Well, I have news that’s probably good, and news that’s probably bad.
First, let’s get the probably good news out of the way. Boyfriend isn’t about to kill me. He’s not happy, but he gets now that this is something that kind of goes beyond what he thought it did and that it wasn’t because there was something going on between us. He still blames me, of course (and that makes two of us), but he’s sort of just giving me “I’m pissed at you” looks and mourning the fact that she’s gone. Also, he’s pretty sure it’s over between them, but that’s a secondary concern by this point. He’s not really a shallow guy, so I’m not gonna make it seem like that’s what he cares most about. It’s a pity, too. I didn’t deserve to accidentally win her over from him. But we’ve come to an understanding, and though he probably hates me, he also knows that I was genuinely trying to help her with something. At least I don’t have to worry about inadvertently wearing his arms as a necktie anymore.
And now the probably bad news.
I went home for the weekend. It was late at night, and I headed downstairs to grab a midnight snack from the fridge. I tend to do that when I’m home…sneak downstairs to where there’s food and/or milk before eating. Anyway, I’m walking around in the kitchen, and I open the fridge door. Quietly, of course, as everyone else is sleeping. And then I hear a voice from the living room.
I uttered a hurried curse, the glass of milk I had poured slipping from my grip. Taking care not to shed a single tear, I quickly grabbed a cloth to mop up the spilled liquid. Well, it was more that I just tossed the towel over where I had spilled it, because Girl walked out of the living room at that moment,. I was sort of in my skivvies, so I had to quickly duck into the living room to grab a blanket off the couch to wrap myself in.
As soon as I was more decently clothed and had finished cleaning up the floor, I sat down in the living room with her and flicked a lamp on. She was sitting on the couch, wringing her hands, dressed in a dark hoodie and jeans. The hood was pulled up, even though we were inside, like she felt safer within the confines of the cowl.
“What are you doing here?” I hissed at her. Incidentally, this conversation is, as always, paraphrased. Also, we were talking quietly the entire time. Everyone else in the house was asleep, and I didn’t want anyone coming across me in my underwear (and a blanket) sitting with a mentally unstable girl.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I just had to come see you. I didn’t know where else to go.” She had really, really, really dark circles under her eyes. She obviously hadn’t been sleeping well. Obviously hadn’t been eating well, either. She was extremely gaunt. She seriously looked like she had gone anorexic, though probably not due to image problems.
“How did you—” The question was supposed to end with “find me,” but it was a stupid question. Phonebook, of course. I decided to ask a different one. “Why didn’t you call me or text me or something to let me know you were coming?”
Again, stupid question that I forgot I knew the answer to. “I…I left my phone behind,” she told me. “I couldn’t. But I thought you’d maybe be home this weekend.” Well, I was. God, she looked terrible. She kept shivering, like she couldn’t get warm (for the record, my mom keeps the house at about 78 degrees Fahrenheit, so she shouldn’t have been cold). She kept looking around nervously, as if she expected fucking everything to come to life and kill her. And her face…it was…it was insane how much it had changed in just this short time. It was like the “after” portion of those “before and after” things you see for drugs. She kept rubbing the back of her left hand. She’d never had any sort of tic like that before.
“So why are you here?” I asked her.
“I…I need you. I can’t take it, [Jekyll]. I just need someone to talk to. The silence is just deafening. He’s never around. I can feel him, but I can never see him. He’s always just hiding somewhere. I’m so alone. It’s the silence that’s killing me.” She looked up, and it was…it was actually painful to look at her face. There was just nothing there. She looked empty. A shell of our former self. And she made eye contact…it…it was…there was nothing in them. No hope. No life. Just fear and a weary acknowledgement that she had to keep fighting. Not even determination, just…just an acknowledgement that she wasn’t supposed to give up. It looked, however, like even that acknowledgement would soon fade, and she would simply resign herself to her terrible fate. “I just needed someone to talk to to keep me sane, just a little bit longer.” Again, a resignation to her tone.
“You need to come back,” I told her. “You can’t handle this on your own.”
She kept rubbing the back of her hand. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I…I can’t do that. It’s not safe for me. He’s after you, Jekyll, but he’s also after me. If I can draw him away from you…well, you’ll be safe.”
Her hand slipped for a second, and I saw a flash of red. I reached over to her and grabbed her left hand. She had cut an operator symbol into it. A motherfucking operator symbol. Into the back of her hand.
I think I let out a few choice curses. I didn’t wake anyone up, so I managed to keep them to a whisper. But just barely. “What the fuck are you thinking?” I asked her. “You know that it’s risky to use that symbol!” Look at me. She’s fucking cutting things into her hand, and I’m worried about what it was she’s cut in. What’s that say about me as a person, huh?
She pulled back in shock and slapped me. We both just started at each other in surprise for a few seconds. “I….” she started. “I just…I thought…I was….” I watched as she grasped for the words, but they had left her. It was as if she knew she had taken a razor herself and, for some reason or another, carved the mark onto her own hand—and yet somehow, had no recollection of when or why. She simply could not find the words to explain.
“I have to go,” she whispered, close to tears. “I’m sorry, [Jekyll], I…I shouldn’t have come here in the first place. Don’t go looking for me. In fact, just forget about me. You’ll be safer that way.” She stood up, and made her way to the door. On the back of the hoodie, she had made another operator symbol out of red electrical tape. So, yeah, that’d be Omega’s influence, I guess. Thanks for that.
So she turned to me and gave me a hug—or rather, attempted to give me a hug. She was so week that she just sort of…put her arms around me and grabbed onto the blanket to keep them from slipping off. But she tried to give me a hug, and then she leaned forward and put her lips against my cheek, in what was clearly the closest thing to a kiss she could muster.
And then she slipped out the door and left, driving with her headlights off until she reached the road.
She’s gone. I…I couldn’t help her.
Oh God what now fuck what now?