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Vanished was my very first story and I am still proud I made it through. :-) I hope you guys enjoy the read!
Debbie has worked on that project for school lately and as the good dad I am, I helped her search for information on the internet. It was then that we printed the pictures of seagulls that had been victimized by oil leaking out of transport ships.
I have seen the horrified look in my little daughter’s eyes when she softly touched the screen with her fingertips where the wings of the animal hung limp and soaked with the poisonous blackness. We had looked into half closed dark eyes that had given up hope and I’d had to comfort my daughter.
But who is there to comfort me now that I am so vividly reminded of the sad picture of hopelessness?
I hesitate before I touch the glossy black hair, shining as if soaked with oil but softer than I could have imagined. It merges with her black coat over black stockings and the black suit. I can feel her warmth through the fabric but I can’t see her face since it is buried at my shoulder.
She wouldn’t be Miss Parker if she sobbed. She does not. Her shoulder are perfectly still, her body does not move, but I can feel the soft tremble that goes through her. That and her quickened heartbeat are the only outward signs of her distress.
Besides the fact that she clings to me, that is.
I would have never expected her to one day do so. She despises me and if she has any respect for me at all, it could still not give her a reason to touch me if not absolutely unavoidable.
Is it unavoidable this time?
Her legs are folded on the sofa beside her, her arms go around my upper arm. I can feel her long nails that unconsciously scratch through the fabric of my shirt. They are the only splash of color on her outfit.
The black creature she is breathes in deeply, but still not raises her head. I wonder whether she’s ashamed of having fallen apart in front of me.
I have never seen her lose it like this before. After all the disappointments with the fruitless hunt for Jarod, her lover being shot on her frontporch and her trips to the hospital due to her ulcer, it has seemed unlikely that I ever would.
But I do.
Here she is. Weak and limp, completely drained of all the power that has always made her look majestic and absolutely in control.
As my hand finally makes contact with the back of her head, I can hear her inhale sharply like someone who’s being strangled and fighting for oxygen.
She doesn’t move. I have never realized just how fragile her body is.
“Miss Parker”, I whisper, although in the privacy of my living-room, I have no reason to.
The answer comes late, when I almost do not expect it anymore.
“Broots.” Her voice is deep and husky. As if she‘s just woken from sleep. When she lifts her head, I can smell alcohol on her breath. Not much, I think. She’s probably just had a drink or two. Not enough to numb the pain, I guess.
There’s no sign of tears on her face. It’s smooth and pale, almost white with deep burgundy accentuated lips and dark eye make-up, barely smudged.
She looks at me as if she’d never seen me before, as if she didn’t have a clue how she got here and why.
She sits up, I can see that her legs are shaky. She smooths the raven hair back with both hands and I can see her blood-red nails disappear and appear again in its mass.
She does not yell at me this time, neither does she apologize for just coming into my appartment and practically assaulting me with an embrace, clinging to me like a lifeline without a word of explanation.
I can’t help but wonder what has put her into that state.
This morning at work she’s been the same as every day. A little edgy, probably. But nothing out of the usual.
“What is it?” I ask softly.
I expect a sharp reply, maybe even a slap. I really do. What I get, out of her mouth, is more shocking than I would have thought possible.
“I think I’m falling apart”, she states, simply.
I cannot make sense of her words although I can sense that it is something grave.
I freeze, as I look into her eyes.
The ice is gone. She doesn’t look vulnerable either. Not even sad. Just… distracted and very distant.
“Miss Parker…” I don’t know how to put it. “Are you on drugs?” I finally blurt out.
She frowns, then shakes her head.
Under normal circumstances she would have told me to shut up and keep my unsubstantial comments to myself.
But today she does not.
I wonder whether it is her at all. Does she have a twin sister I don’t know about?
Everything’s possible at the Centre.
“I think…” she goes on as if I had never said anything. “I can’t take this anymore.”
She looks defeated, but with a certain lightness that surprises me.
It takes me a minute to realize what she reminds me of: Someone who’s lost everything and does not have anything else to lose.
But in her case, it is someone who realizes that he’s never had anything at all.
She stumbles to her feet and looks at me, again, as if she didn’t know what the hell I am doing here.
She walks out on skinny black legs, her body black like a silhouette.
I follow her to the door, grab her arm and look into her face.
I realize that I have never been able to look into these icy-blue eyes for longer than a short moment since she would always react violently to it.
It’s different today, however.
Her somewhat relaxed posture somehow unsettles me. It seems so inappropriate, so inconsistent with her words.
“What are you going to do?” I ask, somehow having run out of breath.
Her reply comes as a long held breath finally being released.
“Leave”, she says, looking dreamy.
“Leave?” I echo, but she doesn’t seem to see me.
When she stormed in ten minutes ago, she looked defeated. I don’t know what keeps her going now. Maybe a determination that exists despite her obvious distress. Maybe a determination that exists because of it. I realize now what has happened to her.
Miss Parker has finally snapped.
“Thanks for holding me”, she says, already on her way to her car that is waiting, one door opened, parked squarely across my frontyard.
She starts the engine -her usual ruthless driving- and very quickly raises her hand before she puts the car into reverse and speeds out onto the street.
When her car disappears behind the next corner I have the sudden devastating but very distinct feeling that I will never see her again.
For me, this is the end. If only I knew what it is for her.