Chapter 3 – Sins That Bind (2)

  Sins That Bind – Part 2  

     Why is my head racing and my stomach fluttering? My breathing is labored and my head is light. I feel drunk on nothing and yet what hits me first is her smell. Her shampoo drifts into me and smells of pineapples with a hint of oranges. Her lips carry a mint-like taste. It soothes me and relaxes my body. I feel elated at the direct contact between Rachel and I. I would never have imagined something could feel like this. I’m dizzy and can’t tell which way is up or down.

      Yet before I can even right myself, Rachel moves away from me- but only marginally. She’s still so close that only an inch separated our lips. She’s staring into my eyes expectantly and I cannot look away from her hazel pools, wet with a dew of tears.

      But what pops out of my mouth seems to surprise Rachel just as much as it does me. “Why?” is all I ask. Rachel’s eyes focus into slits for a moment before widening back to their beautiful, full size.

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      “Because I know that if it’s you, it’s ok.”

      This takes the air right out of me and I stumble backward. I come crashing back down into my own self and ask her in a hoarse voice, “What’s that supposed to mean Rachel?”

      The worry and anxiety on her face is in full view now. “I-I just meant that I’m pretty sure it’s ok with you. That I- we maybe… could become more?” Rachel says, almost in question, yet so hopeful, as if unsure of even her own words

      I start to shake my head in defiance, “Rachel what are you talking about? We’re both women!”

      “But I like women Eve. And you have never shown anything but an interest in liking me too!” Rachel is nearly shouting from her building anxiety.

      I panic like nothing before, backtracking fast and shaking my head. What is she talking about? I don’t understand. I don’t understand at all. “Rachel no. That might be fine for you, but I’m not a Natural. I don’t like women. I can’t like women.”

      “Then maybe you just like me? Look Eve-” Rachel says while taking some steps closer to me. I meet them in stride by moving backward. Rachel pauses and continues, “If you’ll just give it a chance and think about it. I don’t believe I’m wrong. Eve, we make each other so happy, so why do you have to make such a big deal about it? There aren’t even laws against this kind of thing you know!”

      “It’s wrong because that isn’t who I am?! Obviously!” I can’t take it anymore. Whatever she thinks she saw, whatever she thinks she knows about me is wrong. It has to be. It’s impossible. So I do whatever it is I need to do to get out of this situation- I run.

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      I run away despite her shouting behind me. I run with all of the force I can muster. I don’t know how much time passed, or what directions I took, but I when I come back to myself I realize I’m standing in my room, in front of my bed. I glance at the clock and see it is far pass the time I usually go to sleep. School is going to be a nightmare tomorrow. But at least with school comes the normality of my everyday. My days will be just the same as before. I can’t wait.

      My alarm blares and I’m forced awake from my dreamless sleep, whatever few hours I had. At first, I was accosted by nightmares but even those dried up. My world stayed dyed a beautiful onyx the entire night.

      I complete my morning routine but run into a worried grandfather before I can make it outside. He stands in the doorway, a giant of a man. He’s bald with a savage face, but one with kind eyes underneath. He’s muscular and in shape for someone his age. “Eve. You were out very late last night. I was worried, and now you’re leaving today without practicing. Is everything alright?” He asks while approaching me.

      I give a nod and reply, “Yes Grandpa, I just lost track of time last night; and today I’m out early to get somethings for school.” He gives me a dubious look that says he doesn’t quite believe my story. But he trusts me enough to give me the benefit of a doubt.

      “Fine Honey. Have a good day,” he barrels out in his booming voice while stooping down and giving me a hug. He’s warm, with a large chest. The feeling of his skin on mine is normal- the only person to ever touch me besides Rachel.

      At that thought I snap stiff, this is different than how Rachel felt when she was so close to me. Grandpa smells of musk and sweat and a rough cologne whereas Rachel smells sweet and of fruits.

      Grandpa takes notice of my reaction and backs up to take notice of me. I give him a smile that doesn’t quite come across as honest and inform him I’m just not having the best of mornings and that I’m tired. He hesitantly nods and waves me off as I leave. I’m hours too early for school but I don’t care. I have to get to class well ahead of Rachel. I can’t deal with her right now. On the off chance that she decides to wait for me like usual, I’ll be well gone.

      But my world is shattered right in front of me. When I turn the corner to start on the main road wouldn’t you know it, Rachel is waiting for me. I make the mistake of meeting her eye. She makes the mistake of flashing me a smile. My heart speeds up and I think of making a break for it but I’m too slow. She catches up to me simply tells me good morning.

      Odd. She’s odd. This whole thing is odd. Why is she acting so chipper? How can she seem ok after last night? “Wonderful day today, ne?” she says to me so casually. I give a stiff nod in return and we start making our way to school. I don’t know if it’s something we both meant, but we avoid passing by the park today. We take another route and make our way to school in silence. It’s a long and winding way to school, made longer by our seemingly shared desire to make it take as long as possible.

      The distance between us is my savior, but it’s damning. Rachel is my best friend. Why does it have to be like this? Why is such an insurmountable distance between us represented in so few feet? I walk with a weight on my thoughts, heavy as lead, dragging each foot to chase the other on our long road to school. It’s a terrible, brief amount of time. But it drags on devilishly long.

      Eventually, we arrive at school, and I don’t know why, but we end up at our spot on the roof. I lay down like usual, in my usual spot. But Rachel, instead of sitting down where she normally would, she comes right up against me and lays down too. I start to panic and pull away but she grabs a hold of me and pulls me up against her. She nuzzles me up under her chin and I have to resist the urge to punch and kick until I’m free. The panic is taking over and an attack is threatening to break me.

      Rachel shushes me and rubs her chin on my head while gently rocking me. It’s only during this brief moment of respite that I notice I can hear the sound of her heart. It’s hammering like mad. It’s thump, thumpthumping pierces her chest audibly and echoes inside my skull.

      I’m able to realize it for what it’s worth, if only for a second. She’s scared. Her heart is telling her to flee too, but unlike me, she doesn’t flee. Instead, she pushes forward, determined to achieve her goals and acquire that which she seeks.

      Her courage hits me hard and causes my anxiety to be replaced with guilt, fear, and depression. Everything in my life has been so dull, so unfeeling. But Rachel, holding me like this, is warm. She’s feeling. Her feelings are transferred to me and forces me to acknowledge that this position we’re in, if only tentatively, is maybe alright. Perhaps I’m comfortable like this. Perhaps it doesn’t bother me as much as it should.

      But the thought of that causes the anxiety to rise again. Before long the panic has once again overtaken everything else and I push her away. She looks at me with confusion, “Eve. It’s alright. It’s alright to feel ok with it. You don’t have to force yourself to be something you’re not.”

      I shake my head at her and call her crazy. I tell her that I’m not “forcing” myself to be or do anything. In fact, I tell her, she’s the one trying to force something onto me.

      I don’t know what’s come over me again but I’m practically screaming at her. All the while Rachel is slowly backing up from me. I tell her that she doesn’t know me. That she doesn’t get to decide I’m something I’m not. I scream everything I can at her until I start to see darkness around her.

      The darkness gets deeper and heavier as she passes right through it, to the edge of the building. As if lured in by our confrontation the door to the roof opens up, and Jamie comes out. “What the hell is going on here!” she shouts. I turn and look at her and I tell her everything. God, why do I tell her “everything” that happened?

      Why do I tell her about Rachel “forcing” herself on me? Why do I tell her about how Rachel is trying to corrupt me? All the while the shock on Jamie’s face is telling. Her face contorts in disgust- disgust aimed directly towards Rachel. The darkness around Rachel grows, and at this point, I could almost swear that it wasn’t just me, but that the darkness was actually there. Except no one else noticed it. It must have just been a part of my psyche as it broke; as I painted a tale of Rachel that has absolutely broken her.

      The look on her face is destructive and pained. I’ve never seen that kind of look on a living creature before but I’m sure what it means. It means she’s been broken. I- her best friend- her… love interest has betrayed her. Worse than betraying her, I’ve actively done everything to destroy her. I’ve painted her as a villain all to distract everyone from myself and the things that were popping into my mind just moments before when Rachel and I laid there together.

      Rachel’s face is downcast and distraught. Thick tears plop onto the rooftop under us and she’s swaying on her feet. The darkness gains a seemingly physical existence and seems to interact with the world now.

      Rachel, with her broken heart and soul, turns and peers off of the school rooftop. “Rachel, I know you’ve done horrible things but you need to come back over here,” Jamie says while trying to keep a calm voice. It doesn’t really register with me as to why Jamie is suddenly sounding very nervous. All I can think about is that dark shadow hanging just out of sight near Jamie. Why had I forgotten about this? It seems so real now. Maybe at the time, it was just too much for my mind to take in. Perhaps being here in this world has opened my mind enough to perceive things I missed before.

      This world… it’s only then that I realize I’m dreaming. I’m dreaming a tale from my life. The events before me now, I have no control of. I’m a spectator of a movie- of slides going by. I remember Jamie scream at Rachel to come away from the edge. I remember the darkness seemingly shaking in delight of it all. I remember how quiet I was and how little I said even when I should have realized what was happening. Why would I have stood there like that? Was I really that weak?

      But what a foolish question, I’m still that weak after all. So it shouldn’t surprise me. I see Rachel teetering near the chest-high wall of the rooftop with a near-dazed expression on her face. She screams out for me, to tell me it’s not what I think. To tell me that at the end of it all, she loved me. The darkness shimmers and something happens. I don’t know what. Even in the dreams of memories gone, I can’t make out what happens.

      What I remember next is Jamie pulling me into a hug and calling the police. All I can remember thinking at the time is how different she feels than Rachel or Grandpa. I remember thinking it’s odd for her to be touching me. We’ve never touched before. But she smells of apple-scented perfume and shampoo. She’s soft and contours to me, if only a little less perfectly than Rachel did.

      I remember the next year passing by as interviews and questions as they come and go. I remember the day at trial with Grandpa at my side as the judge proclaims the event to have been the suicide of a Natural whom was unable to cope with her differences from those around her. He absolves me of all guilt and sends me on my way.

      And just like that, my time with Rachel was over. The world simply moved on. From that day on no one talked about Rachel. Her story was no longer in the news. Grandpa and Jamie didn’t bring her up; my classmates no longer left parting gifts on Rachel’s desk as a farewell. It was as if that trial was the darkness I saw before, and like before, it had swallowed up all that Rachel was.

      That day Rachel was taken from me. First, she was taken from me physically nearly a year ago. Before long, as the days go by, she’ll also be taken from me emotionally as well. The day will come when I’ll simply see the story of Rachel play out in my mind, and I won’t feel anything. I’ll simply be numb to it all.

      Time again after that, I’ll even forget about who Rachel was- is- and that will be the moment she’s taken from me completely.

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