of bed. There's usually a migraine looming that, more often than not, ends up breaking through. Even if it doesn't, I still frequently get physically sick and it'll be a miracle if I can hold down a plain piece of toast.
It's been one of those days. The time that wasn't spent in bed or on the couch, I spent feeling miserable on the bathroom floor. I'm back in bed now, head aching, and I'm snuggled up to Emma. In the past week and half, it has become a regular occurrence that I'm in her arms, rather than the other way around; my head is on her chest, her arms around me and her fingers play with my hair in a distracted manner. The room isn't dark; strings of fairy-lights that hang around the room are still lit.
"Tomorrow," she says quietly, and she sounds like she's pondering. "If tomorrow is better… Will you come for Christmas shopping?" It's possibly wishful thinking, and she knows that. Tomorrow might not be better. But Emma has learned to adjust by now, to make things easier on me. "I have a list, mostly. It'll just be popping into shops to actually get the things."
I don't have a list, but I don't say that. Emma likes to go Christmas shopping, I want to do that for her. Even if tomorrow isn't particularly good.
"We can go get hot chocolate in that little French bakery on the corner afterwards." She adds.
I close my eyes, my pain medication starting to kick in and with the current dose, it'll put me to sleep. I haven't gotten much of it lately, which is why I took a higher dose than usual. "I'll come. We'll go to that ridiculously tacky Christmas store on Princess Street."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I am. We can't buy this amount of decorations and not get a tree to put them on."
"We can get it tomorrow, if you're tired..."
I am tired - exhausted even, but I don't tell her that. Seeing her face light up at the festive decorations in every shop, or at imagining the reactions of her friends and family when they'd get their gifts is what has gotten me through this day. I'm not ready for it to end. I went to every shop with her, never rushed her and kept telling her that I was fine whenever she checked upon me- which was often. A lie, yes, and one I'll pay the price for tomorrow, but it'll have been worth it. So I put aside my exhaustion, my headache, my looming emotional crash, and open the passenger door for her. She eyes me suspiciously.
"At least let me drive."
I open my mouth to protest, but then close it again and give in with a sigh. She drives us to a spot just outside the city, where endless rows of spruces and pines and firs are waiting to be dug out and taken home. We spend a good hour picking the perfect one, the skies dark by now and snow falling. I pay extra for delivery, because the car doesn't have a towbar, and when the delivery man parks behind us he even offers to help bring it up. His hands are welcomed help, because the tree is huge and needs to be repositioned at least three times before Emma is satisfied.
It takes Frank exactly two minutes and forty seconds to jump into it and get comfortable somewhere halfway up the trunk, proving that we did right avoiding glass baubles. Everything is warm and cosy and perfect, and I no longer have to pretend that I'm feeling good.
"You get to untangling the lights..." I say to Emma, kissing her cheek. "And I'll order us dinner.
"What a generous offer, du C." She says sarcastically, and I laugh.
"I'll come help you in a second."
I grab my phone that lays charging on the kitchen table, and when I unlock it all the good feelings disappear in a split second. An email has been delivered to my school account.
Sender: P. Kent
I should delete it, shouldn't even consider reading it. Still, I swipe away the notification and leave the email for another day. Maybe I'll read it tomorrow, or I'll delete it anyway. But tonight belongs to me and Emma, and while I care little about myself, I refuse to let this girl ruin it for her.
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