Prentiss 7.5: The Grieving Husband

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(Previous post: The Lost Twin II )

In the days, weeks and months following the death of Tomas’ wife Rita, daughter Lena and eldest sister Alyssa a lot of people came to talk to him, family, friends, neighbors, even strangers. Tomas listened to their words but nothing came to him. He was the kind of person that needed to grieve on his own. Not many people understood that. Rita did. But Rita was gone. No one understood that either. Not fully at least. How could they? They didn’t love her as much as he did. No one in the world did.

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Maybe that was why he found it easiest to talk to Phoibe. Phoibe Santoro had been one of Rita’s best friends. They had been friends  ever since they were little girls. Of all the people outside their family she was probably the one who knew Rita best and maybe, just maybe she could understand what a cold and empty place this world was without her.

Phoibe worked at the science lab with Thomas so they often sat together on their brakes. Sometimes they talked about Rita. Often that would end up with Phoibe in tears and Tomas found it hard to bear. They never talked about Lena. He never talked about Lena. That pain was Tomas’ and his alone.

And some days they just talked about life, well work mostly. For Tomas that was what was left in life and he didn’t know what else to talk about Phoibe anyway. He knew she liked classical music and that she played in a band. She never married or had any kids. Rita always said she had bad luck with men. Tomas didn’t understand it. She was a good looking and a smart woman. Still he steered away form those kind of conversations with her. Talk about work and the scientific world were enough.

And then one day he asked for a favor.

“You want Irene out of your lab?” Phoibe asked surprised. Tomas nodded, “Why? Is her work somehow inadequate? You always gave her good reviews…” Thomas sighed. He wasn’t a good liar, he knew that but he couldn’t tell Phoibe the truth. He couldn’t tell her how he believed his young and beautiful assistant was coming on to him and most importantly he couldn’t tell her he was starting to enjoy it.

“It’s just… She reminds me of Rita.” He blurted out. It was evil, pure evil doing what he was doing, playing that card but it needed to be done. Phoibe’s face became grave and she nodded.

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“I get it. They were sisters after all…  Rita might have never said it that way but it was true…” There were tears in her lovely blue eyes and it made Tomas felt horrible. Still he knew it was the only way and the right thing to do… “Sorry. ” She said noticing his troubled stare. “I just get like this every time I think of her… She was one of a kind your wife… I miss her dearly… But then again I shouldn’t go one like this, not to you of all people.” She sighed. “Fine. I can get Irene away. It shouldn’t be that hard to reassign her…” Then she smiled slightly. “I’ll transfer her to my mother’s project! She had been asking for people for weeks.”

Tomas smiled. “Yes she spoke to me too.” When Phoibe looked at him quizzically he answered. “I said no, of course.” Phoibe looked relived. Her mother, the once famous talent scout, lyricist and manager of many stars, including Riam Gradle, the famous rock star from their small town, had recently joined the army. Why no one knew, not even Phoibe who wasn’t that close to her anyway. But she became a kind of a PR there.

And now, as they often do the army bullied their way to their lab to conduct some secret experiments or whatever and they were mercilessly trying to recruit scientist to their cause. Neither Tomas or Phoibe liked it very much and bitching about it gave Tomas the perfect excuse to steer of the current topic.

Yet the thought of that conversation didn’t leave his mind for a long time. Irene was gone from his lab and he was currently working alone, which was when he did his best work yet he felt guilty. In his mind he had used Phoibe, lying to her like that, invoking the memory of Rita in the process as well.

So on one of his days off, while the girls were at school and Tracy was at his sister’s he invited Phoibe to come over. He wanted to thank her, not only for the recent favor but for everything she had done from him from the terrible day of the meteor hit till today. He meant to surprise her with flowers and a lovely bracelet Della helped him pick.

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“Seems I’m a natural at picking flowers.” He said nervously as he handed Phoibe the bouquet first. “They seem to match your sweater.” Phoibe smiled a nervous smile herself.

“They are beautiful Tomas!” She said as she looked up at him with those lovely blue eyes. Her natural, interesting green hair was down today and she chose to wear contacts instead of the big glasses she usually wore inside the lab. The lab coat she replaced with a goofy green-blue dress and a short purple sweater. She was very pretty Tomas thought again still wondering how on Earth was she still single.

“It is a small something…. To thank you… For everything.” He managed to answer. “It all means so much to me, what you did…” It was hard to find the words so he quickly brought out the little box with his bracelet hoping it would speak for him.

“Oh my! Tomas… You shouldn’t have!” Phoibe gasped as she saw the pretty wrapped box. “You know I didn’t expect this… I didn’t ask for this… I would have done it all again, and again… I would have done anything to help you. For your sake, and your children’s… And… And Rita’s…” She said at last, tears pooling all around her eyes as they did every time she spoke her name.

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An ice cream truck drove past. Tomas heard its chimes but the world had disappeared for him. Nothing remained but those sad blue eyes and the tears in them. One of them escaped and Tomas watched as it rolled down Phoibe’s smooth cheek. He was ready to do anything to make them go away. And so he did, the first thing that came to his mind. He leaned forward and pressed her lips against hers.

It wasn’t a kiss fueled with passion, or romance, or love… Or any of the other usual reasons one has for such an act. The closest, most accurate description was that it had been a desperate act of a grieving man. And at first Phoibe didn’t reciprocate. And as they parted and Tomas opened his eyes to look at her he felt panic raising in his chest.

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Here he was, trying to do something nice, to make amends, to say thank you and he managed to screw even that up. He kissed her. His coworker. His only friend in this dark times. He kissed a woman who wasn’t his wife, in front of his house, in broad daylight…

He was about to say sorry, to beg on his knees for forgiveness, to explain, in any way he could how stupid it was, how he wasn’t in control of his emotions, of his life, of anything…  And hope she would understand. But then she moved closer, putting her long fingered hands on his hips before leaning in close, so close her whole body touched his and then her lips found him and this time it was different… It was maddening and wild and it made Tomas’ guilt disappear. It made all thoughts desert him and moments, or was it an eternity later as he led her upstairs and on to his hover bed it all made sense. They were two people, lost and sad, and alone and hurt and in need… In need of comfort, in need of love, in need of each other… And that was all that mattered.

 

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Prentiss – 7.4: The Lost Twin II

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(Previous post: The Lost Twin I )

Maja was running the answers she wrote on her math test trough her head while trying hard not to bite her nails. It was a nasty habit she knew that, and her mother had bothered about it enough times, but it was hard to get rid of it especially at boring situations. Sitting in a  horrible waiting room, waiting for her regular appointment with the school psychologist qualified as such.

The school mandated those appointments to every student that had suffered some kind of trauma and at first Maja was okay with them, it was nice to vent to someone, someone outside her home, someone who didn’t go trough the exact same trauma but as time went on it was just getting annoying, how many times, and in how many ways could she say she missed her mother, she missed her sister, her twin? How many more times did she have to say she felt empty and incomplete and how sure she was that is how she was going to feel from now on until she died herself and could not feel anymore. It just wasn’t helping. Yet her dad didn’t want her to stop coming here and what could Maja say to that? The man had been trough so much, he didn’t need her disobedience on top of it all.

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She had even grown to hate coming to school. She used to like it before, in the times when her greatest problem was that her father was her science teacher. But now it was insufferable. She was almost always alone on recess, trying to catch up with all the schoolwork she missed and dodging people and their pitying stares. Even Domynika, her cousin with whom she didn’t speak ever since she stole Jacob Gradle from her would find excuses to give her a kind word, she even came over their house to see if she needed anything. She didn’t need that. She hated that.  It was stupid and annoying.

She tried to push it all out of her head, force her mind back to maths when the door that lead to the hallway opened and a boy walked in. He was a bit slouched under the weight of his backpack, dark haired, with glasses and a funny little mustache.  He murmured a hello as he worked his way to sit in a chair next to hers dropping his bag on the floor next to his chair and looking relieved to be able to do so.

Maja hoped that would be the extend of their conversation. She had little interest in talking, she just wanted for her damned appointment to start so she could get away from here and back home.

The boy however had different intentions. “Do you have an appointment at two?” He asked turning to face her. “She had to reschedule mine because I had to go to the dentist yesterday, seems she forgot about you and gave us the same slot.”

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“Seems so.” Maja said politely still refusing to give the boy her full attention, hoping that might discourage him. It didn’t work.

“Well I hope she reschedules mine again – to never.” He said and smiled. Maja looked him over briefly. He did have a nice smile, it lit up his face. A part of her was glad someone else hated these sessions as much as she did but still she didn’t respond.  “Be honest, do you find these useful?” He pressed on.

“I did a first.” Maja said honestly. “Now not so much.” The boy nodded and his eyes saddned a bit. Here we go again…. Maja thought fuming internally.

“I get it.” He said. “After what you went trough….”

“And why are you here?” She asked sharper than she intended at first.

“My mum died.” The boy said sadly and it made Maja feel bad instantly. “It wasn’t anything traumatic like what happened to you… But she died. She is gone.” He sighed. “My stepfather, Mr. Borders, the principal, he thinks this would to me good… Talking to someone about it since he is pretty lost about the whole ordeal himself, they had just gotten married you know…”

It was then that Maja recognized the boy.  It had been a while since she had last seen him, and he had grown a lot since but she wondered how could she not recognize him earlier. His name was Waylon, Waylon Borders now, and he was Jacob’s little brother. Now she felt even worse, she heard their mother had passed away but she had so much on her plate at the time she simply forgot to call or say anything. She debated if she should say something now but he went on.

“There is one thing that helps though, I think it might help you too. ” He smiled when Maja turned to him curious and produced something from his pocket. It was a pill. A bright orange pill with a line etched in it.

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“What is that?” Maja asked.

“A magical malady. Helps with every ache.”

“And where did you get it from?” Waylon looked around before leaning towards her and whispering.

“Freddie Hoves.” Maja frowned. Freddie was a girl from her class, another cousin she was not close with. Her dad was a cop and she knew her mum worked for the hospital. Still she wasn’t likely to be giving people medicine…

“Is it… Legal?” She asked in an equal whisper. Waylon chuckled.

“I am not exactly sure. I don’t think Freddie is either if I was to be honest with you…. But it is good, better than weed or booze… It really is magical. And I have two left.” He added. “Maybe you should try it, see if it will help you. We can get away from here together, ditch this appointment…”

Maja knew she should have said no. She should have stopped talking to Jacob’s little brother right away and patiently wait to her appointment. She should have gone there, talk about her problems and feelings caused by the traumatic death of her mother and sister. Then she should have gone home and done her homework. Yet she did none of those things.

Her father always said she had a scientist mind, she was naturally curious, eager to learn and experiment. But it wasn’t what made her come with Waylon that day.  It wasn’t his cute smile, the one that was very like Jacob and unlike Jacob at the same time, either. She just wanted to escape… Escape everything, the appointment, school, her pain, her life… Everything…

“Where should we go?” She asked Waylon when they were out of the school. She felt adrenaline rushing trough her veins. She felt more alive then she had in months. “Behind the school?” Waylon let out a laugh.

“Hell no, if I was caught popping pills my stepfather would trow me out on the street…” Maja kind of doubted that but she said nothing. “I have an idea… Come…” And so she followed Waylon all the way to the most unlikely of places – the graveyard.

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She felt uncomfortable just looking around, she hadn’t been here since the day of the funeral. They buried mum, Lena and aunt Alyssa all on the same day. Waylon however didn’t seem phased. She wondered if his mother’s grave was also here, it had to be, this was the town’s only graveyard.  He walked in big steps towards the mausoleum ahead.

“Come.” He said. “Inside, no one will come looking here.”

“How do you know?” Maja asked slightly uncomfortable.

“My brother works here part time. He told me when it’s empty. Come.” He added again waving towards the door with his hand. Maja sighed and she followed him inside. It was cold when she shut the heavy door behind them. The cold seemed to be emanating from the stone walls around them and she couldn’t help but shiver. Waylon offered his jacket and she took it. He turned on some switch and a weak light lit the chamber. Still Maja felt uncomfortable in this place. Suddenly she wished she had stayed behind.

“Is everything okay?” Waylon asked concerned. Maja just nodded. There was no going back now.

“Just give me that pill.” Waylon smiled and pulled two orange pills out of his pockets and handed them to her. She took one and just swallowed it. Waylon followed. “How long until it lasts?” He shrugged.

“It depends.” Maja sighed.

“So what are we supposed to do until it does?”

“Talk?” Waylon asked.

“What about?”

“Whatever you like.” He said. Then added. “Anything you wouldn’t talk about on your appointment today.” Maja laughed.

“I was in love with your brother.” She said. “I don’t think I am anymore though…”

“Which one?” Waylon asked and she laughed.

“Jacob.” She replied unsure why she was saying anything.

“He has a girlfriend.” Waylon said.

“I know.” She replied. “She is my cousin.”

“You are prettier.” Waylon said and she dismissed him.

“I don’t need to hear that.”

“What do you need to hear? That he is a tool?”

“No.” She said smiling. “It is over now.”

“Good.” Waylon said with a broad smile. “You know why? Because I don’t have a girlfriend!” Maja laughed and then Waylon laughed with her. And so they talked about silly things and laughed a lot. She wasn’t sure if it was the pill they took or if it was all just a placebo effect but she felt good, she felt happy… Better then she did in very long time.  And she was ready to ask Waylon to get her some more of those pills, or even go to Freddie herself if it wasn’t for something that happened as they headed home…

The sun was going down but there was still some light left when they stepped out of the mausoleum and the brightness hurt her eyes. She had to squint and when she opened her eyes normally she froze solid.

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Before her stood something that could in no way be real. The figure had a feminine shape, complete with the long hair and she had her aunt’s features. Her dead aunt’s features. Her dead aunt Alyssa’s features. Her aunt died the same day her mother and Lena had died, the same meteor had killed her and her dog and nearly burned down her house. Yet the figure was transparent and glowed orange. If Maja had to describe it with a word she would have to use ghost. But there were no such things as ghosts.

“What is wrong?” Waylon asked concern obvious in his voice.

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“I think I am hallucinating.” Maja said not taking her eyes of the apparition. She thought it might do or say something. But it didn’t. It just stood there floating in the air.

“I think that is to be expected sometimes… The I’s have that effect….”

“I’s?” She asked puzzled but not taking her eyes off the thing that looked like her aunt Alyssa.

“That is how I call those magic pill’s. They have an I etched on them. Come, I’ll take you home.” Maja nodded finally managing to tear her eyes of her aunt’s ghost. She looked around hoping to see her mum, or Lena. But when she turned back even her aunt had disappeared. She sighed and let Waylon walk her back home.

The very next week Maja told her dad she wanted to quit seeing the school psychologist. Her father agreed. A week later she realized she was feeling better, she was not yet complete but something changed that day with Waylon. She didn’t take anymore I’s, the hallucination scared her too much but one day after school she found herself standing outside Waylon’s door.

She had come here many times before, she and Jacob had been friends for years. And all those times there was this same flutter of butterflies in her stomach, yet this time it was different and she knew it, this time she had barely thought of Jacob. Only about Waylon. He smiled when he opened the door and let her in.

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“Are you here to see my brother?” He asked.

“Nope.” She said and smiled herself. “I wanted to see you.”

“Do you need more?” He asked his face suddenly serious. She shook her head.

“I am done with those. I wanted… I guess I wanted to spend some time with you.” Waylon laughed.

“Me?”

“Yes. I think…. I had fun the other day. I didn’t have fun in a long time…” She said. Waylon smiled again. Such a nice smile… She thought.

“That is cool. I can do fun. Fun is how they call me on the street. Come with me.”

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They spend the afternoon in his backyard. They talked and laughed and watched the sun set. And then they watched the fool moon raise and light up their faces. And it was nice. Even for just a while Maja could let go of the pain, and although the emptiness was still there, and always will be Waylon made it hurt a little less at least…

 

Prentiss – 7.3: The Lost Twin I

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(Previous post: The Scarred Sister)

Maja Prentiss tossed and turned in her bed. Sleep would just not come. It wasn’t anything new, for the past few months more and more nights were like this. She sighed. What disturbed her most was the silence of her room. She knew she would never get used to that. Her whole life she had shared a room with her sister, from their time in their mothers womb to that terrible day that would never leave Maja’s thoughts…

She looked over to Lena’s empty bed. Her pink covers were pulled back and unmade, just as she had left them the last morning of her life. Maja could never bring herself to make the bed, or take them off. She knew Della would freak out and do it one day but not even Della was herself these days. It would take time before everything gets to normal, if it ever does…

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Prentiss – 7.2: The Scarred Sister

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(Previous post: The Broken Scientist)

Delores Prentiss was alone in the school’s library. There was a time when she wouldn’t even notice it, she would loose herself in her work until her phone rang and it was her mother or one of her sisters calling saying she would miss dinner if she doesn’t hurry back home. But now her mother would never call again.

That was the worst part of being alone. Her thoughts would stray away towards the dark memories that made her wish she could jump out of her skin and runaway as far as her legs would go. Run away from her life, from everything she had become.

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Prentiss – 7.1: The Broken Scientist

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Tomas Prentiss willed himself to concentrate on the numbers before him. He needed to finish this report today, he should have finished it earlier but it was so hard to have anything done with her so close, with her smell all around him, around his lab, with the way he would catch her looking at him… He had hoped she would leave, that is why he had stayed late but alas she was still here.

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He tried his best not to turn, feeling her gaze on his back. Eventually however curiosity got the better of him. He saw her propped against one of the lab counters, despite all the lab regulations she had taken of her white coat and was showing off her long legs her short skirt barely covered. When she had seen him turn she threw him a smile that made him wish he had just continued writing the damn report.

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Prentiss – Round 6.4: More Surprises

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(Previous post: New Feelings)

“Now that was enjoyable.” Phoibe Santoro said to Rita Pretniss once they were outside the theater. The night was a tad cold, but Rita welcomed the breath of fresh air. She had felt terrible that morning, she had been throwing up since she woke up  and she was afraid she had caught some bug and would have to cancel this outing with her best friend but thankfully she felt better so in the end she could join Phoibe and see the symphony with her.

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Rita bought the tickets days ago, it wasn’t that often that the symphony performed in their little town and she knew Phoibe was a big fan of classical music so it was a perfect opportunity for the two of them to spend some time together. Seeing her friend happy for the first time in months made the evening even better.

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Prentiss – Round 6.3 : New feelings

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(Previous post: The Unexpected)

“Is everything okay Nan? Are you feeling well?” Her mum asked. They were in the dinning room, having dinner just the two of them and like it had been lately Nan’s mind was elsewhere. She had never felt so unlike herself like she had the last couple of days. All of her thoughts were jumbled and unclear, her razor-sharp mind that always kept her grounded and in the present, assessing every situation as it happened had gone completely haywire. It made her feel as absent minded as her older sister Lena and she didn’t like it one bit.

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