I’d taken Walter’s other clothes he’d been wearing, and discarded them after getting permission.
“Arcanum, I truly do owe you. Thank you so much.” He spoke softly, and I smiled.
“Well the offer still stands, if you’d like. You can stay here. I live alone. I keep odd hours, and have family over weekly, that’s about it.”
Walter smiled, “I don’t want to impose on you.”
I smiled, “My dear sir, you’ve not. I’m offering you a place to rest your head. A warm place, to keep you safe at night. Now make yourself comfortable. Have something to eat. I hate to do this, but I need a nap. What if I make you breakfast, then you can rest. Watch tv, read, whatever you’d like?”
Walter smiled, “That sounds great.” I smiled, and made breakfast for him, and had a cup of coffee. We sat quietly, and he teared up eating. The emotions that crossed his face, were insurmountable. I gently placed my hand on his arm. He looked at me teary eyed.
“I’m sorry to be crying at your kitchen table.” Walters voice was barely a whisper.
“Never apologize for crying. It’s an emotion, and there’s a reason why you’re crying. I’m not judging you. I want you to know you’re safe.”
“Thank you again. For everything you’ve done.” I smiled, and patted his shoulder. After he’d finished, he decided to rest in his room. I heard the soft hum of the television, and smiled. I crept upstairs, and laid down on my bed. Before I gave into the sleep that I so badly yearned for, I sent out a tweet.
It takes one small act of kindness, to restore one’s faith in humanity.
I set my phone down, and grabbed my pillow curling myself around it. The wrenching absence of Abby lingered in my room. I could smell her on my sheets, pillows, I could still feel her. I just remembered holding her in this bed. I would do anything to have her back. I loved her, I was afraid of her getting hurt by me. Jesus with the way Ornella was working right now, I wasn’t sure if we’d be safe if we tried to date. Ornella was desperate to have me back as her property. I wasn’t a piece of property. I was an individual with thoughts, and feelings. So I was left with the ghost of my best friend in my bed, and with that I slipped off into the darkness.
I woke up, and the clock read four thirteen. I stretched, and reached over grabbing my phone. I needed to text Emily, and give her a heads up.
‘So I have someone staying with me. I just wanted you to have a heads up.‘
I quietly slipped off my bed, and checked on Walter. I found him asleep in the chair in the room he was staying in. I went back to my room, and grabbed my phone. Emily had replied to my text.
'YOUR best friend is glowing. She talked about how her friend brought over her favorite pizza for her last night. Give her a chance. Someone is staying? See you later. Btw I hope you slept. Gotta run.'
I smiled a little, but kept it reserved. I couldn't get my hopes up, that all was forgiven. I checked in on Walter once more, but he was asleep still. I quietly made my way downstairs. It was dark outside, the street lights were on. The hustle, and bustle of rush hour had started. I stood by the window, and just became consumed with my own thoughts. I imagined my characters, and where they would be in the city. What would they be doing. I had based the city in my story loosely on Boston. I poured myself a glass of brandy, and sat down at my computer. I contemplated where to start. Continue where I'd left off, or start fresh. I sat there dormant, like the cursor once again.
I drew in a deep breath, and let it out slowly.
Olivia’s mood had changed drastically. She was happy, or so it appeared. I was left contemplating leaving the city, I’ve come to call home. There wasn’t a way we could both continue to live our lives here, but then again could we truthfully leave? Could I actually place myself on a train, and leave it all behind. The girl I loved, would remain here. She’d move on with him. I would be alone, and probably never find someone. There were bigger issues circulating. I couldn’t worry about that right now. Sounds stupid, but Olivia was my main concern. She was young, and naive, at least that’s how I saw her. Truth was, she wasn’t either of those. I felt this overwhelming surge of protection towards her. I needed to protect her.
I worked quietly, when I noticed someone standing beside me.
“Good evening Walter. Sorry I slept the day away.” He smiled, and sat down in the living room. I saved my work, and closed the laptop. I quietly walked out, and joined him.
“We both needed the sleep. No apologies.” I sat down in Abby’s favorite chair. I hoped it would provide some source of comfort.
“I’m guessing you don’t typically sit in that chair.” Walter nodded towards me.
I was a bit caught off guard, how would someone know that.
“You’re correct. How would you know that though?” I cocked my head to one side, looking at him.
He delivered a simple laugh, “Your body language speaks louder, then your words.”
I had no idea, so I looked at him carefully.
“Arcanum, you’re rigid in the chair. It’s as though you’re sitting on nails. Something is protruding through the back into your spine.”
I felt a lump abruptly develop in my throat, and I was compelled to close my eyes. My voice was a mere whisper,
“It’s where my dear friend used to sit. I don’t know where we stand now. I really hurt her. I never intended to inflict such pain on her.”
Walter leaned forward, and looked at me.
“My dear child, nobody ever intends to purposely hurt the ones we care about. Our hearts overrule our judgement at times. It’s as though our heart carries this veil, and slips it over our brain; not allowing thoughts to be clear. We’ve all done it. Now care to tell me what happened? If not I understand.”
I sighed, “She was honest with me about her feelings. I didn’t reciprocate them. I love her but,”
Walter nodded, “Ah the but. Nasty little bugger it is. Your heart has been broken before, or you’re hung up on someone you can’t have.”
I simply nodded, “The first one.”
Walter smiled thoughtfully, “Our first love, is something we never forget. No matter what age we are.”
It was as if I’d been thrown into some other dimension of deep thoughts, and understandings.
“Walter it’s strange you would say that. My publicist and I were speaking last night, over dinner. She told me a story of her younger years. She was twelve, and her “boyfriend” kissed another girl, and decided to go with her because she was more,” I searched my mind for the correct word, “I hate saying this, but easy. Well to this day, my publicist is still bothered by it. She’s happily married to a great guy.”
Walter nodded, “It’s because a sacred bond was broken. That bond, it’s TRUST. She put her trust in him, and he threw it away as if it were a wrapper to something. It was no longer needed.”
It was so strange that Walter, and I were connecting. He understood me. It was as if I were speaking to the male form of my mother.
“Arcanum, I can only guess what you’re thinking. I’m a parent, a father with two daughters. I’m not a mind reader, but I’ve seen heartbreak. I’m a deep person. I know heartbreak, from a different aspect. Well two aspects. I married young. I was eighteen. My wife left me because I was not what she wanted. That being a source of money. I wasn’t rich, I was going to school, and working at as a Hawker. I lived at home with my parents, when we’d married. She divorced me when I was twenty two. I met my second wife when I was twenty four. We married after six months of dating. Jennie was three months along, with the girls when we were married. We were married twenty years, before I lost her. We spent our twentieth anniversary, looking at our wedding photos. She was laying in a hospital bed at home. Hospice did all they could. The girls were away at school.” Walter’s eyes closed, and his head fell back slowly.
“You know, she looked at me and smiled. Then she looked up at the ceiling and just smiled. Then she closed her eyes, and that was it.” He started to cry, and I couldn’t help it but tear up. I moved from my chair, and retrieved some tissues for him.
“I didn’t call the funeral home for at least an hour.” I just held her hand, and stroked her cheek. I needed that time to spend with her, because it would be the last I ever saw of her. She wanted to be cremated. She said they couldn’t use her body because of the cancer, so she’d help the earth.”
I clenched my jaw tightly, unable to say a word. Walter’s eyes met mine.
“I’m so sorry to put all of that on you. I shouldn’t have said anything.”
I shook my head, and spoke softly, “I’m glad you shared that with me. It’s beautiful, and very touching.”
Walter smiled half heartedly. I could tell he was emotionally exhausted by telling me the story.
“I don’t mean to be a pest, but have you spoken with your daughters recently?” I looked at him.
“No probably about six months ago. They want me to come out to Chicago, and be with them. I feel like a burden on them.” I looked at him.
“I’m not kicking you out, and don’t take it as that. What if I paid for you to go back to Chicago.” I sat on the coffee table, and looked at him.
“Arcanum that’s too much. If I could call them at least.” I grabbed my phone and handed it to him.
“Dial the number, and press the green button. I will give you some privacy.” I smiled and left the room.
I sat in the kitchen quietly, and had a glass of brandy. I pulled out dishes for dinner, along with silverware, and glasses. I heard muffled talking coming from the living room, and let it become white noise. I was tired, and had more work to do. It wan’t like a nine to five job. Writing was emotionally, and mentally exhausting. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I needed to figure out what I was going to do with my situations that were going on. I leaned against the counter, and swirled the amber colored drink around in the glass. A knock on the doorframe, drew my attention.
“Can we talk?” Walter stood nervously, and I didn’t want him to be nervous around me. Actually anyone for that matter.
“Of course.” I set my glass down behind me.
He walked over, and stood in front of me, “If you would be able to cover a train ticket out, I will repay you. My girls want me to come out with them. They have a room for me, and possibly a part-time job. They asked the sooner, the better.”
I smiled, “Of course Walter. Whenever you’d like.”
He swallowed, “Now if possible.”
I nodded, “Let me grab my coat, and we’ll go. I have a spare duffle bag. Pack up the clothes you have, and we’ll go.”
He smiled, and we walked upstairs to pack up his few belongings.
It was six fifteen in the evening, and it was rush hour. South Station was bustling with commuters trying to get home.
“Alright here’s your ticket. I handed it to him. There’s also a hundred dollars in the envelope. It’s to cover meals, or whatever else you might need. I also gave you my information, incase anything happens, or you want to chat.”
Walter hugged me tightly, then let me go, “You’re a good man Arcanum. Thank you for everything you’ve done today.”
I smiled, “The pleasure of meeting an amazing man was all mine. Best of luck sir. Be safe. Do ring me when you are settled.” He nodded, and turned to board his train.
I waited until his train had completely cleared the station. I turned and started through the large station, passing people by. I heard her laugh. I looked up, and she was linked arm, and arm with him again. I swallowed back the heartache, and put my head back down. She must have seen me, but I couldn’t talk to her, not like this.
“Arc?” I heard her voice.
I continued, and hurried down into the subway and was lost amongst the passengers, entering, and exiting. I could slip away here, and be lost with the wave of people. The question was now, how long could I avoid my friend, and her happiness?