Renville Cavalieri

My name is Renville Cavalieri, and my job in Hell is to stop people killing themselves. I'm not very good at my job. But then I met Anni Bay, and she is living hope, with a tendency of wandering into oncoming traffic and not eating for days, but when she does it's all pills. And I'm going to find a way to save her, if it's the last thing I do.

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10. Cotton Wool Love - Pt.2

 

   She walked to the window with him and handed him his jacket.

    He threw the cigarette into the rain gutter and I noticed that there were at least a hundred others there already. One or two were only half smoked with lipstick on the filter. Although I’d love one, the thought of Anni smoking made me feel sick on her behalf.

    Before he started down the ladder he took her hand, “Any new poems for me?”

    She went through all the ones she had told me the last few nights, but she would never try explain to him.

    Anni shook her head, but he squeezed her hand encouragingly.

    “Oh come on. Give it a try now, then.”

    She thought for a second, rhyming words resting on the cotton wool in her mind. Some were bitter, and some were sweet, but she finally let a few down to her tongue.

    “Thank you for the nights where you come to be. The times at night where you make me feel free. You are the- No wait... I love the white and the black and the all that you are.”

    She leaned forward and pecked his stupid smirk one last time, “For you prove to me that we are from the stars.”

    He chuckled and stepped down a rung, their fingers drifting apart, “You are truly incredible. I’ll see you again.”

    “Goodnight. I love you.”

    “I love you too.”

    And she watched him disappear through her back garden gate, and into the dawn-lit roads before flopping back on her bed. She put his lighter in her drawer and let her eyes glue shut. We could say goodbye to acing that test tomorrow. But I supposed it didn’t matter.

    Nothing really does, she thought.

    I sighed, “Getting in my head again, Anni Bay? And who really was he? Why do you never talk about him?”

    She didn’t answer again.

    “I guess it really doesn’t matter. But I don’t trust him. Not yet anyway. But you shouldn’t tell him about me.” I regretted saying the last part, but I needed to make it clear before she admitted herself to a mental hospital. Sure, it might keep her alive a while, but what a boring life for a nearly-alright girl.

    After a few minutes in near silence, as the birds began to tweet outside her window, which stayed open, she spoke to herself.

    “There is no man in my head. I need to stop talking about it to people. I need to think of my boyfriend more too. He’s my world.”

    I hated hearing that. Everyone’s world was more than some guy, but Anni’s world was so much more than that guy. That guy with his awfully dyed, scruffy hair and his condescending smile.

    I let her fall asleep then. There was no way we were going to school anyway, so I let her drift into her dream garden, that was secretly controlled by Cameron. She made more flowers for him to paint. They weren’t even ones she liked. I could tell because unlike the rest of her garden, the colours were blotchy and melted together. But she didn’t care as long as he was happy.

    That night Anni fell asleep with three voices in her head.

    One mine, another begging me to just take over and sort out her life. It screamed summaries of things she remembered, like her parents coming home late from the airport and her mother slapping her, or Jenna at school pushing her to the ground in every way she knew how, or Anni herself letting Cameron down when he wanted to stay the night. Her awkwardness was kicking out the only thing that mattered, and she couldn’t control it.

But the final voice was her own again, but repeating the words “schizophrenic” and turning them into “mad”, “crazy” and “he’s so good. Why should he love you? He’s faking it, obviously. Stop talking to the other voice in your head. Stop it.”

So Anni didn’t tell me one of her poems. She just killed off the pile of half-imagined flowers and fell into a deep sleep that she was nearly sure she wouldn't wake from.

But she did wake up, and was left once again wondering if Cameron was just a dream.

“Maybe not a dream. Maybe a nightmare.” I said.

She got up and slammed her window closed, and started wiping the ash off her blankets.

I’m better with him than alone. He’s all I have.

“You’re better alone than in pieces, trust me.”

She let out a breathy laugh, Why not both?

“You’re not alone.” I said.

Why because I have you?

    I didn’t say anything. I just let her wipe away her eyes viciously, and go back under the blankets.

    Sometimes I’m broken and alone. But sometimes he’s here, and that’s better than nothing.

    “He’s nothing, Anni.”

    He’s my everything, she thought.

    She filled her own head with cotton wool again, and let images from last night floor her inward eye. I watched slideshow after slideshow of his face rising and falling as she twisted the memory to make herself say things she never said, and give herself reasons to hate that night.

    Without him I have to live for the mornings. For stupid people doing stupid things to hurt each other day by day. And that’s not something I can live with. I need the nights. I need him.

    I didn’t say anything once again, but let her watch last night fall to pieces in her own mind.

    What was your name after all? she asked eventually.

    “Nothing. I’m part of you, remember?”

    She smiled and buried her head in the pillows, I didn’t know my hope sounded like a old man from America with love issues.

    I laughed at her, “I’m not old!”

    There you are again. It’s nice to hear you back to normal. You know, not uptight and insulting my love. And anyway, you’re not denying you have issues with love?

    “I just hate him. And no, I don’t.” I said, smiling with her.

    What is love then?

    I thought for a minute, “Love is what you feel when the entire world stops for someone else. Even if it’s a daughter or a friend. Love is when your life and theirs has intertwined so that little thoughts you have the other person brings to life. When you are apart of someone. Apart of a bigger picture with them.”

Anni shook her head, You’re thinking too small. Love is the feeling you get when worlds collide and sparks fly and other things that can physically let your heart grow. It’s something much more amazing.

“I don’t know. Maybe love is just two piece of the same puzzle.”

She sighed at me, No. Love is the hope that can change the world. Love is the last thought at night, at the end of your life, and at the end of the world. Love is an energy that keeps this world going through the days of bitter hatred and war. Love is what keeps me going.

“And for how long can love keep you going?”

The world turns until love is gone.

“So you won’t die until then?”

And then Anni fell back asleep, with broken memories in her head and burn marks on her knuckles.

    But I suppose that’s love for you.

    

    She walked to the window with him and handed him his jacket.

    He threw the cigarette into the rain gutter and I noticed that there were at least a hundred others there already. One or two were only half smoked with lipstick on the filter. Although I’d love one, the thought of Anni smoking made me feel sick on her behalf.

    Before he started down the ladder he took her hand, “Any new poems for me?”

    She went through all the ones she had told me the last few nights, but she would never try explain to him.

    Anni shook her head, but he squeezed her hand encouragingly.

    “Oh come on. Give it a try now, then.”

    She thought for a second, rhyming words resting on the cotton wool in her mind. Some were bitter, and some were sweet, but she finally let a few down to her tongue.

    “Thank you for the nights where you come to be. The times at night where you make me feel free. You are the- No wait... I love the white and the black and the all that you are.”

    She leaned forward and pecked his stupid smirk one last time, “For you prove to me that we are from the stars.”

    He chuckled and stepped down a rung, their fingers drifting apart, “You are truly incredible. I’ll see you again.”

    “Goodnight. I love you.”

    “I love you too.”

    And she watched him disappear through her back garden gate, and into the dawn-lit roads before flopping back on her bed. She put his lighter in her drawer and let her eyes glue shut. We could say goodbye to acing that test tomorrow. But I supposed it didn’t matter.

    Nothing really does, she thought.

    I sighed, “Getting in my head again, Anni Bay? And who really was he? Why do you never talk about him?”

    She didn’t answer again.

    “I guess it really doesn’t matter. But I don’t trust him. Not yet anyway. But you shouldn’t tell him about me.” I regretted saying the last part, but I needed to make it clear before she admitted herself to a mental hospital. Sure, it might keep her alive a while, but what a boring life for a nearly-alright girl.

    After a few minutes in near silence, as the birds began to tweet outside her window, which stayed open, she spoke to herself.

    “There is no man in my head. I need to stop talking about it to people. I need to think of my boyfriend more too. He’s my world.”

    I hated hearing that. Everyone’s world was more than some guy, but Anni’s world was so much more than that guy. That guy with his awfully dyed, scruffy hair and his condescending smile.

    I let her fall asleep then. There was no way we were going to school anyway, so I let her drift into her dream garden, that was secretly controlled by Cameron. She made more flowers for him to paint. They weren’t even ones she liked. I could tell because unlike the rest of her garden, the colours were blotchy and melted together. But she didn’t care as long as he was happy.

    That night Anni fell asleep with three voices in her head.

    One mine, another begging me to just take over and sort out her life. It screamed summaries of things she remembered, like her parents coming home late from the airport and her mother slapping her, or Jenna at school pushing her to the ground in every way she knew how, or Anni herself letting Cameron down when he wanted to stay the night. Her awkwardness was kicking out the only thing that mattered, and she couldn’t control it.

But the final voice was her own again, but repeating the words “schizophrenic” and turning them into “mad”, “crazy” and “he’s so good. Why should he love you? He’s faking it, obviously. Stop talking to the other voice in your head. Stop it.”

So Anni didn’t tell me one of her poems. She just killed off the pile of half-imagined flowers and fell into a deep sleep that she was nearly sure she wouldn't wake from.

But she did wake up, and was left once again wondering if Cameron was just a dream.

“Maybe not a dream. Maybe a nightmare.” I said.

She got up and slammed her window closed, and started wiping the ash off her blankets.

I’m better with him than alone. He’s all I have.

“You’re better alone than in pieces, trust me.”

She let out a breathy laugh, Why not both?

“You’re not alone.” I said.

Why because I have you?

    I didn’t say anything. I just let her wipe away her eyes viciously, and go back under the blankets.

    Sometimes I’m broken and alone. But sometimes he’s here, and that’s better than nothing.

    “He’s nothing, Anni.”

    He’s my everything, she thought.

    She filled her own head with cotton wool again, and let images from last night floor her inward eye. I watched slideshow after slideshow of his face rising and falling as she twisted the memory to make herself say things she never said, and give herself reasons to hate that night.

    Without him I have to live for the mornings. For stupid people doing stupid things to hurt each other day by day. And that’s not something I can live with. I need the nights. I need him.

    I didn’t say anything once again, but let her watch last night fall to pieces in her own mind.

    What was your name after all? she asked eventually.

    “Nothing. I’m part of you, remember?”

    She smiled and buried her head in the pillows, I didn’t know my hope sounded like a old man from America with love issues.

    I laughed at her, “I’m not old!”

    There you are again. It’s nice to hear you back to normal. You know, not uptight and insulting my love. And anyway, you’re not denying you have issues with love?

    “I just hate him. And no, I don’t.” I said, smiling with her.

    What is love then?

    I thought for a minute, “Love is what you feel when the entire world stops for someone else. Even if it’s a daughter or a friend. Love is when your life and theirs has intertwined so that little thoughts you have the other person brings to life. When you are apart of someone. Apart of a bigger picture with them.”

Anni shook her head, You’re thinking too small. Love is the feeling you get when worlds collide and sparks fly and other things that can physically let your heart grow. It’s something much more amazing.

“I don’t know. Maybe love is just two piece of the same puzzle.”

She sighed at me, No. Love is the hope that can change the world. Love is the last thought at night, at the end of your life, and at the end of the world. Love is an energy that keeps this world going through the days of bitter hatred and war. Love is what keeps me going.

“And for how long can love keep you going?”

The world turns until love is gone.

“So you won’t die until then?”

And then Anni fell back asleep, with broken memories in her head and burn marks on her knuckles.

    But I suppose that’s love for you.

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