I was waiting in the secret hiding nook of the house wall, as always during the afternoons. I had nothing to fear of the humans while hiding in there. I never liked them coming too close to me. Besides they never noticed me. I’m not complaining, it’s totally fine by me keeping my distance from them. It was always the way of things.
I looked up to the sky, it was all bright in the east, but purple and orange flames started to creep up to the blue horizon in the west. I turned my sight to the window on the second floor. Talbott still wasn’t at home. It was almost time when he usually arrived home. I couldn’t fathom why I didn’t wait with him for his lessons to finish. I always waited with him patiently, then walked him home.
Almost every day, except for the times, I felt my presence is becoming a burden for him. Like today. I wanted to believe that Talbott is not disturbed by my presence, he usually wasn’t. Like the rest of the humans, he couldn’t see me either, but he wasn’t all blind to my existence. It is nothing short of wonder, even I couldn’t see myself.
Once again, I looked up to the sky. The red-orange brightness spread further on the cloudless blue horizon. And Talbott still was nowhere to be seen. I started to fret. I knew I should have waited for him. Should I go now? I suddenly got cold feet about waiting. I knew him, knew well, that he hated those humans who clung to him, he was clearly repulsed by that sort of attachment. He too, didn’t like humans too close. Therefore in these last days when he got irritated by them, me too tried to keep as much distance between us, which would make him feel comfortable. So what should I do? He has never been this late.
I could’t allow myself to wallow in those aggravating bad feelings. I made up my mind. I’d go and find him. This is the easy part of being me. It’s enough for me to think about his whereabouts and I would appear exactly where he is. I can’t explain how it works, I haven’t managed to figure out the mechanics of it. I can’t even blink, like the humans, but the result is still the same, I can materialize everywhere just in the blink of an eye. I close my eyes here, and open there – except I have no eyes.
As I appeared there, I was taken aback by the sight before me. More precisely, I would been taken aback had I possessed a body capable of flinching. Talbott was there in that narrow back street. That street what he’d usually taken when walking home, turning right at the end of it. And from there it would be only a few minutes to reach his house. So he wasn’t far from home. But now four thugs encircled him, and they didn’t let him pass trough. They were pushing him, tear at his clothes. And above that all, they were laughing at him.
As much I could assess based on the rips of his clothes, they were bullying him for some time now. One of the thugs had a knife in hand, and wasn’t hesitating to use it, if the cuts could be of any indication on Talbott’s face and the back of his hand. He did his damnedest to get free, but didn’t stand a chance as he was outnumbered to one to four.
And I was furious with myself. I should have known. I should have come after him much sooner. He was the center of my whole existence, each minute of my conscious life orbited around him. I don’t even know for how long I’ve been stuck among the humans as an invisible presence, but I’d known for sure, I have never cared as much for anyone, as I cared for him. He became the reason to follow the change in the seasons, to count the time, and to take into account the shortness of the human lifespan. I couldn’t let these bastards to cut his precious life more shorter.
One of them grabbed Talbott by the neck, and pushed him, pressing his back to the wall of the nearest house. It must have been painful considering the whimper he let escape his lips. And this powerful push was followed by the flying fist of the brat. That hit made me cringe without a face. Talbott slid to the ground, all accompanied by the brisk laughter of the gang. My world narrowed down on them, I could only see that four.
I lunged on them. First I attacked the one holding the knife into Talbott’s face. I pulled his arm behind his back into an unnatural angle only with my will. Then I entered his body at his shoulder, same as humans pull on a tight coat, and I made him drop the knife. I didn’t care a bit how much he howled by the pain in his joints. After that he wasn’t a threat anymore, I turned to his friends.
I saw the confusion on their faces, I wallowed in it. They hadn’t had the slightest idea what has gotten them. I knocked over the remaining three. I didn’t hurt them severely, I’ve just given them a good fright, and let them flee in wild disarray. My objective was to save Talbott, not to kill or cripple them, I hoped my little demonstration sufficed to make them learn a lesson.
And finally we were left alone. I positioned myself between Talbott’s knees – it was almost like kneeling down. He was still sitting legs apart, in the exact same position where he’d hit the ground beside the wall. And I just stared at him completely mesmerized. I stared at his mocha skin, glowing in a gold hue where the evening light kissed his face. I traced the thin line of blood dripping down his cheek from the cut above his brow. A bright strand of hair got stuck in that red mess. Had I had hands, fingers, I’d have wiped the blood-soaked hair out of his face.
Since I hadn’t got any, I just continued staring at him, wishing for him to open his eyes. Even knowing he couldn’t see me with his amber eyes. But it didn’t matter at all, I just had to know if he was okay. And in the next minute, my wish was fulfilled, when he opened his eyes and looked straight at me.
“Thank you” he whispered, “I don’t know what would happened to me if wasn’t for you.”
I couldn’t respond, he wouldn’t hear me after all. Not to mention I had no voice. How could I formulate words? Then it occurred to me, that he needed to get up from the cobblestones, and go to home with me at his tail accompanying him. We would be safe hiding in his apartment. I wanted to help him get on his feet. But fortunately he was able to get himself up from the ground. He leaned heavily on the wall while he started his walk home. And I didn’t left his side. I won’t ever again.
As soon as he closed the door of his apartment behind us, he went straight to the bathroom, to clean himself up. He locked the door in front of my face, but I didn’t take it personally, knowing full well he wanted to keep his parents out, not me. Despite of them not being at home. And even if they were in the same apartment, they never bothered to ask Talbott about his day anyway. And if I wanted to follow him to the bathroom, I simply could, there was no human-made lock to keep me out of his way. But I respected his need for privacy, so I waited for him in the corridor.
When he came out of the bathroom, he wasn’t wearing his school uniform anymore, instead of it he put on sweatpants and a ragged T-shirt. He washed out the cuts, and combed back his hair on his head and nape. If I had lungs like humans have, I would be struggling to force air into them. Looking at him would certainly make breathing difficult. He is the most beautiful being of the world. He passed before me, letting me observe minutely his bruised face. The cut wasn’t too serious, but that bruise started to turn into a violent shade of purple. It will be the worst tomorrow.
I followed him into his room. He laid full length on his bed, grabbed his phone from the nightstand, and sent a message to someone. After he finished typing, he stared a few more moments at the screen, and the flat screened device started to ring in his hand, before he could put in down. He let out a heavy sigh and answered the call.
“Are you freaking kidding me?” Boomed a high pitched female voice at the other end of the line.
I immediately recognized Eliza’s voice. She was Talbott’s best friend. As much as I knew, they were inseparable from their childhood. Eliza was always there for him any ways I couldn’t. That girl was the one hugging him, comforting him when the world didn’t understand him or when his parents had failed him, or couldn’t accept him as he was. I wanted to be the one Eliza was now. I wished for it everytime. Wish I were the one he was coming home to at the end of each day, who comforted him after bad things had happened, or cheered with him after the good things.
“Are you really telling me it was that thing? How can you be so certain? You wrote in your message that you haven’t seen anything…”
Talbott looked right at me, his lips curled up in a tentative smile.
“I just know, Eliza. As I know he is here now.”
“Jesus, Talbott! So he’s really there now? And how come it is a he now?”
“I-I d-don’t really know” he stuttered, and he looked so adorable, I couldn’t find words for it. “But he’s pegging me as a HE.”
“How can you be so calm? Have you ever thought about that you are haunted? Maybe you should ask for professional help… I don’t know exactly what kind of help… maybe you should find someone who can exorcise or banish it…”
I was dumbstruck by Eliza’s little speech. Is it even possible to banish me or Hell knows what? I didn’t have a clue. Why would I? Never anyone acknowledged my presence as Talbott did. Never anyone reacted to me being there except for him. Sometimes he even talked to me, making my desolate existence all worth it. Talbott speaking to me, looking at me – even without getting a glimpse of me – were my most cherished moments. And Talbott was never afraid of me, never had ulterior motives towards me, so I never doubted him. But apparently I couldn’t be so sure about Eliza. Fear encircled me, maybe if she had found someone strong enough, it were possible to banish me… I didn’t wanted to try…
“Don’t say such things, Eliza, you’re freaking him out.”
“Me? Freaking him out? You are the one who should be afraid.”
“Why should I? He would never hurt me.”
“I can’t believe you.”
“Because you never were haunted by someone like him.”
Talbott let out a good-hearted laugh. And although I knew it wasn’t sufficient to assure Eliza, if I were able, I would’ve started to nod like crazy to side with Talbott. And he could see me, understand what I couldn’t say the way human did, and the threw a warm smile at me.
He continued to talk with Eliza for a while, and I listened. He did his best to convince her not to worry about him, because I was there to keep him safe. Hearing this I couldn’t help myself but to feel proud. He trusted me. And I made a vow there and then to always look after him, no one can hurt him under my watch.
After he cut the line, turned to me uncertain. I didn’t like the expression on his face, the furrowed brows, his scowl. I didn’t like when the others, his so-called friends and family who were too narrow-minded to understand the world like he did, made him feel insecure about my existence. Times like this I would do anything to prove him what a solid presence I could be.
“I need to know I haven’t gone crazy” he looked in my direction again. “Can you give a sign? I don’t know… show me you’re here?”
I actually can do that. I won’t keep him in uncertainty about my existence. I swam through the room to the wall on which his wrestling medals hung. He was only wrestling because his parents blackmailed him into it. In their opinion he needed a masculine hobby. So he went with the flow, he was good at wrestling, but hated every minute of it. So I’ve chosen the gold medal linked to most of his bad memories. I wondered for a heartbeat to tear at its strap, but eventually decided only to drop it to the floor. The medal hit the parquet flooring with a sharp bong. A wicked grin split on Talbott’s handsome face.
“I really hate that one. Can you make it float?”
His request annoyed me. I’m not a monkey to do parlor tricks. Not even for him. And naturally Talbott could sense my thoughts.
“I’m sorry” his bright amber eyes were hooded by his long lashes. “Now I’m the one hurting you.”
I think in this kind of situations humans used to sigh as a gesture of surrender. I shouldn’t disappoint him neither. I lifted his medal off the floor. I wasn’t levitating it, only was grabbing at its trap. I knew very well it would look like floating for Talbott. I put the medal back on its hook. I poked it a little to make the medal swing on its strap. Talbott giggled.
“I’m so happy you’re here” he said to me.
He was happy, but I was really sorry that I had no means to express how grateful I was for be able to be here.
We had spent a wonderful night together. Talbott closed the door of his room to keep everyone outside, not that his parents wanted him beside the dining table to eat dinner with them. They just simply pretended he didn’t exist. We were sitting on his bed, me watching him do his homework then prepare for his lessons tomorrow. He recited me what he had learned. Not like I understood much of it, but I liked to listen to him when he talked.
Shortly after that Talbott started to yawn and decided to call it a day. Before sleep could claim him, he stretched his arm in my direction, but couldn’t reach me.
“Sometimes I wish I could see you. I wish I could touch you.” I wished for his touches in every miserable moment of my existence. “Sometimes I try to imagine your voice. I hope for a chance to hear it. And I hope when I do hear you I will be able to see you. Just please bear with me… don’t leave me alone…”
How could I? Of course I will stay with him. I stayed with him that night too, to guard his sleep. The humans has no idea what kind of horrors are lurking in the shadows when they are sleeping. But I was there to drive away the wraiths. I was powerless only against his nightmares. And that night he was tortured by terrible dreams.
My heart ached for him, as he tossed and turned under his covers, as the beads of perspiration raced down on that fine carved face. I wanted to touch him badly, I wanted to soothe him. I glided closer to him. I imagined how it might feel to stretch my arm, and touch my fingertips to his forehead.
And in that exact moment an arm had reached out from the darkness of the room, my arm moved by my will. With my thin ivory fingers I caressed his sleeping face and leaned close to him.
“Talbott” I wishpered to him, that was the first time even I got to hear my own voice “it’s just a bad dream.”
I was so close to him, I could brush my lips over his. I could hardly believe it was possible. There was no way to resist the temptation. I kissed him. I didn’t want to wake him up, I just had to know how does it feel to kiss someone. But when or lips touched Talbott’s eyes flew open, looking straight into my eyes. I searched for shock or fear in those amber gems of his, but I saw none, not a hint of dread.
He returned my kiss eagerly, sneaking his arms around my back and waist, pulling me oh so close to him. I couldn’t even budge in his strong grip, not like I wanted to. I wanted all his touches, everything our bodies could give to each other. He turned me under him, not ceasing the kisses. Those kisses lead to more, and more lead to bliss. We had spent the whole night in each other’s arms. Then we fell asleep under his bed covers.
I think I never slept before. And when I woke up in the morning… at least… I started to gather the shards of my consciousness in the morrow light, I was back to my usual existence without body, limbs, I was even deprived of my voice.
Talbott too woke up at the same time I did, and he looked mortified as he stared at the empty half of the bed I occupied not so long before. Only I was still there as a body-less specter like every-time before. He reached for me, in the direction where my face would be if I still had a face. And he could touch me. It was unspeakable. Warmth spread in my skin after the touches of his fingers. When humans got too close, they always run trough me, but not Talbott. Somehow I became a solid body after he grabbed my face in his hands, after caressing my neck and shoulder, my whole body.
And all thanks to him I could feel the certainty of living in a physical body. And Talbott looked at me with all gratefulness and adoration. While he kept touching me, kept wanting me, he gifted me with this body, I laid under him, I could touch him, I could run my fingers through his hair, pull him closer as he did to me during the night. I lifted my head and kissed him.
“I can’t even imagine what are you” he whispered to my pale skin after releasing my lips.
Neither could I, so I just shook my head. There was one thing though I was certain of, and it was my love for him and his for me. We didn’t know what will become of us, but we were both determined to figure it out together.