1. A for Awareness by Joel Gomes
A FOR Awareness
It's almost 3 A.M. now. All the lights are out and, yet, I know she’s there. I know she’s lying awake on her bed, waiting for the phone to ring. I know that because, a long time ago, I used to be the one who'd call her.
In the old days, when it was just the two of us playing the game, she would be asleep by now. These are not the old days anymore. Everything is different now. One can play just as long as the rules aren't broken or changed. And from my point of view, seeing people you care about die for no good purpose, seems like a perfectly good reason to quit. There is no shame in that.
Sydney was the first to go – his death conveniently disguised as a heart attack –, soon followed by Broots, through an automobile accident. They were the two closest people to her inside the living hell known as The Centre. I mourned Sydney's death deeply and, although I didn't have a very close relationship with Broots, I considered him a trustworthy and honest man and paid him my respects.
All this happened about a year ago. Debbie’s mother had died of lung cancer two years prior to Broots’ death, so Miss Parker had decided to become the legal guardian of her former colleague’s daughter.
It was the least she could do.
But it didn’t seem enough. She lived in fear. Fear that one day, someone would come in and kill Debbie as well. Kill the last person in the world she cared about. She cared about Angelo as well, but he had left the scene a long time ago, as soon as the killings began. No one knew what had happened to him.
I often pray for his well-being. I’m sure she does too.
From where I stand, I know that her fear is real. It's tangible. They might come in to remove the last attachment of her emotional life. That’s why she barely sleeps. That’s why I barely sleep as well; watching her house from a safe distance, making sure she’s safe – because I love her.
I wonder if she’s aware of that.
MISS PARKER’S POV
It’s near 3 A.M. when I get up from bed, leave my bedroom and make my way towards the kitchen. My throat is dry and my mouth tastes like something past the expiration date. Bad wine will do that to a person. I open the fridge and help myself to a few gulps of fresh orange juice. The liquid helps the dry sensation in my throat, but the mixing of flavors does worse than good.
After a quick stop at the bathroom, I return to my bedroom, but not before I check in on Debbie to see if she’s having a peaceful sleep. Thank God she is. It’s not easy to lose the person you love the most in the world. It’s even worse if you have to watch it without being able to do anything to stop it. I have a first hand experience of how that feels.
I go to her bedroom window and look out at the dark night, trying to see some thing. Any thing. All the houses have their lights off, the street is empty and yet, I know he’s there – Jarod, so called protector of the weak and abused.
The silence at this hour is overwhelming. So much so that I can almost hear myself think. A momentum broken only by a loud rhythmic breathing. Debbie’s a sweet kid, but her snoring… God!
I’m happy for it. I wouldn’t trade her snoring for anything. I promised her father I would take care of her, no matter what. And that’s what I’m doing.
I no longer care about questions and answers, missing pieces or breadcrumbs. With Sydney and Broots dead and Angelo missing – dear Angelo, I hope you’re safe – I often question myself why I’m still here. Still in Blue Cove, still at The Centre. Debbie and I, especially Debbie, deserve better to stick around the place who stole everything we held dear.
The question is a rhetorical one. I’m here because he’s out there. I'm waiting for him. And until the day he comes knocking at my door and says to me: “Let’s go.” I will remain here because I know this is the only place where I can be with him right now. Even from a distance.
I know if he comes in I will follow him. And that is because I love him.
I wonder if he’s aware of that.
I place this at an indefinite time, somewhen after IOTH. I imagined J and MP reaching a point in their relation when all it takes is a leap of faith, which neither has the courage to make.
Care to say what you think?