Pretty penny

So, this is a little more melodramatic than the others… Sorry! But I thought I should upload it anyway (at least for some sort of critique).

Read the rest: The Beginning, Crispin Meets Gina & Spilt Milk

Penny hadn’t died. She had been injured and was living with her parents. Gina had found out for him, just like she promised.

He was planning on visiting her. The thought made him feel sick to his stomach, but also excited to finally see her face.

It was hot and Crispin was sweating in his shirt. Should have worn something else, he thought, but he had borrowed the clothes from Joe. Joe was a shirts and slacks kind of man, even in the dead of summer.

Crickets chirped. Flies buzzed and irritated his neck and arms. He was always too slow to shake them off. Standing at Penny’s door, he tried to calm himself.

“Why so nervous? Jeez…” He said to himself. She was his fiancée after all. He loved her. An accident like this could not change the way he felt.

He stretched out his arm, his hand in a fist, ready to knock. It took concentration – he was still relearning movement and he felt stiff and aged. The door seemed looming. And then he had done it – his knuckles rapped against the white painted wood. One-two-three.

Seconds passed and then the door creaked open. Penny’s mother’s face peered through the crack. With an “oh my god” the door swung open and he was almost nose-to-nose with Virginia Sinclair.

“I thought – but – Penny!” she called, half staring wildly at him, half staring up the staircase, waiting for her daughter.

Penny appeared at the top of the stairs. He thought she looked wonderful in her yellow sundress. The light from the second storey window hit her and she glowed like a beautiful spirit. It made looking away difficult.

But she turned pale.

Crispin turned back to Virginia, frowning, the feeling of sick anxiety welling up again. Virginia seemed uncomfortable now. Her hand hovered between them, like she wanted to touch his arm, or pull him into a hug, but all she could do was stare.

“Penny.” He turned back to her, his body moving on its own. He stepped into the foyer. Crispin realised she wasn’t wearing her engagement ring. She must have lost it in the accident.

“I thought you were dead,” she said flatly. Crispin was taken aback by her tone.

“I should have died.” Crispin’s voice was soft. Everything about her body language told him not to move any closer.

“We were told you probably hadn’t made it. There was no body.”

“I’m sorry, Penny.” There wasn’t much else he could say to her. He couldn’t take back the mourning or the pain she must have felt. He had come to visit her as soon as he could. He didn’t want her to see him like he was. Joe and Gina had kept him hidden; it would be dangerous if people questioned his treatment. The less who knew, the better – and he had agreed.

“So what then? You just walked away from the accident and left me to deal?” She was angry. Bitter. This wasn’t like her.

“No. I was hurt…”

“You don’t look hurt,” she sneered at him. It was then that he saw the burn scars trailing up her arm and under the fabric of her dress. She seemed satisfied that he had finally noticed.

“And you without a scratch,” she muttered. What could he tell her? How much he had lost? That he was only living because of the hard work and care of a father and daughter? That she was breaking his heart?

“I lost a lot that day –” he began but she cut in.

“Yes you did.” Her eyes raked him, drinking him in.

He looked pasty. Dark rings settled under his eyes. He looked more solid than she remembered. The shirt he was wearing fit him well, but he had lost that tan she loved. His hair had been flattened into something presentable, but pieces still poked up. At least something hadn’t changed. His eyes were skittish, and she wasn’t sure if she was causing this or something else was bothering him.

“What took you so long?” She asked. Her face softened at the desperate look that took over his expression.

“I came as fast as I could… I’m sorry it took so long…” But his words were drowned by the white noise rushing in her ears. The anger rose up in her body until she was shaking. This wasn’t what she meant, and he knew it.

When Crispin turned to leave, she noticed his limp. He walked like an old man. A car was waiting for him out front. He carefully climbed in, and took a last look at the house. Their eyes met for a few seconds before she shut the door.

Crispin looked down at his hands. His eyes stung and his heart ached. His hand moved to his chest, holding it against his heart as the car pulled away.

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Spilt milk

Follow on from: The Beginning & Crispin meets Gina

Crispin sat awkwardly in Joe’s armchair out on the stoep. The sun was just rising, the steam from his coffee mingling with the morning mist. He stared straight ahead, unable to look at his missing arm and leg. He held the mug in his only hand and blew on it.

The hole in his chest had been filled. God knows how they organised that one. When he asked Gina about it, she just shook her head and said nothing. Instead of a beating heart, he had a pump mechanism. He had no heart beat. He had no pulse. It was like being dead, he thought to himself. He would never say this out loud.

How do you come to terms with being… heartless? He snorted. It was as if the day he lost it, he became more sensitive. He found himself breaking down slowly but surely, finding more and more excuses not to leave his room. He would break out in a cold sweat and the emotion would well out of his chest, and slip out his mouth. Incoherent and raw, it would leave him a shaking mess.

Sometimes he would feel an itch. He’d reach down and… air. The calf he was going to scratch was gone. A few times he had woken up in the middle of the night, got up and… Fell. Like a fucking retard, he thought.

They had told him the rehabilitation would be hard, that nothing could be done until he healed, until he was in a more stable condition. Gina watched him like a hawk.

He had thought about ending it all a few times. Their house was next to a quarry. When Joe described the grounds and the pit just beyond the hill, Crispin had to pretend to seem disinterested. He would sometimes lie around and think about the drop. His feet swaying on the very edge, the sharp rocks jutting from the sides and the wonderful deep dark pit below. This was probably what they were waiting for. And he didn’t want to give it to them. This was his.

Crispin turned suddenly, coffee slopping down his front, as he heard the door swing open and slam shut. Joe was standing just outside the door, staring at the line of trees sitting against the mountain.

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"We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown."

- T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1917)

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