“Do you ever feel that way?”
I search for the words. “Restless. As if you haven’t really met yourself yet. As is you’d passed yourself once in the fog, and your heart leapt – ‘Ah! There I Am! I’ve been missing that piece!’ But it happens too fast, and then that part of you disappears into the fog again. And you spend the rest of your days looking for it.”
He nods, and I think he’s appeasing me. I feel stupid of having said it. It’s sentimental and true, and I’ve revealed a part of myself I shouldn’t have.
“Do you know what I think?” Kartik says at last.
“Sometimes, I think you can glimpse it in another.”
Henrietta George slowly slid the braided thread back inside the book and set it to the side. She stalled a bit longer by carefully placing it on the table beside his bed. Gently setting it atop his book of Pop Culture references that she had also read to him on his first day in the infirmary: jokingly telling him that he was now officially a hostage of Book Club. But even the careful precision of its placement could only take so long. Finally she peeked out from beneath her lashes at the pale form of AP and felt the now familiar ache in her chest at the sight of him so still, so frozen.
No, not frozen.
Frozen she could handle. She was used to seeing him encased in ice. No this was the stillness of death. The slow rise and fall of his chest reminded her that he was not dead. He was not gone. He just wasn’t in there anymore. She knew it. She hadn’t needed the oh-so-perfect-Dr.-Whitley-Exotic-Beautiful-Oh-Look-at-me-dance-Ferriero to tell her that. Anybody who knew Robenheim knew that the body before was no longer occupied by him. His energy was the icy crackle of a fast freeze. A chemical reaction of potent, uncomfortable sensations that your nerves tried to tell you was a burn but your brain tried to explain the difference between fire and ice while it still burnt and seared your flesh.
A glance up toward the other bed revealed that Spider was also still unmoving and Henri felt a gulping sob threaten. His bedside had hosted plenty of visitors. She, herself, had taken to reading to him as well. But it was evident that his brothers missed him. Needed him. A glance back to the lonely form of Arctic Prince drew a hiccupy little sound of a sob.
Whitley had said that they would return. That they weren’t lost to them forever. But she was stubbornly mystical in her responses. The lack of a date, a time frame, or even some form of comparison to anything within her knowledge, left Henri lost and more scared than had she been told forever. “How could someone so fortune-cookie-eee, be a damn doctor, huh?!”
She hadn’t realized she’d spoken out loud until Apex answered promptly, “I apologize Dr. George but I will require more information if I am to provide an appropriate answer—to what or whom do you reference?”
“Nothing Apex. I’m sorry, I just—“ She angrily swiped at her face knowing that it was soaking wet despite her willful restraint of the sobs that still ached in her chest. She blinked furiously against the barrage of warm salty tears that were now flowing without heed, blurring out the vision of the two men in the hospital beds. “Miss them.”
“Yes. Dr. George. Your reaction is most common for your kind in face of such extreme situations. Although no apology is ever necessary, I will accept it if it will give you satisfaction or appeasement.”
“Thanks.” Henri managed a wry twist of her lips at that. Apex was as awkward in her social interaction as AP. She sniffled. The thought turned her even more inward in reflection: She had grown rather used to their mental bond. His constant testing of their connection had been an irritant she’d thought, bothering her, pulling her from her concentration on work or social situations. Pulling her from the isolated state she usually found herself in. But, his presence had been there. Always there. Now, her mind felt alone.
She shivered hard.
This coldness was different than his frozen energy. This coldness was empty.
This coldness was lonely.