Disconnection – Part 3
I’m awakened by a soft voice and a gentle shaking. My eyes flutter half-open, making out an outline with white-ish hair. I mumble to Rose to let me sleep in longer and rollover. I pull the cover up over my head and fall back asleep.
Or I would have, had she actually listened to me but no, she keeps it up. Eventually, I get tired of the shaking and pull the cover down. There, I’m greeted by all the women from last night. As I look through blurry, half-open eyes, I take in the sights around me. The sun wants nothing more than for me to enjoy my day; for it bathes the room in an almost magical light. I feel a lump form in my throat when I catch sight of these three women. The sun reflects beautifully off of Rose’s hair.
She’s in a different outfit than I saw her in last night. She’s wearing a one-piece dress that comes down fittingly over her body. It enunciates her curves and gives her maturity an element to shine in. Her dress is a dark red with the same symbol as before on it. It’s a person receiving what appears to be fruit from another person. The symbol shines white, and matches her hair; of which is in its braid, long and beautiful, and nearly to the floor. The feelings of disconnect hit me once again- between what I know my feelings should be, and what they currently are.
Mimi’s hair is down today and rolls over her shoulders. Like you’d expect with someone with her attitude, her hair looks perfect and is parted straight down the middle. In its amethyst sheen, is the sun absorbed. This makes it look like the light is merely around her, and not on her. She’s wearing what appears to be a kind of blouse and skirt combo. Her blouse is a light blue with various marking on it- words I’d say, but I cannot read them. In the center is the red symbol from last night, and the same as Rose’s- a man receiving fruit from another. Her light blue blouse turns into a dark skirt that travels down to just below her knees. I couldn’t help but move my gaze slower when I reached her legs. I have to look away quickly to distract myself.
My blurry eyes shift last to Kay. Her auburn hair is nicely brushed but otherwise not particularly touched. Kay doesn’t seem the kind of woman who cares to put in too much effort and instead rolls with a more “natural” look. That isn’t to say she isn’t beautiful- she is. Her darker, brown-yellow eyes contrast well with the bright sun and the glow of the others’ eyes. She’s wearing a form-fitting black, basic shirt with the same red emblem as the others that turns into black, form-fitting pants. Kay most definitely has her own style and priorities, but it suits her. She wouldn’t pull attention away from the other two, but if you looked, you’d see her hidden beauty.
The sight of these women is disconcerting as all hell, however. They cause so much to stir within me- all of which I want to crush. Yet nonetheless, they’re here, in my room, waiting to introduce me to the day. I yawn as I set up and stretch.
“Morning,” I say to them, and they answer in turn.
“So uh, what’s everyone doing in my room?” I ask, honestly wondering.
“Well…” Rose says and peeks over at the others.
“Mimi was raising a fuss over who would be the first wife to wake you up,” Kay says, looking everywhere besides Mimi.
To her chagrin, Mimi speaks up, “Well, it’s an important day and I wanted to impress my Zero the most. But in a small, teeny, tiny way, it would have been unfair to completely let me have my way.”
Rose rolls her eyes and says in a biting tone, “Yeah. Right. More to the point, seeing as how Kay was the first one up by hours, I hardly think you would have had the chance if the rest of us were as selfish as you are.
“Proper beauty sleep is important if we are to look our best for our husband, for as long as we can,” Mimi says with a small blush. “Husband” makes me physically lurch forward.
Upon seeing my reaction Rose comes over and runs her fingers through my hair and says, “Come now, you haven’t been properly caring for yourself, and your beautiful hair is in tatters. Let’s get you to the bath my Lord, and I’ll start on breakfast.” I’m unable to resist her, because she’s right. I don’t think I’ve had a proper bath since I arrived in this world. That never occurred to me until now, and it makes me sick to think about how I’ve let myself go like that.
Only now, I’m super self-conscious. I try to bring the cover over me again but Rose was having none of that.
In her parental tone she often has, she orders everyone to work and sticks her hand out for me. It seems when it comes to matters not directly related to me, the others are more than happy to follow Rose’s orders. With no other choice, I take her hand and she helps me up.
She drops my hand and moves over to the dresser and starts rummaging through it. “I’m sorry Zero, but there are very few clothes here. Generally the Zeroth basically just moves into the Valdrossa Manor and brings their own personal supply of, well, everything,” she says while seeming to find something she liked and pulls it out of the dresser.
Rose then looks at me and offers me her arm. I stare at her in confusion, to which she answers with only a smile. I study her arm for a moment and I think I understand what she’s waiting for. Tentatively I start to slide my arm through hers. I keep peeking at her, feeling horribly nervous and self-conscious. But she does nothing other than stand there and wait for me to finish inserting my arm and linking us together. At that, she nods in apparent content and starts off towards the door.
As we make our way through the hall, I can’t help but be amazed by my surroundings. In the light, this place is so much more impressive. The floor is carpeted with a nice, red something or other. The walls are periodically marked with white columns and pictures of various people of import. The ceiling is a wonderful white marble, adorned with chandeliers occasionally placed for lighting in the house. As we make our way to wherever the bath is, I can’t help but notice how perfectly in sync Rose and my steps are. It’s cute in a way, and yet really disconcerting because I don’t think she’s doing it on purpose.
To test this theory I purposefully withhold my next step by half and sure enough, she does the same. As we keep walking, I keep playing around trying to trip her up. At some point, I must have been having too much fun, because Rose looks over questioningly.
I blush and hang my head while explaining what I was trying to do. She lets out a genuine laugh and says as we arrive at the bath’s door, “You’re so observant of the smallest things my Lord. But perhaps you are onto something. I fancy you significantly, but not nearly enough to go out of my way and match our steps.” She ends with a small laugh.
“Come, let us go in.” She starts to head to the baths. My nervousness takes over and I nearly shout, “Wait, you aren’t planning to go into the bath with me are you?
Rose looks at me with a small tilt of her head. You would think it couldn’t be “cute” for someone her age, but it definitely is.
“Of course? What kind of wife would I be if I didn’t… take care of my husband?” The way she phrased that was absolutely on purpose.
“Um. Thanks, but I think I can handle it.”
Rose studies me for a minute before her head drops and hangs low. “I see…” I’m so confused. It’s like I live on a different wavelength than the people around me. No matter what I say, in no time at all, it’s like everyone just forgets.
“Look I… Rose-” I say, while dislodging my arm from hers and moving it up to rest on her cheek
Like a cat, she leans into my hand. I could almost hear her purring as she closes her eyes in content. She’s quite a bit taller than me so I have to stand on my tiptoes to do what I’m about to do. Why am I doing it you might ask? Hell if I know.
Before long my lips meet her free cheek. Her eyes shoot open in pure disbelief, I’m pretty sure she’s turned into a statue. The look on her face has almost made it worth it. Almost.
Ultimately I have no idea why I did it. It’s almost as if I wasn’t the one that did it. More like… I did it because, in this situation, it needed to be done. The way Rose looked was heartbreaking. I just couldn’t bear seeing her look so disappointed. But why? She’s a stranger to me.
Perhaps it’s because of my conversation last night with Gee and how she told me that rejecting them would devastate them on a level I can’t even comprehend. All I know is, I don’t want her to look sad if I can help it. However, with that said, I’m still not letting this beautiful woman into the bath to help “take care” of me. So she will simply have to make do with that small gesture. “I’m going in now, Rose. Please, go help the others with whatever we need to get our day started. I’d like to make it to the Academy soon.”
She’s wearing such a huge smile that my casual rejection of her barely even seems to register. “Right away my Lord Zero,” she says while basically shoving the clothes she’s carrying into my arms.
With a small bow, she’s gone. It’s not long before she’s made some twists and turns, and is completely out of my sight. With a sigh, I push open the door before me and am greeted by a sight straight out of my dreams. The “bath” is gargantuan. The entire area is filled with just enough steam as to make the atmosphere, but not enough to obscure vision.
I make my way in, careful to not trip over my jaw. The room is massive and its ceiling is high and dome-shaped. The bath is easily fifty feet in size. To the left of the doorway entrance appears to be a shelf divided into sections for patrons to store their stuff. I approach the shelves while looking around in wonder. As I go to remove my shirt, I stop for a moment and look down.
Since I arrived in this world, I’ve not truly had any time for myself. Only now do I realize that I’m still in my school clothes. If my math is right then I’ve been here for easily over a month. A whole month in the same clothes? That thought absolutely terrifies me. But surely that can’t be the case. There’s been all kind of things to happen to me since I’ve arrived here and I can’t make out any stains or tears in my school’s uniform.
Instead, my lame navy colored blazer looks up at me seemingly fine. My boring navy blue skirt partners with my blazer to give me the most wonderfully boring look. So either I’ve been in these clothes for an entire month or more, or someone’s been changing my clothes for me at various points since I’ve been here and I haven’t noticed. I’m honestly not completely sure which idea scares me more.
Either way, the warm bath is calling me and I strip my clothes off. I honestly don’t know what’s happened to them but just to be safe I should probably burn them and give them a burial with full honors. One way or another, they’ve been through a lot and deserve at least that much.
With a towel that Rose gave me in hand, I make my way to the bath. I give it a once over and for the first time the smell hits me. The air carries a hint of vanilla with a lavender undertone. The bath must have some kind of scents in it and it smells wonderful. I tentatively dip a toe in to test the water. It’s hot, but not unbearably so. I lower myself into the water slowly allowing myself to get used to the sting. By the time I’m completely in, I’m seated on a kind of underwater ledge, the water is to my neck.
This honestly feels divine. While my time here has been horrible and miserable and every other synonym for being bad, this specific moment right here, is bliss. I’m so relaxed and feel so good; and that’s exactly why I shouldn’t have let my guard down. Before I’m even consciously aware of it, the tears are flowing. The despair of it all hits me like a ton of bricks. My mind turns to chaos as everything that’s happened to me assaults my senses.
There I was, living a normal, peaceful everyday life, in a world with modern conveniences. I had a friend, a good friend who may not have always have been a good friend; but a longtime friend nonetheless. I met the man of my dreams and he found interest in me. Before I knew it, I arrive here in this world- I’ve disturbed the natural order of this world. I’ve taken on a responsibility not reserved for me. No matter what happens, I’ve created a bump in this world’s history, or so I say. But truth be told, barely anyone even registers who I am here. They all just see me as “The Zeroth Knight” or whatever. Hell, I don’t know if it’s a trait of these silly women or not, but people may not even be able to register my actual identity.
In all ways, I’m alone, for I am lost in a world and the world doesn’t even see me. The closest things I have to “friends” are people who simply follow an idea. Women who have been indoctrinated by their culture to desire nothing more than to simply birth my children- an impossibility if I’ve ever heard one. Even Nina, as absolutely wonderful and gorgeous as she is, seems more interested in me as some kind of science project than as who I am.
I lower my head into the water and completely submerged myself; half to hide my tears from the world, half to meet even more silence, to be able to think even harder about my miserable state. I am so utterly alone in a silent world. Even when we see the Scholars at the Academy later today, I can’t imagine we’ll receive good news, seeing as how everything else has been.
The world isn’t supposed to give a s*** about us, our situations, or our desires- then why does it seem so content to keep doing all it can to make me miserable? Why does the world desire me to follow its path instead of my own? Why am I of all people forced onto this route?
Seeming to no longer handle my melancholy thoughts, my head is bashed with a force I’ve only felt once before. Before I know it, I’m inside my own mind. She- Rei, stands before me. The room is lightly lit, with a seemingly creeping darkness around it. I swear I hear the low hum of music from somewhere. Rei’s eyes are locked with mine, and the pressure is absolutely insane. Death may be a better alternative to this.
As if sensing this, Rei simply looks over my shoulder, transfixed on the wall. Immediately the pressure vanishes and I can form words. “What is it Rei?”
She holds out her hand to me. I can’t help but notice how pale she is. And that paleness contrasts with her pure black dress, giving her a look I can’t describe. Her jet-black hair rolls in soft waves down her back. She’s probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen; and that line of thought makes me freeze. Since I’ve come to this world, my urges and opinions have seemingly flipped. Indeed, the change is so dramatic that one would say they couldn’t even possibly belong to me.
I tentatively reach out for her hand, before realizing something. I was in the bath! I gasp and go to cover myself up, only to be met with cloth. While keeping her hand extended, Rei gives a small giggle and says, “We must both be proper for what comes next, Eve.”
I’m confused as all hell as to what she means. I look down at myself and take note of what I’m seeing. In contrast to her onyx dress, I’m wearing what seems to be a pure, white moonstone dress. My hair is down and touches my shoulders in its fiery glory. I reach out again to take Rei’s hand and ask, “What comes next?”
I’m gently tugged forward, Rei’s eyes never leaving the area behind me. Before long our bodies are right up against one another and I can feel Rei’s heart pulsing through her chest, and into mine. No doubt I’m blushing furiously and try to pull away. But Rei is having none of that. She gently places my other hand on her hips and pulls our clasped hands into the air. She simply smiles at me and begins to sway. It takes me a moment to realize what’s going on. The table is gone, and we stand alone in the darkness, music gently buzzing around us.
But I understand it now and confirm to her, “But I can’t dance…”
“Relax, and follow my lead Eve.” She retorts and closes her eyes.
Dancing is taboo in my world; all but illegal. Far too intimate, far too much could go wrong. Even husbands and wives have to sign a bunch of legal documents before their first, and only dance they’ll ever have- their wedding dance. But this, this feels nice. It feels wonderful actually.
I can tell that I accidentally step on her toes sometimes, but Rei says nothing. She simply drifts to the music with eyes closed. This feels magical if I’m being honest. When I’m in the real world, Rei feels so dangerous, so hungry for fighting. She’s always just behind my eyes, looking to come out.
But when I’m here, she’s like this, like a goddess. But these thoughts continue to eat at me, and depress me. I like being with her like this, just like I like the attention of the other women. But these are not my urges. They simply cannot be.
I just want to curl up into a ball and disappear- for in this strange world that won’t register me for who I am, I am drowning and little by little, becoming a part of it. “Then deny it until the very end.” Rei says while swaying to the music.
I look at her, confused, and she continues, “If the world denies you, you simply deny it in turn, until the bitter end. If you feel like the world is making you into something you are not, then you resist. You resist even if it costs you all that you are. However-” she takes a breath and pulls me in closer.
My head rests on her shoulder, and her arm tightens around my waist. “However, if you ever decide to give in to the world, I’ll be here. As you know, I am always here, just beneath the surface. And that will never change. I will be with you- your constant companion.”
The way she professes all of that so nonchalantly makes me choke up. I move my head away from her shoulder and look up at her. We’re only inches apart.
“And if I give into the world-” I say, my voice shaky from tears that don’t flow, and continue, “If I give into the world, if it beats me, or I simply accept it for what it is, will you still be here for me? Will anyone be here for me?” I ask, the tears finally falling.
Rei opens her eyes and meets mine. The pressure is intense and my breath catches. Yet she ignores this and says, “For all that you are, you are you, even if you are unable to see that.”
I can’t make heads or tails of the feelings flowing through me, and my head and heart are both in turmoil. But for the briefest of moments, I realize this for what it is. Just this once, I give in, and reach up slightly, and lightly place my lips on Rei’s. When I pull away, I see a blush on her face. I would even say it’s near Mimi level of blush. Seeing this, I can’t help but lightly laugh.
“It’s time for you to go Eve,” Rei says after clearing her throat.
I don’t know if it’s because of embarrassment, or if it was truly unwanted, but she’s made no effort to give away what she really thought of our little encounter.
“I see. Thanks for talking to me, Rei,” I say, my thumb caressing my bottom lip.
Upon seeing me do that, Rei blushes even more, were it possible, and simply shoos me off. However, I seemed to have momentarily forgotten one important thing about talking to Rei-
My lungs burn, and my world is dark. I’m struggling in a panic to resurface in the real world. As I break the water, I pull in as much breath as possible and start coughing. This is what I had forgotten; no matter where I am, the physical world still continues on.