Ambrose smiled sleepily at their hands.
Her hands on my thighs.
My hands on top of her hands.
And it all feels so good – her hands, my thighs, her hands, my hands. Feels so…
“Feels so good.” he murmured.
Tried to blink.
Felt good to keep his eyes closed. So, he kept them closed.
His head bowed. His body curved towards Barbara.
He kept his eyes closed.
Feels so good.
“mmnn…” He slumped further forward.
Barbara caught him and guided him down onto the bed. “Poor kitten.”
He cracked his eyes open and looked up at her.
She stroked his hair. “Don’t worry. I’m here. I won’t leave you.”
She kissed his forehead. “I’m here.”
He closed his eyes.
LM stared outside the hospital window.
Missy had gone for a guided walkabout with one of the nurses. Jeff had gone with them. Raven was sound asleep.
And I stand here alone. Carthage is gone. Antioch is dead. And Capernaum won’t come back to me again.
So, I stand alone.
He wrapped his arms across his waist.
Was I wrong? Should I have waited on releasing Capernaum?
No. It was the right moment. It had to happen then. It was right. It made sense.
But it still hurts. I didn’t think it would hurt this bad. I didn’t want it to hurt. I wanted to feel like I did the right thing and be proud of myself for doing it.
That is how I should feel.
But I feel…
I feel like The Institute – a shattered, shrapnel shell of a building. There’s nothing inside but ashes and ruin. It can’t be fixed. Can’t be repaired. It can only be bulldozed and rebuilt. Or forgotten.
LM focused on the world outside the hospital – blue skies and bright sunshine. The clouds drifted by in their soft, puffy way, trying their best to look inoffensive. We’re not storm clouds. We’re just puffballs. is what they would have said if they had a voice.
Birds, maybe pigeons, flew by. Maybe their starting point had become too dull or too crowded. Maybe someone had chased them away. Maybe they had lost their homes in The Institute’s fire.
Cars sat like dormant beetles in the parking lot, waiting for someone to wake them up. Some cars arrived. Some cars left. The others stayed put in their happy dormancy.
Life goes on. It doesn’t stop for anyone’s loss or grief or pain. Because how would it ever start back up again?
He touched the window with his fingertip and moved his finger in a straight line.
And what about me? How do I start up again? Is there an easy way to heal? Is it as easy as taking a breath? What would Capernaum tell me to do? What about Antioch? What about Carthage? What am I supposed to do?
The door behind him opened and, just like that, the silence was shattered.
“You did very well this time around.” the nurse said far too cheerfully.
LM wanted to shove the nurse right out the door.
“Still….winded…” Missy said.
“That’s okay. You’ll get stronger with more practice.”
“Can we…do it…again? Right now?”
LM scowled and tried to disappear into his thoughts again.
The nurse lowered the bed rail. It rattled and clanked louder than it should have. “Let’s give you a chance to catch your breath and have a snack.”
“Okay. But after my snack, let’s do it!”
Jeff laughed. He sounded happy, which irritated LM even more.
He abandoned his spot by the window and approached Jeff.
The nurse was helping Missy into bed. Jeff stood nearby, ready to assist in any way possible.
LM swallowed hard and cleared his throat.
Jeff looked over at him.
“I’m sorry. I need to take a walk. Do you mind?”
“Will you return?”
LM shrugged. It was a broader and more expressive shrug than he had intended. “Where else am I going to go?” He left the room before Jeff could respond.