The enemy within 05

The enemy within 05

5

 

Eric?“ Nothing. She felt panic surged through her veins as she went upstairs and carefully opened the door. He wasn't in his bedroom either. She run downstairs and step by step she peeked in the atelier and in the wine cellar. He was nowhere to be found. Not even in the bathroom. What if he was kidnapped? She didn't know what to do. Perhaps she should call the police. No, it wasn't a good idea. He was missed just for forty minutes. They would tell her that she was crazy.

 

She went outside and down the stairs. It was dark all around. She pulled her phone out of her purse and turned it on using it as a flashlight. She crossed the meadow and stepped in the forest. She illuminated her way among the trees, looking around in effort to find him. In a few minutes the trees started thinning and she found herself on a shore of their lake. She turned off the phone because the moon provided a sufficiency of the light now. She stared at the surface of the lake when she heard a crack somewhere behind her. She turned around and stiffened. She waited for a few seconds without move, holding her breath. Then she saw two glowing eyes, nearing her. The wolf stopped two steps in front of her, tilting his head as if he asked what was she doing here?

 

Hi, that's you,“ she got down on his level. „How are you, my friend?“ He stepped closer and nudged her. She stroked his head. „I'm looking for Eric, you know. He disappeared. The lights are turned on in his house, the back door open but he's not there. I found his phone lying on the floor. Don't you know where he could be? What happened to him?“ Her eyes filled up with tears. She closed them. She felt the touch of his cold muzzle on her cheek so she opened her eyes again. She looked closely in his. „You don't. But you're nice,“ she sat down in the grass and he immediately snuggled up to her. She laughed lightly, caressing his soft fur. He put his paw on her forearm. „I like you, my friend. I'd like to stay here with you but I have to find him. I'm worried about him so much. I love him. He needs help,“ she sighed. „I'll return to his house perhaps he's already back.“ He jumped on his feet to let her get up. She walked in the forest and noticed that her wolf friend was following her. She was grateful for his presence so she wasn't alone in the darkness. „Thanks,“ she whispered as he stepped in front of her to lead the way.

 

Stepping inside she understood that nothing has changed. He wasn't here. The wolf stayed outside sitting on the back porch, staring at her as if he ensured her safety.

 

"I don't know where I should look for him," she sat down on the couch, feeling helpless, her heart clenching. The tears, pricking in her eyes, flew down her cheeks and her exhausted body curled in one corner of the couch. Although she had no intention to do it, Lena fell in a restless sleep in a few minutes. The wolf watched her, sadness in his eyes. He laid down on the threshold, his head between his paws.

 

*

 

"Lena?" she heard his voice. She woke up and slowly opened her eyes. Staring at him, kneeling next to her head, she realized where she was and what happened last night. As her consciousness returned to her she rose to the sitting position.

 

"You're here, or am I still sleeping?" she whispered.

 

"Yes, I am. But what are you doing here?" he reached out to stroke her cheek but she got up, looking at him in surprise.

 

"Where were you all night? Can you imagine how scared I was?"

 

I know. I'm sorry,“ he rose up.

 

OK. But where have you been?“ she demanded, tilting her head on one side, frowning. He took a deep breath but eventually he said nothing. "Why don't you want to tell me? I was looking for you in the house and also outside. I almost called the police, you know. I thought someone kidnapped you.“

 

I just can't,“ he shook his head. „You wouldn't believe me, Lena.“ She closed her eyes for a moment.

 

Try me,“ she ran her hand through her hair. „I've never asked you but... you know it's strange when someone disappears in the night just like you,“ she swallowed, waiting for his answer. „I don't know what I'm supposed to think, Eric. Frankly I feel there's something that's bothering you deep inside. I'd like to help you but now I don't know if I can trust you,“ her voice trailed off. She stood there, looking in his eyes but he was silent. He stepped closer, taking her hands in his.

 

I'd like to tell you but I really can't,“ he spoke slowly. „I appreciate that you were worried about me, that you came here to search for me. Thank you for your offer to help me but...,“ he squeezed her hands gently before he continued in a low voice, „... no one can help me. I'm sorry. I should have kept my distance away from you but I couldn't. I fell in love with you...,“ he tried to smile but it was very short smile not reaching his eyes at all. He lowered his head and let go of her hands. „The time has come to say goodbye before it's late,“ he turned around. He didn't want her to see the pain in his eyes. His heart clenched and his mind was calling that he made a mistake.

 

Do you mean it?“ she whispered, holding her breath. „Should I go?“ she swallowed a lump created in her throat. Even though she felt she should stay she was angry with him at that point. He stood in front of her, her back to her, just nodded. She grabbed her purse and ran out of the house, slamming the door behind her.

 

*

 

He flinched as he heard it. He slowly went upstairs, undressed and stepped in the shower. He left hot water run down on him, closing his eyes, his hands resting against the tiles on the wall. The thoughts swirled in his mind. He knew he was alone again. He should have realized before he allowed her to get closer that he couldn't afford to be with someone. But he didn't want to admit it to himself, he forgot about who he was. He fooled himself it might work.

 

He sat down at the table in his atelier and looked at the pictures he took the day they were together at the lake. He looked at her shining face on the screen, her beautiful eyes, her long chestnut hair, he recalled her laugh and how it felt touching her and he felt tears forming in his eyes. She was gone now and he had no idea how to live without her. He laid his forehead on his arms folded on the table and cried like a little boy.

 

*

 

Lena walked in her house. She had no idea how she got home. She was upset and disappointed. She took a quick shower and headed to work.

 

Eva took a look at Lena walking in the salon and immediately saw from her face that something happened. Lena disappeared in the back office and Eva joined her after the customer left.

 

Tell me,“ Eva took a seat next to Lena who sipped from her cup of coffee. After Lena told her the whole story Eva leaned her back against the backrest of the chair. „Is it possible he has someone else?“

 

I don't know,“ Lena shrugged. „But this was the first thought that crossed my mind when I saw him in the morning,“ she wrapped her hands around the cup, looking into it. „Then I remembered that he dropped his phone to the floor and those strange sounds that I heard in my phone. It didn't sound like a woman took him away with her.“

 

But where do you think he was then?“ Eva asked, resting her hands on the table. „Why didn't he want to talk about it? Listen, actually he threw you out of his door.“

 

Yes, actually he did,“ Lena smiled sadly. „You know I have a bad feeling that I gave up on him without a fight. I left because I was angry. He disappears in the night and in the morning he comes as if nothing happened,“ she shook her head. „But deep inside I know I shouldn't have left him alone. He thought when he stood his back to me I wouldn't see his pain but I could almost sense how much he wanted me to stay. But he decided to do the right thing in his opinion and stay alone, you know, against his wishes. I swallowed the hook because I was angry. Yet I think he needs me,“ she stared right ahead, lost in thoughts.

 

What's on your mind?“ Eva watched her. She raised her eyes to Eva and pushed her empty cup aside.

 

Do you know what scares me?“ She continued when Eva shook her head no. „One sentence that he said. He told me 'no one can help me'. I still hear those words in my head. The more I think about everything the more I'm convinced that I shouldn't have left,“ she closed her eyes.

 

What do you want to do?“ Eva shook Lena's arm lightly to break her reverie.

 

There's nothing I can do right now. Even though it hurts as hell I can't come back to him after everything that happened,“ she buried her face in her hands.

 

Time will show. Don't give it up,“ Eva patted Lena's upper arm.

 

I hope you're right,“ Lena gave her a small smile, her eyes glistening with tears.

 

*

 

Lena pulled a bottle of water out of the fridge and returned on the back porch. It was a June evening and it was hot. She opened a folder of papers and started reading. Danny asked her for pre-reading and editing his lyrics for the new album of his band three weeks ago and told her she could add some of her ideas if she wanted. She promised she would try to write something for him.

 

She worked on this every evening but she was tired from work on week days so most of it remained for the weekend. She visited her parents today afternoon. Danny would arrive tomorrow so she needed to finish it tonight. It was almost midnight as she read through each page of all lyrics, Danny's and hers, for the last time. She yawned and went inside to pour some coffee for herself not to fall asleep yet.

 

She took a sip from her cup, the last page in her hand. She always enjoyed it. She liked writing since school age when she wrote poems. Danny knew it and she was always glad helping him.

 

She folded the pages back into the folder and closed it. She leaned her back and finished her coffee. It was half past twelve a.m. so she got up and was about to go to bed. She went inside, put the cup in the sink and the folder on the kitchen table. She wanted to turn off the light on the back porch when she noticed two glowing eyes in the darkness. The wolf hasn't appeared for a long time.

 

Hey you! How are you?“ she spoke in a low voice and walked down the stairs. It took a couple of minutes till the wolf hesitantly dared to come closer. She sat down on the stairs, waiting. „Where have you been? Didn't you want to see me?“ The wolf stopped about a meter from her, staring. „What happened, my friend?“ she reached out her hand. „Come on,“ she whispered. „Come here.“ He slowly stepped closer and let her touch him. As she stroked his fur he closed his eyes, lowering his head. „You look sad tonight,“ she scratched him behind his ear. „Do you feel lonely?“ his eyes shot at hers. „I do,“ she sighed. „I didn't find him that night we met the last time. He found me sleeping on his couch,“ she kept stroking his head. „I don't know where he'd been and he didn't want to talk about it. You know it was three weeks ago and I can't stop thinking about him,“ suddenly he stepped back out of the reach of her hands. „You have to go?“ she nodded her head. „So farewell, my hairy friend,“ she smiled faintly. „You're kind of restless tonight. Come to see me again soon, OK?“ He stared in her eyes for a few seconds, then he turned around and ran quickly into the forest. She watched him. She could almost sense his unease.

 

She turned off the light outside and after using the bathroom she walked in the bedroom. As her wolf friend reminded her of Eric, thinking about him she pulled a paper and pen out of the nightstand. Sitting on the bedside she started writing her thoughts and feelings. Then she put the paper filled with writing on the bedside and crawled under the covers. She wrapped her arms around the pillow, drifting off to sleep.

 

*

 

After having breakfast Lena went shopping. She wanted to make dinner for Danny and herself. On her way home she bought pizza to take away.

 

Her thoughts flew to Eric as she was eating pizza, sitting on the back porch. She recalled his call three weeks ago. It was also Sunday. She wondered why did he drive her away. Is it possible that his secret was so terrifying that he couldn't allow her to stay with him? What was going on with him every night? How could she help him? How could she uncover his secret when he didn't want to tell her anything? She missed him as hell and she imagined that he was all alone with his secret. She'd rather jump in her car and go to him, wrap her arms around him and never let go of him, never leave him like she did. She jumped on her feet and ran upstairs to her bedroom. She grabbed the paper that she'd left here yesterday night and walked back on the back porch. She finished the lyrics, sadness choked her up.

 

*

 

It was delicious, Lena,“ Danny appreciated the dinner when he finished it.

 

Thanks,“ she smiled faintly. „You can take a look at the lyrics,“ she handed him the folder, collected the dishes and retreated inside. Danny started reading through it.

 

It's amazing,“ he uttered when she joined him, handing him a chilled beer. „Thanks.“

 

So do you like it?“ she leaned over to look at which one of her lyrics he was reading.

 

Sure I do. This one will be a ballad. It's beautiful,“ he smiled. She took the paper in her hand. It was the lyrics she wrote last night before sleep. „By the way the band has a new photographer,“ he pulled several pictures out of his backpack. „Take a look. He took pictures for the cover of our upcoming album and some promos last weekend.“

 

You should have told me that you need a photographer. I know a man who is very good at what he's doing,“ she looked at pictures and she had to admit they were beautiful. The photographer had a sense of it. It reminded her of the shots that Eric took at the lake.

 

Sorry, but I can't imagine someone could be better than him. He was spontaneous, funny... you know we posed and he was taking pictures. He said 'it's good' or 'not this way' every now and then but he didn't say 'do this' or 'do that'. He didn't push us and his work was excellent. He also made jokes,“ Danny nodded his head. „He impressed me.“

 

Glad to hear it. The pictures are really awesome,“ she gave him the pictures back.

 

Lena, what happened? You look sad. I don't know you like this. I don't like it,“ Danny watched her sad face. „Although your lyrics are wonderful as always the last one you know the ballad like I said is full of pain and sadness. Someone hurt you, didn't they?“

 

These things happen,“ Lena shrugged. „I started seeing a man but it's over as it seems,“ she closed her eyes for a moment.

 

You still love him,“ Danny took her hand. „Do you want to talk about it?“ Lena raised her eyes to him and after a short hesitation she told him her love story. „You know actually I don't think he really wanted me to leave. But I was enraged. I didn't think at all. And now I can't turn back time and change it.“

 

I'm so sorry. The secret... it makes me wonder what it is,“ he shook his head. „It's really strange. If we were in a movie or a fairy tale I would venture to claim it's something supernatural about it.“

 

Supernatural?“ she lifted her eyebrow and smiled. „Sounds interesting. What exactly do you mean by this?“

 

I have no idea,“ he laughed shortly. „You're smiling, it's fantastic,“ he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. She shifted closer and placed her head on his shoulder. „It's good to have such an amazing friend as you are.“

 

They forgot about time, sitting on the back porch, talking. It was already dark when Danny glanced at his watch.

 

Wow! It's half past ten. I should go,“ he got up.

 

Really? Time's running so quickly. But it was a nice chat, Danny. Thanks,“ she followed him to the front door when she heard a weak howl. She stiffened in the middle of the hall and turned around. „Danny, did you hear it too?“ Suddenly the howl was heard closer.

 

What was it?“ Danny looked at her but she turned around, running back on the back porch. He ran to her. „Lena, wait, it sounds like a wolf!“

 

Exactly!“ she said, standing next to the stairs. She watched her wolf friend coming closer when she noticed he was kind of hobbling. Danny held his breath as she moved to the wolf. She kneeled next to him and saw that his right hind leg was lifted in the air. She carefully touched his leg and he yelped. „Oh, it hurts, right?“ she stroke his head. „Don't worry, my friend, I'm going to take care of you,“ she looked at stiffened Danny. „Danny, could you help me to carry him inside?“

 

Are you sure? It's a wild animal. I'm not sure...,“ Danny slowly descended the stairs but she interrupted him.

 

Yes, I am. He's injured. I know him. He's my friend, don't be afraid.“ she turned her attention to the animal as he growled when Danny came closer. „Take it easy, Shaggy, he's also my friend you know. It's Danny. He will help me to take you inside, OK?“ She didn't realize she was giving him name right now. Shaggy looked in her eyes and turned his attention to Danny. Danny let him sniff his hand and Shaggy allowed Danny to take him in his arms. Lena walked beside Danny and kept talking to Shaggy.

 

It's not broken but it's a deep wound. It needs a few stitches. We should take him to a vet. I know the one, he's my good friend. I go to see him with my dog,“ Danny examined Shaggy's leg. Lena looked at her bloody hands and nodded. „Let's go.“

 

*

 

Lena watched the vet treating Shaggy. She refused to let him alone in the doctor's office so Danny stayed here, too. Shaggy was incredibly calm with her by his side. She didn't cease to touch him and whisper to him as if he was a little child. Shaggy's sad eyes was locked with hers.

 

Done,“ the vet glanced at Danny. „There're five stitches and the wound needs to have some rest. But the animal will be OK. Come in three weeks for removing the stitches.“

 

OK, thank you, Glenn. I owe you,“ Danny shook his hand with Glenn and took Shaggy in his arms.

 

You're welcome,“ Glenn smiled. Danny walked out of the room and Lena followed him after saying thank you to Glenn and shaking his hand.

Autor KeepTheFlameBurning, 04.09.2017
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