A shudder shot through her body once more, she felt it surge to her fingertips and escape out of her pores, bending the particles around her. She watched, her focus completely on the body in front of her. Taking a deep breath in, she felt every corner and crevice of his being rush into her lungs. Her toes curled with delight at the sensation of it, it felt so good to feel him again, to take in his scent, his feelings, his everything.
The sound of feet moving knocked her back, sending her scuttling towards the shadows and out of view of any passer-bys. A man walked in, the annoying one from before, she searched her memories, looking for a name and settled on Brian, he was called Brian. She sneered and felt her body tense at the intruder, he wasn’t meant to be here, not while she was watching. This was her time, not anyone else’s.
“Carson, where have you been man? There are girls out there, prime and ready for the taking.”
She turned her back to the room, she hated his voice, it dripped with self confidence and arrogance. And as for that smug smile of his? She wanted to rip it off his face, that smile had done too much damage to it’s recipients, it had caused hurt and tears and didn’t deserve to exist.
“I’m busy,” Carson replied. “I’ll come out when I’m done.”
She smiled, his voice sounded like velvet, it melted every part of her and she sank into the relief it brought. How long had it been since she had heard that voice? Since she had soaked in the different tones it brought out? For the whole time she had watched him this evening, she had wished he would say one word, just one simple noise so that she could have felt this feeling, this sensation of sheer perfection. But he had not said a word, instead he had sat and read, turning the page of his large leather bound book every 5 or 6 minutes and she had had to make do. She peered back over her shoulder to stare into his back once more, her heart ready to escape from her chest.
“Perhaps you didn’t hear me,” Brian continued. “There are some of the most beautiful specimens of the female race out there, scantily dressed and drunk out of their minds. This is our time Carson, we can have any one of them.”
“I heard you, I’m just not interested.”
“Not interested? How the hell can you say that?”
“If they’re that good then go out there and take your pick. You can even have my share.”
Brian rolled his eyes and dragged a chair over to where Carson sat.
“This thing that you are doing right now? This isn’t healthy.”
“I really couldn’t give a rat’s arse what you think Brian.” Carson said, his eyes glued to the book in front of him.
“I’m just saying-“
“Brian, piss off.”
She felt her insides leap into somersaults, she’ll be alone with him again soon, just as soon as that bastard is sent packing. Brian leant back on his chair, his eyes scanning Carson and his face in deep concentration. For a moment he looked like he would say something but he changed his mind and stood up, letting out a big sigh.
“Whatever man.” Brian said and backed towards the door. “Do what you have to do.”
“I plan on it.”
Brian threw one last weary look at Carson’s back and left the room, leaving her alone with him once again. She peered out from behind her hiding place and took in his frame, hunched over his book, his attention completely captivated.
“What are you reading?” She asked.
He didn’t move from his spot, his eyes never ventured away from the book he was holding. A flash of annoyance spread over her face and she took a couple of steps closer to him.
“You know one of these times you’re going to have to start talking to me again.”
Carson moved his hand to turn the page but he kept his head down. She continued her steps until she was right by him. She was now close enough to smell his all too familiar smell. It consisted of his favourite aftershave mixed in with the oaky smell that she associated with him only. She smiled despite herself and a new wave of love entered her eyes as she looked on at him. How could she ever leave him when he was so irresistible to her like this?
A flash of a memory entered her mind. Fingers clawing at her arm as they tried to pull her towards the deep blue curtain they had come from. She closed her eyes in an attempt to block the memory out and felt the annoyance creep up and tickle the inside of her chest. How could he even think of ignoring her now? She had sacrificed so much to keep herself near him.
“Carson, you’re being rude.” She said, her voice stern.
Carson sighed and slammed the book shut, placing it on the table next to him. He stood and went to the bookshelf, stroking his finger against the oldest selection of books in search for the right one.
“I’m not kidding Carson.” She said. “How is this even helping? We need to stay focused together if we ever want to-“
Carson let out a low growl of frustration and slammed his hand against a book. The deafening noise stopped her mid sentence and she gritted her teeth in response.
“So you’re answer is just to get angry, is that it?”
“Stop it!” He yelled, his forehead pressed against his hand which rested flatly on the bookshelf.
She opened her mouth to throw back her retort but thought better of it and quickly shut it again, fresh tears forming at her eyes. She blinked them away and slumped herself down on his seat, her legs and arms crossed and her foot pumping up and down in irritation. Carson took a couple of deep breaths and resumed his searching through the old dusty books.
“It’s not even there.” She said after only a minute had passed.
Carson ground his teeth and cursed under his breath. “It must be somewhere else.”
She felt her heart twist and contort, leaving an uncomfortable feeling in her chest. As much as she loved hearing his beautiful voice, she hated hearing it so defeated. If he wasn’t anything other than 100% happy all the time she felt like she was failing.
“It is somewhere else.” She offered. “We just have to keep on looking.”
Carson sighed and sat down across the table to her. “I just don’t know where else it would be.”
She took a deep breath as a dark and dangerous idea entered into her head. She could physically feel the promises she made so fervently being pushed down further and further and being replaced by her overwhelming need to make everything alright for him.
After a couple of seconds of silence she let the words fall timidly out of her mouth. “I could show you.”
Carson’s head shot up and his eyes pierced their blue intensity right into hers. She gasped then. It had been so long since he had allowed himself to look right at her and now that he had she felt a power stir within her that shocked her to her very core. How could she have forgotten how beautiful his eyes were? Even now, with the menacing look that governed them, he had taken hold of her very soul and she was utterly captivated.
“Why are you even here?” He asked, his voice lifeless.
She cowered under that question. That had hurt. “Where else am I meant to go?”
He sighed and looked away, taking what felt like half of her with him. A flash of panic rose within her as she wondered how long she would have to wait until the next time he would allow himself to look at her. How long would she be able to hold onto the memory of those intense eyes before they faded into all of her other dim memories?
“Maybe Brian’s right.” He said. “I’m hardly helping my case in encouraging you like this.”
“You call this encouragement?”
“It’s a lot more than what others would do.”
She felt her cheeks flush as she took in the all-to-accurate statement. He had been exceptionally kind and although she had tried to return the favour, all she seemed to be doing was mess it up.
“I know.” She said. “And I am grateful.”
He stayed silent and absentmindedly flicked through the pages of the nearest book, not stopping to take notice of what was inside.
“How clear am I to you now?” She asked.
“Almost as clear as I am to you.” He answered, his eyes not leaving the book. “You were just a whisper until five minutes ago.”
“I had to go away for a while.”
“I know. They told me the same thing.”
“But I’m back now.” She reached forward and let her fingertips rest lightly on his. Carson flinched and drew his hand back.
“You can’t touch me,” he said. “You know better than that.”
She could feel the tears once more prickle at her eyes, this time angry. “I don’t see what the big deal is. I used to touch you all the time.”
“It is a big deal, stop pretending like you don’t know that.” He stood and paced across the room, ruffling his hair as he went. “You’re becoming too unruly. You shouldn’t even be back, they told me that when you went, you went for good.”
“What do they know?” She spat. “They don’t even know me.”
Carson spun back round and caught her gaze once more. She gasped. This had happened twice in the space of five minutes. She held the connection, not even allowing herself to blink in case it would ruin the magic.
“They don’t need to know you.” He said, his voice close to breaking. “They know the effect you have on me and that’s enough.”
A jolt of hurt pain shot through her. “What effect is that?”
He moved closer, his eyes staying rooted on her. “The same effect you’ve always had on me.”
A small smile played on her lips. “Oh, that.” She said.
“Why have you come back?”
She looked at him, confused. “I don’t know. I only know that I couldn’t for a while and now I can.”
He was now only a couple of centimetres away from her. She stood and closed the gap so that they could be as close to each other as possible without touching.
“Damn it.” He said.
“What? I’m not touching you. I’m not breaking any rules.”
“But I am.”
She dragged her eyes away from his to the crinkled skin on his perplexed forehead. Raising herself on her tip toes she blew against the crease and watched it relax inches away from her lips. She smiled and lowered her eyes back down to his.
“This isn’t fair.” Carson said, his voice no higher than a murmur.
“What isn’t?” She asked.
“I have to let you go.”
She took a step back and eyed him wearily. “I thought we’d already had this discussion.”
She closed her eyes at the sound of her name and held onto the table for support.
“We’re so close.”
“We’re not close Lea.” He said. “We’ve never been close because there’s never been anything to find.”
“Carson, don’t do this.”
“You’ve had me looking for proof of you to show others for over a year now. There’s been nothing.”
“It’s somewhere, I know it.”
“No, it’s not.”
Carson reached into his pocket and pulled out a small orange container, it let out a rattle as he held out his palm to show it to her.
“They told me that you weren’t real. They told me that you were gone.” He said, closing the gap once more and taking her hand. She felt her entire core shudder at his touch, it was as if cords shot out from inside of her hand and rooted themselves deep into his, leaving them both irrevocably intertwined. She felt the tears run freely down her face now and she lifted her finger to his lips to silence his next words. He sighed and removed her finger with his other hand, holding it against his chest and letting the little orange pot rest between both their palms.
“They told me to take the pills to prove to them that you weren’t just something in my mind.” He said. “They said that if you were to stay visible whilst I was on the drugs then you would be real. I took them, I wanted to prove them wrong. But then you were gone. I called and you never answered, I figured that something must not be right and that you were called away. So I thought that if you stayed away when I came off the drugs again then it had been because you had chosen to go away rather than something to do with me.”
She looked down at the orange pot of pills and watched one of her tears fall onto it’s lid. Carson leaned forward so that she could feel his breath against her ear.
“I stopped taking them yesterday and you turned up today without an explanation of where you had been.”
She shook her head in disbelief, fear and panic seemed to be punching violently against her gut. In a desperate attempt to block out what he was saying she threw her arms around him and held onto him tight. Her body began to shake as the sobbing started to take over.
“I couldn’t be without you.” He whispered into her ear. “I couldn’t imagine a world where you didn’t exist. I had to keep you alive somehow, I had to make it so that you would stay.”
She could hear her sobbing getting louder and she clung on tighter and tighter with every one of his words. They both collapsed to their knees. He reached behind him and pried her hands apart, pulling her away from him. He brought his face close to hers.
“It’s not healthy what I’m doing.” He said. “I need to let you go, otherwise we will both be stuck.”
He let his fingertips lightly caress her cheek, wiping a stray tear away and leaned in to rest his lips briefly on hers. She held onto the sides of his face with both her hands, keeping the kiss there a little longer. He pushed himself into the kiss for just a moment before pulling away and getting to his feet. Before she could reach for him he crossed the room, unscrewing the bottle cap.
“Stop it.” She cried. But he wouldn’t listen and threw two of the pills down his throat.
She screamed at him and ran across the room, jumping onto his back and beating him. He fell to the floor and she landed on top of him. She continued to beat and scream at him. She couldn’t understand how he would give up on her like that, how could he just stop caring? How could he voluntarily choose a life where she wasn’t in it? She felt her heart break over and over again, maddened even more by the motionless stance Carson held as he took his beatings.
She beat her closed fists at his back until she had no energy left to continue and then she wasn’t there anymore. Carson didn’t move for hours after that, he just lay there and clutched at his chest as he let the loneliness take over.