Friday, February 5, 2010

Episode Nine: Break





When the runways collude with the map that you folded wrong
And the route you abandoned is always the path that you probably should be upon
When the bottle-cap-ashtrays and intimate sears are all full
With results of your breath and the threads of your fear are unfurled with the tiniest pull
One more time try
Stand with your hands and your pockets and stare at the smudge on a newspaper sky
And ask it to rain a new name for everything
-Weakerthans





"Esther." Dr. Belane slid her glasses off, arm crossing over her note pad. "We will have to talk about it some point. You know, directly."
"Not today."
The psychologist leaned back in her chair; hands resting on the arms, pen twirling between adept fingers. "How was your week?"
Esther glanced out the window. "It was fine."
"Did you finish the assignments Westin sent to your aunt?"
"I'm having trouble with the thesis paper."
"What kind of trouble?"
Esther shifted on the couch, cold hands slipping under her thighs. "Concentration."
Dr. Belane crossed her legs, jotting something down on the note pad balanced on her knee. "If the neuroleptic isn’t helping we can try adding Addoral."
“I should be fine. We got an extension.”

“We?”

“The…the computer lab…” Esther stared down at her lap. "There was a problem with the lab. So we all got an extension. Should be back up end of the week. Dr Belane?"
"Mmm?"
"Did you want to do that visualization exercise today?"
Dr. Belene's gaze remained on her pad. "Would you like to?"
"N-no. Not really."
"Then we can skip it." Her head lifted with a smile as she handed Esther the prescription card. "You have ten more minutes. Anything else on your mind?"
Esther took the card, fingers tightening around the paper. "No."
"Alright. Oh, by the way..." Dr. Belane swiveled her chair to open the top drawer of her desk. "You left this here last week. I tried to call your aunt but I never got through. Where is...ah." She held up a laminated card then passed it over the desk. "I didn't notice it until yesterday. How'd you get to school?"
Esther stared down at the rail pass. "A boy gave me his card."
"Someone you know?"
Esther shook her head. "A transfer. From Ector Prefecture." She glanced up shyly. "His name's Holon."
"Ector, eh? Hear it’s pretty intense around there. Well, that was very nice of him. Be sure to thank him."
Esther started, but quickly nodded. She slipped the card and prescription into the front pocket of her satchel. She stood. "I'll see you next week."
Belane nodded, still smiling.

¤

Avoiding the openness of the North Quad, Esther sat on a bench inside the Founder’s Garden. Satchel in her lap, she held Holon’s railcard out, thumb nail scratching along the laminated surface, eyes on the typed name above the city’s transportation symbol.

I will give it back, Dr. Belane. It was a nice thing for him to do. I will return it and thank him properly. And if Tobie…She shuddered, courage draining away. There was no ‘if.’ She was sure he would be there. She couldn’t get around it. But a strange urge possessed her ever since hearing Belane tell her to return the card. She wanted to try again. She had to. The thought of Holon thanking her for the returned card brought a small smile and blush to her face.

Her gaze lifted to the noise of people coming up the path to the sophomore building. Ignoring the singing cell phone in her satchel, Esther rose, gripping the card so tightly the edges bit into her palm. She recognized that braying laugh. Despite a multitude of warnings sounding off in her head Esther hurried around the fountain, waiting anxiously for blond hair and the swing of military coat to come around the hedge lined corner.

The boys hesitated as they saw her jogging towards them.

“Oh come on…” Jacob rolled his eyes and continued walking with Gus.

Tobie stopped, hands in his pockets, head at an incredulous tilt; as if he didn’t quite believe what he was seeing. “You stalking us now?”

Esther glanced from him to Holon, still walking up the path. “N-no. I just…Holon!” She tried to hurry after him, catching Gus hiss, “Just keep walking, man,” under his breath.

“Whoa there.” Tobie caught her arm, spinning her around.

“Please. I just want to return—” The strength of Tobie’s hands settling on her shoulders took her breath away. Mozart chimed with blatant urgency from her bag. Her gaze flitted to the satchel, but quickly back up to Tobie.

“Why don’t you just leave us alone, little freak? Just go your way, let us go ours. Stop, alright? You’re looking a bit desperate. Desperate and stupid. Jus—” His grip compressed and Esther yelped.

“Enough.”

Tobie’s arms dropped. The anger setting along his jaw vanished with the quick smile thrown over his shoulder. “Alright, Holon. Alright.” The steal returned to his eyes as his glare returned to Esther, his voice regaining a low growl. “Stay away from him, you understand me?”

“But I just…” Staring up at Tobie she realized her eyes still desperately sought Holon. She craved their darkness to offset these viscous blue, hear his voice telling her it was alright; just as that moment in the subway, that moment in the Quad. She couldn’t quell the urge, even as Tobie leaned into her, all malice and revulsion so strong it was nearly suffocating. Esther feebly held up the railcard, a meager shield and hopeful explanation, gaze slipping back along the path, towards raven black hair with the hope of gentle eyes.

Tobie snatched the rail card from her grip, slicing her middle finger with the edge. With a burst of fury he ripped the card in half and threw it to the blond bricks at their feet.

The bells chimed over heard.

“Problem solved,” he said airily, strolling back to the boys. “See ya in class.”

All four rounded the fountain and headed towards Mayan’s Hall. Esther watched as they passed through the door, never once looking back. As Holon reached for the doorknob in turn, her heart leapt, but he passed through without hesitation. The door shut with a sickening thud.

Cradling her bleeding finger Esther knelt beside the torn card. Wind shifted, lifting the edges of one half. Esther flattened it, smearing blood over the laminate. Breath hitching she slipped both pieces into her satchel and rose with the second bell.

















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