Hope Is Lost(3)

By: Emma James

Who would have thought she had hit the staircase? What’s more, how the hell can you keep hitting your head like she does? You can’t make this shit up when it comes to Faith.

I know Keanu was trying to make light of what happened. His eyes kept zeroing in on me and what I must look like to him. I know he tried to keep it light for Faith so she didn’t flip out, because I was doing enough flipping out for the both of us. This is my first time seeing her hurt, though. Keanu and Levi have already witnessed her attack on the coffee table.

Only her forehead is split back open, nothing more, and I need to remind myself of that. She has all her body parts intact, she’s alive, and there’s no bomber or danger imminent. I really need to get a grip. It’s not good, but it’s not life or death. The one thing I have learned is Faith is tough; she bounces.

Shit. I have to apologize to Levi. I shouldn’t have behaved that way. I was acting like a jealous prick.

We all forget Levi has lost a leg. We only see him as a whole person, but he’s reminded of it every time somebody takes a second glance at him. He plays it off as being about his good looks, but I know he is aware that people are reacting to his lost limb. He’s a model who carries his confidence well, but underneath it all, he lost a limb, which we all take for granted. I just made him feel worse than he was already feeling.

It wasn’t about it being his fault, because it wasn’t. It was my caveman instincts taking over. Nobody can see that, but I feel it.

I’ve been ignoring Faith, trying to sort these feelings out. She practically ran from me a couple days ago, and then I find her head covered in blood. I reacted before I could stop myself.

First Retro and now Levi. I have to stop behaving like this. I wasted yesterday and this morning feeling pissed off at the world. Nobody understands because I’m a stubborn fuck who won’t talk it out.

I can’t.

Harley keeps checking me in his rear view mirror to make sure I’m not going crazy as we drive to Doc. Yeah, brother, I’m still here and in reasonable working order. Everything is working on the outside. It’s just the inside that’s fucked-up.

I was doing well until Faith arrived, and now this cauldron of feelings has been stirred up. It has a new lease on life. I thought I was too numb to feel a connection with someone, but Faith is my connection to Chance, and I’ll be fucked if I know how to handle these emotions. I’m trying to feel again, but it’s... I don’t even know how to voice it, and I certainly don’t know what to do with my actions.

I’m totally lost in my own thoughts until I register Faith, who is lying in my lap. She tried to sit up when we got into the back of the car, but I needed to hold her, and that was that. Now she’s staring at my chest, directly at the peace sign I have inked over my heart with the small C under it. It’s the same one Retro has on the back of his neck. While we all have the same one on some part of our body, mine is where it means the most to me.

I watch as she reaches up and traces the small C slowly, sending a shiver through me as her finger lightly grazes my nipple. I try to hide my body’s response by fidgeting a little in my seat, but this wakes her up out of her tattoo staring moment, and she realizes she’s been touching me in an intimate way. It’s different than the way she touched me when we were by the pool after I had decked Retro. It’s more personal instead of curious.

Her hand shoots back to her chest, and she holds it there, blinking at me nervously with those beautiful eyes of hers.

When I hear a noise from the front seat, my head stays where it is, but my eyes travel up to find Harley watching me in the rear view mirror again. I can only see his eyes, and they look a little hurt, a little questioning, a little... something. I think he’s searching my face because he knows I have no clue what I’m doing.

I know he likes her, and I like her, too. I liked having her in my bed. I liked waking up to her. I liked when she saw my dick. I know Harley didn’t appreciate any of those things Faith and I shared, though.

I force my eyes away from my brother and back down to Faith who hasn’t missed what just happened between Harley and me. She’s pulled the towel away, and she has little frown lines between her eyes. I want to reach out and smooth them away, but I don’t risk touching her again like I did after her swim in the pool.

She has to be wondering what’s going on in my head right now, and funnily enough, I’m wondering the same about her. I can see the way she’s searching my eyes, trying to see inside my soul.

“What will it take to make you talk to me?” she whispers so quietly I wonder if I heard correctly.

I don’t know.

What will it take to make me break this invisible barrier that’s holding me captive? I’m a prisoner, locked inside myself. I can’t find the fucking key. I’m not sure if I even want to, either.

As I brush Faith’s cheek with my hand to reassure her I’m still with her, I notice it’s sticky from the drying blood.

“I’m sorry.” She whispers a little louder than before. Her forehead has slowed to a trickle, and she keeps dabbing at it while those big brown eyes of hers stay locked on me.

Now it’s my turn to frown. What’s she sorry about? Hitting her head? Walking away from me the other day?

She reaches up again with a shaky hand, two fingers touching my bottom lip softly, tenderly running along it, and then she pulls away. “Why won’t you tell me what has kept you so locked up tight in that jail sentence you have given yourself, the punishment you won’t allow yourself to banish? Nobody else is suffering as much as you are, and none of it was your fault.”

Even she can’t say what it is out loud.

Ahhh... I can’t do this now, if ever. I need to make her stop. When I lift a hand and touch one finger to her lips, she gasps. I hold it steady and will her to be silent. I know it makes no sense to her, but I must pay my penance.

Faith’s eyes shut, and I give her a gentle shake.

“I wasn’t going to sleep, Jase. I was just taking a second to shut my eyes and hope, when I opened them, you would tell me what you’ve just been thinking. You have so much writing on that wall that you hide behind. I just want you of all people to let it down. Can you do that for me?”

I do love it when she calls me Jase. There’s so much hope in her eyes.

But I am ugly.

I am alive while Chance is dead.

I am alive because of Chance.

How do I tell any of these guys or Faith, her parents, my parents?

I’m tired of the guilt. It’s such a heavy fucking burden.

I’m alive because Chance was strong. He was a hero. He kept a promise. He sacrificed himself for me to have a chance at living.

I punched Retro the other day mainly because I was jealous, but also because he told Faith I am a hero. I am not a fucking hero.

The back car door opens, and Harley’s head appears. I didn’t even realize the Hummer had stopped.

Faith sits up, holding the side of her head, and Harley helps her out of the Hummer and onto her feet.

“Come on guys,” she sighs. “Let’s get this head stitched up again.”

“How are you doing, bro?” I clamp my hand down on Levi’s shoulder. I know how he’s doing. Been there, got the missing limb to prove it.

“I’m cool. She was going to find out soon enough. I wasn’t going to keep up the pretense much longer. I just... didn’t know how to bring it up. I was waiting for the right time.”

“Never a good time, bro.” I shake my head. “Never a good time.” I can see all Levi’s insecurities flooding his mind like a tsunami, and I’ve been there, too. “Come on, let’s go work those demons out of your system. By the time I’m finished with you, you won’t be able to walk.”

Levi gives me a small, forced smile. He’s used to my puns, and he knows I mean no disrespect, because we all cope in our own way.

He decides to go with a topic change. “I hear Retro had an actual date last night with Birdie.”

“Yeah, I think he’s going to be the first to take the relationship plunge. I’m so far from a relationship with a chick, but I would be lying if I didn’t think it would make a nice change in my life to have somebody female to come home to. No offence, bro.”

“None taken.” I can tell Levi’s thinking about what I just said. “I don’t want to think that far ahead with my life. I just take each day as it comes, be that what it may.”

“Let’s go out tonight, just you and me brother. We can be each other’s wingman like old times, and we can see what comes our way.” As I wink at him, he can’t help letting a smile tug at his mouth. “Let’s put your best foot forward, and I’ll give you a hand finding a lady for the evening. What do you think about that?”

“Keanu, I think you use too many puns.”

“It’s the way I roll. I’ve learned it’s okay to laugh at yourself when life deals you a shitty hand.”

Levi laughs out loud at that last one I slipped in. That’s my boy. He’s back. I don’t like seeing any of my friends getting emotionally knocked to the ground. Faith didn’t mean it, but it’s a blow to our egos.

Text has his hands full keeping that one out of harm’s way. I can see where that’s headed already. I think Faith will have her hands full with Text, too. That boy has the world weighing him down.