Whisper

//He had a smile on his face like the climax of a novel, and his kisses were the chorus to a treasured favourite song.\\

Benedict has lived six months in a ragged half existence, torn apart after his twin brother's accident. Still, when he meets Whisper, the happy-go-lucky boy in the wheelchair who volunteers at his support group, Benedict starts to realise that maybe it isn't totally impossible for him to begin enjoying life again. It's only after the two uncover some incriminating evidence that Ben understands that his brother's car crash wasn't quite so accidental as he originally thought.

\\The amazing, beautiful, wonderful cover is by @violets//

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13. CHAPTER ELEVEN| Emails

 

It was funny how quickly the world seemed to change.

One second Ben had been wondering whether he’d told Whisper something he shouldn’t; the next, they were kissing like they’d cashed in all their tomorrows too soon. Equally, of course, as soon as Whisper left, (because he had to, eventually. They couldn’t just keep staying the night at each other’s houses like some weird ongoing pyjama party.) Ben found his feeling of elation quickly turned to one of boredom. Just contemplating the idea of another week before he saw Whisper at support group again- it was a dire, dire thought, and Ben was trying his hardest not to think it.

Currently, the concept of ‘not-thinking-about-Whisper’ wasn’t going so well.

Ben rolled sideways on the sofa, resting his head on his hands. He smiled.

God. Whisper had these gorgeous flecks of misty grey in his eyes that Ben had never been close enough to notice before. Oh, and Whisper had hundreds of freckles on his nose- so many that Ben wanted to touch each one individually, play join the dots, spot the difference. And, and Whisper’s fingers in his hair had been so much lighter than Ben expected, so feathery soft as they traced unspoken promises down the back of Ben’s spine. 

God. This more recent ‘God’ was one of marginal disgust at himself. With difficulty, Ben forced his beam into an unconvincing scowl.

Whisper, Whisper, Whisper. He sounded more smitten than vocabulary buffs are over the word ‘smitten’. His point of smitten-ness was lunatic, stupid, so far past the point of no return that he’d forgotten such a point ever existed.

Ben shrugged ruefully, running his hands through his hair. Whatever. There were far worse things to fall in love with than pretty boys with easy smiles and surprisingly come-hither glances.

But seriously, Ben thought, he couldn’t just dream about Whisper for the rest of the week. That would be stupid, however tempting it sounded. In fact, he thought unenthusiastically, In fact, what he really should be doing was something productive. Like, not thinking about Whisper. Like, something like homework.

Practically crawling from the sofa, Ben groaned as he crossed the room to get to the laptop his family shared. Maybe he could get away with copy and pasting half an essay and pass it off as seriously working. Ugh.

Using the elastic band around his wrist, Ben pulled his hair back from his face into a stiff, I-promise-that-I-actually-genuinely-mean-business kind of ponytail. Resting the laptop on the floor in front of him, he sat down crossed legged, his back against the sofa seat.

Double ugh. The laptop was already logged into his mum’s account, and Ben was going to have to wait at least twenty minutes waiting for the laptop to sign out. He sighed wearily, tracing the mouse across the screen.

In the corner of the screen was a tab already open. His mum’s emails.

Almost listlessly, Ben let the mouse carve its path towards the tab, clicking it open. It wasn’t that he particularly wanted to pry or felt he had any reason to click open the tab- it was just, it was human nature to be curious, and even reading boring tax returns was more interesting than homework. Procrastination, Ben had decided long ago, back when he’d first discovered his remarkable talent for it, should be classified as the worst vice of all.

Procrastination led to so many other sins, see. Really, it hardly seemed worth putting in the effort to procrastinate in the first place.

The emails loaded on the page at last, and Ben grimaced slightly with the acute exhilaration you feel when you’re doing something you know you probably shouldn’t be doing. The first six emails were from various probably boring companies about various probably boring offers, and lay unopened on the screen. The seventh email, though?

That one looked kind of interesting.

It didn’t look like it was from a company pushing out of date coupons, for one thing. The email address belied that it was just from one person- maybe a friend from his mum’s work?

daniel_llewogen@gmail.com

Ben’s mum never really talked about her life outside the house. Inside the house, of course, she didn’t have much of one. It wasn’t much more than looking after her perpetually pseudo-ill husband, stress about Ben a little (but more about Sebastian), maybe work some overtime from home.

Kind of a crap deal, really.

Ben clicked on the email from Daniel Llewogen.

Sarah, it started, which was pretty much expected. Sarah was the name of Ben’s mother, after all.

Can’t wait to see you today. It feels like forever. I’ve missed you. Love, Dan x, was the not quite so expected ending. Mainly because, you know, Sarah had a husband, rubbish as he was. And to Ben at least, ‘Dan’s’ message sounded both altogether too personal and altogether too plagiarised from a badly acted rom-com.

Ben swallowed as he scrolled through more of his mum’s recent messages, a good many of them from Daniel Llewogen.

Saturday 18:15 Sarah, I loved seeing you again today. Let’s do this again soon x

Wednesday 12:20 Sarah, I think I forgot to tell you how nice your hair looked yesterday evening. Well, it did. You’re so beautiful. Love, Dan x

Friday 2:17 Sarah, you can meet me tomorrow still, right? I can’t wait to-

“Sarah!”

Ben’s head jerked up at the sound of his dad’s voice, floating down from his bedroom. He hadn’t even realised the guy was home. Biting his lip, Ben stared at the screen in front of him. Sure, his dad was the kind of non-existent person that probably wasn’t that fun to be married to… But still. His mum was married.

Silently, Ben clicked off the tab and closed the laptop, tiptoeing up the stairs towards his parents’ bedroom. The door creaked loudly when he pushed on it, opening slightly stiffly. It was as if its use had been too long neglected.

Lying on the double bed in the centre of the room was Ben’s dad. He was a fairly small man anyway, but swaddled in white, sanitary-looking sheets that had been made for two people- it made him appear as flimsy and shrunken as a corpse. 

“Sebastian,” said Ben’s father, propping himself up on his elbows and craning his neck at the door. “Seb, is that you?”

Ben shuddered involuntarily at the mention of his brother. “I- I’m not-“ His voice cracked, and he broke off as if his words had been shattered and fragmented beyond recollection. He sighed.

Sometimes this happened to his father- he blocked things out. People did that kind of thing, sometimes. Something awful would happen – say, perhaps, their favourite son getting into an accident and ending up in a coma – and people’s memories would just blot the whole thing out.

Ben’s father would remember again in a couple of hours. Maybe. Occasionally it took longer.

The longer he took to remember, the more devastated he was once he did.

“Seb?” asked his father, once more. “I… I’ve got such a bad headache; you wouldn’t believe it, Seb.”

Something’s telling me that Seb has it worse, thought Ben bitterly. Out loud though, he just made a non-committal grunt. He was still stood right by the door, partially hidden by the frame and the corridor.

“Do you know where the medicine’s kept?” pushed his father again.

“Too much medicine is bad for you. That’s what they teach you at school. The bacteria or whatever inside your body becomes immune to the antibiotics if you take them too often.”

Ben’s father tried to look stern. This was incredibly difficult when lying tangled up in about a thousand sheets. “Now, Ben, just once in a while isn’t-“

Ben laughed flatly. “You’re taking antibiotics all the time, Dad. Way more than what’s prescribed.”

His father made no reply, just stared blankly at the great white expanse of sheets covering his body. He faked a cough. “Hmm. Well. You’ve not seen your mother, have you? She didn’t come home last night. I think she must be working overtime, except that she hasn’t called.” He paused. “Normally she calls.”

Stiffening, Ben struggled to keep his voice nonchalant. “Um… Sorry Dad. I don’t know. Maybe you just missed the call.” Dear Sarah, I’ve missed you, love Dan x. Or maybe, maybe Ben’s mum was having such a good time with another guy that she’d decided not to come back home to her miserable husband and her comatose son and her horrible, horrible life.

If she had, Ben couldn’t even find it in himself to blame her.

“Yeah,” allowed Ben’s father, after pausing briefly. “You’re right. Like always, Seb. You’re the twin who inherited the brains, right?” He winked at Ben, chuckling as his son shifted awkwardly on the spot.

“Ha,” said Ben, wincing internally. “Right, Dad. You’re, uh, totally hilarious.” He nibbled on his lip, leaning awkwardly against one side of the door frame. “Do you need anything else, Dad?”

“You’re sure you don’t know when your mum will be home?”

Ben sighed. “I- I don’t know, Dad. I don’t know.”

With about as much ease as an armless man attempting a handstand, Ben slipped from the room. It wasn’t the actual act of leaving that was difficult- no, it was more that walking away from the one constant member of his family still left to him was enough to send tens of thousands of kamikaze fighters loaded with guilt at his retreating back.

“Seb?” called his Dad, as Ben left. “Seb? Close the door, will you? Seb?”

Ben left the door swinging wide open and trudged downstairs. His dad could get up from his pseudo-ill lazy ass and close the door himself.

 

-

WHISPER

A ROMANCE BY MIRLOTTA


//cover by @mirlotta\\

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