T W E N T Y - T W O: The Double

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There is need for only one snowplow in Eugene. The lightly packed snow has now melted and only a few number of white patches remain across the driveway.

Wyatt shoves his leather gloves on as he stands outside Josslyn's porch, leaving Mrs. Wang to work her magic on an injured ankle. He walks to the side of the house and glares down toward the mountains in the distance. The overcast sky accentuates the eery stillness of the fog collecting in the valley - the valley where Josslyn was certainly running toward a week ago during winter's first storm.

Ever since then, Wyatt had come by everyday to check up on her. And Edwin. But Edwin hadn't shown up in almost a month's time and now Wyatt's beginning to worry about the safety and whereabouts of this invisible man.

Hell, Edwin's an invisible man but he's a man no less. Surely it must be difficult not to be able to physically support his woman, to love her with all his passion through God given humanly senses. It must have been gut wrenching to see his wife beside me, a corporeal man, someone willing and able to protect her.

He remembers how heart broken he was when Beth passed. He'd spend hours just touching her through photographs and memories, depressed that he'll never again feel the warmth of her skin. That must be how it is for Edwin every single day. But unlike Wyatt, who has the chance to meet other women, a chance to fall in love and begin again, Edwin's invisible and will never get that opportunity. Josslyn is all he has.

Wyatt leans onto a large boulder and punches his chest a couple times. Edwin's pain hits him right at home, right in the heart. He feels his own sense of guilt for now having to be the wedge in their marriage.

Josslyn is certain that this is his child and although he would like to feel happy, ambivalence is the only thing eating at his soul. He knows he can never force her to keep a child she doesn't want but the honest truth is that he wants her to keep it. He loves her. Everything he has done for her is through love. And although he disagrees with everything Edwin has done to Josslyn, he knows Edwin had good intentions, albeit selfish.

Wyatt sighs. Now that he knows what Josslyn really wants, it's just a matter of Edwin confronting the inevitable.

---

The crunch of the snow's last remnants is like music to his ears.

Edwin traces his steps back to the meadow where the mist reside. His skin feels dry and chap from the frigid frosty air but he chooses to remain corporeal to feel alive. He's been gone for a long time, too long without Josslyn.

But by maintaining his distance, he's realized the true potential of his power. For nearly the past month, he's been shoplifting - not that it's right, but what more can he do? He's no longer worried about going hungry, he's learned to grasp on to anything of his choosing. Just yesterday, he stole his first fresh-off-the-grill burger and nearly died from it's divinity. He's sat in a coffee shop to smell the fresh roasting of coffee beans but that fails in comparison to the aroma of the softest fresh baked bread. His mouth waters.

As of late, he's been able to touch, feel, and do more than he's ever done in his previous lifetimes. He's even considered taking the mayor's car out for a joy ride. Edwin chuckles, that would have been fun until he crashes it. He's never driven before. He's careful of surveillance but when he can sneak by, he's sporting new jeans, shirts, jackets, hats, gloves, boots, and most definitely, new shades to hide his appearance from the world as he walks confidently down the sidewalk as a real man.

But these moments are short-lived. After all, invisibility is his natural state of existence. No matter how hard he tries, he'll never ever be permanently solid. As a corporeal man, he can survive without Josslyn's energy but not a day passes where he doesn't feel sought after by the police. Being invisible prevents him from being identified and captured.

When it gets too cold at night, he'd switch back to his invisible state in order to avoid frost bitten toes. But as an invisible man, he must be near Josslyn so he sits outside their porch, missing her in wild fury; needing to trail his fingers up her thighs, breathe in fields of lavender as the tip of his nose nuzzle against her neck. Edwin closes his eyes to immerse himself with intimate memories but the cold truth jabs him in the chest.

His spite and anger feels too fresh, the emotional wound in his chest still gapes wide without stitches. He's still furious by her betrayal and he hates seeing fucking Wyatt standing beside her - strong, tall and proud protecting his woman; doing his job.

Wyatt.

Edwin's jaw clenches. That bastard had his filthy hands on Josslyn's skin, caressing her body and sinking himself into her. Edwin pants in a wild rage and punches the bark of a tree, a flock of birds jet off into the sky.

All they needed was twenty more minutes and they'd been at the airport heading to Newfoundland or where ever the hell home is. But Wyatt's proven right - for once, Edwin sneers. There's been investigators flocking Josslyn's place, questioning her left and right. If she'd somehow just disappear, it would have lead to suspicions.

Being invisible, he's sat in all the meetings, listened in on every conversation. He knows every detail about this case. In fact, the police tried to link Josslyn up with the two security guards in Vegas that had witnessed Phillip's beating. But they can't prove what they can't see. And because Edwin died nine years before finger printing came to fruition, they couldn't link his fingerprints on the crowbar with anyone.

Edwin stood beside her when the police questioned whether she'd witnessed anything odd the night Phillip attacked her but she just shook her head, and with no evidence to prove otherwise, they're forced to drop the interrogations. Phillip's false testimony incriminating her during the gas station attack is unsubstantiated and Wyatt hasn't budged. He's Josslyn's second most loyal alibi, I'll always be the first. According to the law, Josslyn is innocent on all fronts. And Edwin wants it to remain that way.

He's glad that this ordeal will be over soon. The news programming stations and reporters have all but left. People are still searching for this invisible man but without Edwin's reemergence, they've long outplayed their field day. There's even been demonstrations to show that such a hologram can exist. They just haven't yet linked that hologram to Phillip's massive wounds.

Edwin props onto the bark of the tree. He and Josslyn had talked on many occasions about coming out once and for all; reveal to the world what he is. Perhaps the world would embrace and accept him, maybe even idolize him. But how would any regular suburban mother feel if she knew an invisible man was living in her neighborhood while her children play outside? If anything, he'd be taken into custody, locked up and studied like a chimpanzee. Should luck play in his favor, he'd probably work as a spy, with capabilities of infiltrating enemy lines. There's so much he can do as an invisible man. But this isn't fucking Marvel, the justice league doesn't exist nor do the X-Mansion, a place where his 'freakness' would be welcomed. He's all alone in this world and he knows the risks of exposure will always outweigh the reward.

Hidden from the world, he is free to live his own life. He doesn't have to listen to anyone, obey any rules, or be kept under strict security and control. All he really wants is to live in peace, make love to his wife every night, begin a family, then die and be reborn again. He doesn't expect much because he's never been given much; all he ever wanted is Josslyn.

And it's about damn time he sucked it up, and went to get her.

Slicking his hair back, he takes a deep breath to help swallow down his anger. He'd walk back home, tell her he loves her, apologize for his absence, then make mad crazy love to her. He'd never accept her betrayal but he'd find a way to make them work because at the end of the day, he loves this damn woman. They only have each other. They'll live together and die together as they've been doing for the past seven lifetimes.

He begins briskly walking home with a slight hint of excitement to his step. A tall silhouette shadow slowly emerge before him in the thick morning mist. Slowly, the layers of misty veil is shifted to the right, exposing in full light the figure in front of him.

The world goes silent.

"Edwin?"

"Wyatt."








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